“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5, ESV)
Jeremiah, the Old Testament prophet with the longest book, won no popularity awards during his forty years of ministry. Few, if any, of the Lord’s prophets did. They were the voices crying out for righteousness and repentance while the people chose to turn another way. Taking a stand for righteousness isn’t always the popular thing to do, even today.
For some reason, Jeremiah has always been one of my favorites of Old Testament characters. Perhaps it’s because we know more of his personal story than some of the other prophets. He came from a priestly family and was still quite young, possibly around twenty, when God called him. Jeremiah recognized his youth and lack of experience, but God promised to be with him.
But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.” Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.’ (Jeremiah 1:9, ESV)
Fulfilling God’s call brought the prophet a lifetime of loneliness and suffering. As we read through the Book of Jeremiah, we find he was beaten (20:1-2), called a liar (43:2), in danger of being killed (26:11), and dropped into a muddy cistern and left to die (38:6). Later in life, he was taken to Egypt against his will where it is believed he died. Yet with God’s help, Jeremiah endured every hardship.
“They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the LORD, to deliver you.” (Jeremiah 1:19, ESV)
God, the One who formed, consecrated, and appointed him, never forsook him. Despite constant persecution, Jeremiah’s enemies could never silence his message. Nor was he willing to dilute the truth to appease the people. He remained unswerving, steadfast in delivering God’s message to a backslidden nation.
Are there lessons to be learned from the life of Jeremiah? Does his message relate to us to today? I’m convinced it does. The people of Jeremiah’s day had turned away from true worship and were spiritually bankrupt. Yet, the message of Jeremiah promised hope and mercy. It offered redemption and restoration. He spoke of a new covenant, a time when God promised to write His law upon their hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
We also live in a time when many are spiritually bankrupt. Some choose to reject God completely while others look for an easier way that requires little commitment or sacrifice. They show no interest in building their lives on the pure truth of God’s Word. Second Timothy 4:3-4 warns us to be aware.
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (ESV)
If God asks us to step forward as a modern-day Jeremiah, will we do it? Are we willing to take a stand for righteousness in a culture that has little regard for anything holy? Can we be God’s voice to a world that rejects the truths of His Word? How willing are we to endure hardship and persecution to bring souls back to God?
It is time for us to embrace the words of Jeremiah 1:9. Like Jeremiah, we must be willing to go where God sends us and say what He tell us to say. It may not always be an easy path, but our world desperately needs to hear.
Lord, take my life and use it for Your glory. Open my eyes to those around me who are hurting and empty. Give me the words to say that will offer hope, mercy, love, and restoration. My world desperately needs You.