LESSONS FROM THE PROPHET JEREMIAH
Six hundred years before Christ Jeremiah was given a tough job. He was called by God to go and preach to the nation of Judah because God was going to send his wrath and anger on them for their sins. She had been unfaithful to God, and God made it clear that He knew their unfaithfulness in worshipping false gods and idols of their own making (Hosea; Isaiah 62:5). God had already “put away” (Israel – Judah’s sister), and now it was time for the southern tribes to be punished. Jeremiah was the prophet that had to tell Israel the bad news.
We must hear bad news before we ever will listen to good news. Hence, it is proper to tell people about sin and punishment to come, so that they may at least listen to the only hope they have. GOD DOES NOT TAKE PLEASURE IN THE DEATH OF THE WICKED—Ezekiel 33:11.
There are some lessons that Jeremiah made clear to them, and in turn to us. Notice these lessons:
1. It takes courage to tell people the truth. Sometimes in our culture we are afraid of hurting people’s feelings, so we let them go on in their lives without challenging them and their sin. Jeremiah told the truth and was punished for so doing. Will we teach and preach the truth no matter the cost? (PRAY FOR ME brothers and sisters TCT).
2. When you tell the truth, you will be hated. Jeremiah suffered a great deal of scorn and mockery from the people. He even wanted to quit (Jeremiah 20). It says a great deal today when so many preachers quit to go find a job doing something else.
3. Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet! He saw the imminent destruction of Jerusalem and wept. In Jeremiah 4:19-21 we read, “O my soul, my soul! I am pained in my very heart! My heart makes a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, Because you have heard, O my soul, The sound of the trumpet, The alarm of war. Destruction upon destruction is cried, For the whole land is plundered. Suddenly my tents are plundered, And my curtains in a moment. How long will I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet? Do we weep over the condition of the world? Beloved, we have to see sin as it is and we must remember that the only solution is the gospel.
4. Jeremiah consistently preached, no matter what happened to him! The people would not listen, but he preached. He did not dilute the message. Pray for preachers and teachers today that will do the same.
5. Jeremiah, by inspiration, warned the leaders of the people. In Jeremiah 23 and 25 he is specific as to the sins of the shepherds of the people.
a. The shepherds had scattered the sheep and have driven some of them away.
b. God, however, promised to set up other shepherds over them who will feed them, and they shall fear no more. In this promise he prophesied about Christ coming – the great shepherd, the good shepherd. Jeremiah 23:5-6 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
c. The problem of false teachers and prophets was as acute in Jeremiah’s day as it is in our day. Jeremiah likens the rulers and kings of the people as shepherds and emphasizes that they will have to be punished for their sins and failures to heed and obey God’s law. We must understand that all leaders will one day give an account for what they have done in nations and cities; in churches and businesses; in the home and family.
6. When we get down to it, it is all a matter of the heart. In Jeremiah 17 we see . . .
a. Jeremiah said that “the sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron and with the point of a diamond it is engraved ON THE TABLET OF THEIR HEART; and on the horns of your altars. . .”(Jeremiah 17:1). Can we imagine sin written on our hearts so that it could be read; etched in a person’s soul? God does know our hearts! Sin can be etched so deeply that only God can deal with the problem. He did so when Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead.
b. Jeremiah also wrote, “Thus says the Lord “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose HEART DEPARTS FROM THE LORD!” (Jeremiah 17:5).
c. Jeremiah tells us that “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. He compares the man who trusts the Lord as a tree planted by waters, who is not anxious when there is drought (Jeremiah 17:7).
d. We then read, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10). God is clear that he knows our hearts; and God is clear that he knows that our hearts are desperately wicked. He tests our minds (does he allow temptation to test us to see our allegiance to him?)” We know that God does NOT tempt man, but he allows us to be tempted to see where our hearts lie!
The more the world changes, the more the problems of sin and its repercussions will continue. We need to be like Jeremiah who, with broken heart, told the truth no matter what the cost. Jeremiah suffered for serving the Lord, but he remembered that this world is not home. We all need to remember this and do what we can to help others know about our eternal home.