Jeremiah, man of God for his generation
Jeremiah was one of the great prophets of Israel. His name means “Jehovah is high, or exalted of God.”
His call to ministry: “But the Lord said to me…’For you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,’ says the Lord. Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.’ See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:7-11).
That’s the call of God to every minister of the Gospel.
“…for you shall go to all to whom I send you…” God’s preachers are not where they are by accident, but by divine incident! God places His servants where He wants them. “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).
“…and whatever I command you, you shall speak.” A true pastor is not a comedienne, politician, reality star or primarily a psychologist, he is a communicator of the Word of God. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 NLT).
“…for I am with you…” “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you…” (Hebrews 13:5 MSG). The Great Commission: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19,20).
“Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.” “Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2 NLT). “My messages will flame out of your mouth and burn the people like kindling wood” (Jeremiah 5:14 NLT). Dr. Bob Ketchum said this about preaching: “Start low and go slow, the rise higher and catch fire and burn them up.”
“…to root out” The preacher has a task of rooting out sin because, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23 NKJV) “When he comes, he’ll expose the error of the godless world’s view of sin…He’ll show them that their refusal to believe in me is their basic sin; that righteousness comes from above, where I am with the Father, out of their sight” (John 16:8-11 MSG). “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds…” (1 Corinthians 10:4).
•“…to destroy and to throw down…” We are to preach as Christ preached and He came, “…to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8 NLT)
•“…to build.” The Greek word for “edify” is, oikodomeo, to build or build up.” The pastor’s responsibility is to edify the people, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…” (Ephesians 4:11,12).
“…and to plant.” It is the pastor’s responsibility to sow the seed of the word of God. “The seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11). Paul said, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase…” (1 Corinthians 3:6).
To appreciate Jeremiah don’t try to fit him to the world in which we live.
He was a unique individual. He had no degree in theology, Billy Sunday was asked what he thought about a certain young minister, he asked, “Did he go to seminary?” “No!” To which Billy replied, “Thank God! That will help some.” Jeremiah did not take a homiletics course. He didn’t even go to “Famous writers school.” He was never listed in “Who’s Who.” But he had a unique way of presenting biblical truth!
He received a message from God regarding his underwear. “God told me, ‘Go and buy yourself some linen shorts. Put them on and keep them on. Don’t even take them off to wash them.’ So I bought the shorts as God directed and put them on. Then God told me, ‘Take the shorts that you bought and go straight to Perath and hide them there in a crack in the rock.’ So I did what God told me and hid them at Perath. Next, after quite a long time, God told me, ‘Go back to Perath and get the linen shorts I told you to hide there.’ So I went back to Perath and dug them out of the place where I had hidden them. The shorts by then had rotted and were worthless. God explained, ‘This is the way I am going to ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem—a wicked bunch of people who won’t obey me, who do only what they want to do, who chase after all kinds of no-gods and worship them. They’re going to turn out as rotten as these old shorts. Just as shorts clothe and protect, so I kept the whole family of Israel under my care’ —God’s Decree—‘so that everyone could see they were my people, a people I could show off to the world and be proud of. But they refused to do a thing I said’” (Jeremiah13:1-11 MSG).
He received a message from God at the Potter’s house. “The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, ‘Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.’ So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over. Then the Lord gave me this message: ‘O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.’” (Jeremiah 18:1-6 NLT).
He received a message from God regarding an ox yoke. “In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord to me: ‘Make for yourselves bonds and yokes, and put them on your neck, and send them to the king of Edom, the king of Moab, the king of the Ammonites, the king of Tyre, and the king of Sidon, by the hand of the messengers who come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah…’” (Jeremiah 27:1-3). The yoke that God promised was that the Israelites were to go into bondage. It was a message from God about going under the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon for 70 years captivity.
He received a message from God about sunken scrolls. “Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria. But I will bring back Israel to his home, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan; his soul shall be satisfied on Mount Ephraim and Gilead… ‘And I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea for all the evil they have done in Zion in your sight,’ says the Lord…So Jeremiah wrote in a book all the evil that would come upon Babylon, all these words that are written against Babylon. And Jeremiah said to Seraiah, ‘When you arrive in Babylon and see it, and read all these words, then you shall say, ‘O Lord, You have spoken against this place to cut it off, so that none shall remain in it, neither man nor beast, but it shall be desolate forever.’ Now it shall be, when you have finished reading this book, that you shall tie a stone to it and throw it out into the Euphrates. Then you shall say, ‘Thus Babylon shall sink and not rise from the catastrophe that I will bring upon her. And they shall be weary’” (Jeremiah 50:18,19; 51:24; 60-63).
He received a message from God about visiting shrines and cemeteries. Can you imagine going to the graveyard, the Washington monument or the Lincoln Memorial to get a message from God?
•Shiloh: “But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My name at the first…” (Jeremiah 7:12). The Ark of the Covenant was there. The people were treating it like a good luck charm. “As long as we have the Ark, we have God. “Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who enter in at these gates to worship the Lord!’ Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Do not trust in these lying words, saying, ‘The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these.’” (Jeremiah 7:2-4). Now they are saying s long as we have the temple we have God! Some people today say, “we have the church, and as long as we have the church we have God. But without God’s blessing, neither, the Ark, the temple or the church is of no effect.
•Rachel’s tomb: A succession of memories flood the minds of Israel when the thing about Gilead: King Saul’s and his son Jonathon died there (1 Samuel 31:1,2). Saul’s missing asses were found there (1 Samuel 9).
But they were not having fond memories, they were thinking about Rachel’s grave (Genesis 35:19,20). She died giving birth to Benjamin, if you listen you can hear her weeping. “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more” (Jeremiah 31:15-22).
History always weeps! A nation or a people cannot go under the judgment of God without a lot of weeping from those who loved a nation that has departed from God. If Rachel still weeps over the death of one child, listen to her weeping over more than the 50 million abortions since 1973. If Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44), if Paul wept over Israel (Romans 9:1-5). if Spurgeon, Moody, Sunday or Billy Graham had something to weep about, think about us now. Martin Luther said, “If I fail to pray one day I suffer, if I fail to pray two days, my church suffers, if I fail to pray three days all Germany suffers.”
Now isn’t that a crazy way to preach…Underwear; broken pottery, ox yokes, sunken scrolls and visits to monuments and graveyards? He was a unique man with a unique message.
Jeremiah was the chaplain for 5 kings, predicting an undesirable end for 3 of them, consigning one to the burial of an ass.. He lived through 3 changing 3 world empires, Assyria, Egypt and Babylon. He went through 10 wars during his life, Jerusalem was overrun and occupied by an foreign government for the first time in history. But not just that onetime, but 4 times.
He knew his history and his culture well: Allow me to quote Acts 13:36, “David…served his own generation by the will of God.” And so did Jeremiah!
•He knew that Israel was under the judgment of God. This judgment was pronounced on Manasseh (2 Kings 21:10-15). It had been sealed in history and could not be changed. Josiah had revival, but it was only holding back God’s judgment for a short time.
There is a present day application. Know your culture, Francis Shaeffer said many years ago, “We are now under the judgment of God.” Jus look around you, watch the news, read the newspaper, everywhere we look we see the evidence of the withdrawing of God from our culture. Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth said, "Billy, if God doesn't come soon and bring judgment upon the United States, He's going to have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!”
Jeremiah had a problem much like preachers have today, he could not convince the people that God had sent him. He was branded as a national traitor, he was placed in stocks, thrown into a dungeon, and buried in the thick mud. Apparently he was in very deep because the king ordered 30 men to go and get him out (Jeremiah 38:4-6;10). Preaching God’s word was not any more popular then than it is now!
What was his message? Basically: Israel must wear the yoke, and submit to a Gentile king (Nebuchadnezzar), and they will get out of this judgment in 70 years. The would not listen to this word from God through Jeremiah! So they suffered a brutal captivity, they were in devastation, they lost the temple for 70 years, which they would not have lost if they had submitted as God told them. They were miserable in Babylon. “Alongside Babylon’s rivers we sat on the banks; we cried and cried, remembering the good old days in Zion. Alongside the quaking aspens we stacked our unplayed harps; that’s where our captors demanded songs, sarcastic and mocking: ‘Sing us a happy Zion song!’ Oh, how could we ever sing God’s song in this wasteland? If I ever forget you, Jerusalem, let my fingers wither and fall off like leaves. Let my tongue swell and turn black if I fail to remember you, if I fail, O dear Jerusalem, to honor you as my greatest” (Palm 137:1- MSG).
He preached against external religion: “…Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet to Me” (Jeremiah 6:20). “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Do not trust in these lying words, saying, ‘The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these…Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered to do all these abominations’? Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 7:1-3; 8-11).
God is telling them, I don’t care about your temple, when your hearts are far from me. The fact that we have conventions, associations, fellowships, church buildings and land, Bible colleges and institutes; whether we are anti-abortionists, legalists or King James-ites. What des all of this matter if our hearts are far from God.
He names sins: That’s not popular. The Christian martyrs of the past are a testimony to the fact. Adultery: “How can I pardon you? For even your children have turned from me. They have sworn by gods that are not gods at all! I fed my people until they were full. But they thanked me by committing adultery and lining up at the brothels. They are well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for his neighbor’s wife” (Jeremiah 5:7,8 NLT).
He names people: That’s even more unpopular. Manasseh the king, “I will hand them over to trouble, to all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem” (Jeremiah 15:4). Pashhur the priest, “For thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and your eyes shall see it. I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive to Babylon and slay them with the sword” (Jeremiah 20:4). Zedekiah the king: “Thus you shall say to Zedekiah, 4 ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel: “Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, with which you fight against the king of Babylon and the [b]Chaldeans who besiege you outside the walls; and I will assemble them in the midst of this city. 5 I Myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger and fury and great wrath” (Jeremiah 21:3-5). “Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, “Hear now, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, but you make this people trust in a lie. Therefore thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will cast you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have taught rebellion against the Lord’” (Jeremiah 29:15,16).
Each of these men had the opportunity to call their nation back to God, to be Josiah to the people, but failed miserably! Jeremiah could see that the nation was under the judgment of God, that he had withdrawn Himself for the culture and the nation. Who is that prophet of God for our time who will be a Josiah, calling our wayward nation back to God?
I submit to you that our world is under the judgment of God! We don’t have to wait for it to come! Do we delude ourselves into thinking that our world can turn its back on God without feeling the removal of God from our culture? We do not have to guess as to what God says about this departure from Him, because there is a period in Bible history where a nation which knew Him turned away from Him. “
The apostle Paul speaks to people without the Bible in Romans 1:18-2:16:
It is here that God gives us the method for preaching to our culture, a culture like Jeremiah’s, a culture without the word of God. If you do not accept that we are a culture without the Bible, I challenge you to go out into the streets of any major city in America (or any other country) and ask, “what is the message of the Bible?” Remember when Tonight Show host, Jay Leno used to go out on the street asking questions and getting ridiculous answers to simple questions like: “Where did the Pilgrims sailed from?" And people were giving answers like: Canada and Peru. I just can’t imagine the answers to even the easiest of Bible questions.
In the 1920s to the 1940s nearly everyone, Jew and Gentile alike could tell you the basics of God’s word, whether or not they believed it. Even into the 1950s, people knew something about the Bible, having seen The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur or some Easter movie.
What does Paul preach to them? The wrath of a God who has withdrawn from a culture that has withdrawn from Him.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness …Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, [p]unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:18; 24-32).
Let’s let the apostle Peter conclude this message:
“Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life? Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival. The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day—but we’ll hardly notice. We’ll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness” (2 Peter 311-13 MSG).
1. Is the message, Jeopardy or Judgment? Is our world just in jeopardy of losing the blessing of God or has God really withdrawn Himself from our culture? Do we tell a lost and dying world around us, “You better be careful of you might lose the blessing of God?” Or do we tell the to “Flee from the wrath to come” (Matthew 3:7). “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). The Holy Spirit living in every believer is the only thing that is holding back the final wrath of God, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). The floodwaters of God’s wrath will be unleashed at the rapture.
2. Is the message Reverberation or Revolution?
The world depends on what this man says, or what that man says, then they echo their finding without once consulting God.
•What do materialistic sociologists say? A sociologist studies society and social behavior.
•What do godless philosophers say? Old time evangelist Dr.B.R.Lakin used to say, “A philosopher is a blind man in a dark closet looking for a black cat that isn’t there, and finding it.
•What do unknowing economists says?
•What do deluded ecologists say?
•What do well-meaning psychologists say?
But the question facing mankind is, “What does God say?”
3. Is the message Salve or Surgery? “They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14).
What caused the breakdown of our culture? Was it World War 2? The rise in technology? The urban/agrarian population movement? The population explosion? The ecology or global warming? To solve all of these problems would only “heal slightly,” secondary solutions to secondary problems. If a wall is falling down, you don’t paint it, you rebuild it! You don’t put a band aid on cancer! Salve won’t rebuild a broken wall, and salve won’t cure cancer, nor can a band aid of salve heal a broken world,.
The real reason for our broken world is our culture turned its back on God and His revealed truth so that we have become a society without God or His word.
Who must share most of the blame for this breakdown? The church does not have clean hands, “It’s judgment time for God’s own family. We’re first in line. If it starts with us, think what it’s going to be like for those who refuse God’s Message!” (1 Peter 4:17 MSG). The church has miserably failed in the one thing God has called her to do! “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19,20).
Does it pay to serve God, to stand in the face of the enemy and declare that God is sovereign, and Jesus is Lord? You will remember that Jeremiah was put in a dungeon and buried in thick mud as he punishment for preaching God’s judgment. Look at Jeremiah after that: The whole nation of Israel was suffering from hunger, not Jeremiah, “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon gave Nebuzaradan captain of the king’s bodyguard special orders regarding Jeremiah: ‘’Look out for him. Make sure nothing bad happens to him. Give him anything he wants” (Jeremiah 39:12 MSG).
Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The King James Version (KJV); and The Message (MSG);
Permission is hereby granted to use any of Dr. John Sparks’ materials. If this message was helpful, please E-Mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org