A F I E RY P R O P H E T
A N D A P E O P L E O F
W O O D
A Devotional Look at the Life and Ministry of the
Prophet Jeremiah
F. Wayne Mac Leod
Light To My Path Book Distribution
Copyright © 2018 F. Wayne Mac Leod
Revised November 2019
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CONTENTS
Title Page
Copyright
Preface
1 - The Widow's Mite
2 - Called Before Birth
3 - I Am Only a Child
4 - Two Signs
5 - Words of Fire Among a People of Wood
6 - The Temple of the Lord
7 - Reality Strikes
8- A Ruined Belt
9- Do Not Pray for this People
10 - The Lone Prophet
11- At the Potter's House
12 - A Broken Clay Jar
13 - Zedekiah and Jeremiah
14 - Careless Shepherds
and Lying Prophets
15 - A Plot to Kill Jeremiah
16 - Conflicting Messages
17 - The House of Shaphan
18 - Seek the Peace of the City
19 -The Discipline
of the Lord
20 - Practising What You Preach
21 - Returned Slaves
22 - The Rechabites
23 - The Burnt Scroll
24 - Fearing for His Life
25 - Returning to Egypt
26 - Sink to Rise No More
About The Author
A
PREFACE
Fiery Prophet, that is what Jeremiah was. He worked with “a people of
wood.” His messages often burnt them to a crisp! What a thankless job
he had. Nobody likes to get burnt. His listeners tried to kill him. They threw
him in prison and put him in stocks. He did not have many friends. He
never married and had no children to carry on his name. For forty years,
however, he faithfully proclaimed the word of the Lord to a people who
turned their backs and blocked their ears. He is an example of faithfulness
and perseverance. It is a hard example to follow.
In this study, we will examine the key events and messages of this great
man of God. I hope that those who read this book will not only come to a
new appreciation of the prophet but see how much we still need people like
him and his message in our day. May you be challenged as you read to
listen once again to the words of this great servant of God. May the words
of this fiery prophet consume the wood hay and stubble of our lives and
challenge us to new heights of faithful obedience.
F. Wayne Mac Leod
J
1 - THE WIDOW'S MITE
1 The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, one of the priests
who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, 2 to whom the
word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon,
king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. 3 It came also
in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, and
until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah,
king of Judah, until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth
month. (Jeremiah 1)
eremiah 1:1-3 gives us insight into the life of the prophet Jeremiah.
Notice that he grew up in the home of a priest. His father Hilkiah was
a priest during the reign of Josiah, king of Judah. Josiah was one of
the rare kings who served the Lord with a whole heart. 2 Kings 23:25
describes the king’s commitment to the Lord in the following terms:
25 Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the
Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his
might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him
arise after him. (2 Kings 23)
The years preceding the reign of Josiah were challenging. The people of
God had abandoned the temple. Sin and evil were rampant in the land. In
the eighteenth year of his reign, however, Josiah ordered that the temple of
God be repaired (see 2 Kings 22:3-7). After years of abandonment, the
temple was in disrepair. While it was being restored, the high priest found
the book of the law. It had apparently not been consulted for years. After
examining its contents, he gave it to Shaphan the scribe to read to King
Josiah (2 Kings 22:8-10). This book touched the king profoundly. God used
it to stir up his heart about the evil in his land. In response to the words of
the book, King Josiah asked the High Priest to destroy all vessels found in
the temple of the Lord that had been consecrated to Baal (see 2 Kings 23.4).
This shows us that the temple was not only in disrepair but also defiled by
the worship of pagan gods. Under the leadership of King Josiah, the temple
was cleansed, and the pure worship of God restored.
Jeremiah began his ministry in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah
(Jeremiah 1:2). This was just five years before the priests found the book of
the law. These were exciting days in Judah for those who loved the Lord.
Jeremiah's father, Hilkiah, as a priest, may have had a significant role to
play in the religious revival that took place in those days.
Jeremiah's ministry spanned the reign of three kings. He served as a prophet
for a total of 40 years, from the thirteenth year of Josiah to the eleventh year
of Zedekiah. A look at the history of Judah during this period shows us that
while Jeremiah began his ministry under the revival of Josiah, he ended it
watching the people of Judah going into captivity for their disobedience to
the God he served.
Jeremiah watched Nebuchadnezzar capture the city of Jerusalem (2 Kings
23:10), taking its king into exile (2 Kings 23:11). He saw the Babylonians
strip the temple Josiah had repaired of all its treasures (2 Kings 23:12-13).
Jerusalem was left in ruins with all its skilled labourers forced to leave at
the point of a sword. Only the poor and unskilled remained in the city to
fend for themselves (2 Kings 23:14). He witnessed the enemy break down
the defensive wall that surrounded the city (2 Kings 25:10) and burn it to
the ground (2 Kings 25:9).
What would you like to see after forty years of service for the Lord? Would
you not at least want to know that your life and influence had an impact?
Would you not like to feel that you had made some contribution to the lives
of those you served? What did Jeremiah think as he watched the people of
God going into captivity? How did he feel about his contribution to their
spiritual well-being? What was it like to walk the burnt-out streets of a once
glorious city? What went through his mind as he approached the ground
where the once beautiful temple of God had stood? Was there a crushing
sense of failure in his heart? What had he accomplished after all these
years? Had he wasted his life?
To look back after years of service and only see brokenness must have been
devastating for the prophet. He is not alone, however. Pastors all over the
world look back, desperately seeking to find some evidence of a ministry
that made a difference. Missionaries serving in challenging countries return
home wondering if their efforts were in vain. Parents watch their children
choose paths of sin and rebellion and wonder if they failed in bringing them
up. Like Jeremiah, they walk the charred streets of Jerusalem, looking at
empty burnt-out buildings and wonder if their life and ministry have had
any impact at all.
We live in an age where the value of a ministry is measured by results. We
love statistics. Is this how God sees ministry? Is the goal of Christian
service to see results? It is easy to be faithful when everything is going well,
and we see the fruit for our labours. It is difficult, however, to persevere
when we are facing rejection and seeing no results.
God does not call us all to “successful” ministries. There are those who do
experience this kind of blessing. God also wants people who will be faithful
in the little things. People who will not make statistics and numbers their
god, but who will willingly and joyfully persevere in His purpose, even
when it means not seeing worldly success. When we stand before God to
give an account for our lives, He will not be concerned about numbers and
statistics but faithfulness. Jeremiah was faithful to the call of God. This
meant a lot of rejection and abuse, but he persevered in God’s purpose, and
for this, he would receive his reward.
On one occasion, Jesus watched as people placed their offering in the
temple offering box. He saw the rich coming in with their vast wealth and
give of their excess. When Jesus saw the poor widow offer her last two
coins, however, His heart was touched. According to Jesus, this widow
gave more than anyone else. When you come to the end of your service for
the Lord and enter the celestial temple of God, what will you drop into the
temple offering box?
Maybe our lives and ministries have been richly blessed. We come proudly
before the Lord to offer Him a portion of the blessings we have received.
When we look behind us, however, we see Jeremiah coming into the
temple. As he enters, he is worn and tired. He looks up into the face of His
Lord. With shame, he says: "Lord, I don't know what I can offer. I have not
seen many converts. People didn't listen when I preached. I have been
faithful though Lord; I have persevered for these last forty years. Could I
offer you my life of faithful service, it is all I have?"
As we listen to Jeremiah's words, we see the smile of approval on the face
of the Lord. Our gifts and offerings pale into insignificance compared to
Jeremiah’s. Here is a man who offered his "widow's mite." He endured
opposition and saw people turn their backs on him. He was rejected and
thrown in prison for preaching. People hated him and his message. He was
mocked, insulted and abused for his stand. He was not allowed to marry or
celebrate with his fellow citizens. When he died, there were no children to
carry on his name. We see his suffering for the cause of his Lord, and
somehow statistics and numbers don’t seem to matter so much anymore.
We offer our “successes,” but this man standing before us offered his life.
His offering seems so much more significant than ours. In an age of
glamorizing results, isn’t God only looking for faithfulness and obedience?
Jeremiah is an example for us in this.
For Consideration:
Describe the times at which Jeremiah ministered. Under what conditions
did he begin his ministry? What were the conditions in the nation in his
final years?
What is the difference between striving for success and striving for
obedience? What has been your focus?
Would you be content to be obedient even if it meant you did not see fruit in
your ministry?
For Prayer:
Ask the Lord to assure you that you are walking in obedience to Him.
Ask the Spirit of God to convict you in any area of your life where you
have made success and statistics your god.
Take a moment to thank the Lord for the example of Jeremiah, a man who
gave his life to serving God even when that meant not seeing any results for
years of service.
J
2 - CALLED BEFORE
BIRTH
4 Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 5 “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)
eremiah’s call to the prophetic ministry is probably one of the best-
known in the Bible. Notice that Jeremiah 1:5 speaks of this calling in
three stages. Jeremiah was "known," he was "consecrated," and
finally, he was "appointed." Let’s take a moment to examine these aspects
of the prophet's call.
Known By God
Notice first that God knew Jeremiah before He sent Him out as a prophet:
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
Any employer will take the time to get to know his or her workers before
sending them out to do a job. Good employers will match their employee's
skills with the job they require them to do.
Notice, however, when God knew Jeremiah. Jeremiah 1:5 tells us that God
knew Jeremiah before He formed him in his mothers womb. Before
Jeremiah was conceived, God knew all about him. God’s knowledge of
Jeremiah is very different from that of an earthly employer. This knowledge
was like that of an artist standing before a blank sheet of paper. The painter
forms an idea of what he or she wants to create and with skilful strokes of
the brush, brings to life what was conceived in the mind. Like a potter
forming a clay vessel, the idea is born in the thoughts and heart of the
potter. He knows the size, shape, and purpose of the creation before he
shapes it. Like the pottery vessel and the painting, Jeremiah was born in the
mind of God before His Maker placed him in the womb.
God had a purpose for Jeremiah. He shaped and moulded him for a task.
Jeremiah was not a chance happening of his parent’s marriage. Before his
mother conceived him, God knew what He wanted to accomplish in this
young child’s life and personally formed him to fit the call. What an
encouragement it is to know that God shapes and forms us individually for
His purpose. What God did in the life of Jeremiah, He does for us as well.
The God who knew you before you were born formed you for a purpose.
Jeremiah Is Consecrated
Secondly, notice that Jeremiah was also consecrated.
5 …and before you were born I consecrated you; (Jeremiah 1)
To consecrate is to set apart or to dedicate. This was the second stage of
God's call on the life of Jeremiah. God created Jeremiah with a purpose in
mind. Then He set him apart in his mother's womb for this task. God placed
His protective and guiding hand on the life of this unborn child. Jeremiah
had God's stamp of approval. Even as he came out of his mothers womb,
Jeremiah was protected by the sovereign hand of God, His Creator. Nothing
would hinder that sovereign will of God in his life. God would shield him
and protect him until Jeremiah became aware of his purpose.
Appointed By God
Finally, notice that Jeremiah was appointed.
5 … I appointed you a prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 1)
The word “appointed” in the King James Version of the Bible is translated
by the word “ordained.” The word is used to speak of a responsibility given
to another person, the passing on of instructions or the granting of
permission. In a sense, it is like a young driver receiving his or her drivers
license. When the driver is of age, that piece of paper gives him or her
permission and authority to sit behind the wheel of a car and drive. This is
what God is doing for Jeremiah by appointing him. He is giving him
permission to go in His name and speak His word. God knew Jeremiah
before he was born and created him with a purpose. God consecrated him
by setting him apart and sovereignly protecting him for the task He had in
mind. Now that Jeremiah was old enough to understand that call, God
hands him his license as a prophet. He was to go to the nations and speak
the words of God.
Many times, we feel that our call came when God gave us our appointment.
God's call was on Jeremiah's life well before his actual appointment was
made known to him. This was also the case for Moses. He was set apart
from his birth for the specific task of delivering the people of God from
bondage. God protected him and shaped him through various situations in
life, preparing him for this responsibility. It was only at 80 years of age that
God gave him his appointment.
The apostle Paul's calling took place well before his appointment. Consider
what he told the Galatians:
15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and
who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to
me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did
not immediately consult with anyone; (Galatians 1)
According to Galatians 1:15, Paul was set apart as an apostle from his
mother's womb. His appointment did not take place until he came to know
the Lord Jesus. Before coming to an awareness of his calling, Paul sought to
destroy the work of God. Despite this, however, God's hand was on him. He
was shaped from birth by God for a very particular ministry.
God's servants are born, first, in the mind of God. They are then set apart
from their mother's womb and, at the moment, chosen by God, appointed to
the ministry to which they have been shaped all their lives. Jeremiah’s
calling had nothing to do with his natural ability or inclinations. It had
everything to do with the purpose of God before he was born. What is the
purpose of God for your life?
For Consideration:
God knew Jeremiah before birth as an artist knows in his or her mind what
he is going to paint, or a potter knows the purpose for which they fashion
the clay. What does this tell you about your life?
What do we learn here in the calling of Jeremiah about the way God
protected and kept him for the purpose He had for his life? Have you seen
evidence in your life of how God worked out circumstances to prepare you
for the task He had for your life?
Jeremiah was called not because of his natural ability, but because God had
a plan for him before he was born. In other words, God’s call is more about
His purpose than our ability. What does this teach us about the source of our
strength and wisdom?
What is the call of God on your life? Can you step into that calling,
knowing that God can use you not because of your ability but because of
His purpose?
For Prayer:
Thank the Lord that you were born not so much because of the relationship
of your parents but as one who was first known in the mind of God.
Ask that Lord to reveal His purpose to you. Thank Him that He has been
protecting and shaping you for that purpose.
Ask God to help you to rely not on your ability but His empowering. Thank
Him that He not only calls but equips all He calls to do what He has given
them to do.
I
3 - I AM ONLY A CHILD
6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to
speak, for I am only a youth.” 7 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. 8 Do
not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares
the Lord.” 9 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. 10 See, I have set you this day over nations and
over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and
to overthrow, to build and to plant.”
n chapter 2, we examined the call of Jeremiah to the prophetic
ministry. Notice the response of the prophet to this calling:
6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to
speak, for I am only a youth.” (Jeremiah 1)
Jeremiah felt inadequate. His response is not uncommon. Moses did not
want to go to Egypt for the same reason.
11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to
Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
(Exodus 3)
When God called Isaiah, he replied:
5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of
unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean
lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah
6)
Listen to Paul’s sense of unworthiness for the call of God on his life:
8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9
For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an
apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. (1 Corinthians
15)
All these men experienced what Jeremiah experienced the day God called
him to be a prophet. None of them felt worthy or even capable of fulfilling
the purpose of God. I would dare to say that anyone who does feel worthy,
may not understand human nature.
God delights in taking the weak of this world and sending them out in His
strength. He equips those He calls. Notice God's response to Jeremiah’s
sense of unworthiness:
7 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. (Jeremiah 1)
"Jeremiah," the Lord God said, "there are no excuses. You will go to those
to whom I send you. You will tell them what I tell you to say. You were
born for this. This is your purpose in life." I have met people who have not
stepped out into the call of God because they felt unworthy or incapable.
Unworthiness is not an excuse for disobedience, nor is our inability. We
must never be afraid of what looks impossible to us. All too many people
only do what they are humanly capable of doing and stop there. God is not
interested in our human ability. He places us in situations that are bigger
than us to show us His ability. How will we ever understand the power of
God if we only do what we know we can do in our strength. God was
calling Jeremiah to a task that was far bigger than himself. To calm
Jeremiah's insecurities, however, God reassures him of two vital facts.
Firstly, God told Jeremiah in verse 8:
8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.”
God promised to protect Jeremiah. There would be opposition to his
message, but Jeremiah would not be alone. God would be with him and
deliver him from the angry people who lashed out against him. God did not
promise that things would be easy for the prophet. People would not like
what Jeremiah told them. They would seek to harm him. God, however,
would not abandon him in those times. Jeremiah would be assured of God’s
protection when he was under attack.
How often did the people of God want to stone Moses? God delivered him
every time. David fled from those who rejected his kingship and sought his
life, but God protected him from their sword. The apostles Paul and Peter
were stoned and put in prison. If the Lord had work for them to do,
however, no one could keep them from that work. The Lord, who calls,
protects those He calls until they have accomplished His purpose. God told
Jeremiah:
20 And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze;
they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you,
for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the
Lord. 21 I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and
redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.”. (Jeremiah 15)
God promised to strengthen Jeremiah against all attacks of the enemy.
Those who heard him would fight against him, but God would surround the
prophet with a wall of bronze. The people who opposed him would not
prevail. God would deliver Jeremiah from their attacks. While life would
not be comfortable, the prophet was assured of God’s presence to protect
and keep him. He could step out with boldness to speak the word God gave
him.
Not only did Jeremiah have the promise of God’s protection but notice
another commitment God made to the prophet in verse 9:
9 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)
I can imagine that Jeremiah, as he reflected on the call of God to be a
prophet to the nations, would have wondered what he was to say. God told
Jeremiah, however, that this was not his concern. God promised to give him
the words He wanted him to speak. Jeremiah was simply to share what God
put in his mouth.
God did not deny that Jeremiah was only a youth. What the prophet said
was correct. Jeremiah was young at the time of his commissioning. He
lacked strength, wisdom and discernment. Even a child, however, can
accomplish much under God’s anointing. What confidence this must have
given Jeremiah. He could boldly go with the word the Lord God had given
him. He was assured that, as he went, the protective hands of God
surrounded him. God would lovingly shield him from the attacks of the
enemy. Yes, he was a child, but he was a child protected and equipped by
God, and that made all the difference. He would succeed where many wiser
and more experienced men failed because his confidence was not in his
ability but in God.
For Consideration:
What was the response of Jeremiah to the call of God? From a human point
of view, was Jeremiah equipped to fulfil the purpose of God?
Are any of us worthy of the call God has placed on our lives? Have you
ever disobeyed God because you felt unworthy or incapable of doing what
He asked you to do?
Should we fear being placed in a situation that is humanly too difficult for
us?
What was the two-fold promise of God to Jeremiah? Is that promise also for
all who are called by God today?
Can we fulfil our calling in our strength and wisdom? What was the source
of Jeremiah’s words? What is the source of our power, provision and
wisdom? Are you trusting God for what you need?
For Prayer:
Thank the Lord that He equips those He calls to do the work He has given
them.
Ask the Lord to give you confidence that not only will He give you all you
need, but He will also protect and keep you as you walk in obedience to His
call on your life.
Ask for the grace to trust God for your need. Ask Him to forgive you for the
times you have tried to exercise your calling in human strength and
wisdom.
Ask the Lord to give you a more profound sense of His call on your life.
Ask for the courage to step out even when you feel unworthy and
inadequate.
B
4 - TWO SIGNS
11 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Jeremiah,
what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” 12
Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am
watching over my word to perform it.”
13 The word of the Lord came to me a second time, saying,
“What do you see?” And I said, “I see a boiling pot, facing
away from the north.” 14 Then the Lord said to me, “Out of the
north disaster shall be let loose upon all the inhabitants of the
land. (Jeremiah 1)
efore sending Jeremiah out with His word, God gave him two
signs. These signs were intended to encourage and give him a
sense of urgency in the task to which he had been called. These
signs came to Jeremiah in the form of a vision.
The Almond Branch
The first of the two signs was an almond branch.
11 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Jeremiah,
what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” 12
Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am
watching over my word to perform it.” (Jeremiah 1)
What was so unique about the branch of an almond tree? What was the
Lord saying to Jeremiah through this picture? There are at least three
possible answers.
In Numbers 16, we read the story of Korah's rebellion. Korah and his
followers began to criticize Moses and Aaron for their leadership in the
nation of Israel. Even though God had chosen Moses and Aaron as leaders,
Korah and his supporters felt they also had the right to this position. The
Lord killed Korah for his rebellion, but his discontent succeeded in stirring
up confusion in the minds of the people against the leadership of Aaron.
Moses and Aaron sought the Lord to know what to do about this uneasiness
in the camp of Israel. The Lord told them to command each tribe to bring a
branch and place it before Him. The Lord would then reveal His chosen
priest through these branches. Aaron brought an almond branch. When
Moses returned the following day, he discovered that Aaron's branch had
budded and produced almonds:
8 On the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony, and
behold, the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted
and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe
almonds. (Numbers 17)
It was by this means that the Lord proved to His people that Aaron was His
chosen priest.
Hebrews 9.4 tells us that this almond branch was placed inside the Ark of
the Covenant as a permanent reminder to the people that the Lord had
chosen Aaron and his descendants to be His representatives. Was God, by
showing this almond branch to Jeremiah, reassuring him that he too was His
representative?
The second possible meaning of this sign is found in the Hebrew language.
God asked Jeremiah to tell Him what he saw in the vision. Jeremiah
responded by telling the Lord that he saw an almond branch. The Hebrew
word for almond is "saqed.” The Lord responded by saying: “I am
watching over my word to perform it (verse 12). The Hebrew word for
watching over is “saqad.”
Many commentators believe there is a play on words in this verse ("saqed"
(almond) and "saqad" (watch). When God gave His word, He watched over
it. All that He said would come to pass. Is it possible that God was giving a
new meaning to the symbol of the almond branch because it sounded so
much like the Hebrew word for ‘watching over”? Whenever Jeremiah saw
the almond, he would remember that God would not hesitate to perform all
that He said. He would often need this reminder in his ministry.
We must note, thirdly, that the almond tree was one of the first trees to bud
in the land of Israel. In many senses, it was a reminder that God would do
what He said without delay. Even as the almond was quick to bud, so God
would fulfil His word without delay.
Whatever the meaning of the almond branch, it is sure that it was meant to
give Jeremiah courage. He could go with the confidence that God called
him to speak a word that would not delay in coming to pass.
The Boiling Pot
The second sign the Lord gave Jeremiah was that of a boiling pot.
13 The word of the Lord came to me a second time, saying,
“What do you see?” And I said, “I see a boiling pot, facing
away from the north.” 14 Then the Lord said to me, “Out of the
north disaster shall be let loose upon all the inhabitants of the
land. (Jeremiah 1)
Notice that this boiling pot was tilting from the north. When the boiling
contents rose, they would spill out to the south. What was in the pot? It was
the wrath of God against His people. A great enemy would come out of the
north to devour God’s people. At any moment, this anger could spill out
over the side and come pouring down over the people of God. This was a
powerful incentive for Jeremiah to go quickly with the word of God. The
picture of that boiling pot would have a tremendous influence on Jeremiah
and his message.
As God sent Jeremiah, He sent him with a vision burnt into his heart and
mind. Jeremiah was a chosen vessel to bring the word of God to His people.
God was watching over this word to perform it. This word was a word of
warning about a grave danger that awaited his people. Jeremiah needed to
go. The people needed to know. His words were of utmost importance. He
could not fail his people. He could not fail his God.
For Consideration:
Why do you suppose God gave Jeremiah two signs? What would these
signs have meant for the prophet? How would they encourage and direct
Jeremiah in his ministry?
What did the almond branch mean to Jeremiah? Why was it essential that
the prophet understand that God would not hesitate to fulfil His promises or
keep His word?
How confident are you in the promises of God? Have you ever wondered if
God will be faithful to His word?
The boiling pot confirmed to Jeremiah that the judgement of God was
coming for the nation of Israel. Is that judgement coming to our country or
members of your family? What challenges does this picture bring to you
personally?
For Prayer:
Thank the Lord for the confidence we can have in His Word. Thank Him
for the assurance that He will fulfil all that He promises.
Ask the Lord to forgive you for times you have doubted His word and
promises.
Do you have loved ones who are under the judgement of God? Ask the
Lord to show you how you can be an example to them and point them to the
forgiveness offered in Christ.
H
5 - WORDS OF FIRE
AMONG A PEOPLE OF
WOOD
14 Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of hosts: “Because
you have spoken this word, behold, I am making my words in
your mouth a fire, and this people wood, and the fire shall
consume them. (Jeremiah 5)
ave you ever had a hard message to deliver to a friend? I am
talking about one of those messages that risks causing him or her
much hurt; one that you wished you could ignore. Jeremiah's
calling was difficult. God told the prophet that His words would be like fire
among people of wood. The result was obvious. His words would offend
and hurt.
Jeremiah would make many enemies because of what he preached. He
proclaimed a message of despair and doom. The words were harsh. The
prophet would not be well received.
What did Jeremiah tell the people that caused such objection? In chapters
one to six, we read that Jeremiah proclaimed a two-fold message. First, he
showed the people how God saw them. Second, he prophesied about what
God was going to do to them because of what He saw in them.
How God Saw His People
In Jeremiah 2:20, God compared His people to whores without moral
restraint:
20 “For long ago I broke your yoke and burst your bonds; but
you said, ‘I will not serve.’ Yes, on every high hill and under
every green tree you bowed down like a whore. (Jeremiah 2)
Israel, however, was not like a common whore. God went on to compare
her to a wild donkey in heat. Those looking for her would not have any
problem finding her. She made herself available to all who wanted her:
24 a wild donkey used to the wilderness, in her heat sniffing the
wind! Who can restrain her lust? None who seek her need
weary themselves; in her month they will find her. (Jeremiah 2)
God saw His people as those who had broken His law and argued with Him
about His purpose:
29 “Why do you contend with me? You have all transgressed
against me, declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 2)
He compared Israel to an unfaithful wife who left her husband to seek other
lovers:
1 “If a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and
becomes another man’s wife, will he return to her? Would not
that land be greatly polluted? You have played the whore with
many lovers; and would you return to me? declares the Lord.
(Jeremiah 3)
They were foolish and stupid children with no understanding:
22 “For my people are foolish; they know me not; they are
stupid children; they have no understanding. They are ‘wise’—
in doing evil! But how to do good they know not.” (Jeremiah 4)
They had rebelled against God and turned from Him:
23 But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they
have turned aside and gone away. (Jeremiah 5)
God people grew fat by oppressing their fellow citizens. Their evil knew no
bounds. They would stop at nothing to enrich themselves, even at the
expense of the fatherless and needy:
28 they have grown fat and sleek. They know no bounds in
deeds of evil; they judge not with justice the cause of the
fatherless, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights
of the needy. (Jeremiah 5)
Prophets in Judah and Israel spoke falsehood, and the people delighted in
this falsehood. They preferred lies to the truth.
31 the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their
direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do
when the end comes? (Jeremiah 5)
God’s people wanted nothing to do with the truth of His Word. They treated
the word of the Lord as an “object of scorn:”
10 To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may
hear? Behold, their ears are uncircumcised, they cannot listen
behold, the word of the Lord is to them an object of scorn;
they take no pleasure in it. (Jeremiah 6)
They felt no shame for their evil deeds; they did not even know how to
blush:
15 Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No,
they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I
punish them, they shall be overthrown,” says the Lord.
(Jeremiah 6).
What is your reaction when people criticize you? Even if we know that
what they say is correct, we often do not appreciate their criticism. When
these criticisms multiply, our response becomes more intense. Is it not easy
to see that those who heard Jeremiah would not be happy with his message?
His words did indeed burn.
What God Was Going To Do
The second part of God's message through Jeremiah related to what He was
going to do to His people. Chapters one to six are filled with descriptions of
what was to become of this rebellious nation. Let’s look briefly at two
passages that summarize the words of God through Jeremiah:
23 I looked on the earth, and behold, it was without form and
void; and to the heavens, and they had no light. 24 I looked on
the mountains, and behold, they were quaking, and all the hills
moved to and fro. 25 I looked, and behold, there was no man,
and all the birds of the air had fled. 26 I looked, and behold,
the fruitful land was a desert, and all its cities were laid in
ruins before the Lord, before his fierce anger. (Jeremiah 4)
In these verses, Jeremiah told his people what he saw in their future. He
saw a future of darkness. He saw the mountains quaking and the hills
moving with the force of that quake. He saw no man and a world in which
the birds fled. He described a desert with cities in ruins before the great
anger of the Lord. His prophecy was a picture of desolation. The land of
"milk and honey" had become an empty, dark and barren desert because of
the anger of the Lord.
Let us consider another example of what Jeremiah preached. Listen to his
words in Jeremiah 5:
15 Behold, I am bringing against you a nation from afar, O
house of Israel, declares the Lord. It is an enduring nation; it is
an ancient nation, a nation whose language you do not know,
nor can you understand what they say. 16 Their quiver is like
an open tomb; they are all mighty warriors. 17 They shall eat
up your harvest and your food; they shall eat up your sons and
your daughters; they shall eat up your flocks and your herds;
they shall eat up your vines and your fig trees; your fortified
cities in which you trust they shall beat down with the sword.”
(Jeremiah 5)
Jeremiah prophesied about a nation coming from the north to devour the
lands of Israel and Judah. This army would ravage the fields and flocks,
killing their sons and daughters, and taking their cities.
God sent Jeremiah with words of fire to people of wood. These words were
not well received. He was called to preach a message that would gain him
many enemies. It was not an easy ministry. We can only admire a man who
was willing to make such a sacrifice for his Lord. Strengthened by the Lord,
however, Jeremiah would be faithful in preaching such messages for forty
years.
For Consideration:
Does God always call us to deliver comfortable messages to His people?
Are you able to speak the truth of God even when it hurts?
How easy is it to avoid the hard messages and speak only those messages
that will make us friends?
How do you think God sees your society? What do you think God would
say about your church? What are the hidden sins that lurk beneath the
surface?
Is there evidence of barrenness and the judgement of God on your society
or church? What is this evidence?
What does Jeremiah’s message teach us about a society or church that turns
from God and His Word? What hope is there for such a community or
church?
For Prayer:
Ask the Lord to give you the grace to live for Him, even when doing so is
difficult and challenging.
Ask the Lord to search your heart to see if there is any offensive way in it.
Ask for strength to repent and turn from any sin He might reveal.
Do you know people who are rebelling against the Lord? Take a moment
now to ask God to forgive them and bring them into fellowship with
Himself.
Take a moment to pray against sin in your society. Ask God to break these
evils and bring His peace and health to your community again.
W
6 - THE TEMPLE OF THE
LORD
8 “Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. 9 Will you
steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to
Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, 10 and
then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by
my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all
these abominations? 11 Has this house, which is called by my
name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself
have seen it, declares the Lord. 12 Go now to my place that was
in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I
did to it because of the evil of my people Israel. (Jeremiah 7)
e often hear about the problems of other people but never
think that next time it could be us. We feel invulnerable.
Nothing could happen to us. When it does, however, it takes
us by surprise. This was how the people of God felt. They had a false sense
of security. Sure, they were sinners, but they were also the chosen people of
God. They could not imagine that God would ever abandon them. Surely in
their time of need, He would always be there to deliver them. How could
He ever let the enemy overcome them? We hear this message today. People
have become so secure in the love of God, that they fail to realize that He is
also their judge. "A God of love could never send us to hell," they say and
continue in their sins with no worry or concern for their future. God called
Jeremiah to speak out against this false notion.
Because of their belief, the people of God lived recklessly. Listen to the
words of the Lord to His people in Jeremiah 7:
9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make
offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not
known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house,
which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only
to go on doing all these abominations? (Jeremiah 7)
The Lord accused His people of many serious crimes in Jeremiah 7. They
murdered, committed adultery, made false declarations and worshipped
pagan gods. These were crimes punishable by death under the law of
Moses. Notice, however, that despite these terrible crimes, the people still
came to the temple feeling secure in their relationship with God. “We are
delivered!” they proclaimed. “God doesn’t hold our sins against us.” With
that, they would leave the temple to repeat the same crimes. There was no
grief over their sin. Their hearts were hard and rebellious. They made their
offerings to God but had no intention of changing their sinful actions.
Jeremiah warned his people against this attitude. He reminded them of the
town of Shiloh and what God did to it because of the evil of His people:
12 Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my
name dwell at first, and see what I did to it because of the evil
of my people Israel. (Jeremiah 7)
In Joshua 18:1, Israel set up the tabernacle of God in Shiloh. Samuel’s
parents worshipped at this tabernacle (1 Samuel 3:1). The Ark of the
Covenant was also located in Shiloh in those days (1 Samuel 4:3).
When the Philistines defeated Israel in 1 Samuel 4, the Israelites went to
Shiloh to get the Ark of the Covenant. They believed that having it with
them would assure victory over the Philistines. They understood that the
presence of the Lord was on the Ark.
With the Ark of the Covenant in their midst, the Israelites confidently faced
the Philistines in battle. What happened was not what they expected. Thirty
thousand Israelite foot soldiers died. The priests who had taken the Ark to
the Israelite camp lost their lives, and the Philistines captured the Ark.
Never had it entered the mind of the Israelites that God would so abandon
them. They felt secure in having the Ark in their midst, but they were
disappointed.
Jeremiah had a powerful message for the sinners of his day who regularly
worshipped at the temple. You are under the judgement of God, he told
them. Yes, you pray and bring your offerings to God, but your heart is not
right with Him. You, who stand before the altar, are murders, adulterers,
liars and worshippers of false gods. God sees your evil ways. He knows
your sinful thoughts. Do you think that you can offer a lamb, and all will be
right when your heart is not repentant? Do you believe that God will accept
your sacrifice when you have no intention of changing your ways?
Jeremiah rebuked the worshippers who came to the temple. He challenged
these “religious people,” reprimanding them for their hypocrisy. They
reacted strongly against Jeremiah’s message. He was a threat to their
lifestyle. He exposed their sin. They hated him for this.
Jeremiah told the people of his day that just as God allowed the defeat and
capture of Israel’s most sacred object—the Ark of the Covenant in Shiloh,
so He would not hesitate to send enemies against them and the temple in
Jerusalem. Their rebellious and hypocritical heart was an abomination to
God.
What an important message this was.God’s people felt secure in their evil
ways. They failed to understand the judgement of God. Jeremiah declared
that God’s wrath would soon fall on them. He made many enemies with this
word, but the truth needed to be told.
For Consideration:
The people of God trusted in the fact that they were the chosen people of
God who worshipped at the temple. They believed that if they sinned, all
they had to do was offer a sacrifice, and all would be well but had no
intention of changing their ways. Does this attitude exist in our day?
The people of Israel considered their temple and the Ark of the Covenant
sacred but lost them both because of their rebellion against God. What do
we consider sacred in your life? Could God close your church? Could he
take your business from you? Could He strip you of your health?
How would Jeremiah’s message, as recorded in this chapter, be received in
our day? Do we need people like Jeremiah, who are unafraid to challenge
the “religious” of our day?
For Prayer:
Ask God to give you a genuine faith that touches your thoughts, actions and
attitudes.
Ask the Lord to cleanse your church and expose anything in the hearts,
minds and actions of its members that does not bring glory to His name.
Ask Him to do the same for you.
Ask God for the boldness of Jeremiah to do what He calls you to do,
whether it makes you friends or enemies.
J
7 - REALITY STRIKES
19 But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. I did not
know it was against me they devised schemes, saying, “Let us
destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of
the living, that his name be remembered no more.” 20 But, O
Lord of hosts, who judges righteously, who tests the heart and
the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have
I committed my cause. (Jeremiah 11)
eremiah proclaimed a harsh message to the religious people of his
day. He faithfully proclaimed the Word of God but made many
enemies. Maybe in the early stages of his preaching, the prophet
anticipated a better response and naively assumed that people would be
more accepting. He soon became aware, however, that this would not be the
case. As this idealism changed to reality, Jeremiah expressed his heart to
God:
19 But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. I did not
know it was against me they devised schemes, (Jeremiah 11)
In Jeremiah 11:19, the prophet compared himself to a gentle lamb led to the
slaughter. This quiet lamb put up no fight because it was not aware of what
was coming. “I did not know it was against me they devised schemes,” he
told the Lord. “I entered the ministry thinking all would be well but came to
realize that the people I preached to, wanted to kill me.”
Listen to the attitude of the people toward Jeremiah in verse 19:
“Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the
land of the living, that his name be remembered no more.”
(Jeremiah 11)
The people of his town wanted to cut Jeremiah down like a tree. They
wanted to rid the earth of every remembrance of his presence. Jeremiah
dared to challenge them and expose their hypocrisy. They hated him for this
—enough to kill him.
What do you do when the harsh reality of a difficult ministry strikes?
Notice the response of Jeremiah in verse 20:
20 But, O Lord of hosts, who judges righteously, who tests the
heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for
to you have I committed my cause. (Jeremiah 11)
In Jeremiah 11:20, the prophet confessed God as the Lord, “who judges
righteously.” His fellow-citizens wanted to take his life. They had people on
their side who could twist the truth in their favour. What chance did the
prophet have against a corrupt justice system and a people who hated him?
Jeremiah’s comfort in these days was in the fact that his God was Lord of
hosts. He was the all-powerful God to whom every nation on earth would
one day bow. His Lord was a Judge who would not be influenced by the lies
of evil people. He judged with fairness and truth. He knew Jeremiah’s
innocence and would defend him before the crowds that called for his
death. The prophet found great comfort in his Lord.
Second, Jeremiah understood that while the people of his day acted
deceitfully, the Lord God would not be deceived by their words and
arguments. Jeremiah’s God “tested the heart and mind.” In other words, the
God of Israel, who stood with Jeremiah, would see the evil thoughts and
intents of those who sought to destroy him. This same God knew the
sincerity of Jeremiah’s heart. He would not be fooled by the lies of those
who sought His life. He would judge in truth.
Finally, Jeremiah committed his cause to the Lord. He chose not to take
matters into his own hands. He gave his problems to the Lord and waited on
Him to see what He would do. When the harsh reality struck, Jeremiah
knew he could trust the Lord to care for him and do what was right.
We must note here that while the prophet responded with great faith in
God's righteous judgements in chapter 11, in chapter 12, we see his struggle
to understand God’s ways. After committing his cause to the Lord in
Jeremiah 11, he cried out in Jeremiah 12:
1 Righteous are you, O Lord, when I complain to you; yet I
would plead my case before you. Why does the way of the
wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive? 2 You
plant them, and they take root; they grow and produce fruit;
you are near in their mouth and far from their heart. (Jeremiah
12:1)
In these verses, the prophet reminded God that those who rebelled against
Him planted their gardens and harvested an abundant crop. God was far
from their hearts, yet they thrived. Jeremiah could not make sense out of
this. Why did the wicked prosper while men like Jeremiah suffered for
doing what was right?
Why does the way of evil prosper in our day? Why do those who follow the
Lord suffer persecution and prejudice while unrighteousness is becoming
more accepted? Men and women, around the world, have lost their families,
possessions, jobs, and even their lives, because they sought to live in the
truth of the Word of God. Where is the justice of God in this? Jeremiah was
confused. Everything seemed backwards. Men were rewarded for evil and
punished for doing good.
Have you ever had times when you did not understand the ways of the
Lord? Jeremiah gives us a clear example to follow in these times. He
responds in faith by committing his way to the Lord. Jeremiah does not
have the answer, but he refuses to allow his confusion to keep him from
obeying God and trusting Him.
God did not leave Jeremiah without an answer. Notice that God rebuked
Jeremiah for his complaint:
5“If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied
you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land
you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the
Jordan? (Jeremiah 12)
God reminded the prophet, in these verses, that He had a more significant
ministry for him. The rejection he was experiencing here was mild
compared to what was ahead. Jeremiah was racing with men right now, but
God wanted him to compete with horses. Jeremiah was living in a
comfortable place right now, but God was going to take him into the
thickets of the Jordan. All this was preparing Jeremiah for a more
significant work the Lord had for him. We cannot compete with horses until
we have learned to run with men. We cannot be successful in a thicket until
we have been faithful in ease.
God went on to remind Jeremiah that while His justice was not evident at
the time, it would surely come:
7 “I have forsaken my house; I have abandoned my heritage; I
have given the beloved of my soul into the hands of her
enemies. (Jeremiah 12)
12 Upon all the bare heights in the desert destroyers have
come, for the sword of the Lord devours from one end of the
land to the other; no flesh has peace. (Jeremiah 12)
God reminded Jeremiah in these two verses that judgement had come. “I
have forsaken my house destroyers have come,” He told the prophet.
God pronounced His sentence. Evil-doers were under a sentence of death.
Their destiny was determined. It is true that God allowed them a few years
of prosperity, but the day was fast approaching when His sentence would be
carried out. Already the enemies were gathering to attack those who sought
Jeremiah’s life.
God told Jeremiah that he had no cause to question His judgement. Those
who prospered in his day were already judged. How easy it is for us to
focus on material blessings and prosperity and fail to realize that those
living under these temporary blessings are under the curse of God.
As Jeremiah faced the rejection and hatred of the people of his day, while
he could not understand what God was doing, he committed his life into the
Lord’s hand. He trusted the Lord to judge in truth. God was not blind to the
threats of Jeremiah’s enemies. He would not only judge them but use what
they did to Jeremiah to strengthen and equip him for greater ministry.
For Consideration:
Jeremiah faced struggle and rejection in his ministry. Have you ever had
unrealistic expectations broken by reality?
Consider Jeremiah’s prayer in Jeremiah 11:20. What does it teach us about
how he faced persecution and rejection in his prophetic ministry?
How has God used trials to strengthen you in your ministry?
For Prayer:
Ask God to help you to have a clear sense of His purpose in the struggles
you face.
Thank the Lord that He uses whatever you go through to strengthen you for
what is ahead.
Ask God to give you the grace to commit your struggles to Him without
seeking vengeance or becoming angry. Ask for the faith to trust Him with
what you cannot understand.
A
8- A RUINED BELT
1 Thus says the Lord to me, “Go and buy a linen loincloth and
put it around your waist, and do not dip it in water.” 2 So I
bought a loincloth according to the word of the Lord and put it
around my waist. 3 And the word of the Lord came to me a
second time, 4 “Take the loincloth that you have bought, which
is around your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates and hide it
there in a cleft of the rock.” 5 So I went and hid it by the
Euphrates, as the Lord commanded me. 6 And after many days
the Lord said to me, “Arise, go to the Euphrates, and take from
there the loincloth that I commanded you to hide there.” 7 Then
I went to the Euphrates, and dug, and I took the loincloth from
the place where I had hidden it. And behold, the loincloth was
spoiled; it was good for nothing. 8 Then the word of the Lord
came to me: 9 “Thus says the Lord: Even so will I spoil the
pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. (Jeremiah 13)
s a prophet of God, Jeremiah spoke the word of the Lord, but
there were also times when the Lord called him to act out his
message. We have an example of this in Jeremiah 13:1. In this
verse, the Lord asked the prophet to buy a linen loincloth and wear it
around his waist. Notice in verse 1 that this loincloth was not to touch
water. In other words, Jeremiah was never to wash it.
Jeremiah purchased this loincloth and put it on. We are not told how long
Jeremiah wore this belt. As he wore it, however, the dust and dirt of his
daily life began to accumulate on it making it dirty. This dirty loincloth no
longer brought him delight. Instead of being an object that enhanced his
appearance, because of its dirt, it was only bringing him shame. It was then
that the word of the Lord came a second time to Jeremiah (verse 3).
In verse 4, the Lord commanded Jeremiah to go to the Euphrates River and
hide his loincloth in a crevice of a rock. The Euphrates was about 800
kilometres (500 miles) from Jerusalem. It is unclear where Jeremiah was at
the time of this revelation from the Lord, but it may have required a
significant amount of time and effort to travel to this region in obedience to
the Lord.
Many days passed before the Lord spoke again to Jeremiah about his
loincloth. When God did talk to the prophet about it, He asked Him to
return to the Euphrates and dig up the loincloth. Remember that Jeremiah
still did not understand why the Lord was asking him to do this. Obeying
the Lord, the prophet returned to find his loincloth. When he dug up the
garment, Jeremiah found that it was spoiled. He describes it as “good for
nothing” (verse 7).
Only after he retrieved the loincloth did the Lord reveal the reason for this
strange request. God told Jeremiah in verse 9 that even as this garment was
ruined, so He would destroy the pride of the people of Judah and Jerusalem.
God’s people were wicked. They refused to listen to His word. They
insisted on following the stubbornness of their hearts, instead. They
worshipped and served other gods. Like the linen belt, the people of God
were filthy and unclean before Him—they refused to come to Him for
cleansing.
Just as Jeremiah had bound this garment around his waist, so God had
bound His people to Himself. They enjoyed His blessing and rejoiced in
intimacy with Him. Despite this privilege, they rebelled against God and
became unclean through their actions.
Listen to God’s heart for His people, as recorded in verse 13:
[11] “I bound the whole house of Israel and the whole house of
Judah to me,” declares the LORD, “to be my people for my
renown and praise and honor.” (Jeremiah 13)
God entered a covenantal relationship with His people, binding them to
Himself. God was proud of His people. He delighted in them and wanted
them to be a people for His praise and honour. He demonstrated His
character and glory through them. They reflected His glory to the world
around them. He drew them close, and they experienced the richness of His
blessing.
God’s people, however, did not reflect this glory to the world. They were
tarnished with sin and rebellion. They became an object of shame and
dishonour. As a result, God stripped the belt off his waist and cast it from
His presence. He disciplined His people by exiling them to the region of the
Euphrates—where the Babylonians and Assyrians lived. By taking his belt
to the Euphrates, Jeremiah prophetically traced the steps the captured
people would walk as they were forced into exile.
While Jeremiah did not initially understand what the Lord was asking him
to do, he was obedient. Through his actions that day, Jeremiah revealed the
judgement of God on His people. He also showed them that their
uncleanness and rebellion made them “good for nothing.” Like Jeremiah’s
loincloth, God’s people had become shameful. The day was fast
approaching when they would retrace Jeremiah’s steps into exile beyond the
Euphrates.
It is a tremendous privilege to be bound to the Lord God in a relationship of
love and devotion. In that relationship, we experience intimacy with Him
and the fullness of His blessing in our lives. We are called to reflect the
glory of God in this world through this relationship with God. This glory,
however, can be tarnished by sin and rebellion. Not all believers reflect the
fullness of God. The name of the Lord is sometimes blasphemed because of
our actions.
Writing to the Romans, the apostle Paul said:
[23] You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the
law. [24] For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed
among the Gentiles because of you.” (Romans 2)
The apostle Peter would say something similar when he wrote:
[2:1] But false prophets also arose among the people, just as
there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring
in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought
them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. [2] And
many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way
of truth will be blasphemed. (1 Peter 2)
Paul told the Romans that their lifestyle was causing the unbeliever to curse
the name of God. Peter challenged believers of his day to abstain from
sensuality because the practice of this lifestyle among believers was
defaming the way of the truth. As those who have been drawn close to God,
we must live pure and holy lives, reflecting the character of God in all that
we do. We must resist any influence that would tarnish that relationship.
For Consideration:
What does Jeremiah’s example teach us about obedience to the Lord? Do
we have to understand what God is asking before being obedient? Have you
ever not obeyed because you did not understand why God was asking you
to do something?
Why do you suppose the Lord chose to illustrate His message to the people
through Jeremiah? Would this illustration speak to the people in a way
words could not communicate? Compare this to how the Lord used parables
about everyday life to teach His message to the people of His day.
What do we learn in this passage about how God leads us step by step?
Could it be that you do not have the answer you require from the Lord
because you have not yet been obedient to what He has already revealed?
How does the illustration of Jeremiah’s belt help us to understand God’s
relationship with us?
Take a moment to consider the clean and pure loincloth Jeremiah purchased
and wore proudly around his waist. Compare this to the loincloth he dug out
of the Euphrates. Which of these two pictures best resembles your life and
walk with the Lord?
For Prayer:
Ask God to help you to be obedient like Jeremiah, even when you do not
see the whole picture.
Thank God for the privilege we have of representing Him, His love, and His
power in this world. Ask Him to enable you to be clean before Him and a
faithful representative of His character in this world.
Do you know individuals whose testimony has been destroyed? Take a
moment to pray that the Lord would restore them.