The Pruning

Posts Tagged ‘Jeremiah’

Living Just to Bring Bad News

In James Lee on September 27, 2011 at 10:45 am

by James Lee

In Jeremiah 20:7-18, the “weeping” prophet makes a complaint against God expressing that he wished he was never born.  He curses the day when his parents found out that they were going to have a baby boy and wishes that he had never been born.  And why does Jeremiah curse his birth?  It’s because he was called to be the bearer of bad news to his own people.  He says in verse 8, “For whenever I speak, I cry out, I shout, ‘Violence and destruction!’ For the word of the LORD has become for me a reproach and derision all day long” (ESV).  Jeremiah’s life was about telling his people, even his close friends, that they were going to be punished and that bad things were going to happen.  And he wishes that he didn’t have to live for the purpose of being the bearer of bad news.  But what was more difficult for Jeremiah was that people hated him and mocked him and wanted him to fail as a prophet.  Even his close friends outcasted him. Imagine you being called by the Lord to do his will but any time you opened your mouth it was only bad news for the hearers, and it made people shame you and hope that you would fail as a person and even make your close friends turn on you.  It’s not an ideal or pleasant life to live.  No person wants to be hated by people. No person wants to be shamed and mocked every time he/she opens his/her mouth. No person simply wants to be disliked by people.  I think our natural inclination is to be liked by people in general.  We could handle a few people not liking us but I can’t imagine a whole nation hating on me and wishing that I would fail.  Jeremiah was a great prophet, but he was human as well, and so he naturally wouldn’t want people mocking him and disliking him and wanting to see him fail.  Even more, he didn’t want to be the one bringing bad news every time he spoke for the Lord.  And on top of that, he had to experience the bad news for himself as well because he was part of the nation that God was going to punish.  His life was not pleasant at all.  His message was not well-received at all.  His heart was constantly overwhelmed with sorrow and trouble.

But yet, in spite of so much opposition against him and sorrow, Jeremiah knew exactly what God was saying to him and that he was called to speak God’s Word for that very time period and situation.  He could have been a prophet when Israel was prosperous during King David’s reign or King Solomon’s reign.  But he was born and called to be a prophet at a time when the kingdom was divided and when Judah (Southern Kingdom) was about to be exiled to Babylon, thus, losing its identity as a nation with its own government and king.  Jeremiah understood that even though there was big trouble coming for the nation, he had no choice but to speak the Word of God and tell the truth.  He couldn’t hold it in.  In verse 9, Jeremiah speaks,

If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.

Jeremiah understood that to speak the Word of the Lord, no matter how troubling and harsh it may sound, was the calling that God gave him for his life, and he couldn’t deny that calling nor deny the Word that God placed in his heart.  He had to speak it and just face the backlash.

No person really wants to be hated by people.  People generally want to be liked and accepted.  Christians don’t want to be hated by people.  We want to be liked by people.  We want to be liked by non-Christians.  Jeremiah didn’t want to be mocked all day and be rejected by his close friends.  But God does call us to uphold his truth; truth that can sound offensive to people.  And God also calls us to uphold his truth at a time when many people, even “Christians” don’t want to hear it.  But the words that may harden someone’s heart as like the sun hardens clay are the same words that can melt someone’s heart as like the sun melts butter. God desires that we stay committed to speaking his Word even if there is backlash that comes with it.  But as there will be backlash, there will also be changed hearts through hearing the Word of God.  May we always hope that people’s hearts will be melted by the Word of God and not hardened.  And may our own hearts continually be melted over and over again by the Word of God.

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