“Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and all the people, saying, “The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard. Now therefore mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will relent of the disaster that he has pronounced against you.” (Jeremiah26:12-13)
The message of coming judgement that Jeremiah taught was quite unpopular with the people of Judah. When he preached that same message in the Temple courts he provoked the anger of the priests and the prophets because they were the religious authorities of the nation. Jeremiah’s message contradicted theirs and offended them. They claimed at he was a false prophet who should be punished accordingly. Yet the civil magistrates vindicated him by citing 2 cases of other situations in which true prophets had preached an unpopular message. It was best to let Jeremiah go and see what happened but his message was ignored.
The reactions of those religious officials shows us the depravity of the human mind. Those who are think they are religious or spiritual gurus because they have a degree or position or title often claim to know God, to be intimate with Him. Academia and the media both hail them as authorities when they need someone to speak about God or religion. However, the things they say reveal that few of them know Jesus. What they often proclaim is the truth as they see it. They refrain from talking about sin, sinful lifestyles, idolatry and false religions. Like the priests and prophets of Judah they do not want to disturb the status quo by antagonizing people or making them feel guilt, poor self-esteem or the need for repentance. But we who have faith in Christ are called to speak the truth like Jeremiah did despite the opposition and the consequences.
“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2 ESV)
The Corinthian believers erred when they thought they had achieved spiritual perfection. One of the ways this manifested itself was in the widespread teaching that there was no bodily resurrection from the dead because they were already in their glorified state. Their bodies they deemed expendable and useless for the resurrection were spiritual not physical. This disdain for the body expressed as either ignoring it or by indulging its sinful cravings. So Paul reminded them of their common belief in the resurrection of Christ.
Paul’s teaching to the Corinthians serves to underscore one of the central truths of the Christian Faith: the belief in the literal bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead. It is one of those truth we affirm in the Apostle’s Creed. What Paul teaches indicates that if we deny Christ’s resurrection, if we say it never happened, then we are denying our own resurrection. Christ rose from the dead and this is the proof that He died for our sins. To deny this truth then means that we are still spiritually dead and incapable of pleasing God. Christ’s bodily resurrection is the ultimate proof that He defeated sin and death on the cross. Believers need not fear death because we are certain we will be raised again to eternal glory for we are united with Christ.
“In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: “We have a strong city; he sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in. You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:1-3 ESV)
Isaiah likened the Kingdom of God to a strong city, a fortress, one where God dwells with the redeemed. Our strength as the people of God is in Jesus Christ our Lord. He has delivered us by His cross from sin and death. He gives us peace in the midst of chaos and suffering.
Perhaps the ancient Jews who heard these prophetic words as Isaiah spoke them thought he was referring to Jerusalem for at the time good King Josiah had launched sweeping religious reforms throughout Judah. God would be pleased with them now, so they thought. Josiah knew that whatever he did would not change the determined judgment of the Lord. He undertook reform not because it would assuage God’s wrath, but because it was the right thing to do. He acted with righteousness even though he received no benefit from doing so.
Many people today would not do as Josiah did if they knew it would have no benefit to them personally. They want the peace and joy God promises but without the cross. They want to know what the advantages of Christianity are to them before they will believe. What’s in it for me? Will it heal my illness? Will it make me happy? Will it make me prosperous and rich? And many churches, preachers and individual Christians go out to their way to accommodate them to make Christianity more palatable. Yet the message of Isaiah is that we should do the right thing because it honors God, no matter what the cost to us. And the good news is that the Lord will give us peace.
Jesus calls His disciples to seek to promote the needs and agenda of His Kingdom first over all our own needs. This is because when we look at people in the world who are prospering we are often tempted to compromise with the ideology of the world and compromise with sin, to seek our own agenda over God’s. This is easy if we buy into the lie that the media loudly proclaims that we are missing out on the important issues of life if we do not have this house or take that vacation or are not enjoying our life with food, feasting and fun!
Jesus reminds us that the life to which He calls us is the most important issue of existence, not money, fame or pleasure. He tells us that we should not worry about anything not even the things we need. He is telling us, His people, that our worries and concerns in this life are unrealistic. As long as we trust Him, we should not worry or fret because He will supply us with everything we need, not all the extras that we think we cannot live without. As we face the future it is easy to lose faith, to forget that Christ is going to return. Yet when we face the future with hope and expectation that He will, we will begin to realize that all the injustices we see will be righted and all the suffering we endure now will vanish. Therefore we should always be mindful that since we have been called into God’s kingdom we must then carry out the work He has given us with gladness and peace. The entire resources of His kingdom are at our disposal. We are to use those resources, not to glorify ourselves or increase our personal prosperity or prestige but build His kingdom, not ours. Then we will have all that we need and will be blessed with the peace of God.
“Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.’ But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am only a youth”; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.’ Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.'” (Jeremiah 1:6-9)
Jeremiah was called at the start of good King Josiah’s religious reformation. His call was to proclaim God’s judgment which would come without fail even though the reforms would delay it. The 2 visions detailed in the ensuing verses confirm this. The almond tree is a harbinger of spring so it is a sign that God is working and in control. His judgment is just beginning to dawn. The boiling cauldron is a sign of that judgment which will sweep Judah away. Jeremiah was going to be subject to abuse and mockery from the people of Judah for he would preach this message for 20 years before the judgment would come.
Jeremiah hesitated to take up the call but not because he knew this. He did not. He was not afraid of the people or how they would accept such a severe message. The problem was that he knew his own temperament, that he was not wise, strong or gifted enough to deliver it, to be a prophet. He knew that he could not do what the Lord asked of him. Yet the Lord promised to give him all the resources and strength to carry out the call. In fact, whenever God calls one of us to do His work in any way, He always supplies us with the power, authority, words and wisdom we need so that weakness and lack of ability is never an excuse: it is what qualifies us.