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The weeping prophet...

The prophet Jeremiah was “called” before he was even born for an extraordinary life. It was a life of emotional trauma and loneliness. It was a life of being misunderstood and hated. A prophet’s life is never easy, but Jeremiah had one of the roughest in recorded history. Do you want to make your mark in the history books and advance the Kingdom of God? To be used by God for great things means that you can expect to be abused by your fellow man—-but I don’t recall learning that in seminary.

Jeremiah is referred to as the “Weeping Prophet’. He was a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah, right before Judah ultimately fell to Babylon and was led away into captivity. God sent Jeremiah to a nation in deep trouble to warn of their impending annihilation – a warning they didn’t heed.

And yet, a main part of his legacy was the hope he offered to his Israelites— and to all who call God Almighty their Lord. He said this: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV.) God does want to bless this nation, and the nations of the world. He wants to bless you and me as well.

So quickly, here’s some background: King Solomon ruled over the Israelites in the tenth century B.C. However, the foolish actions of his son Rehoboam led to a schism in which the kingdom was split into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, each with its own king.

Both kingdoms descended into corruption and sin, despite repeated warnings from prophets sent by God — prophets such as Jeremiah. God warned them that would be overtaken by conquerors, but no one paid attention. It appears that God’s patience and forbearance was interpreted as leniency or that God was bluffing. God is patient—-but there’s a limit.

In 721 B.C. God moved: the northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians. The southern kingdom of Judah woke up, rallied themselves, and temporarily pulled itself together under King Hezekiah and avoided destruction from the forces of Assyria under Sennacherib through miraculous intervention of God’s angel. That should have been enough. One angel killed 185,000 Assyrians to show God’s love for Israel and His preparation to protect them! He can do the same thing today. He is a God of miracles.

However, Hezekiah was immediately followed by his wicked son Manasseh. The sons of the Jewish kings quite often were not taught history, I guess. Manasseh was eventually carried away by Assyrians and repented of his evil ways. But things got worse again as he was followed by Amon, a completely wicked king. Another brief upswing occurred under King Josiah, but after that, Judah was a mess of puppet kings placed by Egypt and Babylon, some reigning for only three months.

Meanwhile, Assyria had been conquered by Babylon. In 586 B.C., the southern kingdom of Judah fell to the Babylonian Empire and once and for all Jerusalem was captured, the beautiful Temple was destroyed, and the city walls torn down. 

Jeremiah served as a prophet from the days of Josiah all the way through the reigns of Judah’s last four kings: Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. Jeremiah died in 570 B.C.

He was born to a priestly family about three miles from Jerusalem, and he began preaching about repentance as a teenager. Sadly, after several years of preaching, Jeremiah’s family turned against him and plotted to kill him. Over the years, he was whipped, put in the stocks, attacked by mobs, threatened by kings, and ridiculed. King Zedekiah’s princes had Jeremiah arrested, beaten, accused of treason, and thrown into a deep empty cistern where he nearly died. He lived a miserable life through the siege of Jerusalem along with the rest.

Worst of all, Jeremiah was always alone. He was not allowed to marry, he had no children, and his family abandoned him. The people turned against him and didn’t believe him.

Jeremiah preached a lot of doom and punishment. However, his message was ultimately one of repentance and restoration. God was quick to remind his people that although there would be consequences for their sin, He still had a plan. “I will build you up again, and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt. Again you will take up your timbrels and go out to dance with the joyful”

Jeremiah lived at a truly terrible time in history. Not only did he experience the horrors of war, starvation, siege, and captivity, he was called upon to tell the people of it, urging them to repent—and no one wanted to hear it. How long would the typical pastor preach in America if no one came to church? Often times when you preach the gospel people do not want tot listen. The below passage well demonstrates the cause of Jeremiah’s agony:

“Alas, my mother, that you gave me birth!” Jeremiah cries in Jeremiah 15:10. Many times, he lamented out to God.

Jeremiah witnessed, both in foresight and real time, the destruction of his people. Upon Judah’s captivity, he penned the book of Lamentations, a highly poetic and devastatingly beautiful series of laments about the fall of God’s people. 

But as I mentioned earlier, Jeremiah had hope—-it helped him keep at his preaching for four decades. That famous verse sums up his hope for his countrymen once they were taken captive to Babylon: “‘For I know the plans I have for you, …plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

Jeremiah led a tumultuous life, and, most likely, death. However, his words live on thousands of years later, offering teaching and hope even today. Jeremiah served God even when it meant giving up everything and facing persecution in a culture that had abandoned God.  (Alyssa Roat)

Are we willing to do the same? God’s hand might be upon you right now.

His was a life of emotional trauma, loneliness, being misunderstood and hated. How does a man hold on like this? But how does any man or woman of God hold on when hated and attacked? How could Paul press on? How could John, banished to an island, never give up? How can pastors in Cuba, who are placed in prison cells with the doors welded shut, or imprisoned pastors in China—the worst persecutor of Christians in the world—-hold on to their faith, when they are are denied, food, clothing, companionship, basic medical care or any sort of compassion?

When asked to serve so many Christians today whine and complain so easily, and routinely focus on the issues that do not matter. We watch without passion or resolve as our government and Pope Francis negotiate with countries like Cuba, China and Iran—nations that dream of the annihilation of our nation in particular, and evangelical Christianity as a whole.

Jeremiah kept on preaching! But how could Jeremiah keep preaching? Why did he not question his call or wonder about God’s goodness in light of all that he experienced? He saw the beautiful city of Jerusalem torn to pieces, the temple leveled to the ground, he watched men and women literally eat their own children as they were starving to death!

How can you and I hold on when evil seems to be winning and we see new pandemics, horrifying new weapons of mass destruction, and an unleashing of barbarity, brutality, destruction, mayhem and mob theft in our nation?

Well, here was Jeremiah’s foundation of faith: At the beginning of his book, he records these words:

“The word of the Lord came to me, saying,“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 1:4-8, NIV

Jeremiah should have been killed many times—-but always miraculously survived right until the time when his work was done. And after it was done—-after all the work was finished and Jerusalem was no more—God took Jeremiah home to the eternal and perfect place where God was waiting for him. Jeremiah was a good and faithful servant—one of the truly great ones.

Friends, before you were born—-He knew you. Think about that. It’s God that forms us in our mother’s womb—not by accident or some mere happenstance. This is why Christians are opposed to abortion, and this is why the Pope should also be opposed to abortion and deny communion to congregants that fund, perform or assist in the murder of an unborn child. Forgive my remarks about the Bishop of Rome, but evangelical Christians and many Catholics wonder about Pope Francis very salvation when he extends fellowship to Presidents that want to increase opportunities for killing the babies that God has placed in mother’s wombs.

So God called Jeremiah for a special task. He was not called to be a social worker, but a mouth piece for God. In being God’s mouth piece, Jeremiah naturally addressed the social evils of his day—-as all men called by God must do—-but he didn’t get it backwards! He served God——and thereby also served those who were sorely oppressed. But getting this reversed and thinking that your call is to serve the oppressed does not lead one to serve God—more often than not you end up serving neither.

God did not call Jeremiah to an easy existence, but to an extraordinary adventure where Jeremiah spoke with and had intimate communion with God as only the servant who is called to suffer can. Jesus paid the ransom for you and me, but just like Jeremiah, he did not redeem us to a life of leisure. Now, a person that comes to Christ in the USA can, in fact, choose a life that’s pretty safe, leisurely and by and large free from pain… and most do. But God is still calling the few that will listen to Him… trust Him.. and let Him lift them to a plateau of Christian exhilaration such as Paul, John, and Peter experienced. They knew the sublime satisfaction of God being proud of them. That was the secret of their ability to endure the unimaginable. They loved Him and wanted nothing more than to make Him proud…

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