Faithful Amidst Unfaithfulness
John H. Tennant, Edington
In dealing with Jeremiah chapters 1, 24, 26 and 28 we arc able to observe the following.
Jeremiah was set over nations and kingdoms, when he was only a youth, and called to be a prophet though be was born a priest. God is sovereign and has the power to form and use vessels as He chooses. He was commanded to 'diminish nor a word' of what God gave him, 26. 2. As a prophet and servant he was called to obedience and required to be faithful in the presence of apostasy. His teaching ran counter to that of contemporary prophets and made him unpopular with prophets, priests and people. The priests acquiesced with the false teaching and used their position for personal gain, 5. 31. Jehovah's complaint 'My people love to have it so', expresses sorrowful divine feelings and exposes the people's insensitive complacency, 5, 31, God needed a man who would speak the truth, and in forethought prepared the vessel. He had sanctified and appointed Jeremiah to prophetic ministry before he was born. The Almighty is never overtaken by events. Christ, the Lamb, was foreordained before the foundation of the world, 1 Pet. 1. 20, and saints chosen in Him, Eph. 1. 4.
Commission and Commitment
The youth's plea 'Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child, may suggest timidity and leelings of inadequacy, or an awareness that he had not reached the age requirement for Levilical service. Jehovah reassured him! His confidence was not in himself, but in God. God was sending him; God would give him the words to speak; and God would be with him. It wasn't Jeremiah himself who would accomplish anything but the word of God which would reach its own fulfilment, Isa. 55. 11. His authority rested in the divine commission; his power in the divine word; and his safety in the divine presence. As the young man committed himself to the demanding assignment of work, he grew in stature under severe pressure as he walked with God. In manhood he showed remarkable courage, tenacity and resilience. He had the moral courage to stand alone and withstand rebuff, 15. 15-17; 26. 9. He remained quiet when falsely accused and misrepresented but was attentive to the word of the Lord, 43. 1-3. He rested his case with God, 10. 23, 24. Peter writes concerning the Lord Jesus: 'Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously', 1 Pet. 2. 23. Nevertheless the prophet was a man of fine sensitivities and at one point felt loneliness, rejection and depression so keenly as to consider giving up. For our help the Holy Spirit records the prophet's wrestling of soul, 'I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not', 20. 9. What encouraging evidence of the work of God in a human heart, and how comforting to all who feel the pressure of the pathway. 'Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world'. Jeremiah wasn't promised exemption from suffering, but deliverance out of it, 1. 19. When we consider the sufferings of a servant and the cost of total dedication our minds turn so easily to our Lord. His last words in His last visit to Gethsemane, the scene of the agony, the betrayal and arrest, are precious to every believer, 'Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done', Luke 22. 42. 'Rise up, let us go', Mark 14. 42. He would be obedient unto death, and allow Himself to be led as a lamb to the slaughter. Jesus felt suffering, reproaches and rejection more deeply than anyone else, when His heart was full of grace, but He never thought of giving up. Praise Him! How much we owe Him!
The Lord assures all who serve Him that He is with them. Jehovah confides in Jeremiah and gives him the confidence he needed in two visions. What an appropriate question today for all who wait for our Lord's return, 'What seest thou?' 1.11. The almond tree, known as the waker tree, was the first to awake in spring (footnote rsv). During the long years of Manasseh's evil reign, and fifteen years of his successors, Assyria had been the dominant power, but was faltering. God appeared to be inactive. The sign of the rod beginning to blossom, after long winter months, was a clear indication to the prophet that God was about to operate. The seething pot, facing away from the north, Newberry, indicated that northern forces would be used to execute Jehovah's judgements on His idolatrous people, as Assyria had been for nearly a century, Isa. 10. 5. There were political changes as Egypt and Babylon contested for supremacy following the disintegration of Assyria. But God was in control, as Nebuchadnezzar had to learn. And so it is in our day! Great powers struggle for supremacy on land, sea and in the air, but the Almighty's restraining hand is in control. Every event was significant and underlined the accuracy of Jeremiah's prophecies, e.g., king Josiah was killed at Megiddo, 2 Kgs. 23. 29. The Egyptians were defeated by Nebuchadnezzar at Car-chemish in 605 bc, 46. 2. This opened the way for two attacks on Jerusalem. Ezekiel, Daniel and others were taken to Babylon. The city fell to the Babylonians in 586 bc and the Holy Spirit records the merciless treatment of the inhabitants by the Chaldeans, 32. 28-30. The fire in the seething pot was intense. Sadly it was Jehovah's judgement. They had broken the covenant; were serving other gods; and wouldn't listen. They remained obstinate, 44. 16, 17. That dear man of God was taken unwillingly by Johanan into Egypt as they fled from the beleaguered city. God knows where he is buried. Trustworthy servant; faithful to the end; God will honour him. At the end of the seventy years of captivity, and following the fall of Babylon to Cyrus: 'that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia', to decree that a house should be built for Jehovah at Jerusalem, Ezra 1. 1; 2 Chr. 36. 23.
There is a bright future for Israel and Judah in the mercy of God. Josiah did introduce reforms in 621 bc following the discovery of the book of the law in the temple, 2 Kgs. 22. 'Back to the covenant' was the call, but renewed ceremonies and moral rectitude were superficial. It wasn't a heart matter. The old covenant will not be renewed. Jehovah will put His law in their inward parts and write His law in their heart, 31.3. There will be heard 'the voice of joy and gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and ... bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the Lord of hosts: for the Lord is good; for his mercy endureth for ever', 33. II.