Where are the Jeremiahs?
The one book in the Bible
that prepares the preacher’s heart and moulds the man of God is the tear-stained
ministry of Jeremiah. Very few prophets exist today, yet arguably, Jeremiah
remains a tract for the times, a classic auto-biography of deep psychology,
and a theology of sin, judgement, wrath and repentance. Fifty two chapters
for fifty two weeks in the year present a record of his own lonely experience
of failure.….a personal crucifixion comparable to Job, a mortification
of the flesh only paralleled in the life of Jesus, a protracted martyrdom
that dwarfed the imprisonment of Joseph.
Jeremiah was the weeping
prophet…..and like Baruch we must become his disciples in these end-time
days. Reading the prophecy once a year with study will sharpen the preacher’s
art of exposing sin and imposing Jesus as Sovereign Lord of our lives.
Sovereign means God will do what He wants, when He wants, using whom He
wants, without asking our permission. He took Israel into Exile for seventy
years to cure them of idolatry. Jeremiah for the previous 40 years had
been using the word of the Lord as a hammer to break their hard, stubborn
hearts, but all to no avail.
God judged by a process of
scattering His people; put the clock back; the Jews went back to bondage,
in an alien land. The end of the history of Israel became the beginning
of world history and the times of the Gentiles. After Babylon, Israel never
had a king in Jerusalem. After the 70-year exile, they were allowed to
resume the kingdom. The tension within Jeremiah’s heart is mirrored today
within every faithful preacher of the Cross. A faithfulness to God’s
word and a compassion for God’s people brought Jeremiah to the point of
cursing the day of his own birth. By tracing how he saw himself we see
why there are so few, if any, Jeremiahs today.
HIS SELF CONSCIOUSNESS
1 : 6 I am
but a youth;
1 : 18 Behold, I have
made you this day a fortified city and an iron pillar,
and bronze walls
against the whole land;
6 : 27 I have set you
as an assayer and a fortress among My people;
9 : 2 Oh that I had in the
wilderness a lodging place for wayfaring men that I might have my people,
and go from them!;
15 : 10 A man of strife
and a man of contention;
15 : 17 I sat alone
because of Your hand;
15 : 20 And I will
make you to this people a fortified bronze wall;
17 : 16 As for me, I have
not hurried away from being a shepherd who follows you nor have I desired
the woeful day; You know what came out of my lips………..;
23 : 9 My heart within me
is broken because of the prophets. All my bones shake. I am
like a drunken, like a man whom wine has overcome, because of the Lord,
and because of His holy words.
The great dejection of
Jeremiah 20:7-18 sums up this extraordinary paroxysm of inner agony…….these
verses are the private psychological record of failure and the spiritual
record of success because he did not commit suicide, but remained faithful
to the call of God. His indomitable spirit underlined at personal cost
the promise of protection: ‘“for I am with you to save you and deliver
you” says the Lord.’
The success amid failure
is found in Jer. 45:5:
“I will give
your life to you as a prize in all places wherever you go.”
In human terms the only success
was the preservation of his life. Does this parallel the tribulation
of the Antichrist, and the preservation of the remnant?
Night is coming to Western
Europe. The remnant will hide and survive the wrath of the Antichrist in
the great tribulation. The sense of impending doom through Jeremiah is
parallel to the spiritual climate of these days. The Chaldeans are coming!
The Antichrist is coming!
We are soon to enter into the reality of Revelation 12:14-17.
Let not the rapture before
the tribulation preachers fool you into false peace.
Sense God’s now heartbeat
in Jeremiah 45:5. God will preserve an obedient, radical remnant. Everyday
in England crime costs £14 million, 435 babies are aborted, 20 commit
suicide, and people spend £300,000 on pornography. Night is coming!
The inevitable judgement of sword, famine and pestilence is coming in Jeremiah
and in the twenty first century.
Jeremiah is essential reading
because he repudiates the biblical objectivism of positional truth, and
looks into the actual state of the human heart. His own heart had to be
tested for him to be a faithful assayer - a man who would test the quality
and strength of the metal (or mettle?) of Israel. (Jeremiah 12:3). This
verse does not proudly parade the prophet as self-justified but shows the
gap between the people and the true man of God.
All the prophets saw
the gap between the character of God and the conduct of man.
For Jeremiah God gave him
the first glimpse of the new covenant when the Spirit
would sow the word into
repentant hearts and put God’s law in the mind and heart.
Then God’s people, and only
then, DO THE DESIRES OF GOD FROM THE
HEART. Self-effort is banished
when we live in the promises. During his prophecy
the reality was sin engraved
in the heart (17:1). Judah continued to play with sin, but
a time would come when they
would pray for revelation. (33:3). The weeping prophet saw the contradiction
between the good purpose of God and the wicked playground of man. The huge
gap brought this lonely man to despair the day of his birth.
THE GOODNESS OF GOD IN
1. God reminds Israel and
Judah of their sinfulness. Two evils are found in Jeremiah 2:13:
(a) The root
sin: “they have forsaken Me”;
Although fashions change and
sin changes it’s camouflage, the root sin is always leaving God. Jeremiah
does not move on much in terms of history and action, but he goes deep
into the nature of sin. Judgement begins at the house of God therefore
the word of the Lord continues to show what is blessed and what is cursed,
so Jeremiah painstakingly has to extract, “the precious from the vile.”
Praise Him for this goodness in our lives now.
(b) Resultant sin:
making substitutes for God.
2. God gives them time to
repent. Forty years represents a limit to God’s patience,
(and Jeremiah’s!). From
626 BC to 586 BC the man who wanted to be a hotel keeper was calling them
back to God. In the days of Josiah there was a revival (outwardly), a Passover
celebration, greater than anything since the days of Joshua. He was the
last good king of Israel, but could not avert the impending doom from the
east. God allowed Pharoah to kill Josiah, to take him out of the explosion
of God’s wrath. Jehoahaz, his son, only lasted 3 months. Then Jehoiakim
was put on the throne by the king of Egypt for an eleven year reign, during
which the king of Babylon had been quietly plotting. Jehoiakim is cut out
of the genealogy of Matthew 1 because he cut to shreds the word of the
Lord from Jeremiah. His burial was like an ass - just left by the roadside.
His son, Jeconiah reigned for 3 months. Then Zedekiah became the last king
of Judah for 11 years. Jeremiah prophesied to them all, and consistently
kept to the word of judgement. Jeremiah 8:7 says:
in the heavens knows her appointed times; and the turtledove, the
swift and the swallow observe the time of their coming. But my people
do not know the judgement of the Lord.”
3. God limits judgement to seventy
years. The parallel is to God shortening the last days for the sake of
the elect. Not only does God modify and limit punishment but He blesses
those who submit to chastisement. The first batch of captives were the
good figs who went to Babylon to settle down, accepting their punishment
straightaway. In wrath, God remembers mercy. God gives to everyone according
to his actions, and submission to judgement is necessary for full repentance.
He gives us time to repent and promises to bless us if we are willing to
go through His disciplines. We cannot repent by our ways because our hearts
are too hard. Jeremiah, the prophet of Calvary, foresaw it is the
Cross that remains forever as God’s instrument to bring repentance, to
bring His people to a place where they can receive forgiveness. This will
often occur during the season of His judgement when He judges us with the
same measure we have judged others. He will discriminate between what is
of faith and what is presumption, what is true grace and what is not, what
is revelation and what is false charisma. Jeremiah goes deep deep deep
down in revealing how sin strangles the true function of believers. A forgotten
law of life today is retribution. Where are the Jeremiahs to bring clarity
of mind and purity of heart on these issues?
The faithful Father, knowing
the supernatural options for our lives, is putting us on the wheel of His
circumstances to make us another vessel. (Jeremiah 18:4) AS SEEMS BEST
TO HIM! God is Sovereign and will do what HE wants, when HE wants, how
HE wants without asking us His permission. There is a process in making
a pot. You have to throw the clay onto the center of the wheel after pounding
it to make it pliable. The punch of God is the chastening after sin we
need while centering the vessel is saying “Lord, I submit to Your counsels
spirit, soul, and body, for the sake of Jesus’ name.” To be another vessel,
a vessel of gold or silver unto honour, we have to be dissatisfied with
having been a vessel unto dishonour. We are to cleanse ourselves (2 Timothy
2:21) dealing with the marring of sin and self and the demonic. Only when
we deal with the past can we look at His future, His gracious designs for
We are distorted in our
viewpoints, disfigured in our conscience, broken emotionally, erratic and
bound in our wills, chaotic in our imaginations until the miracle of regeneration
when a seed of the highest quality is born into our spirits. The
law of degeneration has to be replaced by the life of regeneration from
Salvation is more than being
recycled……it’s the inception of an undiluted, unchanging, undefiled eternal
After the new birth we discover
“our times are in his hands”, so that time becomes a friend not an enemy.
He spins us on His wheel sometimes slow, sometimes fast, fashioning our
hearts to live and abide in Jesus Christ. The moulding of our souls takes
years of discipline, love, testings, fellowship and prayer, as God patiently
works for eternity. God sovereignly arranges days of boredom in work as
well as inspiration, days of sorrow as well as joy, times of refreshing
in His presence and the dark night of the soul when His presence cannot
We are on His wheel of sovereign
providence, turning, turning, turning at His will, so that everything of
the old nature is ultimately overthrown. Each one of us is a one off, an
individual vessel with a path in God only we can fulfill. Each one is an
individual member of the body of Christ with an individual gifting…..but
we develop character and gifting only by our Gethsemanes; the regular personal
cross. The pot must be baked in the fires of persecution and left on the
shelf before it’s function as a container. We contain heaven’s treasure
which flows from us only as we co-operate with the Father, believing He
is in control even when we fail to understand the circumstances.
How do we react when things
suddenly go wrong? Will we hang on to His sovereignty when things seem
against us? Why did Peter get 3000 souls, but Stephen get 3000 stones?
God is the potter, we are the clay. He will mould us into another
vessel as seems best to Him. Jeremiah wanted Israel to become another vessel,
but his advice was disregarded.
Believers now desire change;
but will they submit to a path that will horribly disappoint the flesh
life and the carnal aspirations? God knows what is in the darkness, so
we must fully trust Him with ALL our hearts, as He reveals His plans for
our good. In our distress we must cry out to the Lord from the depths because
change only comes from true repentance. Jeremiah shows us the true spirit
of personal religion……to refuse his message will cause many to walk the
broad way of superficial tradition where we hear words of “peace, peace”
but there is no peace. Where are the Jeremiahs that courageously reveal
the narrow way that leads to the reality of the indwelling Christ? He,
the Lord of glory will enter our hearts when we cease the sins of feigned
obedience and rejoice in the eating of His holy word.
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