True or false? The prophets of the Old Testament were ordinary people, like you and me. The men and women mentioned in Scripture lived centuries ago. Like people in today’s world, many struggled to make sense of life, worked hard to make a living, raise families, live out their values, be productive citizens, overcome difficulties, and make a difference for good.
I have taught the Older Testament to college students for decades and often asked them what person was their favorite character. As you imagine, the responses have come from all over the 39 books – Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Esther, David, Hannah, Daniel, Jonah, even some more obscure or rarely mentioned men or women like Gideon or Abigail. One of my favorites has been Jeremiah, because he was inspired to write and deliver some rather difficult material.
Read Jeremiah 1:4-12.
Here is a young guy, chosen and called by God to live out a new calling to be a prophet in very challenging circumstances. He started out not sure if God knew what He was doing by selecting a young person like Jeremiah for a transformational role of leadership. Yet he begrudgingly stepped out into a life of faith (spelled r-i-s-k) by choosing to trust the Lord, again and again.
Jeremiah served in the context of three major kings (Josiah, (640-609 B.C.), Jehoiakim (609-598 B.C.), and Zedekiah (597-598 B.C.). Under Josiah he was free to preach and call for reforms. Under Jehoiakim, he was not received well and frequently put in prison. And under Zedekiah, he was treated a little better but still had to fear for his life. The judgment Jeremiah preached came to fulfillment in and through Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, whose army destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B.C. and resulted in a total exile of Jews to Babylon (see Daniel).
He was treated poorly by those he brought God’s Word to, yet Jeremiah did not second-guess God too much or back down from delivering the pronouncements of God. He suffered, was ridiculed, ignored, threatened, and thrown into cisterns (deep holes in the grounds).
But think about the lessons we can learn from this young man. He practiced obedience. He modeled the words to the old hymn, “Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.” While he had to be concerned about what other people thought about what he chose to do with his life, he pressed on in his commitment to serve the Living God. He just went wherever God told him to go and said whatever God told him to say.
Jeremiah is a great example of living by faith, saying “yes” to God with frequency. He shows us what obedience looks like, including living with the consequences of a surrendered life.
If you are Christ-follower, or contemplating such a decision, here are some questions: Are you willing to do whatever God tells you to do? Remember that “No, Lord,” is a statement of conflict. How would you feel if God led you to remain single? What if He called you to take your career into an overseas marketplace in order to extend the reach of His gospel? Or even serve in an urban setting with underprivileged youth faraway from family and friends in America? What if he asked you to do something way outside of your comfort zone?
Walk wisely. When God says, “Go,” Jeremiah (or faith) says, “I will.” Will you?
Love is a verb,
©2017 by Mike Olejarz