By Roger Oakland
Understand the Times, International
The Bible provides a vast list of characters God has used to fulfill His plan on planet Earth. Few are more dynamic in the way they fulfilled their calling than Jeremiah, one of the prophets we read about in the Old Testament. Jeremiah’s ministry covered approximately forty years until a few years after Judah ceased to be a state in 586 BC.
As with other prophets that God raised up to speak and warn about the terrible apostasy that impacted Israel, Jeremiah was not popular. In fact, the task of a prophet of God is often characterized by loneliness and despair. No one wants to hear the bad news of the mandate that the prophet has been given to proclaim.
Jeremiah had no choice but to tell the truth, as this was his call. He knew it was the truth that would set sinners free. He was also aware that hiding the truth would bring further destruction. Jeremiah had compassion for those who were deceived but also had passion to let the deceived know there were consequences for turning away from God and serving other gods.
He also understood that history has a pattern of repeating itself. He knew what had happened in the past and what would occur when the children of Israel refused to hear God and His Word. He could see his colleagues and friends falling into the same trap. On one occasion, his passion is obvious from the words he spoke:
And the LORD said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers. Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them. Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble. (Jeremiah 11: 9-12)
The children of Israel were disobedient mostly because they did not trust God to keep His Word, and their unbelief led them to rebellion against God (Hebrews 3:17-19). God had already warned them. They knew what to expect if they chose other gods; but they went after those gods anyway. Further, they had placed their trust in man rather than in God. The writing was on the wall. Judgment was just around the corner. Jeremiah pleaded with his people. The leaders of Israel scoffed at him and attacked him personally. However, the Word of God explains that the gods the people worshiped did not prevent the Lord from judging them. The people were taken captive into Babylon just as God warned.
Jeremiah was a true prophet. He could not keep quiet. He had to speak. He was called by God and appointed to be a prophet to the nations (Jeremiah 1:5). While he was not always enthusiastic about what God had called him to do, his calling commanded him to speak with boldness and not to be afraid of those whom he was directed to warn (Jeremiah 1: 7-8).
Further, Jeremiah did not have to lay awake at night to think up what he was going to tell the leaders of Israel (Jeremiah 1:9). His message was not candy-coated. It was harsh. It was a message of warning. He was a watchman in a spiritual battle (chapters 1-45). He warned that sin would be judged and that leaders and their followers who were sinning would be exposed.
They and their sin were exposed. Sin will be judged whether it is covered up or not. The same is true of the past, the present, and the future.
Jeremiah’s message was not all negative. There was a positive side as well. He was called to build and to plant. When one plants, one has enlisted in the field of agriculture. This means that seeds are put in the soil with the faith there will be a crop and therefore a harvest. While most Bible expositors are good at pointing out that Jeremiah was good at exposing sin and error, not many actually see him as an evangelist. Jeremiah proclaimed the truth of the Gospel; he was a witness to the nations as well (Jeremiah chapters 46 – 52).
Warrior, Watchman, and Witness
The Jeremiah calling is still in place today. In other words, God still raises up watchmen to warn of impending judgment when God’s people are willfully disobedient. God is speaking to his people to be warriors for the truth. This does not mean to attack unbelievers and apostate deceivers with a sword. No. What this means is that we should be the kind of warriors who use the Word as the sword.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
While there are those who claim they do use the Word as they teach the Word, it is obvious this is not always true. Sometimes they use the Word of God in a way that advances their own false beliefs in order to gain power and control.
A warrior is one who is willing to lay down his or her life for the truth. This is what Jesus did. Few are willing to lay down their lives today and risk their lives to take a stand, whatever the cost. Few are willing to pick up their cross and follow Him. But Jesus told His disciples:
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Mathew 16:24)
Certainly, this does not mean that a person who chooses to follow Christ at all costs is perfect. As the Bible says, “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Only One gave His life so we can have eternal life. Only One is worthy. We must always be looking to Him and Him alone.
A watchman is someone always prepared to be on the wall looking toward the horizon to see if danger is coming. Sometimes those who are supposed to be watching have instead grown weary or aged and have fallen asleep. Others have been sidetracked by the cares of the world or the attraction of money, power, and possessions. They no longer see spiritual danger. This is very tragic indeed. Often when this happens, God will simply raise up other watchmen.
A witness is someone who will share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jeremiah laid the foundation for the Gospel by pointing the people of his day to God’s Word, which is the truth. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is based on the truth, which is the Word of God; therefore, Jeremiah was a true witness for the Lord.
While fulfilling the role of a watchman in our present day will not bring popularity, according to the Bible, there is no other choice. While more and more pressure is put on pastors to conform to a reinvented form of Christianity that no longer uses God’s infallible Word as the foundation of faith, from God’s perspective, nothing has changed.
Throughout the world, mainstream and evangelical Christianity is headed down the road toward welcoming a global unified spirituality for the cause of peace. The warnings found in the Old and New Testaments have been set aside, and the sheep are following blindly. If the majority of pastors are not willing to stop what they are doing and stand up for the truth, God will raise up others to sound the alarm. While the last-days global delusion cannot be prevented (because Scripture says it is going to happen), God will raise up a remnant of believers who will be willing to sound the alarm no matter the cost.