by Roger Oakland
Understand the Times
The Bible provides a vast list of characters God has used as the servants He has called 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.
Such is the case today when someone proclaims the Word of God with the anointing of God’s Spirit. Those who do not have a love of the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10) but rather love the darkness make the most noise. They do not want the light of the Word to expose the carnal and devious plans they promote.
Jeremiah had no choice but to tell the truth. He was called to tell the truth. He knew that it was the truth that would set sinners free. He was also aware that hiding the truth would bring further destruction. Jeremiah had a compassion for those who were deceived, but he also had passion to let the deceived know there were consequences for turning away from God and serving their gods.
He also understood that history had a pattern of repeating itself. He knew what had happened in the past, and he knew 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 that 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 main reason the Children of Israel were disobedient is that they were rebellious to God and His Word. God had already warned them. They knew what to expect if they chose the gods; but they went after the 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 did not prevent the Lord from judging them. The people were taken into captive in 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 warrior and a watchman (chapters 1-45). He warned that sin would be judged and that leaders and the organizations 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 then one has enlisted in the field of agriculture. This means that seeds are put in the soil with the faith that 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. God is speaking to his people to be warriors for the truth. This does not mean to attack the unbelievers and the apostate deceivers with a sword. What this means is that we should be warriors who use the Word as the sword.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged 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 that 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. Matthew 16:24
Certainly, this does not mean that such a person who chooses to follow Christ at all costs is perfect. All have fallen short of the glory of God. There is only One who gave His life so that we can have eternal life. Only One who is worthy. We must always be looking to Him and Him alone. A watchman is someone who is always prepared to be on the wall looking towards the horizon to see if danger is coming. Sometimes there are those who are supposed to be watching who instead have grown weary or old 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 the Word of God, which is the truth. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is based on the truth, which is the Word God; therefore, Jeremiah was a true witness for the Lord.
So, where do you stand? Are you willing to be a Jeremiah? Are you willing to do what God is calling you to do or just sit by the wayside and do nothing?
We are living at a time in history when we may be near the end of history. Isn’t it time to stand up and take a stand for the truth?
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Jude 1:3
From Understand the Times with Roger Oakland
Used with permission from UTT
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