The book of Jeremiah contains much about his emotionally tortured life as a prophet. Through his predictions, Jeremiah pointed to the sensitivity of the Lord and the care of His people. God let Jeremiah know early in life that he was set apart for His service. Jeremiah was definitely a prophet who endured hardships to do the will of God. He was willing to stick with a task against all odds. Forty years were spent by Jeremiah delivering messages for God.
Idolatry caused many problems. The people of Israel and Judah had done evil deeds from their youth and provoked God’s wrath by burning incense and pouring drink offerings to their idol gods! The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah saying, “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 33:3). The NIV or KJV may say it with more understanding, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.” (KJV of Jeremiah 33:3).
When King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Babylon, life must have been almost unbearable for the prophet Jeremiah as the king, the officers of the priests and other people were extremely unfaithful to God. Some leaders considered Jeremiah a traitor and had him imprisoned!
Let us view the special calling God had on Jeremiah. The word of the Lord came to the prophet saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”(Jeremiah 1:5-7). This was when Jeremiah used the excuse of being a child and therefore explained his inability to speak and also explained his inexperience to serve God. Does God ask us for age or experience? Does he put any limits on our activities in His name? The power of God’s presence and His provisions allowed Jeremiah to have been used. God even put words in Jeremiah’s mouth (Jeremiah 1:9). Because He is all-knowing, God can arrange the directions for our lives before we are born. What a mighty God we serve!
Jeremiah’s obedience to God included not marrying so he would not have to see his children suffer. He sent a message of hope and future return to those living in exile. Jeremiah had to depend on God’s love as he developed endurance. His people were probably antagonistic or apathetic to his messages. He saw spiritual awakening and the sorrow of a return to idolatry. King after king ignored Jeremiah’s warnings. People were led away from God. How does this information relate to us today? Do we have problems persevering? Most people have felt like giving up at one time or another in a relationship, at work, during a task at home or during an illness. We must continue to ask God for help with all problems and trials of today. God knows what is best for us.
Finally what Jeremiah predicted happened. Judah and Jerusalem were destroyed by Babylon, and the people were taken as captives. Jeremiah’s contemporaries refused to change. He was called the weeping prophet because he was so sad over what happened to his country. Is it ever too late to change? Sometimes it is too late to avoid the consequences! If we refuse to change, there may be more trouble ahead.
God gave Jeremiah promises of restoration that may also give us hope for some of today’s problems. We must continue to call on God and trust Him for His love endures forever as He continues to be called the Lord of our righteousness!
Mrs. Gladys R. McElmore, a resident of Norfolk’s Middle Town Arch Community, is a New Journal and Guide Freelance Contributor on religion. She is a native of Essex County, Va.