It seems that our country is spinning deeper into the spiritual abyss, a black hole that knows no moral bounds, acting in ways that defy logic, which ultimately will lead to a nation devoid of any guidelines to live by. I have never seen it turn so quick. The current administration has us on a point of no return, so it seems. But in these times is when God’s people need to shine, to be a light in the darkness.
In the Old Testament, there was a prophet by the name of Jeremiah. This man, whom God had set apart for a specific task even before he was in the womb (who says the unborn are not human or have worth?), was to be a spokesman for God during the last years of the kingdom of Judah.
Jeremiah began his ministry during the reign of Josiah, Judah’s last good king. Josiah had brought revival to the nation but once he was gone, whatever embers of God’s truth that had lit the fire of spiritual renewal in Judah slowly died out.
The four kings that followed Josiah, including Zedekiah, who was king when Judah finally fell to Babylon, did nothing to keep the nation on-track. As I look at the life of this servant of God, Jeremiah, I believe that we can learn a few valuable lessons from his life that are applicable for us today.
These truths are not earth shattering or new, but a gentle reminder, a spiritual “shot in the arm” we could say. Bear with me for a few moments as we look at the life of this man who stood against the winds of his day and see what we can apply to our lives as we face the world around us.
First, we need to remember who holds us close. I realize this is not an earth-shattering statement of new truth but one that I need to remind myself of. In Jeremiah 1:8 God tells the prophet not to be afraid of those who would not listen to or oppose him. His responsibility was to proclaim the message. How they responded was on them. But still, a person’s reaction to what we say can affect us. And we know this: as we look at the world around us it is easy to be fearful.
In saying what He did, God never told Jeremiah that life would be easy. In vs. 8 the Lord told our friend not to fear because He would deliver the prophet from whatever he might face. The harsh reality is that Jeremiah faced some tough times. Just read Jeremiah 11:18-23; 20:1-2; 26:11; 37:15-16 and 38:4-6. People tried their best to get rid of this man. His message was hated. People were threatened because his words rang out with God’s truth.
What God meant when He told Jeremiah not to fear was a reminder that even during difficult times, God would be with him. The same is true for us. We are on this earth for a season, and God has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). When fear begins to grip us, remember that God is right there with us, living in us, hearing our prayers, giving us what we need to make it through each day.
Second, we have a message to share. It is God’s message. His Word. I want to encourage us to not back down from proclaiming the truth of Scripture. To our friends. To our families. Be in a church where God’s Word is taught, not some pop message that tickles a person’s ears. There is enough false teaching and legalism going on in the church and because of that, there is, as a book by Jack Van Impe put it, “heart disease in Christ’s body.”
In Jeremiah 1:9-10 God told Jeremiah that He would give him the words to say to the nation, and that his words would have power behind them because…they are God’s words. Today we have the Scriptures, God’s revelation to us, and within the pages of our Bible are the answers to life. Boldness to speak the truth, even if others do not like it, is needed.
We need to be wise and speak with grace and know that when truth is spoken, people, unless they are open to hear it, will react in different ways. And not always with a smile on their face. When Jeremiah spoke what God told him to, it did not sit well with many in Judah. But that did not stop the prophet.
I want to encourage us. Be strong. Give the Gospel. Challenge culture’s destructive teachings by pointing people to the Bible and the benefits of allowing God’s Word to guide our lives in every area.
A third and final lesson I would like to note in this post is, like Jeremiah, our hearts must bleed for our nation and our world. For example, in Jeremiah 8:18-9:2 we see the prophet’s heartfelt pain for his people. He knew judgment was coming. He was doing the right thing, and yet he was being ignored.
Have we ever felt that way? We are committed to doing what is right, yet we face opposition when we do. No matter our personalities, we can never grow so callous that we stop praying for our land, retreat into our spiritual bubble and break off contact with people who need Christ, nor do we stop speaking truth.
Jeremiah’s heart was grieved. He mourned over what he saw taking place. And he at times wanted to just break off contact with those around him who were turning their back on the truth (see Jeremiah 9:2). Instead of choosing that road, he kept pushing through.
Pray for our nation. God has expectations of all countries and holds those accountable who rule it. He also expects His people to proclaim the light in the darkness, to let people know that Jesus lives. God cannot overlook a nation that last year alone slaughtered over 350,000 unborn children. That is staggering.
Change hearts. Change a nation. Like Jeremiah, I pray that we keep on no matter the opposition that we face as Christ followers.