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Walk This Way

Walk This Way – Like Fire (Jeremiah 20:7)

Today’s Reading: Jeremiah 19-22

Today’s Reflection: Jeremiah 20:7-9

7) O Lord, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed.  I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me.  8) For whenever I speak, I cry out, I shout, “Violence and destruction!”  For the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. 9) If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.

In Jeremiah 19 the prophet delivers one of his most blistering warnings against Judah.  In response to the people’s sins of idolatry and child sacrifice God tells him to prophesy destruction of the nation and famine so severe the people will be forced to turn to cannibalism to survive.  Jeremiah illustrates this by shattering a piece of pottery:

Jeremiah 19:11 – And shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: So will I break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter’s vessel, so that it can never be mended.

Pashhur, the chief priest of the temple, was someone who should have been very interested in hearing the Word of the Lord from Jeremiah the prophet.  As a priest he must have been aware the behaviour of the people of Judah was not pleasing to God and should not have been surprised to hear of their coming punishment at His hand.  Perhaps Pashhur could have helped share the message, instructing the priests to spread this warning in the hopes that it might bring the people of Judah to repentance and spare them God’s wrath.  Instead Pashhur has Jeremiah publicly punished for his proclamations.

Clearly Pashhur was more interested in the favour of the people than obedience to God.  But this realization was devastating to Jeremiah.  He only delivered the word God had told him to and the result was humiliation and derision among the people of Judah.

We should know that obedience to God comes with its share of challenges, most notably the fact that people will not always appreciate the messages we bring from God.  Our words, our actions, sometimes just our very presence are disruptive to those comfortably living with sin.  Because of this we will face persecution.

Matthew 24:9 – “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.”

We may even be tempted to fall away from the faith and turn from obedience to God, or be swayed by people like Pashhur, who claim to be of God but avoid speaking His inconvenient truths in order to be popular among the people.

Matthew 24:9-12 – 10) “And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11) And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12) And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.”

But even as these persecutions discouraged Jeremiah today’s text tells us it wouldn’t keep him from serving God or speaking His truth.  As followers of God, because of how He has blessed us, we should feel the same fire Jeremiah felt in his bones.  We are supposed to change the atmosphere of any place we enter.  When and where appropriate we must be willing to call sin by its right name.  And at all times, by our very being, we are to present the alternative of life lived God’s way, by His law, in the shadow of His love.  If we hold to God’s calling, if we endure, we will be part of His kingdom when He comes.

Matthew 24:13 – “ But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

Not only this, but our witness can also help win others to Christ and grow the kingdom of God.  Jeremiah’s example makes it clear this comes with a cost.  The question is are we ready and willing to pay it?

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