Jeremiah 20. 7-13
Do you ever feel like doing it? Is life too complicated? Decisions made in the past, directions chosen based on sound advice, investments that seemed so sure, plans that were well thought out, all gone awry? How about the decisions being made by your children, where you ask yourself, “How could they possibly arrive at that conclusion?” So many times I wonder how I ended up in life where I am, I certainly had opportunities that I let slide by, or procrastinated on. How about those times when in absolute purity of heart you try to help someone or seek to warn of impending disaster a friend, or child who refuses to heed your warning and sure enough disaster comes, and you get blamed for it? I think you get the point here, life is hard, life is less than smooth and rosy sometimes, and you wish you could just throw in the towel and run away and hide.
Our passage today is from the life of Jeremiah the prophet of Jehovah who was to warn Israel of impending doom and destruction if they did not return to the LORD’s law, and covenants. Israel had taken a horrible turn away from God, they had let worship of Baal creep into their midst. It starts so innocently with just a statue bought only for its artistic value, then perhaps you hear of a neighbor who claims the statue granted a wish, then you find yourself and friends praying to it, hoping for a miracle from this new god. In a little time this Baal becomes more and more dominant in your thinking and sure enough you are worshipping at the bigger than life structure with your neighbors, and the demands of its worship grow greater and greater. Israel had even gotten to the point of child sacrifice, Jeremiah 19.5, God says “things I never commanded or spoke of, nor had it ever entered my mind.”
Now Jeremiah is sent to warn Israel, purely speaking Gods word, not changing anything, or adding to it, giving some really creative life examples, pictures as it were of what was to come if they didn’t return to proper worship , things any rational Hebrew should know. But sin was dominant in Israels collective mind, and they turned against the prophet. They wanted him gone, or dead. They threw him into a pit, jailed him, put him in stocks, they laughed at him and mocked him. Finally Jeremiah had enough, in chapter 20.7-8 he cries out to God and says “I quit.” “Your word has become derision and reproach for me,” “You have deceived me and I was deceived; You have overcome me and prevailed, I am a laughingstock all day long. Everyone mocks me.” All of his warning to Israel had resulted in nothing, no judgement had come, he was just another fool walking the streets, making noise, so he wanted to quit. Life was too hard to serve the LORD he thought.
Jeremiah 20.9 “So I said, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name; But His word was in my heart, like a fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not refrain.” When our lives seem to be a mess, when all our efforts seem to end in failure, or embarrassment, and we feel like quitting, our God is still there. Jehovah never quits being God Most High. As Craig said in last weeks sermon we sometimes need to see a bigger picture, a wide angle lens that allows us to see from God’s perspective. Jeremiah couldn’t quit because the LORD God Jehovah was so real in him, so alive, so burning in his soul. Peter and John in Acts 4.19-20 said ” Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard.” Again, God’s word in them was no intellectual assent to a truth, but vibrant, alive, real.
The pressures and efforts of this life are real and burdensome, weighing us down sometimes, but remember Jesus has the words of eternal life, where can we go but to Him, John 6.68. Let His words burn in your heart also.