Of all of the Old Testament prophets, the one that has most often been likened to Jesus Christ is Jeremiah. You may recall that Jeremiah was thrown into prison by those who wanted to kill him because of the Word of God that He preached – sin, righteousness and judgment (Jeremiah 32:2) He was put in a well and sunk in the mud. (Jeremiah 38:6) His friends turned against him. All reminiscent of Jesus in Psalm 88. Jeremiah, like Jesus, never received any encouragement from his people as He faithfully spoke the Word of God. Jeremiah was considered not only unpopular but unpatriotic, because his message from God was a message of eminent judgment against sinful and idolatrous Judah.
Jeremiah like Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Jeremiah is known as the “Weeping Prophet.” (Jeremiah 13:17) Jeremiah wept bitterly over the fact that lies prevailed in the land and not truth. Sound familiar? In that regard alone we should all be weeping prophets who cry rivers. In fact, God could not find truthful or morally pure prophets. God says in Jeremiah 23:14 that the prophets committed adultery and walked in falsehood. How could God find tenderhearted prophets who would weep over the sins of the nation when they couldn’t weep over their own sins?
Furthermore, whatever is rotten is also weak. We read Ezekiel 16:30 in the KJV,
"How weak is thine heart, saith the Lord God, seeing thou
doest these things."
"PEOPLE WILL RESPECT OUR MINISTRY ONLY WHEN THEY CAN
RESPECT OUR MORALITY."
Jeremiah’s eyes flowed down with tears because of the slain children of Judah and those who were carried into Babylonian captivity. The psalmist in Psalm 56:8 asks God to put his tears into His bottle. I am sure that Jeremiah filled several of Heaven’s tear bottles. Heaven’s true "Holy Water!" The true spirit of Biblical prophets and Biblical prophecy!
Jeremiah’s loyalty was first of all to God, not to the people of Judah. Critical! It has been, still is and will always be the all-time/end-time litmus test as to who are the true prophets and preachers of God and those who are not. Our true allegiance to the God of the Word and the Word of God as His prophets and preachers will be more and more tested in these anti-Christ, anti-God, soft-soap religion end times. Allegiance to God will become very, very costly. It was for Jeremiah. It was for Jesus. It will be for us!
Allegiance to God means that we will feel the weight infinitely more of what God commands us to preach, than what the modern culture and modern church want to hear. It is all embodied in that one often-repeated phrase in Jeremiah 1:4 and throughout Old Testament prophecy,
"And the word of the Lord came to me saying…."
It came and it kept on coming! It was in that strong vertical awareness and sense of obligation to God and to God alone that Jesus and Jeremiah found their call, and there we must find our strong call too.
Listen, if our allegiance is to God, then we will lead the sheep and the sheep will not lead us. We will lead the sheep with the true Word of God, and not allow ourselves to be led by anyone or anything but the Word of God. Nothing worse than a sheep led shepherd. It reminds me of the dog who is walking the man, rather than the man walking the dog. Which is it with us?
If we do not have that absolute loyalty to the God of the Word and the Word of God:
"THEN THE MINISTERS OF GOD WILL BE USED INSTEAD OF OBEYED, AND THEY WILL
BE THE RUIN BY THE CHURCH AND A REPROACH UPON THEIR CALLING."
If you will:
"THEY WILL BE THE INSTRUMENTS OF THE PEOPLE RATHER THAN
THE VOICE OF GOD."
God said to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:17,
“Now gird up your loins, and arise, and speak to them all which I command you. Do
not be dismayed before them, lest I dismay you before them.”
Listen Jeremiah, the true prophet of God must speak ALL that God commands him. Not a word less! He may not cherry pick to suit the sweet tooth of the hearers, which is what Jeremiah’s hearers wanted him to do. I love sweets too, but they rot teeth, just like the sweetsie feel-good preaching of today rots souls, when all the while America like Judah is in moral rot all around us.
Modern parents are taught to be concerned about their children’s sugar overload. All children want candy, cookies and brownies – all that they can get until they get sick. They love what is bad for them, and they hate what is good for them. Leave those disgusting green beans in a pile and get to the good stuff, cake and ice cream. They may try to make a deal with us if it is the ticket to dessert, like three green beans if it leads to the big payoff. If not, then they may have a temper fit and may even throw the plate of beans on the floor.
I am even more concerned these days about massive church-sugar overload. So many of today’s so-called prophets and preachers have ministries of terminal-sugar overload that are sickening and killing people with deadly religious diabetes! Church goers are feasting on desserts as the main meal, and have lost all appetite for the real meat of the Word of God.
You won’t be popular Jeremiah, for whole-truth prophets and preachers never are. "But don’t you be dismayed Jeremiah," says the Lord! That is, don’t be a coward Jeremiah. That is what dismay is, cowardly fear. Why would the Lord say that? Simply because what Jeremiah would have to speak forth from God to the people would take a ton of courage. And Jeremiah would discover that when he stood before the people and spoke all that the Lord gave him to speak, he would feel weak-kneed, and God knew that. Jeremiah, don’t give in to fear or cowardice.
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be
dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
Why would God say such things to His servants Joshua and Jeremiah? Very simple! He commands them to be strong and courageous because in themselves they felt weak and cowardly. That is why! He is telling them to do the courageous thing when they feel the exact opposite. So what we learn from all of this is as follows:
"GOD DOESN’T GIVE COURAGE TO COWARDS, BUT RATHER, HE GIVES COURAGE
TO THOSE WHO DARE TO DO AND SPEAK THE COURAGEOUS THING."
"GOD DOESN’T GIVE OVERCOMING POWER TO PEOPLE, BUT RATHER, HE GIVES
POWER TO THOSE WHO DARE TO OVERCOME."
It is like the old saying about prayer:
"IF YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE PRAYING, THEN PRAY FOR THE FEELING."
When we do and speak the courageous thing, that is when God gives us the courage. You and I must not wait until we have a huge reservoir to do the courageous thing, for then it will never get done.
Jeremiah was the son of a priest named Hilkiah in the territory of Benjamin. He was reared in a city assigned for priests. We do not know whether he at one time was a priest. He however grew up in that kind of religious background. God called Jeremiah as a prophet when Josiah was king of Judah, though God had singled him out as a prophet to the nations from all eternity. We read of that Divine appointment in Jeremiah’s life in Jeremiah 1:4-5,
“Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb
I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have
appointed you a prophet to the nations.’”
How do you escape that? Talk about being tattooed with the “P” word in your heart and head from all eternity! Preachers are called by God in the same way, for God didn’t put the prophet or preacher tattoo on our rumps so that you and I could sit on it, not deal with it or be comfortably disobedient to it. Before you and I were womb-formed, we were Divinely consecrated and appointed to preach the Gospel to the nations. It is pulsating in our very veins.
It is the Divine consecration to the call that gives God’ s prophets and preachers their authority and courage. In short:
"COURAGE IS WEAK AND WILL FAIL IF IT IS NOT BACKED BY DIVINE COMMISSION."
No easy or small task. Which is why Charles Spurgeon once said, “Don’t be a preacher unless you absolutely have to.” That inescapable “Have To” is burned into us by the Holy Spirit. I call it “Holy Ghost Heartburn.” No amount of Alka-Seltzer will put it out. If that isn’t the driving force in our ministry, the “Pastor” or “Rev.” label on our office door or church parking space has about as much life and potency as a name on a gravestone. If you and I are not convinced that our consecration (being set apart for) and appointment (ordination) did not first of all take place in Heaven, the laying-on-of-hands on earth means absolutely nothing.
Jeremiah, like Moses, at first tried to break the appointment. We read of that in Jeremiah 1:6-8,
“Then I (Jeremiah) said, ‘Alas, Lord God! Behold I do not know how to speak,
because I am a youth.’ But the Lord said unto me, ‘Do not say, I am a
youth, because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that
I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,’ says the Lord.”
Jeremiah gave all the usual evasions and unoriginal excuses. Though he was probably about 30 years old or so at this time! It shows the difference in generational and age awareness then and now. I am too young! I don’t have the ability to speak. I am too inexperienced. You really don’t want somebody like me. I think God that you’ve got the wrong guy. The typical stuff!
Frankly Jeremiah, if you ask me, you have just expressed yourself clearly and precisely. I think you just confirmed the appointment. God says to him, “Stop it, no more of this cop-out chatter. Whether you like it or not, you’re going where I tell you to go, and you will speak all that I command you to speak." God cuts His appointees no slack. No exceptions! No extenuating circumstances. So Jeremiah, you might just as well get on with it and not waste your breath. You should save it for your prophesying, for you will need all you can get.
And then in Jeremiah 1:18-19 God prepares him for some harsh reality by giving him some blessed assurance even as he did for Joshua,
“Now behold, I have made you today as a fortified city, and as a pillar of iron, as walls
of bronze against the whole land, to the kings of Judah, to its princes,
to its priests and the people of the land. And they will fight against
you, but they will not overcome you, for I am with you
to deliver you, declares the Lord.”
God warns and emboldens him, by promising him, "The people and the religious leadership will fight against you. Don’t fear, for this day I have made you like an impregnable fortress, and I am with you to deliver you.” Walls of bronze! A wall means fortification. A bronze wall is fortified fortification. No city can be secure without walls.
Strange combination you say – a weeping fortress! No, not strange. Jeremiah was not a self-sobber. He wept for others who should have but refused to weep for their sins. Jeremiah did not feel sorry for himself. But God assures him that the antagonist’s words will be like rubber bands snapped at a beam of iron, and firecrackers thrown at a stone wall. God was saying that He would give Jeremiah the ability to repel their darts like water off a duck’s back. Especially "Chief Stronghold’s" firey darts. You know him, every hit squad in the church has one, the head antagonist.
Let us as God’s prophets and preachers take great confidence in this:
"HE WHO STRIKES A WALL OF BRONZE WILL PUT BIG BRUISES ON HIS HANDS
BUT PUT NOT SO MUCH AS A DENT IN THE WALL."
What a promise when most of us are so easily wounded and our tender psyches are so easily damaged. If you remain faithful to God and His call in your life, He will fortify you and thereby turn their canons into cap pistols. Thank Him for it right now! This is not just my pep talk for more self-assertion. This is God’s promise to us of internal fortification which will in fact make us invincible.
Some of you are right there right now as God speaks these words to Jeremiah. You are thinking about throwing in the towel and giving up because of heated opposition. Don’t! Don’t! Don’t! God admitted that there would be those times that Jeremiah would be attacked and was going to need Divine intervention and deliverance. In other words Jeremiah, your human approval ratings will be very low, so low that people would like to see you dead and buried, but they will not overcome you. God will deliver you! But don’t let the opposition determine your call, but only Him Who called you. Or as the truism states:
"DON’T DOUBT IN THE DARKNESS WHAT GOD SHOWED TO YOU IN THE LIGHT."
I know this is hard right now to get ahold of. You are too close to the forest to see the trees.But this is what all of us as God’s prophets and preachers can count on from God if God can count on us. If we preach the pure Word of God, we will get ourselves into trouble, and when we get ourselves into trouble for Him, He in his own way will get us out of it, though right now we can’t even imagine how. This is what God expects from us, and this is what we then can expect from God. He is with us to deliver us, but if there is nothing or no one to deliver us from, then there is no point in His being with us. He will go only where and with whom He is needed for rescue and restoration. Those prophets and preachers who are everyone’s friend and have no enemies go without God. It is the WHOLE-TRUTH-TROUBLE-MAKER who alone has God on his side.
First of all a bit of history! Wicked and idolatrous Israel, the Northern Kingdom, had been punished by God through their overthrow by the Assyrians approximately 100 years earlier. In Isaiah 10:5, God calls Assyria, “The rod of My anger.” The strongest nation for many years had been the nation of the Assyrians. However, as in the constant parade of rising and falling nations throughout history, the Assyrians had been overthrown too. Nineveh, that great and evil city, was destroyed.
Now the Babylonians are the biggies on history’s stage. They were poised to come against wicked and idolatrous Judah, the Southern Kingdom. God was going to use them to punish Judah. We read in Jeremiah 25:9 God saying,
"and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them
against this land…."
King Nebuchadnezzar and the armies of Babylon were being sent by God to come against a wicked and idol worshiping nation where Josiah was king and when Jeremiah became God’s prophet in that defining hour.
Josiah was good and a godly king. It was in his reign that the Law of Moses was rediscovered. The Law of Moses had been lost and ignored. Josiah reestablished rules and decrees. He got rid of the idols. He took his people back to God’s laws and God’s will for their lives. Josiah brought back a revival of godliness and righteousness.
Josiah did the best he could, but then he died and the people went back to their idolatrous and wicked ways. Josiah’s well-intentioned revival turned out to be a superficial reform. The people’s hearts weren’t in it – their hearts were still into idols and unrighteousness. They returned to exalting man over God and exalting the evil desires of their hearts over the holy heart of God.
So God says to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:10,
“See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and the kingdoms, to pluck
up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”
My, my, that is like having to tell someone that they are soon going to die. Nobody wants to hear something like that! Don’t tell me that! I feel fine. I can’t believe what you are saying. That can’t be. So it was in Jeremiah’s Judah,as in our modern America, where the rich were manipulating the system just like today, and where the middle class thought that they were all doing just fine. The poor are with us always, so what can you do. Hey, we’ve got problems, but we’ll be okay.
This was exactly Jeremiah’s mission in life – to tell his own nation and his own people what it doesn’t want to hear, namely that it is doomed, that it is on the threshold of dying as a nation and being led off into exile. If you will, it will be pulled up by the roots, broken down, destroyed and totally overthrown. And only then will God rebuild and replant you one day. But first, life as you know it now will die and utterly disappear. Everything and everyone will be gone.
Do you think you would be popular if you started to preach things like this to the leadership and people of America and the American church, even as Jeremiah spoke to the leadership and people of Judah:
"LISTEN MR. PRESIDENT, LISTEN MR. CONGRESSMAN, LISTEN MR. JUDICIARY! LISTEN AMERICA!
AMERICA WAS ONCE A NATION UNDER GOD, BUT YOU ARE NOT SEEKING HIS FACE OR HIS
WORD. YOU ARE GRIEVOUSLY DISHONORING HIM AND GOD IS GOING TO PULL
YOU UP BY THE ROOTS, BREAK YOU DOWN, OVERTHROW YOU
AND DESTROY YOU?"
Most specifically, Jeremiah 1:14 and 16,
“Then the Lord said unto me, ‘Out of the north the evil will break forth on all the
inhabitants of the land, and I will pronounce My judgments on them
concerning all their wickedness, whereby they have forsaken
Me and have offered sacrifices to other gods, and
worshipped the works of their own hands.”
Now then, can you imagine yourself as Jeremiah, and being called by God to that position in your own nation where you must tell them that from the north a confederation of troops will overwhelm them, and that everything they now think of as stable and assumed will not be there for their tomorrows? In fact, in short order it all will be overthrown and destroyed. Why? Because like America they are living in wickedness. Because like America they had forsaken God! Like America they had offered up incense to other gods! And like America they had exalted the ideas and philosophies of man over God! Are we talking about Judah or America? What is this, a rerun of Back To The Future?
God would now judge Judah for all her wickedness. All her wickedness! Oh yes, that forgotten and obsolete word in modern America and the modern church! The Hebrew word for “Wickedness” is “RA” which simply means “Evil” or “Bad.” It covers the whole moral gamut. You name it! Judah, and Israel before her, were very evil and bad people. Murder, adultery, social injustice, greed etc. Nothing new there! Just old fashioned "RA." "RA" led to the complete destruction of both Israel and Judah. it always does. It surely could at one time be said of both:
“ISRAEL AND JUDAH WERE GREAT NATIONS BEFORE THEIR FALL.”
But they joined the faint echoes of once proud civilizations that now lay in ruins, too many to mention. All of this because they ran headlong into God’s judgment upon their “RA!” They experienced the full impact of Proverbs 14:34,
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”
And what about America’s “RA?” Never before in U.S. history has liquor and booze flowed so torrentially! Never before in the U.S. have best selling books, magazines and movies been so lewd and evil! Never before in the U.S. has there been such a flaunting of nudity and cleavage! Never before in the U.S. has there been such a provoking of violence, lust and perversion on daytime and nighttime network TV!
At the same time, America’s values have terribly warped. America pays her steroid-saturated athletes their millions, while home and foreign missionaries itinerate while begging for pennies. America spends more for tobacco than for education. America spends more for booze than for all of the combined income and expenditures for religion in America. America’s penitentiaries are full and most of her churches are half empty.
Dear God, if today’s preachers don’t warn America, then who will? If Jeremiah’s call is not our call as prophets and preachers, then Jeremiah was merely barking at the moon. America is offering sacrifices to false gods, as she is sacrificing herself and her children upon the altars of sexual obsession and perversion that are burning day and night.
All the while she is annually sacrificing 1.5 million of her babies on the altars of abortion which are built in honor of the gods of sensualism, women’s rights and secularism! Idolatry at its murderous and bloodiest worse! It was Mother Teresa who once said in an interview, “I fear for America!” “Why” the interviewer asked, “Is it because of all the nuclear arms and death devices that are siloed in America?” “No,” Sister Teresa responded. “Is it because of the air pollution problem?” Again, Mother Teresa said, “No!” Asked the interviewer, “Well, why then do you fear for America?” Her answer was piercing and unforgettable:
“I FEAR FOR AMERICA BECAUSE THE MOTHERS OF AMERICA NO LONGER HAVE
COMPASSION FOR THEIR YOUNG, AND ARE WILLING TO KILL THEIR OWN.
AND WHEN MOTHERS KILL THEIR OWN BABIES, A SOCIETY
We must weep and shout warnings from the rooftops that, if Jesus tarries and America does not turn to Him as their Lord and Savior, people will one day climb what is left of the steps of the capital in Washington D.C., even as the Jews climbed the steps of what was once the Temple in Jerusalem, and they will say,
“AMERICA WAS ONCE A GREAT NATION BEFORE HER FALL.”
America, as Judah, has not only forsaken God, but it is more and more in the process of outlawing the great and only God, and telling Him that he is unwelcome here and is in a no-trespassing zone. That means His Laws, His Word, His Son and the prayers of His people are now against the law in public gathering places. America is not only forsaking Him, she is forbidding Him from being a part of her life in anyway.
So much has the spirit of anti-Christ come in like a flood that her current president has denied that America has ever been a Christian nation, and has declared that she is not now and will not be a Christian nation. In fact, he has declared that she is a Moslem nation, thereby indicating that the God who she is one-nation-under is the false god Allah. Shakespeare wrote tragedies, but none like the “Great American Tragedy” that we see unfolding before our very eyes. It is moving so quickly now from the unimaginable to even the unthinkable.
I weep! I weep that few can weep anymore over sin, yes, the sins of America. I weep bitter tears! I weep for the state of the American church that now no longer can weep over sin, but in fact sanctions it. I weep! I weep because as is always the case, they all shall weep when it is too late. I weep for my lost neighbors who refuse to weep for their sins and bow the knee to Christ. I weep! Why does it have to be that way? It is expressed so well by the poet Kenneth Barnes in his poem Oh Please Not Today which was written as a song (printed by permission):
Long ago I studied the Bible and I studied real hard. I remember
the Lord said to be ready, for you know not the hour. But I forgot
about my Savior and left Him behind. And I didn’t pay attention to
the signs of the time.
Then one day I saw Him; my Savior in the sky. My heart then
melted in my stomach and I began to cry. Oh the trumpet
had just sounded, and I cannot go. I’m just not ready.
Oh please Lord no!
Please wait, just one more minute, so I can pray. Just
one more minute. Oh please not today. This was a
dream, but it shall come true. If you forgot the Lord
it will happen to you.
So don’t forget your Savior and leave Him behind. And
please pay attention to the signs of the times. For some
day you will see Yeshua (Jesus) coming in the sky. Then
it will be too late to pray and to cry.
If Jeremiah’s call in principle is not our call, then there is no Divine call in the world. There was once a time, in fact not so long ago, that America was hanging in the balances. America had deteriorated into a 50-50 nation, with variations one way or another. The U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate not so long ago voted along party lines, and often voted 50-50 on incredibly important amendments again with variation this way or that. It all reflected the convictions of millions of people – a nation that was 50-50 on morality, 50-50 on the Bible, 50-50 on prayer, 50-50 on divorce, 50-50 on remarriage, and 50-50 on God Himself. America had deteriorated into a 50-50 nation that could so easily be tipped in favor of pro-Christ or anti-Christ.
However, in the last midterm and presidential elections, the scales in America were severely tipped not only, but tragically overweighted in favor of the anti-God, anti-Bible secularists and atheists. This happened partly because of the dismal performance of the previous administration in a Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, in a War-savaged Iraq, in an economy on life support, and because of church goers who abandoned the moral majority and went to the polls and voted for the worse baby-killing, perversion-supporting and anti-Christian president this nation has ever seen.
America is no longer 50-50. The scales have dramatically dipped in favor of unrighteousness. God tells us whose side He is on! We read in II Chronicles 16:9,
"For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may
strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”
God doesn’t play by percentages. With God it is all or nothing. He is looking for those whose hearts are totally devoted to Him. God has been with America through countless trials, difficulties and wars. He has caused this nation to be raised up in imminent greatness. If we continue on our present course and in our present actions, God will stand against us instead of standing for us. He will pluck America up, break her down, destroy and overthrow her. He can do it in a heartbeat. The dramatic downturn in her economy has made Americans tenuous about her very existence and now she wonders why? She must be told why before it is too late! We must give her the unvarnished truth. That’s our call!
Jeremiah never lived to see all of the building and planting that he himself had promised as the mouthpiece of God. It was his call and mission in life to tell his nation what it did not want to hear and would not accept – that it had become so evil that sin had become accepted and was rarely condemned anymore. Evil had become the new normal! Therefore Judah was doomed. It was on the very threshold of becoming an extinct nation. Jeremiah was faithful to his call. It all happened just as he had prophesied. The young "whippersnapper" had been right all along. The dying rancor of his critics became muffled and then was totally and finally extinguished.
Will we be faithful to the true prophetic call of God? In boxing, you have heard the terms "Pulling Your Punches." That means you have power that you don’t use. That means you have the power to bring your opponent down, to level your opponent, but you don’t. You restrain yourself. You pull your punches.
There are also the terms "Carrying Your Opponent." It means that at any time you could put him away, but you don’t. You let him stand on his feet and continue to fight you.
Then there are also the terms, "Holding Back." That also means that you have the power to swing from the floor with a haymaker and put your opponent away, but you don’t do it.
When it comes to America and much of the American Church, God has been restraining Himself. God has been pulling his punches. God has been carrying America round by round, and year by year. God has been holding back. But God assures us in His Word, and has proved it countless times throughout history, as He states in Psalm 103:9,
"He will not always strive with us; nor will He keep His anger forever (hold back)."
We cannot say when it will happen, but we know that if America stays on her present wicked course, God will no longer pull His punches. It is not a matter of if, but only a matter of when. Jeremiah’s call is our call!