The prophet’s affliction was ever present. The religious leaders and the rulers alike shunned him and his words. Family and friends cursed him.
The fifteenth chapter of this record of the prophet describes for the reader the haunting insights of a man who has lost all remaining hope. He has interceded in his nation’s place; a nation who persecutes him. But God interjects with solemn brevity, “Stop! I will not hear you! Even if Moses and Samuel requested, I would not deter My judgement!” His patience has been spent.
Jeremiah cries out in anguish, “Woe is me, my mother, that you have borne me. A man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! …Every one of them curses me.” verse 10
And how does God respond to Jeremiah’s plea? He promises that if he is faithful to continue conveying His message to Judah, “I will make you to this people a fortified bronze wall.” verse 20
There is a familiar tone in God’s reaction to Jeremiah’s cries of despair. He seems to look beyond the prophet’s anguish and reiterate his initial calling to go and proclaim. He uses words such as, “if you return and go back to what you’re supposed to be doing…” It is as though God sees nothing unreasonable in what He has called Jeremiah to go and do, regardless of the affliction that might be incurred. It is familiar because it is the standard of God’s calling throughout His Word.
The manner in which this scene unfolds leaves the reader with a callous image of this God of love. He appears consumed with an agenda of merciless wrath. But is that the case? Not hardly. The very presence of Jeremiah is evidence of a God of mercy and grace. That He is still speaking to a people bent on disobedience proves the depth of His love. And by chapter thirty-one of this writing, God will unfold the promise of an everlasting covenant that allows Him to say, “I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” 31:34
While Jeremiah couldn’t understand everything that was happening, he could trust the God who was in control. He could trust the God of Israel; the God of all creation. He could trust the God who was preparing the world for the climactic coming of His Son.
And today? What of those called to carry the true and authentic gospel to the lost and perishing? “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1