I hit Jeremiah 26 today, and it’s a tough chapter. I’ve been following Jeremiah’s story as a prophet, and God asked him to do such hard things. In chapter 26, Jeremiah is told to go to the Temple and to warn the people that God is going to destroy the nation and the city. It’s not a new message. He’s been saying it for 25 chapters before this, and the people won’t listen.
So, first of all, why would Jeremiah keep going? No one is listening to his warnings, no one is taking heed to his advice. He is made fun of, laughed at, and mocked. On top of that, God keeps making him do crazy things as visual lessons for the people. In chapter 26, he is wearing a yoke, like the ones they put around a cow’s neck to pull a cart. So, he’s in the temple, preaching doom, with a yoke on.
Following God was not cool that day.
The reaction to his message? The pastors of the temple decide they’ve finally hit their breaking point, and they are going to kill him. They take him prisoner, and want to execute him. I don’t know about you, but at this point, I might need to reconsider my professional calling as a prophet. One, he’s failing, because no one is repenting. Two, he’s failing because people hate him and God more than when he started. Three, he’s failing because they want to kill him, and that is never a win.
But his response is to keep preaching the same message to the people who want to kill him. He tells them to do whatever they want with him, but to understand that God is going to judge the city, and they need to repent.
For Jeremiah, there was only one way to fail. That was to shut up. A few chapters earlier he tells God that he wishes he could just be quiet. He tried to quit the warnings. But he said that God’s words were like fire in his bones and he would burn alive if he tried to keep them in. So, he speaks. Jeremiah speaks when no one listens, when no one repents, when no one likes him, when his life is on the line.
Because of that, he wins. He has God’s favor, he is never alone, he is not afraid of what is coming, he finishes the race well.
I don’t think that many of us are called to give such a message that someone is going to want to kill us, at least not today. But I know God is calling each of us to take a step forward. Fear, worry, embarrassment, uncertainty, laziness, or pride may hold us where we are. Today, understand that if Jeremiah, who was just a teenager when God called him, could obey; then so can we. The same God lives in us, loves us, gives us the power and the abilities. Don’t measure what you’re called to do by what everyone else defines as winning. Be faithful. Trust Him. He will see you through.