Jeremiah: speaking dangerously

Lately I’ve been reading through the book of Jeremiah in my daily devotions. One of the things that has struck me in reading through this largest book in the Bible, is how hard Jeremiah’s mission was. He had to speak God’s word to a people who, not only wouldn’t listen to him, but who actively opposed him – such that he ended up at the bottom of an empty cistern!

The context of Jeremiah 38 is that Judah has rebelled against God and God has promised judgement on them, in the form of the Great Babylonian army – who have laid siege against Jerusalem. You can imagine being inside the city – no one can come or go, food is running short. If you leave the city, you’ll either be killed by the Babylonians or taken off to exile. If you stay in the city, you’ll die of starvation. It’s in this context that Israel needed to remain strong & unified against the Babylonians. The soldiers needed to have hope of victory in order to remain confident in guarding Jerusalem.

And so you can imagine how hard it must have been for Jeremiah when God gave him the Word to speak the people: “The city will certainly be handed over to the army of…Babylon” and the only hope you have of living – is surrender to them. How unpopular must Jeremiah’s word have been to the people & how hard it must have been for Jeremiah to give it to them! This word was like salt in the wounds of a suffering people – but he gave it anyway. And the officials responded as expected: “This man should be put to death. He is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city…this man is not seeking the good of the people but their ruin.” They took Jeremiah and lowered him to the bottom of an empty cistern where his feet sank into the stinky mud and he was left to die.

What a cost to pay to speak the Word of God to a people who didn’t want to hear it!

As the culture of Australia moves further away from the life God desires for them, the harder it will be to speak the truth – the Word of God – in love to them. We will be ridiculed, abused, even attacked for opening our mouths. Already Christians have been labelled “child abusers” for simply teaching the Bible to kids. And the temptation we will all face will be to remain quiet. But friends, like Jeremiah, Jesus has called each of us to be shining lights in this dark world – will we choose to stand out in our culture? Jesus has commissioned us to make disciples of all nations – will we share the Word of eternal life with those who may reject us for it? Jesus bids us to take up our crosses and follow him on the road to Calvary.

Will we willingly join him?

Your brother in Christ,
Craig Stalder.