Hope is a decision and a determination.
Jeremiah’s reputation, then and now, has been much maligned because he was true to his mission. He’s been much misunderstood because he spoke what he heard from the Lord with the fearlessness that comes from faithfulness. He was and is denigrated because he told it, like it is.
They call Jeremiah the weeping prophet. They say he was the depressed prophet. They say he was mentally unbalanced and afflicted. But the evidence in the text will show that Jeremiah wasn’t just the weeping prophet. Jeremiah was the hoping prophet. Jeremiah was the resilient prophet. Jeremiah was the determined prophet. Jeremiah was the faith for the future prophet.
Yes Jeremiah cried sometimes. Yes when he saw the devastation his nation and his people were facing, he cried sometimes. Yes when he went through the troubles of this world, he wept like Jesus did 600 years later.
Yet, Jeremiah is the prophet who wrote:
3 I am the man who has seen affliction
by the rod of his wrath.
2 He has driven me away and made me walk
in darkness rather than light;
4 He has made my skin and my flesh grow old
and has broken my bones.
5 He has besieged me and surrounded me
with bitterness and hardship.
8 Even when I call out or cry for help,
he shuts out my prayer.
14 I became the laughingstock of all my people;
they mock me in song all day long.
17 I have been deprived of peace;
I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 So I say, "My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the LORD ."
19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
A Time to Weep Will Surely Come
Yes, he was the downcast soul prophet. But those of us who have lived awhile by faith and not by sight know that sometimes in life you got to go down before you rise. Life will knock you down sometimes but faith is the power to get up. We feel the hand of God most powerfully sometimes when real life knocks us down and God lifts us up higher than life knocked us down. We got to go through weeping to experience God wiping away our tears. We got to go through a night of weeping sometimes to get to joy in the morning.
Can we do a little bible talk about biblical history?
- Jeremiah ministering career occurred between the 620’s through the destruction of Judah in 586 BCE (before the common/current era). This is what was going on with his people while he ministered:
- The Northern Kingdom, Israel had already been destroyed a century earlier leaving Judah as the surviving national remnant from the glory days of David and Solomon. The victorious Assyrians then deported Israel’s population to various parts of their empire. This is where the “ten lost tribes of Israel” were “lost.”
- Babylon supplants Assyria and Babylonian armies besiege Judah in 597 and again in 587-586.
- Judah goes through a period of instability, inept/ corrupt and assassinated Kings making politically bad decisions, failed rebellions and military defeats.
- Finally, Babylon says, “enough of this” and invades Judah, destroys Jerusalem, kills a bunch of people, destroys and loots the temple and deports much of the population to Babylon. They basically wipe Judah off the map…
…and that is where the book of Jeremiah (and 2 Kings/2 Chronicles) ends. Not a happy ending. This is what we discuss in this episode.
Weeping Is Human, But It's Not a Decision
Jesus tells us: John 16:33: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
So yes Jeremiah was downcast in his soul when he was going through, sometimes. When he was going through, to get through going through, to get to the other side of going through, Jeremiah made a decision. Jeremiah made a determination. Jeremiah saw the good news inside the bad news. Jeremiah ministered to himself in order to minister to others. Jeremiah would make a shift in perspective from his pain to God’s promises, from his pain to God’s provisions, from his pain to God’s power, from his pain to his purpose; from his pain to his praise. Jeremiah made a decision:
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the LORD 's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him."
Jeremiah wasn’t just a weeping prophet. Jeremiah was a great is thy faithfulness prophet. Jeremiah was a making ways out of no ways prophet. Is there anybody here who is a witness to God’s great love? Anybody here who experienced God’s new compassions when He woke you up this morning? Anybody who got a great is thy faithfulness testimony? Anybody going through something who made up your mind that "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."
Here is the bad news: Jeremiah, like all the biblical prophets, was called to minister to a people whose world is falling apart.
Jeremiah’s problem is that you had religious leaders calling themselves prophets and telling the people what they wanted to hear instead of what God was saying. They told the people in their troubles what that wanted to hear from them instead of what they needed to hear from God.
The Bible says Jeremiah 29:10: This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.
Nobody wanted to hear ‘wait.’ Nobody wanted to hear wait and keep working for a better world for your children and children’s children. No preacher was going to build a megachurch preaching: Ps 27:13-14