22 August 2019
Reading: Jeremiah 28-30; 1 John 3
1 Jeremiah wrote a letter from Jerusalem to the elders, priests, prophets, and all the people who had been exiled to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. 2 This was after King Jehoiachin, the queen mother, the court officials, the other officials of Judah, and all the craftsmen and artisans had been deported from Jerusalem. (Jeremiah 29:1-2 NLT)
The chapters of Jeremiah’s book aren’t in chronological order. Some chapters are dated in their introductions – Chapter 28 is an example of that. Chapter 29 is written during the nineteen-year period after Daniel and his friends were exiled to Babylon in 605 BC and before the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC. Jeremiah was in Judah but some of his prophecies were specific to the exiles in Babylon. We often quote the encouraging words of Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you, plans for good and not for disaster…”, but we fail to realize what the entire prophecy cost Jeremiah in terms of rejection and persecution.
Because Jeremiah was prophesying that Jerusalem would be destroyed and that the exile to Babylon would last seventy years—an entire lifetime—he was an enemy to everyone who heard him. To the business people he was a doomsayer, to the religious people (and the entire Mosaic religious system was still operating – priests, feasts, sacrifices, and all) he was an heretic, and to the politicians he was a traitor. If Jeremiah faithfully spoke what God gave him to say, everyone hated him!
It takes courage to go against the flow. It doesn’t matter what “system” you’re in, if you speak against any part of it, someone is going to be your enemy. Paul told us, “As much as possible, live at peace with everyone.” But what do we do when our convictions prompt us to speak up and speak out? What do we do when we believe God has given us a message that is contrary to acceptable opinion? I remember something my friend Rick Livingston said many years ago; “Be sure you’re right, then go ahead.”
Father, Please give us prophets who have the courage to speak up and speak out—to tell us what we need to hear even when we don’t want to hear it. Please give me the courage to speak the truth as I see it, the wisdom to speak well and wisely, and the grace to accept the consequences without whining and complaining. Amen.