How do people respond to a prophet’s message? In quick succession I see widely varying responses to Jeremiah’s warnings:
Fear. People who heard the warnings realized this was serious and needed to be heard by the king. (36:16)
Deny. After King Jehoiakim heard each section read to him, he cut it off and burned it, showing no sign of repentance (nor his officials). (36:23-25)
Ignore. King Zedekiah would not listen to Jeremiah. (37:2)
Shoot the messenger. Jeremiah was flogged and imprisoned in a dungeon (37:15) and later thrown into a muddy cistern to die. (38:4-5)
Repent and obey. Sadly, I don’t see an example of this one in the book of Jeremiah. But how about the Ninevites to whom Jonah preached? Do the pagans put “God’s people” to shame?
When God’s word doesn’t agree with my plans or priorities, what do I do? Bend the rules? Make excuses? Ignore it? God, help us to humbly accept Your rebuke, repent, and experience the joy of seeing You work in our world!
God’s chosen nation was collapsing from the moral vacuum caused by rebellion against God and corruption in leadership. And on the outside, Nebuchadnezzar’s army was attacking. God’s patience had finally run out.
Jeremiah was God’s man on the scene. A dozen times in his book he debunks the false prophets’ repeated assurances that all would be well. Like this in chapter 14:
13 Then I said, “O Sovereign LORD, their prophets are telling them, ‘All is well—no war or famine will come. The LORD will surely send you peace.’ ”
14 Then the LORD said, “These prophets are telling lies in my name. I did not send them or tell them to speak. I did not give them any messages. They prophesy of visions and revelations they have never seen or heard. They speak foolishness made up in their own lying hearts.
But there is hope of peace after the punishment has been endured and the hard lessons have been learned. Peace on God’s terms necessarily involves cleansing from sin and rebellion. But wow, the benefits are out of this world!
“The time will come when I will heal Jerusalem’s wounds and give it prosperity and true peace. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and Israel and rebuild their towns. I will cleanse them of their sins against me and forgive all their sins of rebellion. Then this city will bring me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth!” Jeremiah 33:6-8
What kind of peace are we looking for in our world and our lives?
A fragile peace on this earth, IF nations and individuals can solve their differences and piece back together shattered economies?
Or the true and lasting peace that comes only by turning to God and accepting it on His terms?