Jeremiah the prophet lived in the final days of the crumbling nation  of Israel. He was, appropriately, the last prophet that God sent to preach to  the southern kingdom, which comprised the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. God had  repeatedly warned Israel to stop their idolatrous behavior, but they would not  listen, so He tore the 12 tribes asunder, sending the 10 northern tribes into  captivity at the hands of the Assyrians. Then God sent Jeremiah to give Judah  the last warning before He cast them out of the land, decimating the nation and  sending them into captivity in the pagan kingdom of Babylon. Jeremiah, a  faithful, God-fearing man, was called to tell Israel that, because of their  unrepentant sin, their God had turned against them and was now prepared to  remove them from the land at the hands of a pagan king whom He called “My  servant” (Jeremiah  26:7).

No doubt Jeremiah, who was only about 17 when God called  him, had great inner turmoil over the fate of his people, and he begged them to  listen. He is known as “the weeping prophet,” because he cried tears of sadness,  not only because he knew what was about to happen, but because no matter how  hard he tried, the people would not listen. Furthermore, he found no human  comfort. God had forbidden him to marry or have children (Jeremiah 16:2), and his  friends had turned their backs on him. So, along with the burden of the  knowledge of impending judgment, he also must have felt very lonely. God knew  that this was the best course for Jeremiah, because He went on to tell him how  horrible conditions would be in a short time, with babies, children, and adults  dying “grievous” deaths, their bodies unable to even be buried, and their flesh  devoured by the birds (Jeremiah  16:3-4).

Obviously, the people of Israel had become so hardened by  the numbing effects of sin that they no longer believed God, nor did they fear  Him. Jeremiah preached for 40 years, and not once did he see any real success in  changing or softening the hearts and minds of his stubborn, idolatrous people.  The other prophets of Israel had witnessed some successes, at least for a little  while, but not Jeremiah. He was speaking to a brick wall; however, his words  were not wasted. They were pearls being cast before swine, in a sense, and they  were convicting every person who heard them and refused to heed the warning.

Jeremiah tried to make the people understand their problem was a lack  of belief, trust, and faith in God, along with an absence of fear which caused  them to take Him for granted. It is very easy to be lulled into a false sense of  security, especially when the focus is not on God. The nation of Israel, just  like many nations today, had stopped putting God first, and had replaced Him  with false gods, those that would not make them feel guilty or convict them of  sin. God had delivered His people from bondage in Egypt, had performed miracles  before them, and had even parted the waters of the sea for them. In spite of all  these displays of God’s power, they returned to the false practices they had  learned in Egypt, even making vows to the false “queen of heaven,” along with  performing the other rites and rituals that were part of the Egyptian culture  and religion. God finally turned them over to their idolatry, saying, “Go ahead  then, do what you promised! Keep your vows!” (Jeremiah  44:25).

Jeremiah’s constant loneliness and isolation finally got the  best of him, and he became discouraged. He sank into a quagmire where many  believers seem to get stuck when they think their efforts are not making a  difference and time is ticking away. Jeremiah was emotionally spent, even to the  point of doubting God (Jeremiah  15:18), but God was not done with him. Jeremiah  15:19 records a lesson for each believer to remember in those times when he  feels alone, useless, and discouraged and whose faith is wavering: “Therefore  this is what the LORD says: ‘If you repent, I will restore you that you may  serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman.  Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them.’” God was saying to  Jeremiah, come back to Me, and I will restore to you the joy of your salvation.  These are similar to the words penned by David when he repented of his sin with  Bathsheba (Psalm  51:12).

What we learn from the life of Jeremiah is the comfort of  knowing that, just like every believer, even great prophets of God can  experience rejection, depression, and discouragement in their walk with the  Lord. This is a normal part of growing spiritually, because our sinful nature  fights against our new nature, that which is born of the Spirit of God,  according to Galatians  5:17: “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the  Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each  other, so that you do not do what you want.” But just as Jeremiah found, we can  know that the faithfulness of our God is infinite; even when we are unfaithful  to Him, He remains steadfast (2 Timothy  2:13).

Jeremiah was given the task of delivering an unpopular,  convicting message to Israel, one that caused him great mental anguish, as well  as making him despised in the eyes of his people. God says that His truth sounds  like “foolishness” to those who are lost, but to believers it is the very words  of life (1  Corinthians 1:18). He also says that the time will come when people will not  tolerate the truth (2 Timothy  4:3-4). Those in Israel in Jeremiah’s day did not want to hear what he had  to say, and his constant warning of judgment annoyed them. This is true of the  world today, as believers who are following God’s instructions are warning the  lost and dying world of impending judgment (Revelation  3:10). Even though most are not listening, we must persevere in proclaiming  truth in order to rescue some from the terrible judgment that will inevitably  come.

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