Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Jeremiah Principle - Jeremiah 1:10

God called the prophet Jeremiah to begin doing His work on earth in Jeremiah 1:10. God said to Jeremiah, "I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."

There is a whole lot God said in that one sentence. The commas carry much work for Jeremiah to begin. No wonder we call Jeremiah "the weeping prophet." See, Jeremiah was a sensitive man. What we know from the Bible is that he was indeed bold before men but broken in the presence of God. His life was one big challenge. His ministry never did seem to "get off the ground." He was hardly considered a smashing success.

However, we know Jeremiah was a faithful servant of the Most High. He assuredly accomplished God's will. And in the end, isn't that all the Lord calls any of us to do anyway?

Let's take a sneak peak into the life of Jeremiah...

Eugene H. Peterson, "Jeremiah lived about sixty years. Across that life span there is no sign of decay or shriveling. Always he was pushing out the borders of reality, exploring new territory. And always he was vigorous in battle, challenging and contesting the shoddy, the false, the vile."

Jeremiah was a sensitive man. We have proof of this fact in his honest expressions of humanity's trials throughout the entire book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was so burdened for the people of God that he wept often. See, the people were backsliding. Kind of like today. And because he was the shepherd over the people, he stood firm. But he wept. Kind of like what God must be doing when He looks down on this world today...

Back to Jeremiah. The nation was literally dying (Jer 9:17-21). He soon would be joined by wailing women who would also weep for the nation. Jeremiah continued to speak. In Jeremiah 10 we "see" him speak to Israel (already in exile) and Judah. He told them they belonged to the true God, the living God, the everlasting Lord (v.10). He warned of idols. He taught them anything they trusted and served other than God was an idol. And that idolatry was a sin. And still they disobeyed. Kind of like today. Kind of like what God must be doing when He looks down on us today...

And so did Jeremiah give up? Did he have the proverbial "pity party?" No. Jeremiah wept. Jeremiah 11:19 and Isaiah 53:7 confirm that just like Jesus, Jeremiah did not fight the will of the Father. They willingly continued to do the will of the Lord. But still they wept.

Jeremiah was committed to the work and trusted the Lord to carry him (1 Peter 2:18-24). Although still he wept. He wept because he cared. He wept because he was a sensitive man. The Lord Jesus wept. Tears of blood. We have much to learn from both Jeremiah and Jesus (Matthew 16:14.

The Jeremiah Principle is this: God said to Jeremiah, "I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."

Today, in our Christian circles, we often leave out the last command, "to build and to plant." Yes, we like pointing out sin, we like the prestige and power of leadership as the introduction of "talking points" in Sermons always inspires. We like the "redos" cosmetic and other. Whether painting a Church wall or restructuring a curriculum, we like the first part of Jeremiah 1:10. Alot. We like the last part less. For to build and plant takes time and often demands tears. Blood, sweat and tears, that is...

Paul reminds us in Romans 15:13, "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." See, if we do not adopt the building and planting part of Jeremiah 1:10 into our Churches, we have false hope (Jeremiah 14:10-22). False hope because our religious activities do not save us.

Jeremiah grieved over hte people's distant hearts. They were close to their own agendas and 'gods' but very far from the One True God. The messages of the false prophets gave the people only a false hope for peace and healing that never came (v19). They prayed to their idols. Their idols could not send rain. And Jeremiah wept. His tears lobbed the dry parched ground often. Just like how God must be weeping today.

We who take the entire Jeremiah 1:10 verse to heart most likely will agree we are in a foreign land. We are far from home. We are as the Jewish exiles in Babylon. We are living among those who do not accept our way of life. They mock us. They exclude us. They call us "intolerant." They sling mud against the Saviour and call it art. Yes, we must build and we must plant. And we must all weep over sin much more than we have wept in past days.

Jeremiah saw in Judah's exile a vision of the future day of national suffering (also called the time of Jacob's trouble in verse 7) when the Jews would go through tribulation. He also saw the hope in their restoration from exile. He envisioned in the latter days the promise of a reunion of Israel. He most likely did not weep then in sorrow but tears of joy.

God is faithful to His people (2 Tim 2:12-13) though we are not faithful to Him. God will not let our enemies take advantage of us. Yes, when we sin, like Judah, we will be corrected - in love. But still we must adhere to the Jeremiah Principle: God said to Jeremiah, "I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."

After the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Jeremiah's broken heart was splayed for all to see as his tears covered the pages. His grief is evident in Lamentations.

But hope and faith was also present in the weeping prophet's lamentations. For God called many to build and plant. And in obedience, the people built and continued to plant. And so we can be assured that there will always be a remnant of the Lord's people that will follow God's Word - all of it. They will choose to build and plant. Plant and build. And no doubt God will look down on His chosen ones and smile. Just like He did in Jeremiah's day. For tears do not endure forever. Not even in the life of the Weeping Prophet Jeremiah.
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