8 April 2011Jeremiah 26:8-11
"'... Why have you prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, "This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate, without inhabitant"?' And all the people gathered around Jeremiah in the house of the Lord." (v. 9)
Jeremiah was called to a dangerous and life threatening
ministry. At a time when the nation had lost its way spiritually
and forgotten God's laws, Jeremiah was called to preach repentance
God speaks to Jeremiah in chapter 1, telling him he was chosen before he was even born and exhorting him to speak out to the nations about their wickedness. As a result, Jeremiah begins to share all that God has told him with the temple priests and the general population.
As well as preaching repentance and reform, Jeremiah is given the much more challenging task of warning of destruction and exile to come. In chapter 7 Jeremiah describes God's past destruction of the shrine at Shiloh as a result of their disobedience and then prophesies a similar destruction for the temple in verse 14. By chapter 26, he has described wide-ranging catastrophic destruction and suffering, but it is the reference to Shiloh that seems to have enraged the crowd to the point of threatening to kill Jeremiah.
The story of Jeremiah's life is a powerful reminder of the fact that God does not always call us to walk an easy path. His determination to speak all that God has laid on his heart is an inspiration to us to be faithful in all that we are called to do. But the reaction of the temple priests raises an important point. Faced with a prophecy of terrible suffering and widespread devastation, their concern is not for those around them; it is only Jeremiah's prophecy against the temple which causes them to speak out and become angry.
Do you feel called to a difficult ministry? Which promises of God in the Bible are most important to you as you face that challenge?
What steps can we take as churches to make sure our focus is on the world around us rather than purely on ourselves?