Summary: We’ve all been at the bottom of the Pit, here are lessons we can learn while we are there.
He looked up and all he could see was a circle of blue. He looked down and watched the mud squish between his toes. And he wondered how he had ended up at the bottom of a pit hated by the very people he wanted to save.
His name was Jeremiah and he was not a bullfrog, no, he was a prophet. Not a prophet like Miss Cleo he was a prophet of God. He didn’t tell people that they would be lucky in love or lucky in lottery instead it was his job to proclaim the word of God for people to hear.
He was just a young man when God called him to this task. His father, Hilkiah, was a priest and it looked like Jeremiah was destined to follow in his footsteps. It wouldn’t have been a bad life, the priest and his family were provided for, his chores would have entailed the reading and interpretation of God’s word, preparing and making the sacrifices. As well he would have to be a presence around the temple, even though it was no longer central to the faith of the people of Israel.
And then God stepped into his life and informed Jeremiah that he wanted him to be his spokesman. Jeremiah’s first thought was “Me?” And so he did what most of us do when God asks us to do something, he made excuses. In his case in this particular instance he just told God that he was too young, who would listen to him, he was practically a kid.
But God wasn’t about to take no for an answer, so Jeremiah had one of two options. He could be obedient or he could be disobedient there really wasn’t much middle ground for him to waffle in. It’s the same today, Jeremiah’s time was 2500 years ago, he lived 600 years before the Messiah would come, and yet today those who follow God have the same two options. Obedience or disobedience.
And Jeremiah had been obedient to the call of God upon his life, and Jeremiah had preached the message that God wanted him to preach and now Jeremiah was standing in the bottom of a pit looking up at the blue sky overhead wondering where he had gone wrong. Have you ever been there? The bottom of the pit? Looking up? Wondering how you world had fallen out from beneath you?
Maybe the collapse was a health problem, you noticed a lump or had a pain in your chest and bang you’re at the bottom of the pit, or an economic problem, one day you are happily and gainfully employed and the next day the company has expanded your employment opportunities. Maybe it has to do with relationships, a marriage gone sour, a spouse who cheats, children who are alienated. Or perhaps it’s a spiritual struggle, for whatever reason it seems that you are going through a dry spell in your relationship with God and your prayers go no further then the ceiling.
You know what I mean, you’ve been there. And that’s where the hero of our story found himself, at the bottom of the pit.
The book of Jeremiah is the 24th book in the Bible and the 2 book in the section we refer to as the Major Prophets. Now the term major has nothing to do with the importance of these books and instead it is reflective of the length of the books. These books are considerably longer then the books that make up the Minor Prophets. The Author of this book is named, Jeremiah, he was a prophet. He dictated and his aide Baruch wrote down the prophecies. As I mentioned earlier this book was written about 600 years before the birth of Christ between 626 and 585 B.C. Like Isaiah Jeremiah was calling the people of Israel to repentance.
Jeremiah was born in a small village about an hours walk from Jerusalem. He was called as a young man to speak for God. During his life Jeremiah saw Israel turn from God and in turn it was defeated internally by immorality and externally by military might. He saw Jerusalem captured and pillaged and its residents forced into slavery or exile. And still they ignored Jeremiah’s warnings and pleas to turn back to God.
Now the problem with being a prophet is that it doesn’t necessarily make you the most popular kid on the block. You see the prophet’s message is not one of motherhood, apple pie and lower taxes. Prophets preach turn or burn messages, prophets don’t preach feel good sermons. Robert Schuller is not a prophet. As a matter of fact a prophet would starve to death as a TV preacher.
After one particular sermon that Jeremiah preached the powers that be decided that he wasn’t doing a great deal for public morale and so they decided to do something about it. Now in our church tradition if you don’t like the preacher you vote him out. Obviously a different time and different place because they threw him into an empty cistern, which is like a well. It wouldn’t have been right for them to kill a prophet of God but if he was at the bottom of a well without food and starved to death, then whose fault was that?