Summary: Are you even running with the footmen?
Jeremiah received his call from God to prophesy against Israel’s idolatry, at a young age. The King James uses the word “Child” in verse 6 of chapter 1, and other versions say “youth”; it is estimated he was about 20 years old.
Although he actually received his calling as a young man, notice that God begins by telling Jeremiah that he was literally born for this task. (1:4,5)
After informing Jeremiah that he was born and destined for just this time and this task, the Lord then goes on to give him all the assurance that anyone should ever need.
“Now, gird up you loins, and arise, and speak
to them all which I command you. Do not be
dismayed before them, lest I dismay you
Now behold, I have made you today as a
fortified city, and as a pillar of iron and as
walls of bronze against the whole land, to the
kings of Judah, to its princes, to its priests
and to the people of the land. And they will
fight against you, but they will not overcome you,
for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord”
So Jeremiah begins his work. He is prophesying against the kings of Judah and their princes and her priests, and all the people, for their idolatry and their spiritual adultery.
It appears as though his preaching has been primarily in and around his home town of Anathoth; because when we get to chapter eleven we find that the men of Anathoth have already told Jeremiah not to prophesy in the name of the Lord, and have even threatened to kill him if he does.
Sadly, it is revealed in Chapter 12 vs 6, that even his own father and brothers are plotting against him, and the Lord warns Jeremiah not to believe their ‘nice’ things that they say.
Jesus later said that a prophet is not without honor except in his home town, and in his own household.
He was referring to Himself, of course, because He was in Nazareth at the time, and the folks who knew Him as Joseph and Mary’s boy would not receive Him.
But I wonder if He had Jeremiah on His mind when He said it.
Here is a lesson for you, believer in Christ.
You have a duty as a loved one to tell your unsaved friends and family about Jesus; and to continue to pray for them. But don’t be discouraged when they reject you. Jesus and the prophets before Him were rejected by those closest to them; but their converts came from elsewhere.
Tell the gospel in obedience to Him; don’t let any man tell you to be quiet...even if they threaten you.
The Lord’s promise in Jeremiah 1:17-19 (which I read a couple of minutes ago) applies to you also!
Well, by chapter 12 Jeremiah is getting a little discouraged. He has come down with a case of the “Why”s and the “How long”s.
“WHY has the way of the wicked prospered?”
“WHY are all those who deal in treachery at ease?”
“HOW LONG is the land to mourn, and the vegetation of the countryside to wither?”
So God gives Jeremiah a gentle rebuke.
“If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out, then how can you compete with horses?”
Now I want to point out to you, that God does not chide His people for their weaknesses.
He does not criticize us for not knowing all things.
Whenever we see God, in the Old Testament, chastise His people, ...and Jesus in the New Testament rebuking His followers, it is always for lack of faith, and slowness to believe.
We could sympathize with Jeremiah, and say that he had every right to challenge God and question God’s love and faithfulness to the nation of Israel and Jeremiah himself, if God had not already assured Jeremiah that:
“...they will fight against you, but they will not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you”.
So here, in essence, is God’s response to Jeremiah in verse 5.
You have been speaking my word, which I have given you, to warn the nation of the destruction to come if they do not turn to Me in repentance and obedience and faith. Your preaching has been to your family and the common people of Anathoth, and the lesser princes and priests of my people.
You have been running with the footmen, Jeremiah!
But I have bigger plans for you. Anathoth has been a training ground. A place of preparation for you; and if you have become wearied and ready to give up while running against footmen, how will you then run against the horses in Jerusalem, when I send you there?
How will you contend with the religious rulers and the evil princes and the idolatrous population of the capital city; if you grow tired and give up while still in the small village of your birth?