Summary: The Follower of Christ must gear up for a struggle. However, it is not a physical struggle; it is a spiritual struggle. Whether we want to be in this conflict or not, it is upon us because we believe the Word of God.

“Righteous are you, O LORD,

when I complain to you;

yet I would plead my case before you.

Why does the way of the wicked prosper?

Why do all who are treacherous thrive?

You plant them, and they take root;

they grow and produce fruit;

you are near in their mouth

and far from their heart.

But you, O LORD, know me;

you see me, and test my heart toward you.

Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter,

and set them apart for the day of slaughter.

How long will the land mourn

and the grass of every field wither?

For the evil of those who dwell in it

the beasts and the birds are swept away,

because they said, “He will not see our latter end.”

“‘If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you,

how will you compete with horses?

And if in a safe land you are so trusting,

what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?’” [1]

Have you ever tried to argue with God? I doubt that things went as well as you might have wished as you attempted to argue with the Lord your God. I suspect that each of us has at some time complained that life was too hard, that we weren’t getting the respect we deserved, that we are surrounded by stupid people. And when we complained to the Lord, I’m likely accurate in saying that He ignored us. If we were fortunate enough to get an answer, it probably went pretty much along the lines of the interaction that is recorded between the Weeping Prophet and the Lord GOD Who appointed him. The particular interaction to which I am referring is recorded in Jeremiah’s prophecy; it serves as our text for this day.

You will remember that Jeremiah was appointed from the womb to a prophetic ministry. He details his call to service in the opening words of the prophecy he wrote and which bears his name. Jeremiah wrote, “Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

and before you were born I consecrated you;

I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’

“Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.’ But the LORD said to me,

‘Do not say, “I am only a youth;”

for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,

and whatever I command you, you shall speak.

Do not be afraid of them,

for I am with you to deliver you,

declares the LORD.’

“Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me,

‘Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.

See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms,

to pluck up and to break down,

to destroy and to overthrow,

to build and to plant.”

[JEREMIAH 1:4-10]

God calls His prophet, and the LORD puts His words in the mouth of that prophet. The prophet must not imagine that what he says is of no consequence, for God says that what he will say are precisely the words given by the Living God. God’s words will impact the heart and the mind of those who hear, and even though they may dismiss the man as uneducated and ill-prepared, they will not be able to casually dismiss what is said.

If prophetic preaching consisted of saying pleasant things that pleased those who listened, it wouldn’t be such a bad gig. If every time the man of God spoke, people were eager to tell him what a marvellous job he had done and how very meaningful his words were, it would draw many to want to become such a spokesman. However, if that same preacher doesn’t make people feel good about themselves or if he somehow causes people to confront their own wickedness, then there is certain to be pushback.

Jeremiah realised that speaking on behalf of the Living God would be demanding. There is a reason why the prophets spoke of the burden of the LORD. From Jeremiah’s own writings we read, “When one of this people, or a prophet or a priest asks you, ‘What is the burden of the LORD?’ you shall say to them, ‘You are the burden, and I will cast you off, declares the LORD.’ And as for the prophet, priest, or one of the people who says, ‘The burden of the LORD,’ I will punish that man and his household. Thus shall you say, every one to his neighbor and every one to his brother, ‘What has the LORD answered?’ or ‘What has the LORD spoken?’ But ‘the burden of the LORD you shall mention no more, for the burden is every man’s own word, and you pervert the words of the living God, the LORD of hosts, our God. Thus you shall say to the prophet, ‘What has the LORD answered you?’ or ‘What has the LORD spoken?’ But if you say, ‘The burden of the LORD,’ thus says the LORD, ‘Because you have said these words, “The burden of the LORD,” when I sent to you, saying, “You shall not say, ‘The burden of the LORD,’” therefore, behold, I will surely lift you up and cast you away from my presence, you and the city that I gave to you and your fathers’” [JEREMIAH 23:33-39].

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