Promises To the Prophet
Tim Temple

Introduction

In Ephesians, chapter 4, we are told very clearly that the purpose of the Church is for the edification of the saints for the work of the ministry. Last week someone brought me a bulletin from a church they had visited while they were on vacation and in that part of the bulletin where it had the church staff listed, the first line was “Ministers to the community: the congregation.” Then it listed the senior pastor and all the rest of those guys. I thought that was fascinating. The person who brought it to me thought it was fascinating, and it is entirely biblical and entirely correct.

The ministers to the community are the congregation. As we come together to study God's Word and to worship Him together, our purpose also, according to Ephesians, chapter 4, verses 11-12, is to be built up and strengthened and edified and taught so that we can go out to those places where we live and work and spend our time, those places where God has put us to do His work among the people that He brings us in contact with. Because of that, there is a sense in which every one of us is in the ministry.

The reason I am mentioning that is that we are studying the life and ministry of a minister in the Old Testament times who lived in a very difficult time. Jeremiah was a young man who ministered to Judah, the southern part of the original kingdom of Israel, in the last years before they went into captivity as a nation. Since all of us are ministers, there are many things that we can learn from Jeremiah. Since we all live in a nation that faces perilous times, there are many things that we can learn from Jeremiah.

As we come to this study of Jeremiah, we are looking at the story of the last days of that nation, the death of that nation, and there are many lessons for us to learn from what happened to that nation. The interesting thing is that very often as we look at the details of Jeremiah's ministry, it also tells us what happened to Jeremiah himself as he gave these messages to the nation that was in the midst of decay and decline.

As we saw in our last lesson, Jeremiah struggled. He had difficulty with his commission. He wept over it. He pleaded to God for these people to whom he ministered. The more he wept and pleaded, the harder God seemed to grow and the more adamant and determined He seemed to be to bring judgment on that nation. The message and events in the passage that we are going to look at today take place about thirteen years later in Jeremiah's life than in our last study. This book is not a day by day story of his life.

In our last lesson, there was about five years between the message we had looked at in the lesson before. There are about thirteen years apparently between these two messages. By the time of this message that Jeremiah gives in the chapters we're going to look at today, King Josiah has died. Remember that Josiah was a godly king, the last godly king of Judah—in fact, the next to the last king in Judah. He had made a valiant effort to restore spiritual worship in Israel, to reform the nation, to overcome the idol worship that was so rampant everywhere, to restore the worship of Jehovah God. Outwardly, the people had gone along with that and made some of those reforms; but inwardly, they were still rebellious against God and the first messages that Jeremiah preaches are to that inward, hidden rebellion against God.

It is recorded in II Chronicles, chapter 25, that Josiah was killed in a battle against Egypt, and it was a battle that he never should have gotten into. Even though Josiah was a godly man, he was like all of us. He wasn't perfect. He got sucked into a battle that he never should have agreed to be a part of, and he was killed in that battle. He was mourned throughout Israel, and Jeremiah particularly grieved over the loss. Because of this turn of events, Jeremiah was plunged into an even more difficult time than he had known before that time. Israel was surrounded by nations that were the super powers of that day. God placed the nation of Israel in the very crossroads of the world of that day and that is still greatly true today. It is certainly true of that part of the world.

In those days Israel was surrounded by the leading nations of the world, but the power structure of those nations was beginning to change. They were all vying and contending with each other for supremacy in the affairs of the world. On the whole, however, Egypt was losing its power and Assyria was losing ground and Babylon was continuing to increase. So there was this great international unrest going on besides all the decay and wickedness in Israel itself.

It was a world very much like our world—a world full of unrest and turmoil and international intrigue and international struggle. In effect, Judah, what was left of the original kingdom of Israel, was caught, as it were, between the jaws of a giant nutcracker. Anything that happened in those other nations could directly impact and affect and crack up the nation of Judah. And now they did not have an effective king to lead them. Josiah's sons were weak, ineffective leaders and did not carry on in his tradition of leadership.

God's Covenant with Israel

In chapter 11, where we begin today, God sends young Jeremiah back to the nation with another word of warning and denunciation. As we have been doing in the book of Jeremiah, today we are not going to read all of this message because it is very similar to the other messages that Jeremiah gives—warnings that God would not allow them to continue in their unbelief and their revolt and their violence and their worship of other gods. He was determined to judge them if they didn't return to Him. That is the focus of this fourth message of Jeremiah. The actual communication of the message is in verses 1-13, and again in verses 15-17. We are just going to read a couple of verses to get the theme of the message. Look at chapter 11, beginning with verse 6:

Jeremiah 11:

6 Then the LORD said unto me, Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, and do them.
7 For I earnestly protested unto your fathers in the day that I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, even unto this day, rising early and protesting, saying, Obey my voice.
8 Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart: therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do: but they did them not.

All through the messages of Jeremiah, God referred to this covenant that He had made with them. Go back to verse 5 and you will see this covenant stated:

Jeremiah 11:

5 That I may perform the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day. Then answered I, and said, So be it, O LORD.

The details of that covenant are spelled out in Deuteronomy chapters 28-29. In that covenant God had promised the Israelites that if they would obey Him and follow His instructions and do things the way He, their Maker, told them to do, then He would bless them in indescribable ways. For hundreds of years that was true on the whole. There were some ups and downs, but God blessed them as they were obedient to Him. That is as you would expect because He was the Maker and He was telling His creatures how He wanted them to live and when they lived the way He wanted them to, things went well because that is the way they were designed to function and designed to live.

Jeremiah Told Not to Pray

He also told them that if they did not obey His covenant, the natural result of that would be that things would fall apart for them. They would have continual trouble. So the message from Jeremiah is now at the end of those years of the kingdom; the message from Jeremiah is that they have failed. They, in fact, have refused that covenant. But this message that Jeremiah gives has some complications for Jeremiah that made this message even more special in a sense. The first complication was something that we talked about last week and that is prayerlessness. The most amazing thing is, in verse 14, for the second time now in Jeremiah's ministry, God tells him not to pray for this nation. Look at verse 14:

Jeremiah 11:

14 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble.

This is what had distressed Jeremiah so much in our last study, that God would not even let him pray for the Israelites. But God had explained that strange command to Jeremiah. He had explained to him that praying holds off or delays judgment. God said, “I am determined to bring judgment on this nation. I am going to do it. It is going to be for their good. I am determined to do it, so don't even pray that I won't do it.”

One of the things that we see as we work our way through this book is the effect as I said earlier, that these messages had on Jeremiah himself. What we are going to see in this particular case is God's toughening up of this young prophet in preparation for what was coming for him and for his nation.

Jeremiah's Persecution

That leads us to the second complication of this message and that was persecution. We find that described in verses 18-23. Jeremiah was moved and he was distressed by God's instruction to him not to pray. What was worse, these verses tell us was that when he went home to the little town of Anathoth, which was a suburb just outside the city of Jerusalem, Jeremiah found that something had happened which absolutely astounded him, threw him into consternation. He learned that there was a plot against his life by his own neighbors and friends. He tells about it beginning in verse 19. Here is the pronouncement of the persecution.

Jeremiah 11:

19 But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered.

He gets back to Anathoth and he suddenly realizes how naive and blind he has been to trust these neighbors and friends because now they were plotting against his life. Even his neighbors and his friends hated so much the message that he was bringing to them that now those very people were plotting against his life. Verse 20 shows us his response. He comes to the Lord and he cries out this prayer about the persecution. He did exactly the right thing in a time of disappointment, of shock, of sadness. Look at verse 20:

Jeremiah 11:

20 But, O LORD of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause.

He did the right thing. He took his problem to the Lord in prayer. Some of us don't bother to do that when a trial strikes. We run to somebody else and we ask them for their advice, and we pour out our hearts to them, but Jeremiah brought it to the Lord. Notice how honest he was with the Lord. He said, “Lord, I want You to strike them dead. They want to kill me. I want You to kill them.”

Jeremiah was like a lot of us in that way, too, in that, even though he brought his problem to the Lord, he also told the Lord how he wanted Him to solve the problem. He had a complete plan for solving this problem. He wanted God to rain down vengeance on these people who were threatening him, and he expected God to do it.

Does that sound familiar in our prayers? On the one hand, you notice that God didn't strike him dead for telling Him what he wanted Him to do. God loves it when we come to Him just as we love it when our children come to us and are open and honest and open their hearts to us. God is always pleased when we speak to Him from the heart and tell him how we are really feeling. Many of us, though, know that what we are feeling is not really what God would be pleased with, but we don't want Him to know that, so we are not going to tell Him. Don't ever hesitate to tell God exactly what you are feeling. Notice how the Lord answers him in verse 21:

Jeremiah 11:

21 Therefore thus saith the LORD of the men of Anathoth, that seek thy life, saying, Prophesy not in the name of the LORD, that thou die not by our hand:
22 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will punish them: the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine:
23 And there shall be no remnant of them: for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their visitation [punishment].

Notice this: “…even in the year of their punishment.” That last line is something that is very important. God says, “Jeremiah, you are right. These people deserve My judgment and they are going to get it, but I am going to do it in My time. I am going to do it in the appointed year of their judgment. They are going to be involved in all the suffering that is going to come on Judah.”

God tells Jeremiah specifically that they are going to die in that judgment. Probably everyone, even if you are a new Christian, has experienced this; and if you haven't, you will. When we come to God with a need, we are like Jeremiah. We want Him to do it, and we want Him to do it now. We say, “Lord, look at what a great opportunity you have right now. You can do great things for me. If You will do that right now, the way I have it in mind all set up for You, all You have to do is what I am telling You to do and everything will work out.”

But many times God ignores that. He says, “I am going to do it, but I am going to do it on My schedule.” Sometimes it is amazing how quickly God answers prayer. Many of us have experienced that, too. In fact, I have had the experience in recent weeks, and maybe you have too, at other times if not recently, that sometimes we pray about something and the answer comes and we realize that that answer was in the making before we even prayed about it. There also are those times like Jeremiah is experiencing here when God doesn't seem to do anything, but the assurance of God's Word is, “I have My own plan. I know what I am doing.” He told Jeremiah, but by application He would tell us, “I am going to answer your prayer, but I am going to do it in My time and in My way.” It is a very important thing for us to remember and to learn if we don't know it already. God doesn't move on our time schedule as much as we would like for Him to.

Waiting on God

In chapter 12, the Lord teaches Jeremiah about this waiting, the message of waiting we have in chapter 12. The seriousness of the situation is brought out in verses 1-6. As the chapter opens in verse 1, Jeremiah continues this prayer that he had begun in the last part of chapter 11. In verses 1-4, he has several questions for the Lord. Look at verse 1:

Jeremiah 12:

1 Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee…

Let me stop there for just a minute and point out that Jeremiah had exactly the right attitude. He said in so many words, “I know that what You are doing is right. I understand that. You do not do anything wrong.” That is the preface to his prayer, but at the same time, he had these great questions about what God was doing and he shares them with God. He says, in the middle of verse 1, “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?” Then, in the first part of verse 4, he says, “How long will the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither?”

He cries out to God about these questions that are troubling him. He is simply honest with God and tells God what is on his heart. Of course, those are standard questions that people ask. “God, why are things going the way they are going? Why aren't things going the way that I would like for them to go? Especially, why aren't things going for me like they seem to go for the wicked? Why do the wicked prosper?”

So many people of God are suffering. We have those kinds of questions even more broadly than that in our day and time in our community and in our nation. Why are our children kidnapped and killed? Why does a young mother or father die and leave a family behind? Why does a spouse sometimes leave, abandon his family, or her family, and doesn't even seem to be repentant about it and a single parent has to go on by themselves? We ask, “Why?” If there is a God of love and power, why wouldn't He do something about this? We think, if He is a God of power, surely He could act, and if He is a God of love, surely He would act. Don't we think that way often? Haven't you felt that way at various times? That is what Jeremiah is crying out to God about. “God, why are You doing things the way You are doing them? I know, O Lord, that You are righteous when I plead with You, but why are things going the way they are going?”

Notice God's response in chapter 12, verse 5. It is very interesting and it underscores the seriousness of this situation. He says in verse 5:

Jeremiah 12:

5 If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?

Let's stop there for a minute. That is a verse that needs some careful thought. His answer to Jeremiah when Jeremiah complains about the difficulties is, “Jeremiah, if you think this is bad, what are you going to do when it gets worse? If these kinds of things throw you, if your faith is challenged and you are upset and you cry out to Me and ask these questions now, what are you going to do when it gets worse? What are you going to do then? Where are you going to turn? Who are you going to rely on as things get worse?”

He uses the terminology of running with the footmen. “What are you going to do if you have to run with horses? If you have been running through the open prairie and have trouble with that, what are you going to do when you have to run through maybe chest high waters of a flood?” Those are searching questions, aren't they? Think about some of the things that are happening in our world right now on the international level—bombings of embassies and other terrorism like that all over the world, and through the past several years it is focused even more on the United States. Think of all of the drug addiction and other kinds of addictions, the rebelliousness and the wickedness all around us. Then, think about the things that Jesus predicted in Matthew, chapter 24, when His disciples asked Him about things to come and He talked about earthquakes and famines and pestilences and wars with nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom and He called all that the beginning of sorrows.

God said to Jeremiah, and I believe that God very well might say to you and me today, “If your faith grows cold and faint and weak when you face the kinds of pressures that you are facing, what are you going to do when it gets worse because it very well may get worse? What are you going to do if you have given up in racing on foot against men because soon, Jeremiah, you are going to be racing against horses?”

If Jeremiah expected God to lift the burden, he didn't get much comfort from that, did he? I think that it is very possible that most of us are in for a shock if we remain in that stage of the Christian life in which we expect God to just constantly keep on working out our problems, and we think there is something wrong with God if things don't continue to go as smoothly and as comfortably and as prosperously as they have gone in our nation for all of these hundreds of years. I am not a prophet and I don't know exactly what is coming, but I see the characteristics of our nation as they are compared to the characteristics of Jeremiah's nation, and it is very, very sobering. I believe that God would speak to us through Jeremiah's day. Jeremiah was being warned that things are going to get tougher. He doesn't say, “Don't worry about this, Jeremiah, I will get you out of your problems. You just get back to work. You are not going to have any more strain.” No! He says in so many words, “If you are disturbed by the fact that your neighbors are plotting against you, just wait.” Look at verse 6:

Jeremiah 12:

6 For even thy brethren, and the house of thy father, even they have dealt treacherously with thee; yea, they have called a multitude after thee: believe them not, though they speak fair words unto thee.

Look at this. God says, “Jeremiah, even your own family is a part of this plot against you.” What do you think that did to Jeremiah when God told him that? Furthermore, in verses 7-8, God went on to remind Jeremiah of the sadness of the situation, and He reminds him again in those verses that judgment is absolutely inevitable for this nation and there was nothing that Jeremiah could do to stop it.

That is God speaking to Jeremiah and He says, “I am going to judge the very people that I have loved.” We have to remember that God is a God of love and in these places where He talks about harshness—in fact, He even uses the term hatred in verse 8. He says, “I am going to treat these people as though I hated them.” We have to remember that God is a God of love. It is a part of His inherent nature to be a God of love and He can't be anything but a God of love. Yet, there are those times when even God practices tough love and when God has to act in what would seem to be hatred toward the very people that He loves. That is what God wanted Jeremiah and us to understand—that even though He loves us, if we are not faithful to Him, if we are not true to Him, He may have to discipline us to bring us back to where we need to be with Him.

In verses 9-13, God goes on to describe what He is going to do to the land, and how He is going to bring them into judgment. We are not going to go over those verses now because in a moment we are going to look at an object lesson which God tells Jeremiah to do that will summarize that.

There is a ray of hope in verses 14-15 and there we find the security that God always holds out for His people. Look at verses 14-15:

Jeremiah 12:

14 Thus saith the LORD against all mine evil neighbours, that touch the inheritance which I have caused my people Israel to inherit; Behold, I will pluck them out of their land, and pluck out the house of Judah from among them.
15 And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land.

You see, the final message of God is not a message of hate. It is always a message of love, but in order to reach that place of loving restoration of His people, God often has to take a person or a nation all the way through judgment, all the way through extreme discipline in order for them to come to repentance. In bringing them to that place, He often does things that we can't understand for the moment, as He may bring discipline into our lives or as we watch Him bring it into the life of another person, or as we look at these thousands of years that He has been judging the nation of Israel. It doesn't look as if there is any hope, but God says, “When it is all said and done, when I am through with My program of judgment, they will be restored to a place of love and blessing from Me.”

That is why Jeremiah needed to be toughened up for what he was about to see God doing to his beloved nation. That is why we need to be toughened up for what God may choose to do to our nation or to us individually or to someone we love. We may come to the place that we won't be able to understand what He is doing, why God allows things to go so terrible for us or for someone that we love; but if we look at the history of Israel, and as we look at what God did for them in Jeremiah's day and following Jeremiah's day, and as we look at God's ultimate promises to Israel and for the prominence that that nation is going to have where they will be the focal point of the whole world someday with Jesus Christ sitting on the throne ruling over them, all the nations of the world coming to worship in Israel, those promises are still valid that have not yet been fulfilled.

Message of the Waistcloth

As we think about God's intricate plan of purifying Israel and bringing them to Himself, we are reminded of Paul's words in Romans, chapter 11, as he wrote about this subject:

Romans 11:

33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

God isn't through with Jeremiah because in chapter 13, we find one of several visual aids that Jeremiah uses to get the point across. God tells him to do these things and they seem ridiculous, but they make the point. In this chapter we have what I am calling, “The Message of the Waistcloth.” The instructions are in verses 1-8. Notice chapter 13, verse 1:

Jeremiah 13:

1 Thus saith the LORD unto me, Go and get thee a linen girdle, and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water.

A linen sash is what we would call underwear today. “Go out, Jeremiah, and buy a pair of undershorts. Wear them, but don't wash them.” Remember this was an object lesson that God designed. Sometimes people get nervous when preachers start talking about this kind of thing, so let me just remind you that I am just telling you what God told him. He said, “Go buy a pair of underwear and wear them, but don't wash them.” What in the world would God be teaching by that? If you skip down to verse 11, you will see what He is after. Here is the illustration in Jeremiah, chapter 13, verse 11:

Jeremiah 13:

11 For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the LORD; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear.

If you think about it, a pair of undershorts is the most personal item of clothing a man can wear, and the same thing is true for women, of course, but here it is a man. God uses a pair of undershorts as an illustration. I think it is a powerful picture of what He had designed his people to be. He had designed us to be as intimate to Him, as close to Him, as a pair of undershorts would be to a man.

I remember an advertisement of an underwear company a few years ago which used to be on TV. It said, “Next to yourself, you will love your BVD's.” You remember that one? That is the concept here. God says, “Here are My people. I want them to be, I have designed them to be, as close to me as the most intimate piece of apparel that a man or woman can wear.”

But they would not have that. You see, what He is teaching Jeremiah and us is what His people meant to Him. What He had designed them to be and the power which would be possible for them to have if they would involve themselves in that intimate personal relationship with God!

Then Jeremiah was sent to do something with these shorts. In verses 2-11, God tells him to wear those shorts and go to the Euphrates River, which is 200 miles away and to put them in a cleft of a rock. So Jeremiah did that. He came back home. The time it would have taken him to walk 200 miles would have been weeks and weeks, and then to come all the way back home. It says, in verse 6, that after many days the word of the Lord came to him and said to go back to the Euphrates and get those shorts and pull them out of the rock. It tells us that he did that. He went and got them out of the rock. They were extremely dirty by the time he had put them in the rock, and now they had been out there, exposed to the elements for months and months. We don't know how many days he is talking about, but a long time. Now they are just rotten and tattered and shredded, and God says to him in verse 8:

Jeremiah 13:

8 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
9 Thus saith the LORD, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem.
10 This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing.

Here is a very sobering lesson about what happens to a life or to a nation when it turns away from God. It begins to rot and to become useless. Any individual or any nation that refuses to live in a relationship with God of obedience and submission will find their lives as an individual or as a nation beginning to rot and to shred and to lose its consistency and power and to be like this waistcloth—good for nothing, wasted.

The rest of the chapter goes on to tell about how that moved Jeremiah and the impassioned plea that he makes for his people. Jeremiah was constantly moved by all of this and one of the reasons that Jeremiah was so useable to God was that he took God's messages to heart for himself as much as for the nation. Let me say that, as ministers, as we talked about in the beginning, you and I will only be useable to God to the extent that we do the same thing. When you read the Word, do you take it as applicable to yourself? Maybe you are a Sunday School teacher. Maybe you have some other position of teaching. Do you read the Word to prepare your lesson and just have something you can get up and say, or do you read the Word for the message that it has for you? That is a challenging thing for me to ask myself. Jeremiah was a great man of God in the most difficult of times because he took the Word of God to himself.

The final thing is down in chapter 15. Chapter 15 closes with Jeremiah praying for himself. He has been forbidden to pray for his people but he prays for himself in verse 15:

Jeremiah 15:

15 O LORD, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke.

He thinks back to Josiah's day and he remembers when the scroll of the law was found and he says in verse 16:

Jeremiah 15:

16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

At the same time, he is still hurting, so in verse 18, he cries out:

Jeremiah 15:

18 Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail?

Here is a man who was so true to the Lord and so thrilled by the Word of God, but He is still questioning God's dealings with him. Have you ever been to that place, yet? Let me tell you that if you haven't been there yet, you may well be because God is so much more intricately made and deals in so much more intricately powerful ways than we can even comprehend, that sometimes like Jeremiah, though we are committed to Him, He will be doing things that we simply cannot understand.

Notice how gently and tenderly God deals with him in verse 19:

Jeremiah 15:

19 Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them.

Do you know what God is doing here? He is answering His own question. From the beginning of our study, do you remember back in chapter 12, verse 5, He asked Jeremiah, “If you have run with men and they have wearied you, how will you run with the horses?” His answer to that question is here in chapter 15. He says, “Jeremiah, even in this time when everything seems to be collapsing, and it may even seem that I am not dependable, if in this kind of an hour you will trust in Me, you will rest in Me, you will put your faith in Me, you will find that I will strengthen you and see you through.” God says, “I am the only adequate source of strength in any time of trouble. Any other source is just going to fail you, Jeremiah.” God says that to us. The hymn writer said it this way:

“When through the deep waters I call you to go, the rivers of sorrow will not overflow. When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie, My grace all sufficient will be your supply.” God said in the New Testament, “I'll never leave you nor forsake you. No matter how bad it gets, no matter how little you can understand what is going on.”

Here is the underlying lesson from this fourth sermon of Jeremiah. The lesson was primarily for Jeremiah, more so than for the nation of Israel and for us. This is it: God sometimes puts on the pressure as you see with Jeremiah, not to destroy us but to strengthen us, to toughen us, to make us ready for what is coming. What is coming may be something in your own life or something in your business, or something in your relationships, whatever it may be. But, I think also, we can't overlook the possibility that it may have to do with our nation in the days ahead, as I have been saying already. It would only make sense based on God's dealings with Israel and with other nations as in Jeremiah's day, that we as a nation may face great times of trial and maybe even judgment ahead. If that is so, nothing is adequate to meet that kind of need but the strength of a living God.

Conclusion

That is exactly what He has promised for those of us who will walk with Him—not necessarily deliverance from the trials, but strength to go through them and to come out the better for it. God said to Jeremiah, “Don't keep your eyes on the people around you. Don't worry about the fact that they continue to rebel. You don't go to them, you come to Me and I will bring you through. No matter what may happen to the nation, no matter what may happen to other people, you keep your eyes on Me and I will be your supply, no matter how tough things get.”


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