Courage to Continue

KEY VERSE: “Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations.” —Jeremiah 36:2

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Jeremiah 36:4-8, 27-31

DURING HIS LIFETIME Jeremiah was one of the principal prophets in the land, but had been hindered for some time from prophesying publicly. However, under the Lord’s guidance, he wrote out his prophecy respecting the coming judgments and chastisements upon the people of Judea. When it was finished it was read before certain prominent people of Jerusalem, and so deeply impressed them that they desired the matter be brought to the king’s attention.

King Jehoiakim demanded to see the document, and had his scribe read it before him. The king was unmoved by the message, and after hearing the contents of three of the columns of the manuscript, he took his scribe’s penknife and cut them off and cast them into the fire before him, and he continued to do so with the remainder, until the entire manuscript was read and destroyed. Thus he emphasized his determination not to accept counsel from the Lord, but to disregard his Word.

The king then ordered the arrest of Jeremiah and his scribe, but by the Lord’s providences they had hidden themselves and were not to be found. They learned of the destruction of the manuscript and prepared another statement of the prophecy, which we are informed had certain further additions which constitutes the Book of Jeremiah as found in our Bibles today.

The prophet later began to speak publicly against the wickedness of the king and other leaders in Israel and frequently suffered imprisonment as a result. By nature Jeremiah was not a courageous man. He hesitated in the beginning; however, the Lord reassured Jeremiah by the promise that he would be with him, and that he would be able to prophesy whatever he was commanded.

God’s commission of service to Jeremiah was identical in principle to the commission he gives to all those whom he calls into his service. This was particularly true with respect to the message Jeremiah was to deliver. It was not to be his message, but the Lord’s message. The Lord said to Jeremiah, “I have put my words in thy mouth.” This was true even of Jesus, the most outstanding of all the Lord’s spokesmen, for he said, “The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me.” (John 14:10,24) And Jesus said of his disciples, those who were to be his ambassadors, “I have given unto them the words which thou gayest me.”—John 17:8

Those who speak for the Lord during this present evil world must expect to suffer as a result of their faithfulness; yet this should not deter them from the course of obedience. Jeremiah was told by the Lord that a high honor was attached to his commission, yet the prophet found himself imprisoned because he insisted on telling the people the truth which the Lord had given him to declare. Not all the Lord’s servants have suffered so severely because of their faithfulness as did Jeremiah, but many have.

At one point in his life, Jeremiah recorded that this commission was made more of a reproach and a derision by those to whom he prophesied than he could bear, and he determined not to speak any more. But he says he could not refrain from speaking. “His Word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.” (Jer. 20:9) Oh, that we might all have such a burning fire in our hearts!

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |