Part 4 of a series
We need a generation of Jeremiahs today. Preachers need to be Jeremiahs to their congregations. Parents need to be Jeremiahs to their children.
In previous articles in this series, we've examined Jeremiah the man, Jeremiah's message from God, and the events that led to God's calling of Jeremiah to speak against the kingdom of Judah. We turn now to consider our final questions: What can we learn from Jeremiah for our own time - as a nation and as the church? As individual believers? Today we take up the first of those two questions.
The Clear Parallel: A Biblical Heritage Squandered
Obviously, there are many parallels between the sins of Judah and the sins of our own nation today. In Jeremiah 2:7 we read this. The Lord says, "I brought you into a bountiful country, to eat its fruit and its goodness. But when you entered, you defiled My land and made My heritage an abomination."
Beginning 400 years ago, the Lord brought a remnant of believers from Europe into the New World, "a bountiful country." Through the Pilgrim fathers and other godly men who came here, America began with a Biblical heritage. But we have squandered it. The Pilgrim Fathers of the 1600s and the Founding Fathers of the 1700s, and even many of our 20th century leaders, would be appalled to see what we have become.
We have become a land where only 19% of our people (and falling) go to any kind of church, where prayer and the Bible have been outlawed from the schools and the public square, where fornication and adultery are commonplace, where millions of innocent babies are murdered in the womb, where divorce is rampant, where sodomy is now legal, where so-called homosexual marriage is being legalized, and where the trend is toward the official sanction of worse immorality yet to come. I've seen these things happen in my own lifetime. The Lord can truly say to our own nation, as He said to Judah long ago, "You have made My heritage an abomination."
We read in Jeremiah that the people became more and more expert in doing evil. And that is certainly true in our time.
Jeremiah's time was a time of spiritual decline stemming from neglect of the Word of God. A time of pride and complacency in the nation and in the congregation. A time of religious syncretism. A time of denial of spiritual need.
A Time Like Our Time
We as a nation stand in danger today of the kind of judgment that Judah and Israel experienced, because we as a nation have forsaken the Law of God, and we have walked according to the dictates of our own hearts. What we see in our government, and in society, and even in many of our churches today, is the result of the severe neglect of the Word of God in our time, just as Judah neglected the Word of God in Jeremiah's time.
We need men like Jeremiah in our time. Jeremiah was a man who had a heart for God. He was willing to be used of God. He saw things as God saw them. The message of God's righteous requirements and His wrath against sin, burned in Jeremiah's bones so that he could not keep quiet.
Jeremiah proclaimed God's message no matter what the cost. No matter what the consequences. No matter what the response.
Needed: A Generation of Jeremiahs
We need to be Jeremiahs today. Preachers need to be Jeremiahs to their congregations. Parents need to be Jeremiahs to their children. We have a responsibility to the next generation to proclaim God's truth to them. We need to leave the right kind of legacy to our children, and to their children. In every generation, God has a remnant that passes on His truth to the next generation. We need to be that godly remnant in our time.
In the book of Judges, chapter two, beginning at verse 7, we read this:
So the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD which He had done for Israel. Now Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died when he was one hundred and ten years old. And they buried him within the border of his inheritance at Timnath Heres, in the mountains of Ephraim, on the north side of Mount Gaash.
When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel. Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals; and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the LORD to anger.
That generation didn't tell the next generation about the Lord. They didn't obey the commandment to teach the Word of God to the next generation. And so the next generation didn't know the Lord. They forsook the Lord, they served false gods, and they provoked the Lord to anger, generation after generation, for centuries, and He brought judgment upon them.
In Psalm 78, beginning at verse 5, we read this:
For He [the Lord] established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments; and may not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not set its heart aright, and whose spirit was not faithful to God.
Jeremiah was faithful in his generation, no matter what the cost. For forty-one years, he proclaimed the Word of the Lord, even though he didn't see any results in his lifetime.
Needed: A Repenting Remnant
But seventy years later, there were results. God sent a remnant back from Babylon into the land. He sent them back under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah.
After they had rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, despite great opposition, Ezra and Nehemiah gathered all the people together. And they celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles, as God had commanded in Deuteronomy as we read. And they read the Book of the Law in the hearing of all the people, as God had commanded.
The remnant that had returned was touched in their hearts when they heard God's Word read to them. They wept, as Jeremiah had wept many years before. We read in Nehemiah chapter 8 that Ezra and the other leaders of the people
read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped the people to understand the reading.Then all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for one fourth of the day; and for another fourth of the day they confessed and worshiped the LORD their God.
We need that kind of revival in our time. May the Lord bring it about. And may the Lord call many Jeremiahs from among His people, to proclaim His Word to the next generation, even with tears.