Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah of the priests of Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters twelve through sixteen of this Old Testament book. THE BURDEN OF TEARS & MOURNING! THE BURDEN OF CERTAIN JUDGMENT! A PROPHET DESPISED IN HIS OWN TOWN! LUKE 4! WHEN PROPHETS PROPHESY FALSLEY! MATTHEW 13:54-58! MARK 6:1-6! LUKE 4:16-30! When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find a tremendous amount of language concerning Jeremiah’s personal life. Perhaps one of the most interesting realities concerning and surrounding the prophetic book of Jeremiah is that while it is a book that is centered upon the prophetic nature of the message Jeremiah would proclaim unto the children of Judah and Jerusalem, it was also a book that describes and reveals a tremendous detail of Jeremiah’s personal life. While the book of Jeremiah is indeed prophetic in nature, we must also understand that it is also historical and biographical in nature as well. What I mean by this is that while the book centers upon the word of the LORD Jeremiah was to speak and reveal unto the people of Judah and Jerusalem, it was also biographical in nature in that it reveals the tremendous impact and affect the word of the LORD would have on Jeremiah personally. You cannot read this book without at the same time you encounter the prophetic you also encounter how the prophetic directly impacted and affected Jeremiah within and throughout the course of time he prophesied and proclaimed the word of the LORD. If there is one thing I find to be absolutely and incredibly intriguing when reading this prophetic book it’s that while Jeremiah was indeed called to prophesy and proclaim the word of the LORD unto the people of Jerusalem and Judah, that word would directly impact and affect his life. Jeremiah would not be able to walk through this life untouched and un-impacted by the word of the LORD. As surely and as certainly as the prophetic word of the LORD would directly impact the nation and kingdom of Judah, as well as Jerusalem, it would also directly impact Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah as well. In all reality, it is for this reason when the LORD first spoke to and called Jeremiah from among the priests of Anathoth in the land of Benjamin He spoke to him very clearly and very succinctly concerning the strength that would be needed within his life. It’s important for us to realize and recognize this particular reality, for although the LORD would not reveal the full scope of the ministry Jeremiah would have, He would reveal unto him the strength that would be given unto him to enable him to stand in the midst of the generation he was being raised up in.
THE STRENGTH TO STAND UP IN THE MIDST OF THE GENERATION YOU HAVE BEEN CALLED TO PROCLAIM UNTO! The more I read and consider the narrative that is found in the prophetic book of Jeremiah the more I can’t help but encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that when the LORD appeared unto Jeremiah the very first time while he was among the priests in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, the LORD would speak directly unto him concerning His intimate and personal knowledge of him. As you read the first and opening chapter of this prophetic book you will come face to face with the tremendous truth that while the LORD spoke unto Jeremiah in a very personal and intimate way, He would also reveal unto him the strength, the boldness, the courage, the fortitude, and essentially the gravel he would need to not only step into what the LORD had called him, but also to walk into it for the duration of time the LORD had called him. If you turn and direct your attention to the first and opening chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah you will find the LORD speaking directly unto this son of the priests and essentially separating him from among them that He might raise him up to stand and walk before him as a prophet of the most High. When the word of the LORD first came unto Jeremiah it was a personal and intimate word, for the LORD would declare unto him that before He formed him in the womb He knew him, and before he came forth out of the womb He sanctified him and ordained him a prophet unto the nations. Please don’t miss the absolutely o wonderful and incredible truth surrounding these words, for the words which the LORD spoke unto Jeremiah revealed how deeply, how personally and how intimately He was involved within his life—and not only within his life after he came forth from the womb, but also before he was ever even conceived within the womb of his mother. When the LORD first appeared unto Jeremiah in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah king of Judah He spoke unto Him in a very personal and intimate way revealing His intimate knowledge and direct involvement with his life from before he was even conceived and formed within his mother’s womb.
If you continue reading this first exchange and dialogue which took place between Jeremiah and the LORD you will find that after Jeremiah heard the LORD speak and declare unto him that He knew Him before He formed him in the womb of his mother, and after Jeremiah heard the LORD declare that before he came forth from that womb he was sanctified and ordained a prophet unto the nations, Jeremiah would respond to the LORD by declaring his inability to speak, for he was but a child. We aren’t sure how old Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah was at the time the word of the LORD appeared unto him, but we can undoubtedly assume that he might very well have been a teenager, or perhaps even in his early adulthood years. Regardless and despite the fact that Jeremiah felt he was unable and incapable of speaking for and on behalf of the word of the LORD, we find the LORD responding to Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah in a very powerful and profound way—much like the LORD would respond to Moses when Moses too encountered the LORD, but at the burning bush at Horeb the mountain of God in the midst of the wilderness of Sinai. It would be there at the burning bush in the wilderness at the mountain of God Moses would experience the divine presence of God—a presence that would call him to return unto the land of Egypt, to confront Pharaoh ruler of the land of Egypt, and to bring forth God’s people out of the midst of their slavery, bondage and oppression. Much like Jeremiah who felt that he was incapable of speaking for and going forth on behalf of the living God, so also would Moses express his own inadequacies before the LORD, which he felt would disqualify him from being able to step into that which the LORD was calling him to do. When the prophet Jeremiah heard the word of the LORD speak directly unto him that very first time he did in fact encounter the LORD speaking directly unto him in a very personal and intimate way as the LORD would declare that not only did He know him before he was formed within the womb of his mother, but it was the LORD Himself who formed him in that womb. Moreover—as is if it weren’t enough for the LORD declaring unto Jeremiah that it was He who formed him within the womb of his mother—the LORD would declare unto Jeremiah that it was he who sanctified and ordained him to be a prophet unto the nations. Even when Jeremiah responded to the LORD by declaring that he was just a child and could not speak for or on behalf of the LORD, the LORD would instruct him not to say that he was a child, for he would go to all those which the LORD would send him, and would speak whatsoever the LORD would command and instruct him.
While it is true the LORD would indeed speak unto Jeremiah concerning His intimate knowledge and involvement within his life from before he was conceived within the womb of his mother, and while it is true the LORD would declare unto Jeremiah that he would go unto all that he would be sent, and would speak whatever the LORD commanded him, the LORD would also speak unto Jeremiah concerning the tremendous strength, the tremendous courage, the tremendous fortitude that would be needed within his heart and soul to be able walk in that which the LORD had called and commanded him to. As you read the first chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah you will find the LORD preparing Jeremiah in advance for the tremendous conflict, the opposition, the struggle, the persecution, and the affliction he would experience as he walked in the call the LORD had placed upon his life. What’s truly astonishing about the interaction between Jeremiah and the LORD is that while the LORD would indeed speak unto Jeremiah and prepare him for the life and call that was before him in the midst of the earth, He would not reveal unto Jeremiah exactly what he would experience while walking faithfully in that which he had been called. It is true the LORD would indeed and would in fact prepare Jeremiah for the call that was upon his life, however, the LORD would not reveal the extent of what he would face as a direct result of faithfully walking in obedience to the call that was upon his life. You can read the first chapter of this prophetic book in its entirety and you will find that the LORD—much like He declared unto Moses that He would be and go with him—would respond unto Jeremiah and declare unto him how He would not only be with him, but would also enable him to walk in that which he had been called. With this in mind, I invite you consider the following words which are found in the first and opening chapter of this prophetic book beginning to read with and from the fourth verse:
“Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, LORD God! Behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth His hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over nations and over kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:4-10).
“Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it. And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north. Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah. And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands. Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them. For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and n iron pill, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee” (Jeremiah 1:11-19).
It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand the words which the LORD of hosts spoke and declared unto Jeremiah, for what we find within this opening chapter would set the tone and stage for the prophetic ministry and life Jeremiah would have as he would faithfully walk in obedience before the LORD in the midst of a generation that lived on the edge of judgment, devastation and destruction. When you read the words found in the first chapter—specifically the words which are found in verses eleven through nineteen—you will find the LORD revealing unto Jeremiah the great judgment He would bring forth against the land and people from and out of the north because of their great wickedness before Him. The LORD would appear and speak unto Jeremiah concerning the coming judgment, the coming devastation and destruction that would come upon the land—this despite the fact that the LORD would not initially, nor immediately reveal the name and nature of that judgment, trouble, desolation, storm and destruction. What makes the prophetic life and ministry of Jeremiah so incredibly intriguing is when you think about and consider the fact that not only was Jeremiah called to speak the word of the LORD unto the people of Judah and Jerusalem, but the words and message he was to speak unto the people was one of judgment which was at the door. Pause for a moment and consider what it must have been like for Jeremiah to spend his entire life after receiving the call of the LORD knowing that judgment was at the door, and knowing that the LORD would indeed bring forth judgment upon the land because of its wickedness. Although we know and understand from the narrative of Josiah king of Judah that the LORD would not bring that judgment upon the land during his days, we know that it would be during the days and generations of his sons this judgment would spring and break forth. One of the most astonishing and remarkable truths surrounding the prophetic life and ministry of Jeremiah is when you consider the fact that from the very outset of the call upon his life until it would actually come to pass he would see and be intimately aware of judgment that would break forth upon the land—judgment that would be unavoidable and inescapable.
While the LORD spoke and revealed unto Jeremiah concerning the judgment and destruction He would bring forth against the people of Judah and Jerusalem out of the north, He would also go on to speak directly unto Jeremiah concerning what the prophetic ministry would indeed be like. The LORD had indeed sanctified and ordained Jeremiah to be a prophet unto the nations, yet the word and message Jeremiah would prophesy and proclaim was one of judgment, devastation and destruction. It would be during the days of Josiah king of Judah Jeremiah would invite the people of Jerusalem and Judah to return unto the LORD, however, there would come a point when the LORD would instruct Jeremiah to no longer pray nor intercede for this people, for He had purposed to bring judgment and destruction against and upon them because of all the evil Manasseh the son of Hezekiah had caused the people to sin against the LORD. What’s more, is the LORD would also declare unto Jeremiah that although Moses and Samuel stood before Him and interceded on behalf of this people He would not hear, nor would He respond to the prayers, nor cries for mercy for the people. Most of Jeremiah’s life after experiencing the word of the LORD appearing unto him that very first time would be spent knowing that judgment was at the door, and knowing that there was absolutely nothing that could be done to avert it. Oh, it was true that it was possible during the days of Josiah to delay and postpone it for a season, however, that judgment would ultimately be poured out upon both land and people alike, as the LORD would indeed bring judgment, devastation and destruction upon the land. Stop and think what it would have been like for Jeremiah to prophesy judgment against both prophet and priest alike, against both Jerusalem and Judah alike, and against all the people in the midst of the land. Consider what it would have been like for Jeremiah to not only know that judgment was at the door, but also repeatedly warning the people of judgment that would come upon and against both people and land alike. With that being said, it’s important for us to recognize and understand that although judgment would and could not be averted, it would be possible for people in that generation to hear and take to heart the words and warning of Jeremiah, and to turn and return unto the LORD. There is not a doubt in my mind that there were and there would have been those present during the days and generation of Jeremiah who believed the word of the LORD which Jeremiah spoke, and would have responded by turning themselves and returning unto the LORD.
I can’t help but wonder if there weren’t those who were alive and present during the days of Josiah king of Judah who responded to his call for covenant obedience and faithfulness before the LORD, and who continued to walk in that obedience and faithfulness—even during the days of the reign of the sons of Josiah who would sit upon the throne. I do not for one moment believe that absolutely every man, woman, child, prophet, priest, and the like were corrupt, vile and wicked in the midst of the land. If there is one thing Scripture always points to and reveals, it’s that the LORD always has a remnant of people who refuse to bow and bend the knee to the false gods and idols which are present within their generation. Stop and consider the days of Elijah when the prophet stood before the LORD at Horeb the mountain of God in the wilderness, and the LORD declared unto the prophet how He had reserved seven thousand who had not bowed the knee nor had kissed Baal. Elijah thought that he alone was the only one left, and yet the LORD revealed unto him that He had reserved and preserved seven thousand who had kept themselves from worshipping and serving Baal. Please note that this wasn’t something that was light during those days and during that time, for you will recall that not only was this a time when Baal worship was at its height and zenith in the midst of the northern kingdom of Israel, but it was also during the days of Ahab king of Israel, and Jezebel queen of Israel. Pause and think about how absolutely remarkable it would have been for the LORD to reserve and preserve seven thousand within the northern kingdom of Israel during the days of Ahab and Jezebel—those who would not and those who could not bow themselves before, nor kiss Baal. Despite the fact that Baal worship was so pervasive in the midst of the land, the LORD had reserved for and unto Himself seven thousand who would not and had not bowed the knee before this foreign and strange god from the land of Canaan and the surrounding nations.
When I consider the narrative of the prophetic book of Jeremiah I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that Jeremiah was a prophet of the LORD who was not only a prophet of judgment, but also a prophet of weeping and mourning. You cannot read the words which are found in this prophetic book and not encounter the awesome and tremendous reality that Jeremiah would prophesy judgment, devastation and destruction upon the land and people, and how the weight and burden of the word he proclaimed and prophesied would cause his soul to soul to be overwhelmed within him. We dare not and cannot miss and lose sight of this absolutely astonishing reality, for that which Jeremiah was called to do was not something that was for the faint of heart, nor for the weak in spirit. The LORD knew the weight, the burden, the magnitude and force of the message Jeremiah would bring unto the nation and its people, and He knew the response the people would have to that message. It’s important for us to understand that when it comes to the prophetic word of the LORD—specifically a prophetic word of judgment, devastation and destruction—there are essentially two responses to that word. Either men and women can respond to that prophetic word by turning and returning to the LORD as they allow themselves to be warned, or they refuse and reject that word. What’s more, is that those who choose to refuse and reject the word of the LORD might very well find themselves fighting and striving—not only against the word itself, and not only against the one who brought and delivered the word, but also against the LORD. It’s important to read the words which are found in the first and opening chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah and consider the fact that in the first and opening chapter the LORD would instruct Jeremiah to gird up his loins, to arise, and to speak unto the people all He had commanded, and to not be dismayed at their faces, lest the LORED confound him before them. With that being said, we also find the LORD declaring unto Jeremiah that He had made him a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, against the princes of Judah, against the priests and people thereof. Moreover, the LORD would go on to reveal unto Jeremiah this striving, this fighting, and this resistance that would come against him and the prophetic word and message he would bring unto and against the nation. In the nineteenth verse of this chapter you will find the LORD warning and preparing Jeremiah concerning the people of the land as He declared unto him that they would fight against him. While it is true the people would indeed fight against Jeremiah, the LORD not only declared that they would not prevail against him, but He also declared that He was with him to deliver him.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom He did foreknowledge, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestination, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also j justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall he not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justified. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor prince laities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things two come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:28-39).
“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will courage you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cites of Israel, till the Son of man be come. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall end me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followers after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loveth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:16-39).
It is necessary to consider the words which are found within the New Testament epistle which was written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome, as well as the words which our Lord spoke unto His disciples when He appointed them as witnesses within their generation, for they help shine a tremendous amount of light on to the narrative we find in the life of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah. When the first and opening chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah concludes it does so with the LORD revealing unto Jeremiah that the people within the land would indeed rise up against to fight against him. Pause for a moment and think about the tremendous significance and impact of those words on Jeremiah, for not only would he be a prophet of judgment, destruction and devastation, but Jeremiah would also be a prophet who would be vehemently opposed and afflicted by the people within Judah and Jerusalem. You cannot read the prophetic book of Jeremiah and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that Jeremiah was that prophet who was most acquainted with the sufferings of Christ, and while Isaiah was that prophet who saw the most concerning the Messiah who was to come, Jeremiah would be that prophet who would identify most with the sufferings of the Messiah who was to come. There is perhaps no other Old Testament prophet who experienced as much suffering, as much opposition, as much affliction, as much persecution as did Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah of the priests of Anathoth. What lends even more truth to this particular reality is when you consider the fact that at the very outset of the call that was placed upon the life of Jeremiah the LORD would reveal unto him that the people of the land would indeed rise up and fight against him. From the kings to the princes, to the priests and the people, there would be a great number of those who would indeed raise themselves up against Jeremiah that they might fight against him with their words. It’s worth noting that they would not fight against him with weapons of warfare, but rather with weapons of words—slander, gossip, backbiting, accusation, condemnation, and so much more which is written and recorded within this prophetic book.
Perhaps one of the most telling examples and accounts of the people fighting against Jeremiah is found in the eleventh chapter of this prophetic book. What makes this particular narrative so compelling and intriguing is when you think about where the opposition came from. As you read the words found in the latter portion of the eleventh chapter you will find that the opposition didn’t come from Jerusalem, and the opposition didn’t come from Hebron, or any other city within the land of Judah. Upon reading the words found in this chapter you will find that Jeremiah first experienced opposition within his hometown of Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. If you begin reading with and from the fifteenth verse of the eleventh chapter you will find Jeremiah describing this opposition and resistance against him, and what is incredibly important for us to recognize and understand is that the opposition he faced and experienced wasn’t merely opposition against him as an individual, but it was resistance against the prophetic word which he was sent to prophesy and proclaim. It would be true the men of Anathoth would rise up against Jeremiah to fight against and oppose him, but what we must realize and understand is that their opposition was more than simply resistance to him as an individual, but rather the word that was in his mouth. In fact, within the prophetic book of Jeremiah you will find the prophet actually entreating the LORD to no longer prophesy according to the word of the LORD that was in his mouth, for the weight and burden of that word was a lot for the prophet himself to carry and bear. We cannot read the prophetic book of Jeremiah without encountering and coming face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that Jeremiah truly did in fact experience the weight and burden of the word and message the LORD instructed and commanded him to speak, and there were times when the weight of that message—as well as the opposition which rose up against him—would be a tremendous load Jeremiah would have to bear. What’s more, is that as you read the words found in this prophetic book you will find that Jeremiah would shoulder much of this weight and much of this burden alone, and it wouldn’t be until later on when the LORD would bring a companion alongside Jeremiah—namely, Baruch the son of Neriah. What you find in the eleventh chapter of this prophetic book, however, is Jeremiah perhaps taking this prophetic word unto those in his hometown of Anathoth thinking and believing they would receive the words he would speak unto them. We aren’t sure if Anathoth would be the first place Jeremiah would bring and present the word of the LORD, and in fact, in the seventh chapter we find Jeremiah being instructed to stand in the gate of the LORD’s house in Jerusalem and proclaim the word of the LORD unto all those who would come unto the Temple of the LORD to worship before Him.
What makes the words found in the eleventh chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah so incredibly captivating is when you think about the fact that the one place where you would think Jeremiah would be the most welcomed, and where Jeremiah would be the most received would be his hometown of Anathoth. You would think that those who watched Jeremiah grow up, and those who knew Jeremiah from the time he was an infant were incredibly familiar with him, and that old adage that describes how familiarity breeds contempt can in fact directly apply to Jeremiah in this particular case. When you read the eleventh chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah you will find the first introduction of Jeremiah to the opposition and fighting against him which the LORD had spoke unto him when he first called him when he was a child. It’s actually quite interesting to read the prophetic book of Jeremiah and to come to the eleventh chapter and find Jeremiah experiencing opposition in perhaps that one place where he would least expect it. IN all reality, this is what what makes the words found in the eleventh chapter so incredibly challenging, for what you find in this chapter is the prophet Jeremiah experiencing opposition in the midst of his hometown of Anathoth—something which I am quite sure surprised and took him off guard. I can’t help but wonder if Jeremiah thought—perhaps even expected—that those within Anathoth would receive the word and message he had been instructed of the LORD to proclaim. You find at the opening and outset of the eleventh chapter the word of the LORD coming unto Jeremiah, and it was indeed a strong and powerful word, for the LORD would instruct him to declare unto Judah and Jerusalem, saying, “Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant, which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you.” If you continue reading the eleventh chapter you will find the LORD speaking directly unto Jeremiah declaring a conspiracy which was found among the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for they were turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers which refused to hear His words. Moreover, the people of Judah and Jerusalem went after other gods to serve them, and the house of Israel and the house of Judah broke the covenant which the LORD made with their fathers. What’s worth noticing is that the LORD would also speak and declare unto Jeremiah that He would bring evil upon them which they would not be able to escape, and although they would cry unto Him, He would not hearken unto them. The people of Judah and Jerusalem would go and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense, but those gods whom they worshipped and served would not be able to save them in the time of their trouble.
In the fourteenth chapter of the eleventh chapter you will find the LORD instructing Jeremiah not to pray for the people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them, for He would not hear them in the time that they cried unto Him for their trouble. It is directly on the heels of this we find the opposition against Jeremiah beginning to arise and emerge in those days. Beginning to read with and from the fifteenth verse of the eleventh chapter you find Jeremiah entering into and experiencing direct opposition and conspiracy against him because of the word of the LORD which he had been instructed to proclaim unto the people of Judah and Jerusalem. It is in this passage of Scripture we find the LORD warning Jeremiah of the devices which were raised up against him, and making him aware of the opposition that would rise up against him within his own hometown of Anathoth. What makes this opposition in the midst of Anathoth so unique is once more when you think about the fact that you would think Jeremiah would be well received in that town in which he grew up and spent most of his life. You would think that when Jeremiah brought the word of the LORD unto the priests and people in Anathoth they would receive him, they would welcome him, and they would embrace his words and message, however, the truth of the matter is that the men of Anathoth not only wanted nothing to do with Jeremiah, but they also strove, resisted, and fought against Jeremiah and the word of the LORD. What adds even more weight and significance to this is when you think about the fact that Jeremiah was essentially prepared in the same manner as the disciples and apostles of Jesus were, for if you read the New Testament gospel narratives you will find the Lord preparing His disciples and followers—not to be loved, not to be welcomed, not to be received, and not to be embraced, but rather to be hated. If you read the words found in the first and opening chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah you will essentially find Jeremiah hearing from the word of the LORD that men would rise up to fight against him, and would essentially hate and despise him. It is what we find in the eleventh chapter of this prophetic book that begins to shine a light on and reveal that truth within the life of Jeremiah. Consider the following words which are found in this chapter beginning to read with and from the eighteenth verse:
“And the LORD hath given me knowledge of it, and I know it: then thou shewedst me their doings. 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 hi off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered. 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. 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: 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: and there shall be no remnant of them: for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their visitation” (Jeremiah 11:18-23).
THEIR DOINGS! THEY HAD DEVISED DEVICES AGAINST ME! LET US DESTROY THE TREE WITH THE FRUIT THEREOF! LET US CUT HIM OFF FROM THE LAND OF THE LIVING! THAT HIS NAME MAY BE NO MORE REMEMBERED! LET ME SEE THY VENGEANCE ON THEM! THAT SEEK THY LIFE! PROPHESY NOT IN THE NAME OF THE LORD! THAT THOU DIE NOT BY OUR HAND! It’s worth noting that in the opening chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah the LORD spoke unto him concerning men rising up to fight against him, and quite honestly prepared him to be hated, despised, abhorred and rejected by those unto whom he was sent. Pause for a moment and think about how you would handle and respond to such a reality within your life, as you were called and ordained by the LORD for a specific task, assignment and purpose, and that which you were called to do was going to position you to be hated by those unto whom you were sent. We cannot read the narrative of the prophetic book and life of Jeremiah and not encounter the tremendous reality that not only was he going to be hated and despised by those to whom he was sent, but they would also rise up and fight against him. The LORD was very clear and specific when speaking unto the prophet Jeremiah that those unto whom he was sent would fight against him, and that they would resist and oppose him. What’s more, is what Jeremiah didn’t understand when the word of the LORD first appeared unto him—namely, that he would experience such a great opposition, such a great affliction, and such great persecution within and during his life. Jeremiah would indeed faithfully stand before the LORD in the midst of his generation, and he would indeed proclaim the word of the LORD unto those to whom he was sent, however, that proclamation of the word of the LORD would place and set him at odds with those to whom he had been called and sent. The LORD made it perfectly clear that the people of Judah and Jerusalem would fight against him, but that the LORD would be with him to deliver him. What I can’t help but think about and encounter when considering the life of Jeremiah is that from the very start the LORD would prepare him to be hated by those to whom he would be sent. Jeremiah would indeed be sent unto the people of Judah and Jerusalem, and he would indeed be sent to proclaim the word of the LORD, however, men would hate both he and the word which he was sent to proclaim and declare in their hearing. In all reality, that which Jeremiah faced and experienced within his life is very much similar to how Jesus prepared His disciples when sending them out to preach the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, to heal the sick, and to cast out demons. You cannot read the New Testament gospel narratives without finding Jesus preparing His disciples—not to be loved, not to be received, not to be welcomed, not to be embraced, and not to be accepted, but to be hated by those unto whom they would be sent. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the New Testament gospel narratives concerning the words which Jesus spoke unto His disciples and followers:
“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).
“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will courage you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall e hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Mathew 10:16-22).
“Take heed that no man deceive you. For m any shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another” (Matthew 24:4-10).
“But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall e given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Mark 13:11-13).
“But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to mediate before what ye shall answer: For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor exist. And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kings folks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake. But there shall not an hair of you head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls” (Luke 21:12-19).
“These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not g reader than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause” (John 15:17-25).
“I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:14-16).
With each of these passages you not only encounter the tremendous reality that Jesus prepared His disciples to be hated, but you also encounter the truth that His disciples could and should expect persecution as they attempted to walk in that which they had been called and sent. I have long been fascinated by the fact that even in the midst of Jesus instructing His disciples to love their neighbor as themselves, and to bless those who persecute them, and pray for those who spitefully use and speak evil of them, He prepared them to be hated. While sending His disciples out to love one another—even loving their enemies—He also at the same time prepared them to be hated. Stop for a moment and think about this and how it would play out in the hearts and lives of the disciples, for it was highly and altogether possible that they would go out into the world instructed to love others, and would in direct response to that be hated of all men for the sake of the name of Jesus Christ. It is with this in mind that we must turn and direct our attention to the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, for when the LORD called this ancient Hebrew prophet He prepared and made him ready for the people of Judah and Jerusalem to fight against him—and not only fight against him, but in all reality to hate, despise and abhor him. The behavior and actions we find surrounding the men of Anathoth is a truly unique and powerful picture concerning the people whom the prophet Jeremiah would indeed contend with as he walked in that which the LORD his God had instructed him to. Not only did the LORD send Jeremiah unto the people of Judah and Jerusalem—unto priests and prophets alike, unto kings and princes alike, and unto the people within the land—with a message of judgment, but the LORD would declare unto Jeremiah that they would fight against him. The narrative found in the eleventh chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah reveals the first true opposition Jeremiah experienced within his life, as the men of Anathoth would conspire against him to bring him to a swift end. In all reality, that which the men of Anathoth—those men who had known Jeremiah since he was perhaps an infant fresh out of his mother’s womb—would seek to do was put Jeremiah to death, for they thought and believed that by putting Jeremiah to death they would and could somehow silence the word of the LORD which would proceed forth from his mouth. What’s more, is that you also get the sense that the men of Anathoth thought that if they put Jeremiah to death and cut him off from the land of the living the words which he proclaimed in their hearing would be brought to an end.
One of the greatest realities surrounding the life of Jeremiah the prophet is that when you read the biographical portion of this prophetic book you will find that he was a prophet who was so throughly and completely hated and abhorred by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, and there would be countless men who would raise themselves up against Jeremiah to try and silence him that they they might bring to an end the word which he spoke. The prophet Jeremiah would bring and proclaim the word of the LORD into his own hometown of Anathoth, and yet those who dwelt in that town would not accept the word Jeremiah brought to them, and not only rejected the word, but also conspired against him to put him to death. This brings a different meaning to the words Jesus Himself would quote during the days of His life and ministry on the earth as He declared a prophet is not without honor save in his own country. If there is yet one more similarity between the prophet Jeremiah the the Lord Jesus Christ it’s that just as Jeremiah would be rejected, despised, and even attempted to be cut off from the land of the living within his hometown, so also would Jesus be rejected in His hometown of Nazareth. You cannot read the words which are found in the New Testament gospel narratives and not encounter and come face to face with the fact that Jesus too was despised and rejected by those who knew Him the most. Not only do we find Jesus being despised and rejected after He had read from the words of the prophet Isaiah in the midst of the synagogue, but we also find additional reference of Jesus being rejected and despised by those of Nazareth, as again the adage holds true that familiarity breeds contempt. In all reality, I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that Jeremiah was an Old Testament type and picture of Jesus the Christ who would be despised and rejected in His hometown of Nazareth. With this in mind, I invite you to consider the following words which are taken directly from the New Testament gospel narratives concerning Jesus in His hometown of Nazareth:
“And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of Him through all the region round about. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up: and, as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when He had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? And He said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. And He said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; but none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust Him out of the city, and led Him unto the brow of the hill wherein their city was built, that they might cast Him down headlong. But He passing through the midst of them went his way, and came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power” (Luke 4:14-32).
“And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, He departed thence. And when He was come into His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in Him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in His own country, and in His own house. And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:53-58).
“And He went out from thence, and came into His own country; and His disciples follow Him. And when the Sabbath day was come, He began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing Him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? And what wisdom is this which is given unto Him, that even such mighty works are wrought by His hand? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at Him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. And HE could there do no mighty work, save that He laid His hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And He marvelled because of their unbelief. And He went round about the villages, teaching” (Mark 6:1-6).
“Now after two days He departed thence, and went into Galilee. For Jesus Himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country” (John 4:43-44).
As you read the words which are found within these passages of Scripture you will encounter and come face to face with the rejection—and not only the rejection, but also the attempt to kill Jesus by those of His hometown of Nazareth. Neither Matthew, nor Mark, nor even John record the events of the people of Nazareth seeking to kill Jesus as did Luke, however, what the synoptic authors do in fact present us with is this offense with Jesus the Christ—not only offense with the words which He had spoken unto them, but also with their familiarity with Him as having grown up among them with his mother, his brother and his sisters. What we find in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah is not only the rejection of the words and message he was sent by the LORD to proclaim, but also a rejection of what the words spelled out and meant for the people who heard it. We know from the gospel narrative which Luke wrote that the people of Nazareth were offended in Jesus because of the words He spoke unto them concerning the words of Isaiah being fulfilled in their generation on that day, and the words He spoke concerning the days of Elijah and Elisha who were prophets in the northern kingdom of Israel. We know that not only were they offended at the words He proclaimed in their hearing, but we also know that their familiarity produced within them an unbelief that would effectively render Jesus unable to perform any signs, wonders and miracles as He would in other cities, towns and villages. What so amazes me about Jesus is that He wasn’t at all swayed, impacted, affected, nor deterred by the words and actions of those who opposed Him and sought to cast Him out from the land of the living. This is particularly interesting and captivating when you think about and consider the words which are found in the prophetic book of Jeremiah, for although you find the LORD promising unto Jeremiah that He would deliver him out of the hands of those who would rise up against him, Jeremiah would find himself struggling with the conspiracy that would be mounted and raised up against him within his own hometown of Anathoth. In fact, you will even find Jeremiah praying unto the LORD concerning the people of Anathoth, and the LORD actually responding to him in a manner that was altogether unique—namely, responding and speaking to him concerning endurance.
Upon bringing this writing to a close I feel absolutely compelled to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of this prophetic book, for what you find in the twelfth chapter is essentially a powerful word unto Jeremiah concerning the need for endurance in the midst of the threats, the affliction, the opposition, and the persecution he experienced. There is not a doubt in my mind that the words found in the twelfth chapter of this prophetic book are a powerful call and invitation given unto Jeremiah to walk and step into endurance, for that which he would face and experience within Anathoth his hometown would be but a drop in the bucket compared to what he would experience in the coming days, weeks, months, and even years. With that being said, I invite you to consider the words which the LORD spoke unto Jeremiah concerning the affliction, the opposition, and the persecution he experienced by those of his hometown of Anathoth:
“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? For even thy brethren, and the house of thy father, even they have dealt treacherously; yea, they have called a multitude after thee: believe them not, though they speak fair words unto thee” (Jeremiah 12:5-6).
The words which are found within this particular passage must be absolutely considered when seeking to understand the narrative of the life of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, for when you read this prophetic book you will find that Jeremiah was not only one whom men strove and fought against, but Jeremiah was also a man who experienced a tremendous amount of persecution, suffering and affliction. Although Jeremiah would walk in that which the LORD had called him to, that would in no way mean, nor would it suggest that Jeremiah would somehow be immune from opposition that would rise up against him. In fact, it was the LORD Himself who declared from the start that men would fight against him, but not to fear, nor be dismayed, for the LORD would be with him to deliver him. Without a doubt the prophetic book of Jeremiah is a book that has at the very heart of it endurance in the midst of opposition, and endurance in the midst of affliction, for there were countless times when Jeremiah would be tested and tried emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically. There are countless times when Jeremiah would seem to be brought to the end of himself as he would face tremendous suffering and persecution at the hands of those who would contend and strive against the prophetic word he would bring unto them. It is in the ninth chapter of this prophetic book we find Jeremiah crying out before the LORD, saying, “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! For they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men” (Jeremiah 9:1-2). In the final verses of the eleventh chapter, as well as the words which are found in the opening verses of the twelfth chapter you will find Jeremiah crying out before and unto the LORD, and asking Him that He might bring judgment and wrath upon the heads of those who rose up against him, as Jeremiah would not only cry out that he would see the vengeance of the LORD upon them, but he would also ask the LORD that he pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter. Again in the fourteenth chapter we find Jeremiah given over to weeping and tears, as he would once more cry out, saying, “Let mine eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease: for the virgin daughter of my people is broken with a great breach, with a very grievous blow. If I go forth into the field, then behold the slain with the sword! And if I enter into the city, then behold them that are sick with famine! Yea, both the prophet and the priest go about into a land that they know not” (Jeremiah 14:17-18).
If and as you read the words which are found in the prophetic book of Jeremiah you will be brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that Jeremiah was called into a place of endurance before the LORD, as Jeremiah would continue to struggle with opposition, affliction, persecution and resistance. So long as Jeremiah continued walking in the call the LORD had placed upon his life he would not only find himself at odds with the people of Judah and Jerusalem, but he would even find himself at odds with priests, prophets and princes alike. What Jeremiah experienced in Anathoth would be but a glimpse—a foretaste if you will—of the opposition which he would experienced later on. As you continue reading the prophetic book of Jeremiah you will find Jeremiah being cast into prison, being cast into a cistern, and continued to be opposed and oppressed by the people of the land. The underlying theme within the life of Jeremiah would be his need for patience endurance in the midst of the opposition and affliction he would face. In a similar manner—when Jesus spoke unto His disciples concerning the last days and them being hated of all men for His name’s sake—He would call them to endurance and steadfastness in spite of the persecution, in spite of the suffering, in spite of the affliction and opposition they would experience. Even when you read the New Testament book of Acts you will initially and originally find the apostles themselves being persecuted by the Sanhedrin and religious system of that day, however, you will find in the eighth chapter persecution spreading beyond the apostles and ultimately touching the early Church. If you study church history as well, you will find that the early Church would continue to face tremendous opposition from Rome, as Rome would seek to snuff out and destroy Christianity from the earth. Rome would be successful in destroying the Temple of the LORD which stood in Jerusalem, and they would be successful in persecuting the early Church, however, they would never and could never destroy the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, Rome would be successful in crucifying Jesus by nailing Him to a cross, and Jesus would in fact die upon that cross, however—although the body of Christ would indeed be persecuted, and many would be martyred, the body of Christ would never and could never be destroyed from within and upon the earth. The question I would leave you with is whether or not you with and through patient endurance are willing to continue walking in that which the LORD has called you to, to faithfully proclaim the good news of the gospel concerning the kingdom of heaven, and love your neighbors, your brothers, and your enemies.