Negative As Well As Positive

Behold I have put My words in your mouth” (Jeremiah 1:9).

The LORD addressed these words to Jeremiah.  The prophet was to speak God’s word.  It was not his duty to entertain the people.  It was not his duty to please the ears of the people.  It was not his duty to make people feel good.  It was his duty to proclaim God’s word to the people.

This remains the duty of those who would preach today.  Paul told Timothy, “Preach the word!  Be ready in season and out of season.  Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).  The word translated “preach” (kerusso) means “to be a herald… to proclaim” (Vine’s). 

See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the Kingdoms” (Jeremiah 1:10a).

The prophet had authority.  His authority was based on the fact that he was preaching God’s word, which has authority.  If a prophet (or preacher) proclaim some other message than God’s word, he has no authority from God to do so.  He abandons the only authority that he has. 

Jeremiah’s jurisdiction extended beyond Judah.  He prophesied concerning gentile kingdoms and cities (Jeremiah 46-51).  He did this because God’s authority is universal.  It still is (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:47).

To root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:10b). 

It was not all positive.  Tom Wacaster comments, “Before Jeremiah could ‘build and… plant’ he must first ‘root out… pull down… destroy and throw down.’  In order to build, it was important for Judah to know, ‘You can’t get there from here!’  Before progress could be made it was essential that the rubbish be cleared away.  The heart and soul of Judah needed to be changed.  Jeremiah could not reform that which was corrupt – he could not get Judah to where God wanted them to be from where they were!”  (Article: Getting There from Here by Tom Wacaster).  Robert Taylor Jr. comments, “Evil must be rooted out; strongholds of sin must be pulled down; widespread iniquity must be destroyed; rampaging idolatry with all its shrines, altars and high places of lascivious actions in the name of so-called fertility rites must be thrown down…” (Robert R. Taylor Jr., Studies in Jeremiah & Lamentations, p. 13).  [Note: These six words are repeated elsewhere in this book (Jeremiah 12:14-15, 17; 18:7-11; 24:6; 31:28; 42:10; 45:4).]

Two illustrations are given.  (1) A farmer needs to sometime remove unwanted plants before he plants wanted seeds and plants.  (2) A builder needs to sometimes demolish before he builds.

Even so, it is with preaching.  Sometimes it is the case that before there can be productive growth (build, plant) things which stand in the way need to be removed (root out, pull down, destroy, throw down). The negative is needed as well as the positive.  Do not despise the negative.  Sometimes such is necessary for positive results. [Note: I do not think that the instructions given to Jeremiah is unique. Compare instructions given to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:10) to instructions given to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Timothy 4:2). Both contain negative aspects. A case can be made that both are 2/3 negative in content.]

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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