“Then I said, ‘I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name” (Jeremiah 20:9a).
Jeremiah was tired of the fight. He was mocked by what seemed like everyone (Jeremiah 20:7, 10). He was in derision daily (Jeremiah 20:7-8). He was alone (Jeremiah 15:17). The message which he preached was not popular, and it was in general rejected (Jeremiah 6:16-17). His preaching was considered too negative, and even unpatriotic [Jeremiah 20:10 (cf. 6:25; 20:3; 46:5; 49:29); Jeremiah 37:11-16; 38:1-4]. He was threatened by men in his own city of Anathoth (Jeremiah 11:21 cf. 1:1). They said, “Do not prophesy in the name of the LORD lest you die by our hand” (Jeremiah 11:21). He once wished that he could leave His role as a prophet/preacher and open a hotel in the wilderness. He said, “Oh, that I had in the wilderness a lodging place for travelers; that I may leave my people, and go from them! For they are all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men” (Jeremiah 9:2). He genuinely cared about his people and wept over the path they had chosen to follow (Jeremiah 8:21; 9:1). He was tired of dealing with such weighty matters.
This preacher (probably, most preachers) can, at times, relate. There seems always to be some controversy or difficulty. There are those who will not listen and amend their ways. There are critics, and sometimes scheming opposition. Maybe I could open a gym. Maybe I could be a hotelier. Maybe I could be a landscaper. Perhaps, only other preachers fully understand. It hurts when brethren are lukewarm. It hurts when brethren do not attend. It hurts when members gossip and criticize and misrepresent. It hurts when you seem to be more concerned for a brother’s soul, than he is. Moreover, when you take a stand, it hurts to feel like you are on an island by yourself. It is easy to burn out.
“But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back and I could not” (Jeremiah 20:9b).
The word of God motivated Jeremiah to continue his work as a prophet of God. Robert Taylor Jr. comments, “God’s word was not an impotent force in his life. Quite to the contrary, God’s word was a burning fire. It was shut up in his bones. He could no longer contain it. It had to burst forth from his heart, from his lips” (Robert R. Taylor, Jr., Studies in Jeremiah and Lamentations, Vol. 1, p. 157).
Preachers (and all Christians) should stay in the book. It “effectively works in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). It provides not only information but motivation. The wise meditate on God’s word day and night (Psalm 1:1-2; 119:15, 23, 48, 78, 97, 99, 148). “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16).
Love also motivates. Garland Elkins suggests, “It was his deep love and compassion for his people that made him cry out” (ed. B.J. Clark, Major Lessons from The Major Prophets, Power Lectures, p. 78). Johnny Ramsey has written, “Jeremiah yearned for the word of God (15:16), and it burned within his heart (20:9) to such an extent that he wanted the entire earth to hear it (22:29)” (Johnny Ramsey, The Message of Jeremiah, Gospel Advocate, April 1990). If we truly love others, then we will be compelled to proclaim God’s word to others.
Great Message, A Faithful Gospel Preacher must have one of the most difficult jobs in the world. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. May God Bless. Wayne Hodge