Are you a preacher like Jeremiah? If you’re a preacher, you should be. If not, then you’re not doing the Lord’s bidding. In Jeremiah 1:9-10, the Lord set forth the prophet’s mission. He was to root out, tear down, and build back up. Now, it must be remembered that Jeremiah had an assigned mission in a circumstance that is not our own. Yet, his mission is not all that different than a mission belonging to the preacher of the Gospel. In 1:17, the Lord said to Jeremiah that he was to prepare himself for this mission because the people of the land would not hear what he had to say and, most certainly, they would not obey the charge that came to them from the Lord.
The reason for their stubbornness was because of their national loyalty, directly associated with their wicked heart (17:9); they held on to a hope the Lord would not let them be conquered. They were a deceived people holding on to this. We shake our heads at how obstinate some can be, not realizing that we are not much different than they were. For Jeremiah, a preacher of the Lord’s message, this was not something easy for him. One can be the Lord chosen servant, as Jeremiah was, and still look for the exit door when the “heat in the kitchen” becomes unbearable; the exit door looks mighty attractive!
Before Jeremiah gets underway in a serious sort of way, the Lord sets forth the problem. First, it was the Lord who led the Israelites out of bondage from Egypt. Second, the people chose to forget this and changed the glory of God from something else. Third, the Lord asked: “What injustice have your fathers found in Me…” that they would choose to leave their protective wall (cf. 2:5). Even though the Lord asked the question, He knew full well what happened and why, but He wanted them to think on this before He acted. Thus, He sent Jeremiah to get them to seriously consider the path they were walking and what the Lord was about to do. They refused. Because they did this, the Lord’s word was going to resonate in a such a way in which they were not prepared. “Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and a bitter, that thou hast forsaken Jehovah thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord, Jehovah of hosts” (2:19).
In reading Jeremiah 1 and 2, there is a New Testament application. A preacher of the Lord’s gospel message is so serious that men who preach and elders who lead, if they are not serious students of the Word, the people are misled. Men who serve as elders and preachers are not to be devotional reader (only) of the Scriptures, but they are to be serious students. Why is that? Because they lead the Lord’s people and if they don’t know the Lord’s teachings to a deeper level than that which comes from a devotional reading of Scripture, then wolves arise from their own midst and lead the flock astray, and those whose knowledge is only surface-oriented are in no position to protect the Lord’s heritage.
In addition to this, they must be teachers of the Lord’s word, that is, they must be capable and involved in teaching the church the Lord’s way. This may include teaching the youth in their respective Bible classes, but it also includes teaching adults. If one can’t teach (or refuses), how can that one (or they) lead? If they don’t, they allow others to do it for them and they fail the brethren.
What about preachers? The same that is said for the elders applies to the preacher also. He is in better position to learn and know more than any in the congregation, but with that knowledge comes a serious responsibility. First, he must live what he learns. Second, he must not allow the accumulated knowledge to generate within him arrogance. Brethren see through this quickly and confidence is lost; when such is the case ears are turned away. Every time I read through Jeremiah I think of these things. I fear there are many men who lead who do not think enough along these lines. Liberty and independence were before Judah, but those of Jeremiah’s day refused to hear – and it cost them dearly! Let us hear the spirit of Jeremiah.