Monday, January 11, 2021

Remaining Faithful in Difficult Times - Introduction to Jeremiah

 (1)  The man - Jer. 1:1-3 - from Anathoth 9 2-3 miles north of Jerusalem) son of a priest (no record of him practicing in the priesthood, called in "13th. year of Josiah" - (626 BC) at the age of around 20?  Preached through the reign of 1 good king (Josiah) and 5 bad ones.

(2)  The times - On one hand, the reformation attempts of good King Josiah
                        However, Josiah preceded by 57 years of evil kings AND followed by All Bad Kings... until the exile!!

Israel (the 10 northern tribes) = exiled in 722 BC, 100 years before Jeremiah's call.  Now Judah = deep into idolatry and syncretism  (ie:  Yahweh not abandoned but watered down!!)

(3)  The Ministry = called to confront Kings and Commoners alike.  Spent 40 years as a "despised patriot" before the exile.  Repeatedly accused of false prophecy, treason, and sedition!

No record of any converts, disciples, or impact.  (though he had a faithful secretary, scribe - Baruch)
No family life to comfort, console him - Jer. 16:1-4

Tradition = stoned to death in Egypt (by Egyptians)

4)  The personality
... to God, sin of the nation, rejection by God's people  - "a man of sorrow"
Yet ... courageous ... cursed, threatened, beaten, imprisoned .. and stood firm!!

Because of the stories, experiences, etc ... we know more about the personality of Jeremiah than any other prophet!

(5)  The content (of the book)
A.  Historically based  (therefore understanding the times unlocks the book!)
B.  NOT chronologically ordered!  (because was gathered and compiled at a later date??  in topical order?

So... on one hand, can be difficult to read and understand
However, content = rich, relevant, rewarding!!

(6)  Our study will NOT be verse by verse, chapter by chapter .. (we'll hop around and skip a lot of passages)

7)  Today's focus from Jeremiah - Remaining Faithful in Difficult Times  

The WASM ... Jeremiah remained faithful through 40+ years of difficult ministry!!
On one hand, he stumbled ... a lot  because was human and a seriously flawed human!
However, he always returned faithfully to ... his God, his calling, duty, people....

The ISM - (ie: application for us, today!!)
You and I are NOT called to the office of Prophet...
Nevertheless we are called .. to Serve, to be faithful .. to God, our duties, people

AND though we (like Jeremiah) = seriously flawed individuals .. we can, nevertheless be FAITHFUL in the midst of - difficultied, opposition, personal weakness!

What can we lear FROM Jeremiah ... about OURSELVES?

Jeremiah was.....
(1)  Reluctant ... but obedient!  - Jer. 1:6, 6:10-11
compare Moses, Gideon, Peter - "follow me, feed my sheep"

(2)  Unflinching in his message - Jer. 26:1-2, 4-11  Rev. 22:18-19  Deut. 4:2

Yet...(3)  Compassionate toward his people - referred to as "the weeping prophet". 
On one hand, "prophet" - speaking God's word, however, "weeping" as he does so!!
Compare:  Jesus - Matt. 23:37  Luke 19:41

(4)  Prone to despair ... yet persevering! - Jer. 20:7-9
Had strong feelings, emotions, objections!! But......

(5)  Apparently ineffective ... yet faithful to his duty, (ministry, calling) 
Note:  "apparently" ineffective does not mean actually ineffective  - reference:  Isa. 55:10-11

(6)  Reverent toward God.... yet honest with God - Jer. 12:1, 15:17-18
in a real, honest, active, practical relationship with God
which = disagreement leading to conflict!   But .... contrast DISAGREEMENT with REBELLION!!
Jer. 1:8

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