The Tabernacle Scroll

Issue 136

“For you shall go to all to whom I shall send you, and whatsoever I command you, you shall speak” [Jeremiah 1:7, Amp Bible]

In the thirteenth year of King Josiah’s reign over Judah (about 626 BC), Jeremiah, the son of a priest, became conscious of a divine call to be a prophet of woe! A struggle began to take place in his sensitive and fearful heart, which he discloses in the form of a dialogue between God and himself (verses 6 &7).

But God took away his excuses: “Be not afraid of their faces; for I am with thee to deliver thee” (verse 8). Then God put forth his hand and touched Jeremiah’s mouth and said, “I have put my words in thy mouth”. Jeremiah recognized the divine imperative. He was commissioned to be both constructive and destructive, “to root out and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build and to plant” (verse 10).

Before him, Moses, then Gideon and then Isaiah uttered complaints about their own unfitness. But when God calls he also enables. The Bible is full of examples of weak men made strong, shy men made bold and timid men made courageous.

Nevertheless, there is a corollary to the truth of God’s enabling and it is this: the courageous speaker will always be threatened, because he is in opposition to all the currents of his time. People just don’t like unpleasant truths. It takes moral courage to listen to them. That is why the prophets were scorned - and even stoned! It takes a brave man to listen to the recital of his own faults and then to rectify them. It is easier to reach for a stone to throw, a rope to hang or a hammer and nails to crucify with. Therefore those who speak the truth are not likely to be popular. The popular minister today is the one who talks about the sins among the Jews, but refrains from speaking of the sins in the pews. Paul warned about ‘godless’ times in which people would preach “what itching ears want to hear”.

Jeremiah’s message has relevance for the church today. Personal popularity has taken pride of place over divine commission. Put simply, the messenger has become bigger than the message! The church is satisfied with its trimmings and its outward appearances. Last, but not least, we have adopted the mindset that because we go to church on Sunday it does not matter much what we do on the other six days!

But Jeremiah knew that having a church building and carrying on its stated services were not enough. He called them ‘lying words’, meaning that they lulled people into a false sense of virtue, and provided a covering for unrighteous and truly irreligious lives. So he warned them that true religion lay in amending their lives and not in mere ritual. Who can dispute this?

            Devotional                                                                                                                            Preach The Word The Word with Pastor Joseph Rodrigues