Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations. Then said I: "Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth." But the Lord said to me: "Do not say, 'I am a youth,' For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you," says the Lord. (Jeremiah. 1:4-8)
WHAT IS THE MESSAGE:
Be aware of the challenges and count the cost.
GIVE ME THE CONTEXT:
- Jeremiah had a daunting task to admonish God's people to repent of their sins and turn back to God.
- Jeremiah lived at a turbulent time in Jewish history and witnessed the destruction of the First Temple and the exile of the Jewish people to Babylon.
- Jeremiah spoke the words of the Lord during the reigns of three Kings: Josiah (2 Chron. 36:1); Jehoiakim (2 Chron. 36:5); and Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:18-19).
- Jeremiah was scorned by the people, arrested, beaten, left in a pit, a cistern to die
LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM JEREMIAH
1. Be Aware of The Challenges And Count The Cost:
Jeremiah was chosen by God before birth to be a prophet to the nations
"I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations" (Jeremiah. 1:4-5)
Every call is challenging:
Jeremiah questioned his abilities. When God calls, He equips, It is not about you. It is about Him.
"...I do not know how to speak well enough for that, for I am too young" (Jer. 1:6)
Every call comes with a promise:
Jeremiah was humble. God gives grace to the humble. Humility opens you to God's reality.
"Do not be afraid of those to whom I send you, for I will be with you to protect you"..."I will most assuredly give you the words you are to speak for me" (1:7-9)
Every call comes with the power to accomplish an assigned task.
Jeremiah had a job description. Start afresh, begin a new work, and build and plant on the ruins:
Know for certain that I hereby give you the authority to announce to nations and kingdoms that they will be uprooted and torn down, destroyed and demolished, rebuilt and firmly planted" (1:10)
2. Support People Through The Change:
- It is daunting to lead people through change. Change is facing our own human condition.
- Conversion is the individual equivalent of revolution. (Henri Nouwen)
Jeremiah And Josiah:
Jeremiah supported the reform of Josiah and campaigned against idolatry. (Jeremiah 3:1-25)
Lead the change:
- Jeremiah supported King Josiah's call for a time of national repentance and a national revival.
- Jeremiah declared God's faithfulness to the northern Kingdom of Israel (Jer. 3:12,) and called for the people of Judah and Israel alike to return to the Lord.
Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say: Return, backsliding Israel, says the Lord. (Jer. 3:11-12)
"Return, O backsliding children, says the Lord; for I am married to you" (Jer. 3:14-15)
Communicate the promise of the future:
"In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to your fathers. (Jeremiah. 3: 18)
Communicate the consequences of disobedience:
King Josiah decided to oppose the advance of the Egyptians, despite the objections and warnings of the Prophet Jeremiah. King Josiah died in the battle. (Jeremiah. 23:29)
3. Stay True To Your Calling:
When you experience rejection, depression, and discouragement, be persistent.
We all get knocked down, shut out, ignored, and neglected. Stand up, refocus, and keep going.
Jehoiakim and Jeremiah:
- Jehoiakim burned Jeremiah's scroll. He persecuted Jeremiah and wanted to kill him. The king killed the prophet Uriah the son of Shemaiah, and would have done the same to Jeremiah
Stay True To Your Calling Even If It Means Upsetting Some People:
- Jehoiakim cut and burned Jeremiah's scroll, rather than heed God's warning, Jehoiakim hardened his heart and tried to destroy God's Word (Jer. 25:1-4). Jehoiakim had also murdered the godly prophet Uriah (Jeremiah. 26:20-23).
Stay True To Your Calling And Be Persistent:
- Jeremiah rewrote the scroll:
Now after the king had burned the scroll with the words which Baruch had written at the instruction of Jeremiah, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying: "Take yet another scroll, and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll which Jehoiakim the king of Judah has burned. (Jeremiah. 36:27-28)
4. Speak The Truth In The Face Of Adversity:
Do not give false promises. Speak the truth even if people are looking for a favorable message:
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah. 29:11)
Jeremiah And Zedekiah:
Zedekiah wanted to hear a favorable message from God. False prophets preached a more favorable message (Jer. 23), but God reiterated His message to Jeremiah - the only hope is to surrender to the Babylonians (Chapters 24-25).
Speak The Truth Even When It Hurts:
- Zedekiah asks Jeremiah to intercede to the Lord so that perhaps the Lord would deliver Judah. Jeremiah did not deliver what the kings wanted to hear.
- The only hope that any of the people have is to surrender to the Babylonians. "Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague. But whoever goes out and surrenders to the Babylonians who are besieging you will live; they will escape with their lives" (Jeremiah. 21:9).
- King Zedekiah imprisoned Jeremiah (Jeremiah. 32: 2), but Jeremiah does not compromise his message. (v3)
Help Others To Recognize Opportunity In Adversity:
Jeremiah sent a letter addressed to the Jewish elders and captives, with a Divine message, a guideline for Jewish survival:
- Do not trust prophets who prophesied a speedy return. "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there, do not decrease. ( Jeremiah 29:5-6).
- They will be there for a long time (70 years) (Jeremiah 29:10)
- "Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper" (Jer. 29:7)
- God will restore Judah to the land, but only in His time (Chapters 29-31).
- 1. God's people will experience rejection, depression, and discouragement in their walk with the Lord.
- 2. The task given to you can be an unpopular message that can cause you great mental anguish, and make you despised in the eyes of his people.
- 3. The faithfulness of our God is unfailing; even when we are unfaithful to Him, He remains faithful (2 Timothy. 2:13).
- 4. Persevere in speaking the truth, that some may hear the truth and set them free.