The Potter and the Vessel: Jeremiah 18-21 (2)
Pray Psalm 59.1-3.
Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
Defend me from those who rise up against me.
Deliver me from the workers of iniquity,
And save me from bloodthirsty men.
For look, they lie in wait for my life;
The mighty gather against me,
Not for my transgression nor for my sin, O LORD.
Sing Psalm 59.1-3.
(Neumark: If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee)
Deliver me from all my foes, Lord; set me on high secure away.
From all who seek to work me woe, Lord, deliver me from day to day.
For, lo, they seek to take my life; fierce foes advance to bring me strife!
Read and meditate on Jeremiah 18.12-23.
1. How did the people respond to Jeremiah’s preaching? What did they propose to do?
2. How did Jeremiah respond to that?
Recall that Jeremiah has been preaching to the inhabitants of the city of Jerusalem (v. 11). Their response was to say, “That is hopeless!”, even though Jeremiah’s message held out the hope of forgiveness if the people would return to the Lord (v. 10). The people considered Jeremiah’s message hopeless only because they were not willing to go along with God’s demands. Instead, they would just go their own way and follow their own plans (v. 12).
Makes you want to ask, “How’s that workin’ for ya?”
So Jeremiah continued speaking as from the Lord (vv. 12-17). A people ought not reject and turn from their source of life. Jeremiah did not change his message merely because the people found it unpalatable. His message was true. They were ungrateful, unfaithful, rebellious, and disobedient; and God had long ago promised that such conduct would not receive His blessing, but His wrath (cf. Deut. 28). They may not have liked what they were hearing, but Jeremiah could do nothing other than proclaim the truth.
So the people determined to mount a media campaign against him (v. 18).. They would publicly reject his message – even to the point of burning his book. And they would flood the streets of Jerusalem with false promises and vain hopes. They would try to drown out Jeremiah’s preaching with words of their own.
And if that didn’t work, well, they would figure out something else.
Jeremiah knew where his strength was (vv. 19-27). He called upon the Lord, not to relieve him of his ministry or to tamp down the message, but to protect and defend him as he continued faithful in his calling. Jeremiah knew that his life was on the line (v. 23); but that was not what mattered. He stood before the Lord to speak good for the people (v. 20), but they rejected his message and were making his preaching into a lie. Jeremiah knew that God would fulfill His threats against the people. And He would protect His faithful prophet, so that he could fulfill all his calling.
God has given us His Word and Spirit, and called us to be witnesses for Jesus (Acts 1.8). This may not be what the world wants to hear, but we must be faithful.
1. What can we learn about sin from the response of the people to Jeremiah’s preaching?
2. How did Jeremiah seek to fortify himself against those who wanted to silence him? What’s the lesson in this for us?
3. How can believers encourage one another to remain faithful in our calling to be witnesses for Christ?
This expresses the thought both of the Jews at that time against Jeremiah, or the Lord our Savior, and of the heretics today against the Lord’s servants. They seek to spread slander and to precede holy people with an accusation, nor do they think about the truthfulness of what they say but only of the lies that they disseminate. Jerome (347-420), Six Books on Jeremiah 4.8.2
Strengthen me to be Your witness today, Lord Jesus, as I…
Pray Psalm 59.4-17.
Praise God for His power and Presence, and call upon Him to enable you to live for Him in everything you do today.
Sing Psalm 59.3-17.
Psalm 59.3-17 (Neumark: If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee)
Not for transgressions they assault me, nor any sin which I have done.
With nothing they can charge or fault me, and yet to trouble me they run.
Arouse Yourself, O Lord, awake, and come with haste my foes to break.
Like dogs at large within a city, they bark and howl fierce threats at me.
They boast of evil without pity, but You, O Lord, their treach’ry see.
Because of them I watch for You, O God my strength, forever true!
My God in steadfast love will meet me, and let me look triumphantly
On all my foes, who would defeat me did not He shield and shelter me.
That men may know Your pow’r, O Lord, subdue and rule them by Your Word.
But as for me, Your strength I’m singing; with joy I sing Your grace, O Lord!
My trials and troubles I am bringing to know the shelter of Your Word.
O God, my strength, I sing Your praise; You are my stronghold all my days.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).