The Scriptorium

Twenty-Three Years and Counting

It's a long time to be faithful but ignored. Jeremiah 25.1-7

Promise and Wrath (3)

Pray Psalm 78.1-4.
Give ear, O my people, to my law;
Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings of old,
Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD,
And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.

Sing Psalm 78.1-4.

(Foundation: How Firm a Foundation )
Give ear, O my people, attend to my word,
dark sayings and parables sent from the Lord,
things we have before by our fathers been told,
which we would not dare from our children withhold.

Read and meditate on Jeremiah 25.1-7.

1. How long had Jeremiah been prophesying at this point?

2. Was he alone in this effort?

Flashback to the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s reign. We recall that he succeeded his brother, Shallum, both of them sons of Josiah, after Shallum (Jehoahaz) was carried off into captivity in Egypt (2 Kgs. 23.31-34). Jehoiakim would reign eleven years, three of them as a vassal of Nebuchadnezzar, before dying in Jerusalem (2 Kgs. 23.36-24.6). Jeremiah had been at his ministry for twenty-three years when God gave him this word in chapter 25 for the king and the people.

He preached this message throughout Judah and Jerusalem (Jer. 25.1, 2). He must have moved around a lot in so doing, and that’s not hard to imagine for a ministry that had gone on for 23 years by this point (Jeremiah’s ministry would continue for at least another fourteen years). Other prophets served with Jeremiah during this time (v. 4), and together with him, they proclaimed the same basic message: Repent of the sins you have committed in turning away from the Lord to false gods, lest you provoke the Lord to anger and judgment (vv. 3-6).

No “ten steps to a happier and more prosperous life”? What about “when we all get to heaven”? Or should he have said something about “how to have a great marriage” or “how to succeed in your work”?

Sorry, people of Judah and Jerusalem. That’s not what you needed. Jeremiah understood the situation in the nation. He saw the drift from the ways of God from the days of Josiah to the time of Jehoiakim. He passed by the idols, stationed throughout Jerusalem at various places, including the temple precincts. He saw the false prophets promising peace and happiness and prosperity to one and all.

Jeremiah understood the Word of God for the people among whom he lived and worked, and he proclaimed it faithfully. They didn’t like it, as we shall see, but he didn’t care. It’s what they needed to hear, and he was going to tell it straight from the Lord’s mouth to their unwilling ears.

The people would not listen (vv. 4, 7). And now the anger of God was about to break out on them. Just three short years from the time of this message, Nebuchadnezzar would come and begin the drawn-out process of deporting the people and destroying the city and temple of God.

Do we seek the Word of God for what we want to hear or for what God wants us to hear? Are we listening to His Word or just seeking one of our own?

1. How can we keep from reading the Word of God for what we want rather than what God wants us to hear?

2. How can we know when we are beginning to drift from the Lord’s will?

3. When is repentance necessary? What does repentance involve?

He mentions the great number of years in order to emphasize God’s long-suffering in putting up with unbelievers for so long. I sent my servants the prophets to you, he says. I urged you to abandon the road to ruin and travel by the other road that produces life. I, in fact, promised you blessings for doing this. But you did not listen, and instead you chose the worship of idols. Theodoret of Cyr (393-466), On Jeremiah 6.25.3-7

Keep me in Your way today, O Lord, and help me to follow Your Word as I…

Pray Psalm 78.4-16.

Use this time to recall, as many as you can, all God’s good works which He has done for you. Then commit this day to walking according to His Word.

Sing Psalm 78.4-16.
Psalm 78.4-16 (Foundation: How Firm a Foundation)
The glorious deeds of our God in His might,
and all of the works He has done in our sight,
together with all of the words of His Law,
would we on ourselves and our children bestow.

Lord, let all our children arise and declare
the truth of the Lord every day, everywhere,
and set all their hopes in God’s wonderful Word,
and never forget all the works of the Lord.

Our fathers were stubborn; they would not obey;
when faced with their foes they in fear turned away.
God’s work of redemption they wholly despised,
forgetting the pow’r He had shown to their eyes.

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).


T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore