Jeremiah 26:1–24comment (0)
February 9, 2006
By Don Sandley
Related Scripture: Jeremiah 26:1–24
Family Bible Study
Chair of Theatre, Samford University; Southwestern Seminary graduate
Paying a Price to Serve God
As a theatre professor, there is one pet peeve I have above all others. When someone says to me, “I just don’t like plays that have sad endings or that make me think,” I just want to scream at them, “Why do you go to the theatre or church or anywhere that matters then?”
You see, some people view their Christian faith the same way. To some, Christianity is a promise of a happy ending, with some songs mixed in for entertainment value. The Bible simply does not support that notion. This week’s Scripture passage from Jeremiah is a perfect example of what God expects from those who believe in Him. God wants us to think, deal with reality — happy or sad — and serve Him even when the going gets tough.
Serving God is a costly endeavor. We can forget that fact living here in the Bible Belt of America. No matter what a politician or demagogue may tell you, by any universal measure, Christians in Alabama are not persecuted for their faith. We have unrivaled religious freedom and unbounded prospects for sharing our faith.
Certainly Jeremiah would have welcomed such a situation. Jeremiah, in verses 1–7, shows us what it means to accept the tough assignment for God. Jeremiah was called to bring a hard warning to believers, a warning that promised destruction if they did not return to the God who loved them.
In this passage, Jeremiah uses the story of the first tabernacle at Shiloh, under the supervision of Eli, as an example of what lies ahead for an unrepentant people. Philistines destroyed the tabernacle at Shiloh around 1050 B.C., according to archeological findings. God’s instruction to Jeremiah was to tell the people that if they do not change, then God will “make this house like Shiloh and this city an object of cursing among all the nations of the earth.”
This must have been a tough thing for Jeremiah to hear and an even tougher sermon to prepare. No one wants to bring bad news, and this is as bad as it gets. But Jeremiah took the job, knowing full well it was what the people had to hear.
In verses 8-14, Jeremiah’s message is met with death threats and hatred. At least when I direct a play with a message that is not as happy as the audience might want, the worst that may happen is reduced attendance. Jeremiah met a crowd who knew the Scripture, at least in a legalistic way. They remembered the promise of Solomon in 1 Kings, calling the temple a place to dwell forever and the prediction of Isaiah that God would depose the Assyrian king who challenged the God of Israel.
The crowd Jeremiah spoke to took these promises out of context and used them as a type of insurance policy against disaster. They were hostile to Jeremiah when he told them the truth and rejected his message. What is significant for us is that Jeremiah stood strong and did not buckle. The message went against the orthodox beliefs, challenged the status quo and left him open to attack. But Jeremiah knew his job and did it.
Jeremiah did the job assigned to him, and then in verses 15 and 16, he assumes the attitude every believer caught in a tough spot, must assume. Jeremiah simply trusted God for a result. In one of the Old Testament’s most powerful passages, Jeremiah makes his position clear, “Be assured, however, that if you put me to death, you will bring the guilt of innocent blood on yourselves and on this city and on those who live in it, for in truth the LORD has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing.”
Jeremiah’s job was very hard because he was called to challenge believers. Believers, especially those who are in leadership roles, are difficult to oppose. The risk-versus-reward equation rarely favors those who oppose leadership. Yet we are called to follow God, to be people of courage and to stand when we feel God leading us to stand. If that means going against the flow, then we must.
God calls us to serve Him faithfully, pay the price for our faith and to trust Him for results. Jeremiah’s example is that of courage under any condition.