August 2019

Good morning,

Jeremiah would have made a great radio preacher. His broadcasts would fuel lots of negative tweets and Facebook backlash, but it would be worth it. I can even imagine protestors storming the studios demanding political correctness on the public airwaves, denouncing the prophet's hate speech with hate speech of their own.

More than any other Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah's unpopular messages served as Judah's Emergency Alert System. His preaching warned of national security, but many locals wished he would just shut-up!

Ironically, as much as the people resented his sermons … they wouldn't miss them. Even his harshest critics tuned in daily to hear what the colorful and fiery prophet would say. His was destination preaching.

More times than not Jeremiah's prophecies were laced with bad news, but not always.

For forty years, he faithfully predicted God's judgment on apostate Judah. And, year after year, hostility mounted to his doom-filled messages.

The up-tight political powerbrokers revoked Jeremiah's temple privileges, seized and destroyed his prophetic writings. His angry rivals issued arrest warrants and sabotaged his work. He was abducted, publicly humiliated, imprisoned and tossed down a pit.

That kind of pushback tends to discourage even the best of pulpiteers.

More than once Jeremiah submitted his letter of resignation. However, God would not accept it. Therefore, the prophet kept doing the one thing he was born to do—preach.

The critic's ire intensified with every sermon. "Time is running out. Repent, for judgment is coming." With each repetitive warning, the constant, rhythmic sound of God's clock was winding down.

Tick…tick…tick…tick… and every ticking moment haunted the Jews more and more.

No biblical orator used imagery as effectively as did the weeping prophet.

  • Judah gasped when Jeremiah said, "The Lord has covered Himself with a cloud so that your prayers will not pass through."
  • They cringed when he announced, "You've eaten delicacies, but now you'll dine on ash heaps."
  • They wept when they heard, "Your infant's thirsty tongue will cling to the roof of its mouth. Judgment is near."

Tick…tick…tick…tick…

Sure enough—time did run out. Judgment did arrive. Then, off to captivity went Judah.

Jeremiah, however, had done his job.

Unpopular messages, by necessity have always been a staple with the prophets of God. Not surprisingly, those sermons are rarely the favorites among God's people. Repentance has never been what congregations want, but repentance has always been what they need.

Even Jesus lost audiences with His unpopular messages. After the mob devoured their fabulous feast in John 6, and while the multitude reclined and unloosed their belts amidst their oohhs and aahhs, they quickly turned on the Master during His after-dinner message: "Eat My flesh and drink My blood."

It was instant spiritual indigestion.

Social media was abuzz, and public opinions were all over the map. His faithful said, "This isn't one of His better sermons." Antagonists wondered; why did He have to spoil a good meal with preaching like that? Meanwhile, the late arrivers simply wondered where the buffet table was located.

Tick…tick…tick…tick…

Even the Lord's disciples struggled with His unpopular approach. "Does this offend you?" Their clumsy silence shouted, "Yes, as a matter of fact, it does!"

Tick…tick…tick…tick…

However, unpopular messages don't have to be hopeless messages. Bad news is not always fatal news. Jeremiah gave good news after Judah's thundering collapse. "I have hope. The Lord's loving-kindness never ceases. His compassions never fail, for they are new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness. Therefore I have hope in Him."

Even the most unpopular messages can have happy endings.

Strong medicine was never designed to taste good—it was designed to cure the patient. And as long as there's a pulse, we still have time for a recovery.

Tick…tick…tick…tick…

Blessings,


 

Ron Walters
Senior Vice President
Ministry Relations


© Copyright 2019 by Ron Walters



Ron Walters