Jeremiah was given the dubious task of being the prophet who would foretell, and live through, the judgment and subsequent exile of the people of God. The temple would be destroyed. Jerusalem ransacked. People starving in the streets. This is not a glamorous prophetic assignment.
But it got worse for Jeremiah:
– He was not allowed to marry or have children (Jeremiah 16:1-2).
– He couldn’t mourn with anyone who was mourning (Jeremiah 16:5).
– Neither was he allowed to celebrate with feasting (Jeremiah 16:8).
In short, at God’s bidding, Jeremiah was to live a lonely, dejected, melancholy life. His message would make him somewhat of a social pariah, which was exasperated by his refusal to attend community functions.
That sounds kind of mean to me. Wasn’t it enough that he would speak words of doom and gloom? Wasn’t it enough to see the land destroyed? Did God really have to pile on these personal directions about Jeremiah’s life? Seems like overkill on an already weighed down servant to me.
The answer to “why” here is mysterious; it falls under the realm of “the wisdom of God.” But perhaps we might surmise a couple of things from God’s treatment of His man. To put it succinctly, God did not only give Jeremiah a message to deliver; He gave Him a life to life.
In this, Jeremiah was more than just a messenger; he was a steward of his experiences. As such, the prophet became not only God’s mouthpiece, but also His heart. Who better to communicate the intense sadness of a jilted partner? Who better to communicate the hurt and pain of sin? Who better to communicate not only the word of God, but also His heart?
It was this man, Jeremiah, who did more than receive a word from the Lord. Through his experiences, he gained an understanding and appreciation for the divine heart beyond the words. Take heed, then, preachers of the word and bringers of the gospel. We many times major in the intellectual content of the message, making sure our exegetical t’s are crossed and our formulaic i’s are dotted, but in so doing, are we potentially missing the heart of a Father?
In our efforts at accuracy, might we be missing the Fatherly love and passionate concern of God? Jeremiah certainly didn’t.