Imagine you were living in the ancient land of Judah circa 627 BC. You have a nice business selling widgets in the capital city of Jerusalem. Your future looks bright and profitable. Good King Josiah sat on the Throne. Though he was only 21 years old, he had already been king for 13 years. Though he was young, Josiah was wise beyond his years and reinstated worship of the Living God in Judah, and God was blessing the nation as a result. It was during this era that God raised up a young prophet to be His spokesman among His people, Jeremiah. Jeremiah was only 20 years old when the Lord made Jeremiah one of His mouthpieces to Judah. So, in 627, the nation was led by a 21 year old king and a 20 year old prophet. Though these lads were young, they were following the Ancient of Days, so the path ahead was clear and secure. As Corey Hart would say, “The future was so bright you had to wear shades.”
The prosperity of 627 would not last, however, as Josiah died much too young at the age of 39, ushering in a difficult era in Judah’s history. Three of Josiah’s sons and one of his grandsons would assume the throne of Judah in the years following Josiah’s death. None of them followed the Lord . . . each of them walking Judah further and further away from the Rock of their Salvation. Finally, God disciplined the nation as His Old Covenant had promised He would do, and allowed several of the surrounding nations to conquer Judah and enslave its inhabitants. Due to ungodly living and covenant breaking, your once proud widget business was now shut down as you (and if you were lucky, your family with you) were carted off to Babylon in exile with Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel.
As the nation was going through this demise and difficulty, the now aging prophet Jeremiah served as the play-by-play announcer, describing the nation’s decay in vivid terms AND serving as the color commentator providing the divinely inspired analysis that the nation’s decay was their fault and that God was judging them for their sinfulness. As you can imagine, this was not a fun, nor lucrative job. Everybody loves a winner, but when things begin to go south, people begin looking for a lightning rod upon which to focus their anger. By speaking God’s truth, Jeremiah became just such a lightning rod to his people, and he lived out maybe the most difficult extended period of time any prophet of God has ever endured. Though Jeremiah did not enjoy his job, he faithfully adhered to all the Lord had called him to. For this reason, Charlie Dyer says of Jeremiah that he was a “weeping prophet for a wayward people.”
In two of the next three weeks, I am going to be preaching out of the book of Jeremiah at Wildwood Community Church. In many ways it is odd that I am going to do so. It is odd because Jeremiah is not a book people today preach much from. In fact, in my 39 years of church attendance I do not recall hearing a single sermon series out of this lengthy Old Testament book. Additionally, it is odd because I only have two weeks to preach it! With such limited time, you would think I would not tackle such a lengthy subject matter.
Though it may seem odd, I believe the Lord is leading me to direct our attention to this ancient text over these two Sundays. Of course, we will not be comprehensive in our study . . . in two weeks that would be impossible. However, in these two weeks I want to share a couple of things God has been teaching me as I have studied this book. These are two lessons I think have great relevance for us today. Jeremiah ministered at a time when God’s people were walking away from Him. God spoke in vivid terms to His people through Jeremiah to awaken their souls and call them back into a relationship with Himself. Though we no longer live under the Old Covenant and though we are not the people of Israel, Christians today could learn something by way of application from God’s pronouncements through Jeremiah. This Sunday, April 14, we will look at Jeremiah 2:9-13 in a message I have titled “The Tale of the Broken Bucket.” In these verses there is a great challenge for any people who are coming up empty in their pursuit of filling their buckets with anything other than the God of the Living Water. Come Sunday and join us at Wildwood, worship God, and be challenged by His ancient word with relevant application. See you then!