The Prophet of the Heart
Last year, I did a personal Bible study on the book of Jeremiah. At the time, I was not ready to share the insights I gained, but now, during this interlude between Bible studies, I’ll give you a brief mini-series synopsizing a few of the nuggets and truths I found in this great book.
Prophesying during the days and years leading up to Judah’s exile and beyond, Jeremiah’s chief message was of repentance, sincere heart transformation, and God’s great love, jealousy, longing, and righteous indignation over Judah’s blatant sin. Though most commonly known as the “weeping prophet”, some commentators have dubbed Jeremiah, “the prophet of the heart.” With over 49 usages of the word heart, we can see why. The focus of his ministry was on the people’s heart attitude. Unlike some of the other prophets, God’s message through Jeremiah wasn’t centered as much on the people’s lack of obedience, but rather their wandering love, unfaithful heart, and spiritual adultery.
While Jeremiah was a capital “P” Old Testament Prophet with a special anointing and authority from God, there are several things we can learn from this man and his faithfulness to declare God’s Word even when it wasn’t popular. Though the official office of capital “P” Prophet is closed, we are still called to be prophets who faithfully proclaim God’s Word and declare God’s truth to our generation. So let’s take a look at Jeremiah’s life, his calling, and his ministry.
Jeremiah’s name means, “Yahweh establishes” or “the LORD appoints.” This suits the prophet who was called from his youth and faithfully served the Lord for about fifty years amongst a people who were hostile to his message.
“Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’ Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.’ But the LORD said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am only a youth”; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.’”
From the very beginning, Jeremiah didn’t feel qualified for the job set before him. He was a youth when the LORD first spoke to him and revealed his calling, and while we don’t know the exact age, commentators speculate that Jeremiah was most likely in the late teens or early twenties. So pretty young. But age doesn’t matter in God’s kingdom. What God is looking for is faithfulness, obedience, sincere love, and a passion for His will and His Word.
And Jeremiah already possessed these while still in his youth.
Notice that Jeremiah’s only objection and hesitation at his newfound vocation was his age. He didn’t feel that he could accurately communicate what God was entrusting him with. But the LORD made his calling very clear, and told him that he was purposed for this job long before he was even born. And when God assigns a task, He provides the strength and grace to get it done.
So despite his initial hesitation, Jeremiah obeyed God and spent the rest of his life faithfully proclaiming the Word of the Lord. Many didn’t like what he had to share because it disrupted their life, brought condemnation, and prophesied subjugation to their enemies. So instead of listening to God and His messenger, they persecuted Jeremiah, eventually throwing him in prison and plotting his death. However, the Lord delivered him, as He had promised, and continued to use him throughout the fall of Jerusalem and exile to Babylon. While Jeremiah never got to see the fruit of his labor or repentance in Judah, he left us with two great books—Jeremiah and Lamentations—which continue to speak and bring conviction to us today.
This is Jeremiah’s testimony. The product of a life lived in faithfulness to God and the proclamation of His Word even when it was unpopular, unwanted, despised, and rejected. Even though the people of his ministry hated him, Jeremiah still shared God’s heart of love, weeping over the future and hard heartedness of his people and pleading with them to return to the Lord with their whole heart. Thus earning him the appropriate titles of “weeping prophet” and “prophet of the heart.”
So now the question is…do YOU have a similar calling as Jeremiah? Has God commanded you to proclaim His Word to the hurting, fallen world around you? What’s holding you back? Age, lack of experience, fear?
As mentioned earlier, we’re all called to be prophets in the sense that we proclaim God’s Word. We might not be given the authority of Jeremiah to whom God promised “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” (Jer. 1:9b-10) But we still have a message to share and a people who desperately need to hear it.
Therefore, let us follow in the footsteps of Jeremiah who didn’t let age, little experience, lack of followers and listeners, or persecution stop him from doing what the Lord called him to do. But let us be faithful to what the Lord has placed before us, unwaveringly serving Him no matter the cost, and being faithful, obedient, sincere in love, and passionate for God’s will and His Word.
And just wait, watch, and see what God will do in and through you!
“Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully.”
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