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Prov 29:25 "The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted."
Rom 12:6b (paraphrased) "if you prophesy, do so in proportion to your faith;"
Jeremiah was an Old Testament prophet who was significantly used of the Lord during a time of deep spiritual darkness in Israel's history. The books of Jeremiah reveal an interesting series of insights into the personality of Jeremiah, who as a young man in the beginning of his ministry exhibited fears, insecurities and a real aversion to the numerous rejections his ministry exposed him to. He was by nature subjective, reticent and introspective:
"Then I said, Alas, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth. ... Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD." Jer 1:6,8.
"Woe to me, my mother, that you have borne me as a man of strife and a man of contention to all the land! ... Because of Thy hand upon me I sat alone, for Thou didst fill me with indignation." Jer 15:10,17
He was one of the most sensitive of the prophets:
"I have become a laughingstock all day long; everyone mocks me. For each time I speak, I cry aloud; I proclaim violence and destruction, because for me the word of the LORD has resulted in reproach and derision all day long. But if I say, I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name, then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it.... Cursed be the day when I was born; let the day not be blessed when my mother bore me! ...Why did I ever come forth from the womb to look on trouble and sorrow, so that my days have been spent in shame?" Jer 20:7-9,14,18.
Contained within his story, however, are many of the significant antidotes for insecurity that God gives. For instance this strong promise...
"Therefore, thus says the LORD, If you return, then I will restore you -- Before Me you will stand; and if you extract the precious from the worthless, you will become My spokesman. They for their part may turn to you, but as for you, you must not turn to them. ... for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the LORD. So I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you from the grasp of the violent." Jer 15:19-21.
He ultimately became one of the most courageous of the prophets.
"And when Jeremiah finished speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak to all the people, the priests and the prophets and all the people seized him, saying, You must die! ... Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and to all the people, saying, The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that you have heard. Now therefore amend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will change His mind about the misfortune which He has pronounced against you. But as for me, behold, I am in your hands; do with me as is good and right in your sight. Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will bring innocent blood on yourselves, and on this city, and on its inhabitants; for truly the LORD has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing." Jer 26:8-15.
Jeremiah was ridiculed, rejected by family and friends, thrown into jail at one point and into a mud pit another time... He was called to speak very unpleasant prophetic words to the king and other officials... He had to face and overcome his fear in order to be effective for God. Through the Lord he was ultimately able to replace his fear with an unusual level of faith-induced courage.
It is in our weaknesses that Christ's strength is perfected, as Paul the apostle explained in 2 Cor. 12:9. "And He has said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me." The anger-prone become expert forgivers (Humility) The fearful become most courageous. (Faith)
There were two kinds of fears Jeremiah had to face and gain freedom from:
Jeremiah had to overcome his fear of loss. God calls us to replace our fear of loss with faith in His provision. Our own fears become our bondages. It is release and surrender that produces security and rest. Total surrender requires trust in HIM!
What Scripture tells us to surrender:
- POSSESSIONS: Mark 8:36 "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?"
- REPUTATION: Mark 8:37-38 "For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."
- SELFISHNESS: Mark 8:34-35 "And He summoned the multitude with His disciples, and said to them, If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's shall save it."
- NEEDS: Matt 6:32-33 "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."
- RELATIONSHIPS: Matt 10:37-39 "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it."
- LIFE ITSELF: Heb 2:14-15 "Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives."
Rev 12:11 "And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death."
Jeremiah had to face rejection and loss because of the message he carried. He was called to speak against the moral depravity of the culture and the people he lived with. (If you're going to be a martyr, do it for a worthy cause <grin>.) Six of the seven kings who reigned during his ministry participated in the sins of Manasseh, as did the people.
"MANASSEH ... did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD dispossessed before the sons of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places... he erected altars for Baal and made an Asherah, ... and worshipped all the host of heaven and served them. And he built altars in the house of the LORD,... he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. And he made his son pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and used divination, and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD provoking Him to anger. Then he set the carved image of Asherah that he had made, in the house of .. the LORD ... and Manasseh seduced them to do evil more than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the sons of Israel." II Ki 21:1-9Note that:
AMON - "And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, as Manasseh his father had done". II Ki 21:19-22
JECOAHAS - "And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done." II Ki 23:32
JEHOIAKIM - "And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done." II Ki 23:37
JEHOIACHIN - "And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done." II Ki 24:9
ZEDEKIAH - "And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done." II Ki 24:19
Jeremiah was called upon to stand alone in the face of rejection.
Jer 11:19-21 "But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter; and I did not know that they had devised plots against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more. ... . Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the men of Anathoth, who seek your life, saying, Do not prophesy in the name of the LORD, that you might not die at our hand"
Jer 12:6 "For even your brothers and the household of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you, even they have cried aloud after you. Do not believe them, although they may say nice things to you."
Jer 20:1-2 "When Pashhur the priest,... heard Jeremiah prophesying these things, Pashhur had Jeremiah the prophet beaten, and put him in the stocks that were at the upper Benjamin Gate,.."
Jer 20:10 "For I have heard the whispering of many, Terror on every side! Denounce him; yes, let us denounce him! All my trusted friends, watching for my fall,.."
Jer 26:8 "And when Jeremiah finished speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak to all the people, the priests and the prophets and all the people seized him, saying, You must die!"
Jer 36:23 "And it came about, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, the king cut it with a scribe's knife and threw it into the fire that was in the brazier, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the brazier."
Jer 16:1-13 "The word of the LORD also came to me saying, You shall not take a wife for yourself nor have sons or daughters in this place.
Although we all must deal with the issue of rejection to some degree or other because rejection is the sociological result of the fall of man, (ever since Adam we have been incapable of truly giving to one another the unconditional love and acceptance we so desperately need) it is vitally important to the prophet - who may reap more rejection than his share as he bears reproach for the sake of Christ.
As we survey the book of Jeremiah we find several very important means by which healing and courage came to Jeremiah.
"Thus says the LORD, Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things, declares the LORD." Jer 9:23-24,
"For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you,' declares the LORD..." Jer 29:11-14b.
"Therefore, thus says the LORD, If you return, then I will restore you-- Before Me you will stand; and if you extract the precious from the worthless, you will become My spokesman. They for their part may turn to you, but as for you, you must not turn to them." Jer 15:19
"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 have appointed you a prophet to the nations." Jer 1:4-5.
"And the word of the LORD came to me saying, What do you see, Jeremiah? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. Then the LORD said to me, You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it." Jer 1:11-12.
"And I will make you to this people a fortified bronze wall; and they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you; for I am with you to save you and deliver you, says the LORD. I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible." Jer 15:20-21.
For the New Testament saint, God has provided the ultimate antidote for rejection through HIS acceptance that comes through the grace of God. Acceptance has now come to us as the work of the cross of Christ reversed the effects and consequences of the fall of man.
"Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." 2 Cor 5:18-20 " "Wherefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God." Rom 15:7.
God has already given to us what we need through His great and precious promises, and we need to appropriate it into our lives by faith. In fact, without faith it is impossible to please Him. (Heb. 11:6) We must learn then, how to let fear be replaced by faith.
FAITH COMES BY...
God calls us to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. To do this:
"For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." Jer 29:11.
Jeremiah put great confidence in who God is and what He had promised. "Ah Lord GOD! Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee, who showest lovingkindness to thousands, but repayest the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children after them, O great and mighty God. The LORD of hosts is His name; great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, giving to everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds;" Jer 32:17-19.
"This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD'S lovingkindness's indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, says my soul, Therefore I have hope in Him. The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him." Lam 3:21-25/
As Jeremiah came to the end of his life - having seen God show Himself strong on his behalf and fulfill the words He had spoken to him over and over again, - he gave us an example of a prophet who cared not what any one thought as he had learned the secret of being a God pleaser instead of a people pleaser. Jeremiah the insecure prophet had become Jeremiah the champion of God!
SCRIPTURES FOR HANDLING WORRY, ANXIETY AND FEAR
Rom 5:1 "Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,"
Rom 15:13 "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Heb 13:6 "so that we confidently say, The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?"
I Jn 4:18 "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love."
John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."
1 Pet 5:7 "casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you."
Prov 1:33 "But he who listens to me shall live securely, and shall be at ease from the dread of evil."
Prov 3:5 "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding."
Prov 11:24 "There is one who scatters, yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, but it results only in want."
Prov 12:25 "Anxiety in the heart of a man weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad."
Prov 29:25 "The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted."
Prov 30:5 "Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him."
Lam 3:21-25 "This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD'S lovingkindness's indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, says my soul, Therefore I have hope in Him. The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him."
Phil 4:6-7 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Matt 6:34 "Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."