There are, however, some people who choose to kick against the pricks. They have a vision for the future, and a hope for the present. They have found a voice that speaks in such a powerful word that they change the world for good. Often times as we look back at the lives of men and women who have done great things we wonder how is it that they managed to find themselves in such a place and a time that they were able to accomplish so much with the simple life that they had been given. We often look ask if lives are formed by nature or nurture. We wonder if lives are formed by the times, or if the times are formed by people's lives; to what degree are all people endowed with destiny?
The prophet Jeremiah is a conflicted character that wrote in conflicted times. When he lived the world was changing in violent and powerful ways that had never been seen before and out of these shifting global forces he found a voice that spoke through to people who seemed to be bound in their time and place and he pointed to a vision of life that kick against the pricks.
He called people to embrace a different destiny, and he can show us all a bit of what it means to be a prophetic voice in the world.
The Times of Jeremiah
There were a lot of factors that formed Jeremiah's times that were powerful.
- Jeremiah began his ministry in a time of religious reforms where the people were turning back to God
- There was a shift in power in his lifetime and the rise of the Babylonian empire came to a head
- Nebuchadnezzar came to attack Jerusalem and was victorious
- The people of Judea were carried off to captivity
- Never before had empires in the world shifted so powerfully
- Never before had the temple been destroyed
- The faith of the people of Judah was changed from a people in the promised land, to a people away from the promised land
The life of Jeremiah
In spite of all the amazing things that were happening in Jeremiah's time the thing that sets him apart was not when he lived, but rather how he lived. Consider the following.
- Jeremiah was called to prophesy at as little more then a child (1:6)
- He didn't even want to take up the word, but he managed to submit to the message in spite of his own desires (20:9)
- The people in his hometown, Anathoth,condemned his message, and even threatened to kill him. (11:18-23)
- He preached a sermon in the temple condemning it (7-9), even though this was the center of hope for most of the people in his culture. This resulted in most of the prophets and priests calling for his death. (26:8-11)
- He condemned the Kings who were ruling (22:11-17; 22:18-19; 22:24)and even told one of them to submit to the foreign empire (27:12-22)
- his message was so infuriating that the scroll that it was written on was cut and burned (36:20-25)
- He was accused of being a defector and was imprisoned (37:11-15)
- His words were seen as so discouraging that he was thrown in a cistern and left to die (38)
It was the life rather then the times that made Jeremiah a faithful prophet that we remember today.
This is encouraging to me.
Sometimes I can think that being a Man of God means that I need to be involved in great things, but this is not true. I simply need to be faithful to my vocation and the truth.
Greatness comes from what God works in me much more then what he works through me.