A fire in our bones.

April 13, 2014.

O Lord, you have deceived me,
  and I was deceived;
you are stronger than I,
  and you have prevailed.
I have become a laughingstock all the day;
  everyone mocks me.
For whenever I speak, I cry out,
  I shout, “Violence and destruction!”
For the word of the Lord has become for me
  a reproach and derision all day long.
If I say, “I will not mention him,
  or speak any more in his name,”
there is in my heart as it were a burning fire
  shut up in my bones,
and I am weary with holding it in,
  and I cannot.
(Jeremiah 20:7-9)

Today we ended our retreat in a worship service and I spoke a little about this passage. If you don’t know, Jeremiah was a young prophet with a hard message. God sent him out amongst his people to prophesy about their destruction due to their evil deeds and following after other gods, who were no gods at all. Jeremiah was sent to warn the people in hopes that they would come back to the Lord, but the  people were not willing to do so. Jeremiah was mocked for his message.

The young prophet says “I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me.” It is obvious from his complaint here and further in his message that he doesn’t like preaching the message, even though he knows it is the word of God. He does’t like it because it isn’t what the people want to hear. They ridicule him for it. I think the first application we can draw from this is that we aren’t always going to have a message that the people want to hear. In fact, many people don’t want to hear about Jesus if it means changing their lifestyle and living in submission. But this makes it no less true. If every single person on this earth did not believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, Jesus Christ would still be the son of God. Our message doesn’t change as our audience changed. Jeremiah understood that he could not change his message just because the people didn’t want to hear it and would mock him. Truth is truth.

Perhaps what is most interesting to me in this passage is what the prophet says later in his discourse. “If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,”there is in my heart as it were a burning fire  shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” I can’t decide if we should or should not be like the prophet in this instance. The word of the Lord should be as a fire in our bones that we cannot help to let out. That’s how powerful it is. That’s how potent it should be. But on the other hand, the reason the prophet felt this way was because he was trying to not speak the word so he would stop being ridiculed. Persecution should not dissuade us from preaching Jesus. In fact, Peter and the apostles rejoiced that they were found worthy to suffer for his name after they had been thrown in jail and beaten.

“So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.”
(Acts 5:39c-41)

We should boldly speak in the name of Jesus, as it is a fire within us just ready to burst out at any moment. This is zeal. This is passion. This is the gospel.

Suggested Daily Reading: Jeremiah 20, Acts 3-5.

The Lord grant us boldness!

-Walter

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