Ever been so upset by a child’s behavior that you’re tempted to just pack their bags and send them on their way? Then you have an inkling of how God might be feeling as we continue to read the dialogue between Jeremiah and God today. Consider the pain of watching children, who have been loved and protected and guided to a land of promise and opportunity, continue to make bad decisions and walk away from their relationship with their own parent, the God of Israel.
Jeremiah finds himself in an undesirable position–seeking to soothe God’s heartache over the children’s disobedience, all the while knowing that he is the one who will be called on to deliver the verdict that God chooses. His life has already been threatened, we learn today. The people would much rather listen to the prophets who tell them what they want to hear. “Why don’t we just get rid of Jeremiah,” they say. “That will stop the sermons!”
Imagine the courage it took, then, for Jeremiah to step up to the microphone, clay pot in hand, and deliver the message in today’s final chapter. Not only that–before beginning his risky sermon, he is instructed to round up the community leaders as an audience. God wants to make sure that those responsible for leading the people astray are held accountable. In Jeremiah, we see a man who does not shy away from the most difficult parts of his assignment. He is steady and faithful in being a voice for God, placing his calling as prophet above his own interests–even his own safety.
Across the centuries, other voices have arisen in the spirit of Jeremiah, boldly speaking against the forces of evil, violence, and oppression. Some of these we know and others were silenced before we ever had the chance to hear them. Together, they form a witness that both challenges and inspires us to greater faithfulness.