Preach the Word
26 June 2017
Jeremiah preached the Word of God to a stubborn and uncooperative people (Jer 16:12). They often expressed their displeasure with him and his preaching. Yet he continued to preach God's wrath against their vices and idolatry. Jeremiah also pronounced the Lord's doom upon Jerusalem, foretelling the Babylonian captivity. But like all the Old Testament prophets he faithfully proclaimed the coming Messiah and the salvation that he would bring to the remnant at the end of the Old Testament.
Like all faithful preachers, Jeremiah experienced rejection by his own people, even though he was being completely faithful to the Word of the Lord that had been given to him. Sometimes preachers expect always to be lauded and thanked because they are preaching the Word of God. In a perfect world that would be the case, but as Jeremiah knew very well, we don't live in a perfect world. There would be no need for the messianic hope if perfection would be attainable in this life. Nothing comes out perfectly until the Perfect comes. In the intervening time, there remains nothing but the proclamation of the messianic salvation upon which we wait in faith and hope. During that interval the preachers will face opposition and stubborn-heartedness. Those who most need the proclamation of God's mercy in Christ will often hate them most vehemently. We should not count ourselves above this suffering, for so the prophets were persecuted before us (Mt 5:11-12) displaying the type of our Lord Jesus, who suffered for us.
Great wickedness, idolatry, and hatred of the preached Word of God will characterize the last days (2Ti 4:3-4), as they characterized Jeremiah's day. So the triumph of the Word of God will always be hidden, sometimes under a mist of God's humility during mission expansion, and sometimes under the billowing clouds of fire and smoke set ablaze by human hatred at times of persecution. All we know, like Jeremiah, is that we are called by God to preach the Word of God, letting God take care of the increase.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
"We learn from Jeremiah among others that, as usual, the nearer the punishment, the worse the people become; and that the more one preaches to them, the more they despise his preaching. Thus we understand that when it is God's will to inflict punishment, he makes the people to become hardened so they may be destroyed without any mercy and not appease God's wrath with any repentance. So the men of Sodom long ago had to not only despise the righteous Lot, but even afflict him because he taught them, even though their own affliction was at the door (Gn 19:1-13). Likewise Pharaoh, when about to be drowned in the Red Sea, had to oppress the children of Israel twice as much as before (Ex 5:6-21). And Jerusalem had to crucify God's Son when its own final destruction was on the way.
"So it goes everywhere even now. Now that the end of the world is approaching, the people rage and rave most horribly against God. They blaspheme and condemn God's word, though they well know that it is God's word and the truth. Besides so many fearful signs and wonders are appearing, both in the heavens and among all creatures, which threaten them terribly. It is indeed a wicked and miserable time, even worse than that of Jeremiah.
"But so it will be, and must be. The people begin to feel secure and sing, 'Peace; all is well.' They simply persecute everything that accords with the will of God and disregard all the threatening signs, until (as St. Paul says [1Th 5:8]) destruction suddenly surprises them and destroys them before they know it.
"But Christ will be able to sustain his own, for whose sake he causes his word to shine forth in this shameful time of ours, just as at Babylon he sustained Daniel and those like him, for whose sake Jeremiah's prophecy had to shine forth. To the same dear Lord be praise and thanks, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God over all and forever. Amen."

Martin Luther,  Preface to Jeremiah

Jeremiah 31:27-34

"Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast. And it shall come to pass that as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring harm, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, declares the LORD. In those days they shall no longer say: "' The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge.' But everyone shall die for his own sin. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.
"Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,  not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
Lord Christ, You sent Your servant Jeremiah to proclaim both law and gospel. Now in our day send Your Spirit to those whom You have called to preach the Word of God that they might rebuke wickedness and idolatry, call people to repentance, and pronounce the forgiveness of sins. Grant we might repent of our sins and so be found among those who will receive the Perfect at last. Amen.
For Charles Wokoma, who has taken the Spirit's call to serve in Nigeria, that the Lord Jesus would be with him, granting him the resources necessary to continue the task to which he has been called
For the personnel of the armed forces who are deployed to combat zones, that their heavenly Father would watch over them and keep those who confess Christ steadfast in that faith
For John Hatteberg, that the Lord would grant him strength and healing in accordance with His will
Art: MICHAELANGELO,  Jeremiah (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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