Jeremiah the prophet was called to convince the stubborn people of Judah to repent and turn back to the Lord before it was too late. Jeremiah complained to God about the assignment: “Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? Will you be to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails?” (Jer. 15:18). The Message says, “You’re nothing, God, but a mirage, a lovely oasis in the distance – and then nothing.”
After this complaint God exhorts Jeremiah (v. 15:9-20) to repent and stop uttering worthless words: “…If you utter worthy, not worthless words, you will be my spokesman” (v. 9). “All Jeremiah’s talk had become negative, destructive and worthless – characteristic of a disillusioned person” (Bible Speaks Today). Jeremiah had begun parroting the negative narrative of his culture. God was asking him to change his tune and faithfully proclaim the message God was giving him.
I need to regularly check my habits of speech if I want to be a truth teller. I don’t want to be caught complaining about how “anti-God” our culture has become. Yes, it’s right and proper to complain or protest to God (see the psalms of lament). But it’s wrong to “stoop to cheap whining” (v. 19 – Message). I need to refrain from reciting the secular, godless view of life. I can’t stay in the negative. “Worthless words” should be eliminated from my speech.
Men, the more we experience God’s love, the more we can share it in the most difficult situations. And the more our lives are integrated in this way, the more we can be “influencers.” The Message says, “Let your words change them. Don’t change your words to suit them” (v. 19). The NLT tells us, “You must influence them; do not let them influence you!” The verb in Hebrew implies turning away from the negative, while turning to the good. This can renew relationships, especially with God.
After this rebuke, God recommissions Jeremiah: “You will be my spokesman” (v. 19). God does not reject Jeremiah, but rather repeats the same call and commission Jeremiah heard at the very start of his ministry: “you may serve me…you will be my spokesman…I am with you” (v. 19-20, cf. 1:7-9 – Bible Speaks Today). Never underestimate your life as an “influencer” – as God’s spokesman. God isn’t looking for perfect vessels, but rather men who know their calling and are willing to stand for Jesus.
Beyond this, God promised to protect Jeremiah in his prophetic ministry. “I’ll turn you into a steel wall, a thick steel wall, impregnable. They’ll attack you but won’t put a dent in you because I’m at your side, defending and delivering” (v. 20 – Message). These words must have been reassuring for Jeremiah in the face of stiff opposition.
Wow, I need to hear these words about being a “thick steel wall.” Men, if you are an “influencer” for Jesus, you will need reinforcement in the days to come. I don’t know what form it will take, but it will come. But are you willing to take your stand? You have God’s promise: “I am with you to rescue and save you” (v. 20).
Let this be a word for you: “The word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations'” (Jer. 1:4). You may not be a prophet, but God has called you to be his man, his influencer, for this time.
The prophet Micah was called to prophecy to Israel and Judea, exhorting them to repentance. He called out the disobedience of God’s people, especially in Jerusalem. In Chapter 7:1-7, we find Micah walking around the city, absorbing, “both the appalling scale of the wickedness and the implications of the doom he has just declared” (Bible Speaks Today).
Micah is overwhelmed by what he sees, “What misery is mine!” (7:1). Evil was widespread and the very fabric of life was unravelling. “The faithful have been swept from the land; not one upright person remains” (7:2). The godly had lost influence, while the violent did as they pleased. “The powerful dictate what they desire – they all conspire together” (7:3). God’s judgement would soon be announced by the watchman on the wall. “Now is the time of your confusion” (7:4). Interpersonal relationships, even within families, were failing.
Despite all this, Micah did not lose hope. He continued to pray and wait for God, who would eventually vindicate the remaining remnant. “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me” (7:6). In contrast to the unfaithful leaders of the people, he would act like the watchman, “wait for God my Savior.” Micah began in 7:1 with lament, but in the end expresses quiet confidence that God will act in due time.
What the prophet described in these verses (7:1-7) has a very contemporary feel to it. Sin has affected government leaders and society in general. “The godly have been swept from the land; not one upright man remains” (v 2). Deceit and dishonesty have even ruined family life, the core of society. “A man’s enemies are the members of his own household” (v 6).
We are witnessing social disintegration in our culture. Many of us can attest to divisions in our families due to cultural or political divisions. “Micah would direct us all back to the way we have steadily ignored, and often directly flouted, the requirements of God for our personal, social and working lives, as well as for our nation. Defiant rejection of God’s revealed truth is the fundamental reason for the social disintegration we see around us” (Bible Speaks).
Micah 7:7 can be an encouragement to us in the midst of cultural decay. Like Micah, we need to declare that we aren’t giving up. “But me, I’m not giving up. I’m sticking around to see what God will do. I’m waiting for God to make things right. I’m counting on God to listen to me” (7:7 – Message). Isaiah also spoke of waiting on the Lord during judgement. “Look, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he has saved us. This is our God; we have waited for him. Let us rejoice and be glad is his salvation” (Is 25:9).
It could be that God wants us to wait for him to make himself known to us during this time. “Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me” (Hosea 5:15). Isaiah told the remnant, “Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by” (Is 26:20).
Could it be that the most important thing we can do at this time is to cry out to God for mercy? Has his hand of judgment already come to our nation? Could it be a time to seek God in confession and repentance?