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.