Discover His heart: He measures our success by our obedience to Him
Have you ever heard the phrase, “You are about on my last nerve!?” I think this sentiment would be a fitting assessment of God’s feelings toward Judah at this point in the book of Jeremiah. Approximately 140 years earlier the Northern Kingdom of Israel had fallen to the invading Assyrians because of their unrepentant hearts. God had sent numerous prophets to warn Judah of a similar outcome if they did not repent of their sins and turn to Him. Even after Judah’s beloved Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians, the remaining Jews fled to Egypt in disobedience. Right there, last nerve.
The message of God’s last prophet in Judah, Jeremiah, had not been well received. He was ridiculed, imprisoned, abandoned and finally dragged off to Egypt against his will by the fleeing Jews because his message convicted them of their willful idolatry. After his move to Egypt, no other events in Jeremiah’s life are recorded in Scripture. The remaining chapters in the Book of Jeremiah consist of earlier prophecies and events. Jeremiah traveled a rough road, to say the least.
In Chapter 44, Jeremiah gave his final warning from God to the Judeans living in Egypt, and their response was, “We will not listen to your message from the Lord! We will do whatever we want.” (44:16-17) Very few scriptures in the Bible so accurately reflect the attitude of many people today. Through media’s subtle message, we have been told that we are our own moral compass, and we can do whatever we want. Those who must follow God are just not very enlightened.
We unenlightened ones have a formidable task in presenting the gospel at times, but so very few of us have ever faced the ridicule and treatment that Jeremiah faced, not that it couldn’t happen one day. It just seems like, in light of the story of Jeremiah and what he endured, I could take a few moments to share the incredible love of Jesus with, say, my neighbor…
Many would say Jeremiah was not very successful in his ministry. He did not turn thousands to the Lord through his eloquent speaking, and the multitudes did not clamor for his healing touch. In fact, nobody really even liked Jeremiah – I mean, who wants to hang out with someone who is negative and cries all the time! But then, as we know, God doesn’t measure our success by how well we are liked.
God doesn’t even measure our success by the many sacrifices we have made. “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,” (I Samuel 15:22) No, Jeremiah was successful because he was obedient to God. Whether we walk a road like Jeremiah or never experience a bump in the road, we are successful when we do what He wants us to do.
Moving Forward: I’m challenged by the life of Jeremiah to share God’s message of truth with those around me and walk in obedience to whatever He wants.
Tomorrow @ Luke 5-6