TODAY’S READING: Jeremiah 23–25
As a prophet, Jeremiah never strayed from his understanding that God ordained him to make much of Jehovah among all nations. Everything must be done with all nations in mind. Everyone must minister, including pastors, with all nations in mind. In fact, God declared He is against those who do not serve with a global view to what He is doing to glorify His name among all peoples (Jer. 23:2). Indeed, Jeremiah predicted a remnant of Israel rescued from exile among the nations, but the context is messianic and includes all the earth (23:5–6). Lest there be any doubt about God’s missionary intentions through Jeremiah, the prophet clearly claimed God commissioned him to all nations and even lists by name: Egypt, Palestine, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Europe, Arabia, Central Asia, Iran, and “all the kingdoms of the world which are on the face of the earth” (25:26). Jeremiah shouts to all nations and all peoples that a sword hangs over our heads and that the Lord is about to roar against all the inhabitants of the earth, for He has a controversy with the nations and disaster will go forth from nation to nation (25:30–32).
The challenge for Jeremiah was that he was not the only prophet speaking. Other prophets had much more positive predictions. Other prophets spoke of God’s favor and delivering power. Jeremiah was a lonely voice saying that God’s favor had limits, God’s judgment was about to fall, and God’s wrath was rightly kindled against all the earth. The gospel without God’s immanent wrath is just a spell numbing and blinding to danger. Prophets, pastors, and missionaries must all be faithful testifiers of reality, the reality that all men are wicked, all men are doomed, all men will be judged, and there is only one means of escape. It’s always been an unpopular message. All those who would say “yes” to being a ministerial voice must reconcile themselves to a life of unpopularity.
Jeremiah’s contention was that true prophets are distinguished from the false only if they called for moral change in the hearers (23:22). If our voice does not call for repentance, reform, consecration, sacrifice, or some measure of stringent Godward change that results in His glory among the nations, then we have not been true to our commission. The God who fills heaven and earth demands that messengers call their hearers to the glory of Jehovah’s name among all peoples, which in turn demands they lay down their own dreams. If we have not sacrificed our own indulgent dreams for the big dream of God’s mission among all peoples, then we are false.
God’s word and will is a fire and hammer (v. 29). God’s word is a fire because it burns with one passion: His glory among all peoples. God’s word is a hammer because it bangs on one point: His glory among all nations. The adage goes: “If you only have one tool, a hammer, then everything looks like a nail that needs to be hammered.” It’s a cautionary proverb with positive missionary and biblical application. We have one tool: to burn and bang away with one life towards one passion, the glory of God among all peoples. Only one fire. Only one hammer. Only one life. Only one glory. Let’s burn and bang.