Jeremiah preached for over forty years, and to our knowledge he never converted a soul. Many in contemporary religious circles would denounce Jeremiah as mean-spirited and divisive, but Jeremiah’s preaching never seemed to displease God. Here is a prophet of God who preached a hard and unpopular message to the his own people, and he was hated because of it. God has never been impressed with sheer numbers, and His message, though powerful, has never caused great numbers of men to turn to Him. Jeremiah’s message pleased the Lord because it was inspired, straightforward, and uncompromised.
An Inspired Message — “The word of the Lord,” is a phrase that occurs 52 times in the book of Jeremiah. The book is a testament to the fact that Jeremiah was preaching the inspired words of God. Men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:20), and Jeremiah was no exception. Jeremiah never confused his audience by inserting his own opinions and questions in public (cf. Jer. 4:10). He merely preached exactly what God wanted preached to His people. Preachers today similarly need to have respect for the inspired word of God, and refuse to add to or take away from it (Rev. 22:18-19).
A Straightforward Message — Not only was Jeremiah’s message inspired, but it was presented in a straightforward manner. There was no mistaking what Jeremiah had said to the people. In Jeremiah 28, the prophet was challenged by Hananiah, who attempted to confuse the message of Jeremiah before the people. Hananiah removed the yoke from Jeremiah and broke it (Jer 28:10). Jeremiah, though shaken, did not confuse or convolute the message he was preaching. In fact, he told Hananiah that, “thou makest this people to trust in a lie (Jer 28:15).” There was a need for someone to point out the error and sin in the world, and Jeremiah’s straightforward message left no room for doubt in the minds of God’s people. God’s people today should also take heed of their tendencies to tiptoe around issues and problems, and challenge people to live up to God’s word.
An Uncompromised Message — Perhaps the most striking aspect of Jeremiah’s message is that it remained uncompromised in over forty years of preaching. Even when Jeremiah became frustrated and discouraged, he could not bring himself to quit preaching or change the message, “But His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones (Jer 20:9).” Jeremiah, while on trial for his very life, did not allow his own peril to cause him to compromise: “Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God (Jer 26:13).” Jeremiah realized that people needed to hear the message he was preaching. He also knew that God was watching to see how well he preserved and handled the word he was giving to God’s people. May preachers everywhere remember that the Gospel cannot be “culturalized” to sweeten its taste to fickle listeners. God’s word is His standard for the world, and man has no right to change it!