You have a purpose
Jeremiah was a man with a purpose in life: and in heart-breaking times too, that made it hard for him to fulfil that purpose.
Jeremiah could see the nation heading for destruction and exile, while everybody else thought God would protect them in safety. How could he announce God’s plans in that dire situation?
But God also purposed good for his people, and that is Jeremiah’s message.
V 5. “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
Before you were born I set you apart
and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”
God’s purpose for Jeremiah was that he should be a prophet, not just for God’s people, the Jews, but for other nations too. Like so many others in the Bible, Jeremiah’s response was ‘Not me’. His reason – “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” So God promises His protection; (v 8) And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you.
And again in v 19, ‘ They will fight you, but they will fail. For I am with you, and I will take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” ‘
And what was the awful message that Jeremiah was commissioned to preach? The next 8 chapters expand on it, with outpourings such as this in chapter 7, ‘ The bodies of my people will be food for the vultures and wild animals, and no one will be left to scare them away. I will put an end to the happy singing and laughter in the streets of Jerusalem. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will no longer be heard in the towns of Judah. The land will lie in complete desolation.’
No good news of God’s purpose there!
No wonder Jeremiah was hardly the flavour of the month in Jerusalem. So when he got the message written down for the King to read, this is what happened: Each time Jehudi finished reading three or four columns, the king took a knife and cut off that section of the scroll. He then threw it into the fire, section by section, until the whole scroll was burned up. (Jeremiah 36:23)
But this is not the whole story – there is also a message of hope.