Jeremiah 20:9, “But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”
Jeremiah was the last major prophet to warn the people of Judah before the Babylonians took them into captivity. Jeremiah lived in a time when the nation of Israel was divided into two kingdoms called the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. The Northern Kingdom was known as “Israel” with Samaria being its capitol and the Southern Kingdom was known as “Judah” with Jerusalem being its capitol. Israel had ten tribes and Judah had two tribes from the total of twelve tribes that settled in the land during the time of Joshua.
Both the kings in Israel and Judah were constantly disobeying God and leading the people astray with idolatry. God warned them through various prophets that if they didn’t repent and worship the true and living God they would be conquered and taken into slavery (Jeremiah 1:16). Sadly, neither kingdom listened to the prophets God sent and eventually after many warnings the nation of Israel was conquered by Assyria in 722 B.C.
Just one hundred years after the fall of the Northern Kingdom God used Jeremiah to give the final warnings to Judah. If they too didn’t repent the Babylonians would conquer them. God set apart Jeremiah to be Judah’s last hope, however, the people refused to change. Jeremiah’s main message was about the judgment God was going to send (Jeremiah 7:25-29). Because the Jewish leaders and priests hated hearing about their impending doom they severely persecuted Jeremiah by beating him and throwing him into a pit (Jeremiah 38:1-28).
During this time of Jeremiah’s life he felt discouraged and he didn’t want to preach anymore. Despite his feelings of despair, he placed his faith in God and declared what we read in today’s passage. He said that even if he tried he could not hold back God’s Word because it was like fire shut up in his bones!
Jeremiah’s faithfulness to preach, even when he didn’t feel like it, led to God giving future generations hope. The writings of Jeremiah encouraged great leaders like Daniel and his friends in Babylon (Daniel 9:2).
Therefore, we should be encouraged to imitate Jeremiah’s faith and continue preaching God’s Word even when we don’t see results or “feel” like it. We must be faithful to preach the gospel in season and out season, so that future generations can be saved. It is our job to pass the gospel torch to the next generation. Don’t try to hold it in; let your life burn bright for the world to see!
Are you willing to preach the gospel even if you suffer persecution and no one listens?
- Ask the Holy Spirit to set your life on fire (Acts 1:8).
- Study yourself full, to preach yourself empty. Billy Sunday said, “I am not the author of the plan of salvation, but I am responsible for the way I preach.”
- By faith, never stop preaching like Jeremiah!
One Year Reading Plan
Ezekiel 33:1-34:31, Hebrews 13:1-25, Psalm 115:1-18, & Proverbs 27:21-22. Click here to read online.