God always preserves a remnant. It is an important truth to remember, especially amid hardship and turmoil. Jeremiah was a prophet to the nation of God. In Jeremiah 1:5-10, we find that he was not only a prophet to the people of God but to other nations who did not follow the LORD as well. This is important to recognize because Jeremiah was given insight into the larger picture of God’s work and plans.
One of the recurring themes of the book of Jeremiah is false prophecy. People who would speak of the coming good for God’s people while never receiving a word from the LORD. The false prophets spoke from a limited viewpoint, one seeing the preservation of Judah and the promises of God as unrelated to the obedience of man. A view that assumed the grace poured out over the centuries would continue indefinitely. Whether it was hope, foolishness, rejection of circumstances, or hardness of heart, the message that the Lord would save His people from the coming destruction continued to be prophesied by others throughout Jeremiah’s ministry.
I would never encourage others to lose hope, but we can fall into the same trap as the false prophets if we are not careful. The trap of believing that if we claim as individuals, a church, a community, or a nation to be the people of God, that He will never allow for harm to come to us. However, the destruction of the nation of Judah wasn’t because the people didn’t identify as the people of God; it was because they didn’t live as the people of God. Jeremiah 2:13 – “For My people have committed a double evil; They have abandoned me, the fountain of living water, and dug cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that cannot hold water.”
I was not given a prophetic word to which I can proclaim where we are headed. I have, however, been given the blessing of seeing where we are right now. I resonate with Jeremiah 8:21 – “I am broken by the brokenness of my dear people. I mourn, horror has taken over me.” I recognize what the last couple of decades has done to us as believers in our context. While places worldwide grow in new converts, we sadly see people walking away from the faith. Broken homes, suicide, depression, disunity, addictions, illness, unforgiveness, anger, and slander are not problems residing only within the secular culture; they are rampant within the body of believers.
Many people like to claim Jeremiah 29:11. It is a fantastic verse for the future. But to fail to recognize the context is to our detriment. To recognize the message of hope comes only after warfare and famine, destruction and deportation, brokenness and mourning would do us good. The only reason that God could fulfill the promise to return His people to the land was because they had to see the destruction of it first. Sin is ugly. The devastation wrought by it should bring us to mourn. One day we will likely see a return because of the goodness of God, but I don’t know when that will be. Jeremiah 29:12-13 doesn’t require any of that as a prerequisite. “You will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Why wait for a future fulfillment when we can find ourselves in the presence of God today?