Jeremiah, The Persecuted Preacher

Jeremiah, The Persecuted Preacher

Neal Pollard

It was hard being a preacher in Jeremiah’s day. As thanks for his work, the weeping prophet endured the following:

  • He was led as a lamb to the slaughter (11:18ff)
  • His brethren dealt treacherously w/him (12:6)
  • He was confronted by false prophets (14:13)
  • His brethren cursed him (15:10)
  • He was hit, put in stocks and condemned (20:1ff)
  • His heart was broken (23:9)
  • He was seized and threatened w/death (26:8,24)
  • His teaching was opposed (28,29)
  • He was put in prison (32:2,3)
  • He was pursued (36:26)
  • He was beaten and imprisoned (37:15)
  • He was thrown into the dungeon (38:6)
  • He was bound in chains (40:1)
  • He was falsely accused (43:2)
  • He was taken to Egypt (43:6,7)

Remember, God called him to this work. Jeremiah was doing nothing wrong in his ministry; in fact, all of those things that happened to him came in “the line of duty.” The people, on the whole, never changed for the better after all the effort Jeremiah put forth in his ministry. Jeremiah never speaks of his work as enjoyable or rewarding, but it was essential and vital. Some estimate that his ministry spanned more than six decades! Whatever we call him, we do not use adjectives like “weak” or “wimpy.”

The life of preaching is a wonderful work. The preacher works with the best people in the world fulfilling the most profound purpose possible while working, ultimately, for the best Employer there is. The retirement plan is unbeatable! Helping people connect with salvation and helping the saved better connect with their Savior is extremely fulfilling. But, if there are job hazards (the minority of brethren who are difficult to deal with, sporadic job insecurity, being misunderstood, being subjected or having your family subjected to closer scrutiny, etc.), there is a reminder from Hilkiah’s son from Anathoth. Out of our own devotion to God, we will stay at it through thick and thin. Jeremiah wrote, “I have become a laughingstock all day long; Everyone mocks me. For each time I speak, I cry aloud; I proclaim violence and destruction, because for me the word of the Lord has resulted in reproach and derision all day long” (20:7-8). This man thought about quitting, but he couldn’t! He says, “But if I say, ‘I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,’ then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones;

and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it” (9). I have watched my father, who has preached the gospel 53 years, have some “Jeremiah moments.” I have known so many gospel preachers who have walked in that prophet’s sandals. I have even experienced a few of the lighter trials Jeremiah records as happening to him.  But Jeremiah and his modern counterparts whom I have watched serve him faithfully provide a sterling example to me of what the man of God who preaches “looks like.” He’s tough, but tender-hearted. He’s loyal and loving. He’s gritty, but gracious. He’s courageous, yet caring. He will be fallible, but he must be faithful.

Preaching is, in my opinion, the best work in the world. For whatever bumps unique to the preacher traveling the narrow way, there are ten times the blessings. To my fellow friends in this fantastic fraternity, keep the tenacity of the tearful teacher of Judah! Stoke the fire in your bones (cf. 2 Tim. 1:6).

Dad in '64 an '16
My dad preaching in Artesia, MS, in 1964 (left) and preaching in Andrews, NC, in 2016 (right). 
WE WILL WEAR A CROWN

WE WILL WEAR A CROWN

Neal Pollard

Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutiérrez Arevalo, wore the crown of Miss Universe for a couple of minutes, before Steve Harvey came out and sheepishly admitted that he accidentally mixed things up. She was actually first-runner-up to Miss Philippines.  Though I don’t get pageants at all, I understand human nature. In a sequence of awkward moments now blowing up social media, none is worse than the seemingly endless time before the crown is finally removed the head of a tearful Arevalo. She was confused, disappointed, and totally embarrassed. While these moments will live on in infamy, they will fade into insignificance soon enough.

Scripture illustrates the culmination of a faithful Christian life with the giving of a crown. Several New Testament writers speak of this crown, a prize or reward given to those who have turned in an outstanding performance. The New Testament extends this hope, that there is not just a crown for one contestant but for all who successfully compete and complete the most grueling obstacle course of all—life. Notice a few facts about this crown:

  • It’s Faithful (Jas. 1:12; Rev. 2:10). The one who faithfully handles his or her trials will receive the crown of life. We can be assured that it won’t be snatched from us because “the Lord has promised [it] to those who love Him” (Jas. 1:12). Jesus says, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). As great as the promises of God is the assurance that a faithful life will be followed by a faithful crown.
  • It’s Future (2 Tim. 4:8). We will not be crowned in this life but after successfully completing the Christian life. Paul was confident that the Lord would make no mistake in handing out this crown. He says that the Lord, the righteous Judge will award it to all who love His appearing on that Day of Judgment. At the end of the contest, the crown will be placed upon the heads of the winners!
  • It’s Fadeless (1 Pet. 5:4). Specifically, this promise is made to the church’s shepherds who faithfully execute their task. Peter calls it “the unfading crown of glory.” Some have argued this is a passage teaching degrees of reward, but whose heavenly crown will tarnish? Instead, here is another tribute to the fact that we will have a reward and recognition that never loses its luster.

The 2015 Miss Universe finale has been dubbed “cringeworthy.” What a deflating turn of events for a person who actually had the crown of victory snatched from her head!  Aren’t you thankful that, as we face eternity, we have a perfect Judge who will get it right in every case. Once we are crowned, He won’t take it back! Let’s keeping competing and complete the contest the culminates with the crown.

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