Jeremiah’s assignment to “root out” included his God-given message to warn Judah’s disloyal inhabitants to “circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your hearts...lest His fury come forth like fire and burn so that no one can quench it...” (Jer. 4:4). Now notice Judah’s response to such negative preaching: “...neither will evil come upon us, nor shall we see sword of famine” (Jer. 5:12). The prophet’s duty to “pull down” warranted his preaching “negative proclamations” like “withhold your foot from being unshod...” (Jer. 2:25a), a message prohibiting religious liberties. The people’s response to this message was, “No! For I have loved aliens, and after them I will go.” (Jer. 2:25b). His responsibility to “destroy and throw down” involved Jeremiah’s admonishing Judah, “Do not go after other gods to serve and worship them (Jer. 25:6). Behold yet
again God’s commentary on Judah’s response: “...you have not listened to Me” (Jer. 25:7).
Now that we’ve taken a brief glimpse at Jeremiah’s negative preaching, let us look at some of the positive. Keep in mind, the liberal element would have you to believe that the response to “positive preaching,” is more favorable, but the book of Jeremiah proves otherwise. Jeremiah’s task to “build and plant” included relaying the Lord’s message of the18th chapter where He says, “The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.” (Jer. 18:7-8). Even with a message as positive and promising as this, the response of the Israelites is no different. Notice their reply: “That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will everyone obey the dictates of his evil heart” (Jer. 18:12).
The reality of the matter is this: if the message of truth is being presented to those who have hardened their hearts against it, such as did the children of Israel in the days of Jeremiah, then whether the truth proclaimed is of a positive or negative nature is of little concern. They will reject it! Nothing at all is “negative” regarding the Biblical doctrines of water immersion and acapella singing, yet the majority of the religious world rejects these doctrines and give those who adamantly promote them derogatory labels such as “book worshipping legalists.” Likewise, whether Jeremiah’s message contained negatives such as “do not listen to the words of your prophets who...prophesy a lie to you (Jer. 27:16), or positives such as his message to those who desired to flee to Egypt, “If you will still remain in this land, then I will build you and not pull you down, and I will plant you and not pluck you up” (Jer. 42:10) -- the response of the people was consistently: “we will not listen to you!” (Jer. 44:16). The response of the hard hearted to God’s message today is no different. Thus, let us not become discouraged when, like Jeremiah, we preach the message that “God bids us.”
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