Jeremiah: Lover of God and His Word (2)

Lover of God
Because Jeremiah knew God deeply, and intimately experienced his steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in his life and ministry, he loved him profoundly. He could not help but proclaim allegiance to the unique God he loved. “There is none like you, O LORD; you are great, and your name is great in might. Who would not fear you, O King of the nations? For this is your due; for among all the wise ones of the nations and in all their kingdoms there is none like you.”

Jeremiah’s love for the one true God influences not only his public calling of others to return to the LORD, but also his own personal walk with him. He acknowledges the LORD in all his ways, since he knows that “the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.”  Because of this inner reality, he humbly asks the LORD to correct him, yet in justice and not in anger.

Jeremiah’s love for God compels him to complain in complete honesty and trust in him. In his complaint, he affirms the LORD’s righteousness: “Righteous are you, O LORD, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you.”  His case entails a questioning as to why the wicked proper and thrive. He then acknowledges, again, that “you, O LORD, know me; you see me, and test my heart toward you.”  In other words, he knows that his God knows the motives of his own heart that are driving such questions. Mutual knowledge and mutual love in this God/prophet relationship continue as the LORD graciously answers Jeremiah’s complaint.

Lover of God’s Word
Jeremiah is the man who knows God, loves God, and loves his Word. Apart from the power of God’s Word, it is doubtless Jeremiah would have had the ability to persevere as relentlessly as he did. From the very beginning of his call, the LORD’s words have played an irreplaceable role in Jeremiah’s life and mission. “The LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, ‘Behold I have put my words in your mouth.’”  The very act of God touching the mouth of the prophet-to-be also shows the inimitable level of intimacy at which they began.

Using similar language as the psalmist, Jeremiah describes his love for the words of the LORD. “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.”  As evidenced in this statement of praise, the reason Jeremiah finds God’s word so delightful to the taste is because he is called by his name. In other words, Jeremiah loves God’s word because he loves God and the fact that his own identity as a man and prophet is found in him alone.

Because Jeremiah loves the word of the LORD, he obeys the word of the LORD, both personally and vocationally. Even in extremely difficult times of persecution, Jeremiah perseveres by the power of God’s word, even if under seemingly compulsion. He says, “If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,’ there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.”  As Brueggemann notes, “He is a man to whom a persistent, inescapable, and overriding word has been delivered. His life consists in coming to terms with that word, finding ways to articulate it to his contemporaries, and living with the hazardous consequences of that reality.”  Indeed, the LORD is with him “as a dread warrior” as he promised he would be from the very beginning.

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