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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

“The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; and he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat?” says the LORD. “Is not My word like a fire?” says the LORD, “And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” Jeremiah 23.28-29

God spoke in the day of Jeremiah through the office of the prophet. As a spokesman for God, the prophet heard the Word of the Lord explicitly and directly. When the prophet was faithful, he spoke the very words of God to the people.

The gift of the prophet’s office extended even to the church age. God established His Word through this special ministry. The need for the prophet ceased once the church had received the Word of God as we know it today – the Old and New Testaments (Genesis – Revelation; 66 books).

Still, we may reflect on these verses in Jeremiah and greatly profit. Today, those who proclaim and teach God’s Word through many different ministries have a responsibility to be faithful. That faithfulness involves three very important commitments :

1. Proclamation of God’s Word must be without concealment.

There were plenty of profitless prophets in Jeremiah’s day. The preceding context in chapter 23 characterizes these shepherds as those who destroy and scatter the sheep (v. 1). They are men who break the hearts of true prophets like Jeremiah (v. 9). Their might is not right (v. 10). They are profane and wicked (v. 11). They cause the people to err (v. 13), commit adultery, walk in lies, and strengthen the hands of evildoers (v. 14). God shall judge them. Had they stood in the counsel of God and caused the people to hear His words, then they would have turned from their evil ways and doings (v. 22). No one can hide in a secret place from God. God will see; He fills the heaven and the earth (v. 24). Nothing can be concealed.

This is a sobering passage for those who would faithfully proclaim the Word of God. We must not shun declaring the whole counsel of God (Acts 20.27). We must keep nothing back that is helpful, but proclaim and teach it (Acts 20.20). “We are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ” (2 Cor 2.17). Let the Word of God illuminate the needs of man!

2. Proclamation of God’s Word must be without partiality.

The prophets of Jeremiah’s day were simply eager to give the kings, nobles, and those in authority what they wanted. They relieved itching ears. They sought to please men. If we trim or compromise the Word of God by leaving out key elements that may cause offense (e.g., separation from disobedient brothers and sisters in Christ), we are hiding the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ.

The proclamation of God’s Word must be accurate, clean, and filled with truth. God has entrusted us with the Gospel not to please men, but God who tests our hearts. Flattering words and sanctified language are often cloaks for covetousness. Faithfully let the Word of God have free course!

3. Proclamation of God’s Word must be without fear.

Jeremiah had to face many trials because of his stand for God and truth. Chapter 20 in the near context makes this clear. Pashhur was a priest and chief governor in the house of the Lord. When he heard that Jeremiah proclaimed the truth, he put him in stocks in an elevated place near the gate of Benjamin. Jeremiah was humiliated, imprisoned, beaten, and scorned (see Jer 20.7 ff.).

But for Jeremiah, the Word of God burned in his heart. He tired of holding it back, and finally he could not (20.9). He proclaimed the truth fearlessly …courageously! Anyone who faithfully lives and proclaims the Word of God must expect persecution to some degree. If they so persecuted our Lord, they will persecute us. Paul was poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of the Philippians’ faith. This brought gladness and rejoicing (see Philippians 2.17-18). As with Peter and John, let us obey God over man. Let the Word of God come forcefully, fearlessly, and faithfully!

The Judgment Seat of Christ is fast approaching. We will be judged for how faithful we were in proclaiming the Word of God. The fire of God’s Word melts; the hammer breaks. It is the very Word of God that dramatically impacts the lives of people. We have nothing else to offer them that will last. Let us proclaim it without concealment, without partiality, and without fear! Above all, speak God’s Word faithfully!