I was reading from Eugene Peterson’s book about Jeremiah the other day. It was published forty years ago. But since it’s about a prophet who lived millennia ago, it’s still relevant. It’s not like Jeremiah’s gotten involved in some new controversy. Or there’s been some new scandal in the last forty years.
That said, in his day there was scandal. The king when he was born, Manassah, according to God, “has done more evil than the Amorites who preceded him.”
A few years later, when he started speaking, Jeremiah was accused of being a pessimist, was beaten for not fitting with the rest of the religious establishment. He gave his best possible counsel (conveying what God was saying to him) and was consistently ignored.
If we were writing a LinkedIn profile for him, it would have led to no job offers. “Ignored by the king. Ignored by the priests. Locked up. Eventually tagged along into exile.”
As I was reading about him, about his times, about his perseverance, I thought about how unlikely he would be as a leadership conference speaker. Or pastors conference. His book is mostly sad, by best-seller standards.
But for Jeremiah, his measure wasn’t the response of the audience. It was his response to God. As Peterson’s paraphrase says, “From the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah right up to the present day—twenty-three years it’s been!—God’s Word has come to me, and from early each morning to late every night I’ve passed it on to you. And you haven’t listened to a word of it!.”
But Jeremiah didn’t stop listening to God. Especially early in the morning.