That sounds like something inspiring Master Yoda might say but actually it was God speaking to his prophet, Jeremiah. And this pronouncement was probably not the pep talk Jeremiah was looking for. Rarely does God call his people to fame and fortune.
Jeremiah was a young man who lived in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. He was a man who followed after God in a time of ravenous idol worship. Even after Hezekiah tore down the high places, the Hebrews built new places… tall wooden towers they would use to sacrifice offerings (including children) to foreign gods. This was the nation Jeremiah grew up in. But then Josiah became king and started another reform. So, you’d think Jeremiah might be commissioned to deliver a nationwide “good game” to the people and king. That was not his calling.
God came to Jeremiah and said, “I’m going to give you a message for the people. I’m going to have you explain to them that this temporary forced reform is not enough to save them from what is really in their hearts. Even though they said they are sorry… there are still consequences for generations of rebellion.” He then explained to Jeremiah that he would be persecuted for his message. Not just by Baal worshipers but by priests of YHWH as well. Both sides would join in chorus singing, “Sit down, sit down, sit down you’re rocking the boat.”
So the line above was not part of God’s hopeful message for His people. It was a personal message to Jeremiah. You will be imprisoned. You will be beaten. You will be discredited. You will be humiliated. You will be put on display. They will coerce you, threaten you and bribe you to stop delivering my message to the people that their time has come to pay the piper. But you will not physically be able to stop.
Jeremiah is know as the weeping prophet. And until recently I just thought it was because his message was sad to deliver to the people. It was more than that. He had a message of great sorrow that caused his people distress. But he spoke it anyway. And because of that other people (even his fellow believers) were going to cause him great personal harm. But he spoke it anyway. They tried to make him stop, and he wanted to stop… but he could not stop. It is a different picture to consider a man weeping not only because of what he was saying, but the pain he would endure because of it and the mental anguish of not being able to stop himself from saying it. And all the while God is saying to him, “I will not stop them from attacking you. I will stop them from overcoming you.” Death will not be a relief. And your message will never stop.
The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth! Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. – Jer 1:7-10
What a spoiled people we have become. As I read this story again the feeling I have can only be described as shame. What petty reasons I have concocted to not say what the Holy Spirit has put in my heart. What small sacrifice I have given for the Gospel. What great fear I have felt in the face of idols like popularity, public opinion, slander, and rumor. These are not gods to be feared because they are of our own making. What a sad generation to be apart of… that our fear of people not liking us has cowed the preaching of the Word. And I don’t mean giving a sermon to a crowd that is 90% on board with the message before you give it.
What a dream to see our generation to be an entire generation of “Jeremiahs”. A people of every race and tongue that cannot stop proclaiming the word God gave us because it physically cannot be contained. If we stopped speaking, it would consume us like a fire. I would weep each day and count it a blessing to be in that generation. A generation made invincible by our message.