Jeremiah warned, “disaster looms out of the north, and great destruction” (6:1). Numerous texts in Jeremiah refer to this “foe from the north” (1:14, 6:22, 10:22, 25:9), Babylon, which will march into Jerusalem with cruelty and no mercy (6:23), whose horses are so numerous that their thundering hoofs sound like the roaring sea (4:13,29). For forty years, the prophet warned about and announced this coming disaster and called the people to the Lord. But the people would not listen, and Jeremiah grew weary of declaring the message: “the word of the Lord is to them an object of scorn; they take no pleasure in it. Therefore I am full of the wrath of the Lord; I am weary of holding it in” (Jer. 6:10,11). Regarding the good way, the people said, “'We will not walk in it” (6:16) and “We will not pay attention” (6:16).
Jeremiah faced the same dilemma faced by all who declare the Word of the Lord. Before those who simply would not listen, who turned away, he was dismayed: “For the wound of the daughter of my people is my heart wounded; I mourn, and dismay has taken hold on me” (8:21). But, remember the almond branch vision from chapter 1? God was watching over his word to perform it! All who speak for the Lord will face discouragement. People simply do not listen. Even in the church, sometimes, it seems that God’s people turn deaf ears toward God. But whether we stand behind a pulpit or stand before a teaching podium or speak for God on the street or on the sidewalk or in a home or in a hospital room, we can be encouraged that, yes, God’s word will accomplish all he intends (Isaiah 55:11).
I don’t normally quote an entire hymn, but William Cowper’s words speak so powerfully to Jeremiah’s situation and to ours:
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform.
He plants his footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
You fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding ev'ry hour.
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow'r.
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan his work in vain.
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain. –William Cowper