Week Forty Two: Jeremiah 1–3; 7; 16–18; 20
This morning, two of our sweet, smart, beautiful inside and out grandchildren were at my home. Their mom had a last minute meeting and just couldn’t graciously juggle it all. Of course, no matter what my responsibilities are, there’s nothing better than sharing the day with any of our grandchildren. Cleaning the sheep stable, gathering eggs from the chickens, feeding the dogs or watering the garden is all more fun when we do it together. My only regret is I can’t watch “Octonauts and the Great Barrier Reef” because I have to write my script for this Come Follow Me Insight video.
But I appreciate the thoughtful concern of my daughter-in-law, who sent the following text to me:
Thank you so much for taking the kiddos❤. I’m sorry to impose on you. Hopefully, I get released soon.😞
My first reaction was, “Oh no! It’s a joy to have the kids,” and my second was, “I hope she isn’t released!” I know how much my daughter-in-law has to contribute….nobody should be releasing her! It turns out we had our wires crossed: I thought she meant ‘released’ from a church calling. She was talking about jury duty! But her earnest expression of concern that she was not doing everything she could or should because she HAD to faithfully fulfill a calling, reminded me of Jeremiah.
Nowhere in the scriptures has a prophet so forthrightly stated his conviction of his call to prophesy, along with his reluctance to do so. There are many prophets who have felt dubious about their callings: Moses protested his inadequacy even as the Lord spoke to him from a burning bush; Jonah ran in the other direction when instructed to go to Ninevah. Joseph Smith, upon being called to interpret the Book of Mormon and restore priesthood authority, certainly wondered at why the Lord would call a relatively uneducated young man to such an important spiritual purpose. Jeremiah was told he had been called BEFORE he was in his mother’s womb, to testify to the nations of the Lord’s love, of his disappointment, of his wrath and to call God’s children to repentance. He was faithful to this responsibility but did not and could not enjoy much that his calling entailed.
” …the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jeremaiah 1:4,5)
In the 2nd chapter of Jeremiah, he is tasked with sharing a heartbreaking message. There is not much I find as painful as observing a marriage in which one party has been faithful, loving and devoted while the other counts all that devotion as nothing, shows contempt for covenants of fidelity and loyalty, and feels no remorse at walking away from commitments that were made to love and honor one another for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. In Chapter 2 of Jeremiah, the prophet is told by the Lord to loudly proclaim to Israel that this is what God’s chosen people have done. Frankly, it hurts my heart (as my grandson would say,) to read of the insouciant disregard of the once faithful children of Israel for their mighty redeemer. It hurt Jeremiah’s heart as well.
“Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem saying, Thus saith the Lord; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. …Hear ye the word of the Lord, oh house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel:
Thus saith the Lord, what iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity and are become vain?” ( Jeremiah 2: 2,4,5)
Think of the prophets you have known: President Nelson, President Monson, President Hinckley, to name the more recent ones. They have all labored tirelessly to share the love of our Savior, and they have been supported and cherished in their roles as leaders of the Church. Jeremiah faced a different situation. He was called to prophesy things that nobody wanted to hear. He told those around him the Lord’s anguish and sorrow at the faithless, fickle inconstancy of the people who had been given the privilege of worshipping the one true God of heaven and earth when so many worshipped meaningless deities of metal and wood. It was a thankless task…the only satisfaction being that Jeremiah knew he was doing the Lord’s will.
Of our Latter Day prophets, only Joseph Smith seems to have endured a kind of misery akin to that of Jeremiah:
“If thou shouldst be cast into the pit or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee, if thou be cast into the deep, if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”
The prophetic calling was a burden that both Jeremiah and Joseph Smith bore with devotion, and perhaps resignation, though both still harbored hope for a bright eternal future.
Imagine the pain our Heavenly Father must feel when we forget his goodness to us and worship other gods …whether material wealth, popular idols of sports or the internet, the beauties of nature itself, or intellectual attainments or power. It was the same way in Jeremiah’s time…the Lord’s people were more easily lured away from Him than were those who worshiped false gods:
“Hath a nation changed their gods which are yet no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.
Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord.” ( Jeremiah 2:11,12)
The Lord doesn’t forget. He knows how he has protected us, lifted us, and prospered us. And, he remembers when we remember to praise Him and show our gratitude by obeying his commandments and living according to His standards. He knows if we are faithful in good times and bad…or if we just call out for him when we are lost or in anguish.
Though the Lord ultimately promises there will be a remnant saved and restored after the scourging is through, how sad that such scourging was required. How sad that so often the Lord’s prophets have been required to endure so much pain and suffer death and torture to share His messages with us. Let us try to hearken …it is my prayer we will listen and learn and live the commandments daily and faithfully, reaping the peace and purpose they will impart to our lives.