Lessons from a Battle-worn Prophet

An exposition of Jeremiah 44:1-30. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, April 5, 2009.

Last words are important.  It is common when folks gather after the loss of a loved one to talk about the last time they saw the person or their last conversation.  History has often been punctuated by last words.  Washington’s farewell address is considered one of his greatest speeches.  When we think of Scripture we think of Paul’s last letter to Timothy and those powerful admonitions as he hands the torch to his young protege.  This evening I want us to consider the last words of Jeremiah.  For 40 years he was faithful to declare the glory of God’s holiness and His justice.  During a time of great national crisis, at great personal cost, the faithful prophet declared God’s eternal truth calling the nation to repentance.  Set apart from his mother’s womb he was called to “pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”  Now vindicated by God’s judgment of Judah, the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile to Babylon the prophet finds himself with a group of refuges in Egypt.  Faithful as always he does in his final message what he has always done – he called the people to repentance and when they refused he spoke of God’s sovereign judgment.  Our text this evening is found in Jeremiah chapter 44.

Text: Jeremiah 44:1-30
Though not the last chapter of his prophecy this is his final sermon.  Chapter 45 contains a brief prophecy given to Baruch.  Chapters 46-51 contain the pronouncement of judgment given to surrounding nations.  These prophecies are from an earlier period.  Chapter 52 is an appendix not  written by Jeremiah so chapter 44 is his final word.

Let’s think about what Jeremiah has been through:

  • Ignored
  • Rejected
  • Scorned
  • Humiliated
  • Beaten
  • Imprisoned
  • Put in stocks
  • Falsely accused
  • Condemned as a traitor
  • Twice cast into a dungeon and left to die
No wonder he is known as “The weeping prophet” and yet always faithful.  Rabbinic tradition says he was stoned to death in Egypt.  Perhaps the writer of Hebrews had Jeremiah in mind as he wrote: They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— Hebrews 11:37.As we explore this chapter I want us to learn some…

Sobering lessons from a tired, weary, battle-worn and yet faithful prophet.

It is easy to deal with the Old Testament as a detached historical observation.  Here we find stories of ancient peoples that really have nothing to do with us or our context.  A different time a different place, interesting to consider but having no practical application to my life in the modern world.  That is a great mistake.  From the Old Testament we learn a great deal about the character of God and how he deals with His people.  He doesn’t change.  What was expected then is still expected today.  We haven’t changed.  Times change.  Circumstances change but human nature does not.  There is much to learn from the Old Testament saints.  In fact Paul tells the Corinthians that the Old Testament is for our benefit.  We are to learn from their success and their failure (1 Corinthians 10:6).

  1. In the opening verses of Jeremiah 44 we learn that sin clouds the vision and dulls the senses so that the sinner fails to understand the obvious.  (44:1-10)
  2. That brings us to a second lesson – God sovereignly judges all rebellion.  (44:11-14)
  3. Sin blatantly denies God’s sovereignty and arrogantly clings to its own false sense of autonomy.  (44:15-19)
  4. God’s most terrifying judgment is seen in His granting the sinful heart its desire.  (44:20-27)
    And it all comes down to this…
  5. Rest assured at the end of the day the truth will be known and God will be God.  (44:28-30)

Oh, there is one other thing I think is worth noting.  Take a look back at 44:14.
so that none of the remnant of Judah who have come to live in the land of Egypt shall escape or survive or return to the land of Judah, to which they desire to return to dwell there. For they shall not return, except some fugitives.

That is the grace of our God!

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