The which Jeremiah the prophet spake unto all the people of Judah, and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day, that is the three and twentieth year, the word of the LORD hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened. — Jeremiah 25:2-3
When Hidehiro Ouchi was twenty years old and a student in college, a friend invited him to a church in Tokyo to learn English. There, missionaries helped him understand there was something more important than learning a new language; it was the salvation of his soul. He said, “I did not know anything about my heart’s condition or any purpose for my life. As I listened to the preaching, I found out that I was a sinner before God. When I repented of my sins, asking God to forgive me, He changed my heart and forgave me. He gave me peace and joy and showed me the purpose of my life. For fifty years, God has been so good and merciful to me.”
In 1962, God called Brother Ouchi to be the pastor of the Apostolic Faith Church in Kawasaki. The greater metropolitan area of Tokyo, Kawasaki, and Yokohama, Japan, had a population that grew to exceed twelve million. Less than two percent of those people claimed any form of Christianity. Yet, Brother Ouchi and the Japanese believers joyfully continued lifting up the Name of Jesus. He would say, “We have a very small group in Japan, but God encourages us.” This was proved out by Brother Ouchi’s big smile and his faithfulness to continue preaching the Gospel until his passing in 2022.
The Prophet Jeremiah showed perseverance in fulfilling God’s call on his life while facing much greater disregard for God. In today’s text, Jeremiah said he had been speaking God’s word to the people of Judah for ten years. He preached for about forty years, giving essentially the same message. “If you will turn to the Lord in full repentance, the Lord will bless you individually and as a nation. If, however, you continue in your sins, then judgment will come.” If Jeremiah had seen a positive response, that might have made his hard work seem more worthwhile. However, he could only conclude with the words of our focus verse, “. . . but ye have not hearkened.” Even though he faced extremely discouraging situations, Jeremiah did not quit. He did not dilute his message. He did not stop trying to reach the people. Jeremiah had set out to do the Lord’s will, and he was not swayed, regardless of Judah’s poor response.
As Christians, we have started out to serve the Lord. Perhaps we gave our lives to Him just a few days ago, or maybe it has been many years since that wonderful moment. Whether our days are hard or easy (or most likely, some of both), like Jeremiah and also Brother Ouchi, we need to keep pressing on. We need to be faithful, not only for the sake of our own souls, but also for the souls of others. Some have held on in faith and prayer for many years for the salvation of loved ones, and as a result, souls were gloriously saved. Some have stood through hard trials and persecution with the goal of giving glory to God. Let us purpose to stand true to the Lord, come what may, and seek to have the tenacity to keep on keeping on.
The twelfth sermon, given at the midpoint of Jeremiah’s career, warns of an invasion by Babylon and the exile of the people of Judah, and speaks of the eventual judgment of Babylon and the other nations.
Chapter 25 goes back in time to the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim. In 605 B.C., Babylon conquered Carchemish, a major city in western Assyria. Judah had been aligned with Egypt, who tried to help defend Assyria. However, Babylon prevailed over Egypt and invaded Judah, taking captives. Consequently Judah was forced to come under Babylon’s control. Because God had ordained this, Jeremiah actively endeavored to persuade Jehoiakim to submit to Babylon’s rule.
In verses 1-7, Jeremiah rehearsed God’s love for the people of Judah. Over many years God had sent prophet after prophet — including Jeremiah himself — to urge the people to turn from their evil ways. Specifically, God warned them to stop worshiping idols and to turn from the evil “works of their hands.” If they would stop their sinful practices (which, He noted, were to their own hurt) and worship the true and living God, He would be pleased to bless them. God had even told the people of Judah that if they did this, they could dwell in their own land forever. Unfortunately the people did not turn to the Lord.
Because the people failed to heed the warnings given them, God said He would turn Judah over to the ungodly Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (verses 8-11). Their cities would be ravished, their Temple plundered and destroyed, and many people killed. Others would be taken from their homeland into captivity many miles away. Even in the face of this somber judgment, however, there was a ray of hope. The captivity would be for a limited time: seventy years. At the end of that time, Babylon would be punished, and God promised to allow the Jewish people to begin to rebuild (verses 12-14).
Verses 15-29 describe the judgment of the various nations surrounding Judah. The fact that God would permit the armies of Nebuchadnezzar to triumph over Judah did not mean that the Babylonians were more righteous than the Jewish people. Judah was being punished because the people had rejected God. Ultimately, however, the other nations would “take the wine cup” of God’s fury because of their wickedness, and finally, Babylon (called Sheshack in verse 26) would drink also.
Verses 30-38 were written in poetry, giving a further depiction of judgment. While describing in part the events that would come upon Judah and the nations of that time, this passage also looks ahead to the judgment that will come upon the whole world in the last days.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The pronouncement of judgment against Judah
A. The condemnation of the prophet
12. The twelfth sermon: The seventy years of captivity (25:1-38)
a. The disobedience of Judah (25:1-7)
b. The destruction of Judah (25:8-11)
c. The destruction of Babylon (25:12-14)
d. The destruction of the nations (25:15-29)
e. The description of the judgment (25:30-38)
It will be well worth any effort to be faithful in fulfilling God’s call for us. We can be encouraged by others who have persevered.