FACING THE UNREPENTANT
All of us at some point in our lives will have a friend, a love one, or someone else in our life that refuses to repent. No matter what you say to them or how you try to frame it, they just won’t relent on their unrepentance. It could be a child, a parent, a friend, a co-worker, a spouse, a neighbor, or someone you don’t even know well that God has asked you to go to and see if you can help them. But they refuse! How do we face our unrepentant brothers and sisters? In Jeremiah’s day he had to deal with this as well.
God came to Jeremiah and said in Jeremiah 18:6, “O house of Israel, Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.”
When you and I are facing our unrepentant brothers and sisters, it is important that we remind them that God is still sovereign over their lives.
God gives a strong warning to Israel in Jeremiah 18:11, “Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. 12 “But they say, ‘That is in vain! We will follow our own plans,”
There are times when God will ask you to speak hard truth to others. It won’t be easy and if you enjoy it, you should do it.
Israel’s didn’t like Jeremiah speaking truth to them and so they said in Jeremiah 18:1, “Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah,”
This is never easy to endure.
Jeremiah cries to God in Jeremiah 18:19, “Hear me, O Lord, and listen to the voice of my adversaries. 20 Should good be repaid with evil? Yet they have dug a pit for my life. Remember (God) how I stood before you to speak good for them.”
Jeremiah reminds God of how he stood in the gap for them. Then he says in Jeremiah 18:23, “Yet you, O Lord, know all their plotting to kill me. Forgive not their iniquity,”
Is Jeremiah justified in his prayer?
Is it okay to ask God to bring vengeance and judgment on people who refuse repent and are seeking to destroy you for trying to help them?
I believe it is.
For five years I had a pastor who tried to destroy me for trying to help him. I talk about it in the book, The Mystery of 23: God Speaks. Vengeance is the Lord’s, let him take it. But it is okay to ask Him to.
In the midst of Jeremiah waiting for God to deliver him from the wrath of the unrepentant, God told Jeremiah in 19:1, “Go buy a potter’s earthenware flask, 2 and proclaim there the words that I tell you. 3 You shall say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, Behold, I am bringing such disaster upon this place that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle.”
Do you know what a potter’s earthenware flask is? It is something made out of clay to hold water, and water symbolized life.
God then says to Jeremiah in 19:4, “Because the people have forsaken me…filled this place with the blood of innocents, 5 built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, 9 I (God) will make them eat the flesh of their sons and their daughters”
God will turn their cult practices back on them. They burned their children; God will punish them by making them eat their own kids to stay alive.
God then says to Jeremiah in 19:10, “you shall break the flask in the sight of the men who go with you, 11 say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord: I will break this people and this city”
That my friend was a tough small group devotional. Jeremiah was a courageous man of faith willing to be in proximity to those who were against him to warn them of their impending judgement if they did not turn back.
Yes, you may be persecuted for it, Jeremiah was. We see this in Jeremiah 20:2, “Pashhur beat Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks.”
Regardless of what people may do to you, keep facing them with God’s truth.
After Jeremiah’s courageous confrontation, he collapses into self-doubt, fear, and sorrows he couldn’t get off of him. Jeremiah begins to cry out to God in 20:7, “O Lord, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all the day; 8 For whenever I speak, I cry out, I shout, “Violence and destruction!” For the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. 9 If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. 18 Why did I come out from the womb to see toil and sorrow and spend my days in shame.”
It important in times of great confrontation that you empty your soul to God.
This is not easy to do. I found it hard to expose this much of my heart.
Jeremiah felt shame that he had done what God had asked him to do and had seemingly failed.
If you have ever tried to do anything for God and failed, you understand Jeremiah’s shame.
I spent fifteen years of my life dealing with the shame I felt from trying to help a pastor and not being able to do so. Maybe you can relate.
Keep facing those who refuse to repent and don’t let your shame keep you from being faithful to what God has asked you to do. It won’t be easy but even if they never repent, God will use it in your life to transform you.