Divine Urgency

Jeremiah 20:9 (NASB)
"But if I say, 'I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,' then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it."

This was written by the prophet Jeremiah during a time of national apostasy in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. He continually preached against these two kingdoms for their abandonment of the covenant God made with them and their chasing after other gods. He said that because of this their conquest by Babylon would be sure. Because of their apostasy, Israel and Judah had two choices. Either accept their divine punishment by peacefully submitting to the Babylonian king (thereby saving Jerusalem and the temple from destruction), or fight against the judgment of God and see their cities and temple destroyed, and the people taken into captivity.

Naturally, Jeremiah's prophecies did not endear him to his people. Because of his preaching and conflicting proclamations of hope by false prophets, he was derided and hated by just about everyone. He faced insults and abuse on a daily basis. So terrible was the persecution against Jeremiah that he cursed the day he was born. Such was the price he paid for proclaiming the word of God to a people lost to idolatry and open rebellion against God. Eventually as Jeremiah's prophecies started coming true, he was forcibly carried off to Egypt by Jews fleeing the destruction of Jerusalem and conquest of Judah and Israel. A year later he was stoned to death by Jews living in Egypt who rejected his further condemnation of idolatry.

In spite of Jeremiah's severe treatment inflicted on him by his own people, he could not keep from speaking out in the name of the Lord. The message burned with such a fervent heat in him that he could not help but proclaim it regardless of the consequences to himself.

In like manner did the apostles of Jesus Christ preach the gospel. In spite of severe persecution, privation, and even cruel torture and death, these men who walked with and learned from the Son of God Himself and their followers spread the good news of God's love and provision for salvation to the world. The gospel message burned like a fire in their bones. They could not keep it in. They were moved to proclaim it by the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus came and suffered and died a cruel death for our sins, so that we may be redeemed. The apostles and their followers suffered and died preaching the gospel. To all Christians who believe on the name of Jesus Christ, are we willing to do the same?

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