If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you … because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you.
—John 15:18-19, HCSB
The equivalent for his time of a contemporary street preacher standing on a crowded urban sidewalk calling people to repentance, the prophet Jeremiah was sent by God to deliver messages of the coming judgment for the rampant crime and corruption among His people. But most of all, God wanted His people to know of future restoration, especially in the promised Messiah at the end of the age (Jeremiah 33:15).
After King Solomon had completed and dedicated the Temple where the people could experience God’s presence and forgiveness, God warned him of the consequences of disobedience and serving other gods:
“…I will pluck you up from my land that I have given you, and this house that I have consecrated for my name” (2 Chronicles 7:19-20).
But it wasn’t long before Solomon made his “inheritance an abomination” (Jeremiah 2:7) by straying away from God toward the world and its influences. The king built the first of many “high places” shrines for the worship of pagan deities such as the gods of sexual licentiousness and child sacrifice. He then built temples for each of his 700 foreign wives, “who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods” (1 Kings 11:8). And except for a few kings like Asa or Josiah who tore down these abominations to God—some that were even put in God’s temple—most other kings rebuilt them.
Even the rulers who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” compromised, leaving the pagan places of worship remaining intact, so that “… the people continued to sacrifice and make offerings” (2 Kings 12:2-3).
For 40 years Jeremiah delivered God’s warnings to His people, which were overwhelmingly ignored. Mobbed, whipped, jailed, and abandoned, Jeremiah experienced the same ridicule and contempt as all God’s prophets before and after him, just as the coming Messiah Himself would endure—and what He promised His followers they would endure. Persecution is the lightning rod of the “no compromise” stance taken for God.
Persecution is something we in our nation and western Church are largely unaccustomed to. Consider this Baptist Press headline from 2018: “Rwanda closes thousands of churches, arrests 6 pastors.” The article highlighted items such as “proposed new regulations controlling faith-based institutions,” closed churches “operating without government permits,” and stated that the incarcerated pastors were “accused of ‘masterminding’ a plot to disobey the government.” A Christian radio station was suspended because it “aired a sermon the government viewed as ‘hateful’ toward women.”
Starting to sound a little too familiar? It should alarm us because it is other-world reality beginning to wash ashore right into our own nation.
We live in a day and age of increasing lawlessness and depravity, where contemporary idolatry and compromise to appease the world is lurking to infiltrate our lives and churches, and sadly seeing take place. We may term the sexual licentiousness and child sacrifice of the ancient world as something else today, but no matter how much the attempt to dull the reality of those terms, they’re still sin. Unless we are focused on God and His truth, alert to the temptations we personally struggle with, and vigilant of worldly lies and lures to kill, steal, and destroy our Christian faith, we are just as vulnerable to slide into compromise and right into God’s judgment.
Jeremiah’s anguished tears over the death, destruction, and slavery just ahead for his people and himself branded him as the “weeping prophet,” a term that sometimes draws guffaws in Christian circles. In his grief for the wayward, his prayers pleading with God for them, Jeremiah’s no compromise stance of standing for God and His truth ought to be ours as well in this age we’re living in.
Thank you for your stance as a prayer warrior before God.