John the Baptist came before Jesus, preaching repentance and preparing the way for Him. He was in the spirit of Elijah, but he denied actually being Elijah. We know Elijah is due to come back before Jesus returns, and some believe he will be one of the two witnesses described in Revelation.
However I believe we need not only Elijah but a new Jeremiah in this age of corruption and apostasy in the Church.
Jeremiah was a prophet in Jerusalem for about forty years up to 586 BC when Judah ceased to be a state. As with most other prophets he was very unpopular. Why?
Because he continually spoke up and warned about the increasing apostasy affecting the whole of God’s Jewish people.
It’s the same today – not many want to hear the bad news that God has already clearly foretold about the great falling away in the Church in the last days.
Jesus warned about it, Paul, John, Peter and Jude wrote a great deal about it, and today we can see it before our eyes – unless we have no love of the truth [2 Thess 2:10]. Many don’t want the Word to expose their worldly plans for ‘their’ Church.
Jeremiah Was a Watchman
Jeremiah was a true and passionate prophet who obeyed the command given by God to try to awaken His people. But he was still only human. He fell into despondency at times when he was persecuted, mocked and ignored, but was still faithful.
The children of Israel at the time were disobedient to God’s Word, and in spite of having been warned by God before, they continued to worship other gods. Jeremiah warned them that judgment was coming and that their nation would be destroyed with God’s approval.
Jeremiah faithfully did his work as a watchman. He saw what was coming and obediently warned about it despite the human obstacles, such as death threats and imprisonment in a well.
And it all happened just as he said it would. The nation was broken up and most of the people were progressively carted away to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar.
The leaders and the people hadn’t listened and the worst happened.
I see a parallel with the Church today. There are not many watchmen standing up and trying to direct Christian leaders and the people back to the basics and fundamentals [that despised word] of the gospel and its outcome, godly living.
Those who do are vilified, scoffed at, ignored and often crushed into the ground by those to whom God’s Word means little.
Threats Jesus Made
In a sense, Jeremiah was a ‘type’ of Jesus in that the Lord Himself has given strong warnings to His Church, especially in the book of Revelation.
Jesus found there were serious faults in all of His Churches except those at Smyrna and Philadelphia.
His threats to those who would not repent ranged from removing their ‘lampstand’ or witness to being ‘spewed out of His mouth.’
Many commentators believe the threats and commendations of the letters of Jesus to the seven Churches are applicable to all Churches at any stage of history, not just the historic ones at the time of writing.
If this is the case, the Church today must particularly be on the alert for evidence of these features within themselves: loss of first love, corruption by sexual sin and false doctrines, corruption by outside influences, lack of spiritual vitality, lukewarmness and self-deception.
We individuals making up these Churches and the watchmen must always point one another back to the Truth. We should encourage each other to remain strong in the faith.
Watchmen Are Not Perfect
All of us have fallen short of God’s glory, and if a watchman claims to have the answers to every theological problem he is obviously lying.
At times there have been those who have acted as watchmen but have been distracted by the world, or by their own circumstances, or by sin in their life, or just by growing weary of the struggle. Some have just gone blind to the dangers.
In his day, Jeremiah laid a sort of foundation for the gospel of salvation by trying to direct the people to the Truth, the Word of God.
Today the watchmen are still trying to do the same: to direct Churches and their leaders BACK to the Word of God, BACK to Jesus’ commandments, BACK to the apostles’ doctrine, BACK to a non-cultural preaching of repentance for salvation,and BACK to the need for Christians to live a life worthy of their great calling.
The question is: where does each of us stand? Sometimes the cry is: ‘Who does that hypocrite think he is?’ The answer is to stand our ground, as Paul tells Timothy, to rely on the Word of God, not our own understanding and keeping an honest conscience before God and all people.
Jeremiah Wasn’t all Negative
Jeremiah was called by God to plant and build as well as to warn. He was actually an evangelist as well as a prophet.
He proclaimed the truth of God’s Word as well as being a potent witness to the Gentile nations.
By declaring the wrath of God on all of His enemies he proclaimed that even although the Lord was going to punish Israel, eventually He was going to turn on those countries which had performed the violence.
The message for us today is that it is the watchman’s duty to declare the WHOLE counsel of God, His whole truth, not just the parts we think might appeal to the listeners.
I hope this is your attitude and that you will not be lulled into silence.