Imagine God revealing to you that there was a plot against your life, solely because you preached repentance to those around you. Imagine that those plotting against you were your childhood friends.
And not only your friends, but your family. For the prophet Jeremiah, this was a very real experience.
The Lord made it known to me and I knew;
then you showed me their deeds.
But I was like a gentle lamb
led to the slaughter.
I did not know it was against me
they devised schemes, saying,
“Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,
let us cut him off from the land of the living,
that his name be remembered no more.”
But, O Lord of hosts, who judges righteously,
who tests the heart and the mind,
let me see your vengeance upon them,
for to you have I committed my cause.
Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the men of Anathoth, who seek your life, and say, “Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord, or you will die by our hand”—therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: “Behold, I will punish them. The young men shall die by the sword, their sons and their daughters shall die by famine, and none of them shall be left. For I will bring disaster upon the men of Anathoth, the year of their punishment.”
How would you respond in the face of opposition on this level?
I truly don’t know how I would respond. I don’t know if I’d be tempted to recant or flee. My hope is that I, like Jeremiah, would persevere.
Jeremiah persevered as everyone around him rejected his words and plotted to kill him. All because he preached the truth.
I wonder if we sometimes forget how offensive the gospel is? That if we preach the truth, that Jesus Christ died in our place, for our sins and rose again, it is “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” (1 Pet. 2:8). Because the gospel shows us as we truly are—utterly lost, totally depraved and unable to save ourselves without God’s gracious and merciful intervention—it brinks what is in the darkness into the light. Our sins, both public and private are revealed for all to see. And when our sins stand revealed, we are left with two options: Repent or retaliate.
The Israelites would not hear, because they were hard hearted and rebellious. Will we be any different when God confronts us with our sins?
Will we, knowing the offensiveness of the gospel, boast in the cross of Christ, and persevere in the face of opposition?