“Then I said, ‘I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name.” But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.” (Jer. 20:9).
A fire has been burning deep within the earth and anthracite coal fields of what used to be a small community called Centralia, Pennsylvania since May 27, 1962. The temperature exceeds 1000°F and emits poisonous gas. There has been no success in extinguishing the fire and eventually the whole town was evacuated in 2012. At this rate the fire will burn in the earth for another 250 years. This is quite a phenomena.
It is like what we see in this passage. Jeremiah does not want to preach anymore. He feels like a failure and no one is listening. One man said that Jeremiah is suffering, acute “prophetitus” because not only are there no results in his ministry but people are getting worse. God seems to be giving him no words of encouragement at all. Jeremiah said that he wanted to forget about preaching God’s words but there underneath the earth of his being there was a fire in his belly, a burning in his bones and he had to speak.
God told Jeremiah early in his ministry, ” I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.” (Jer 5:14). God also describes the characteristic of his word, “Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (Jer 23:29). The word was like fire and there was not some dichotomy, some separation from what was in his mouth and what was in his heart. The Word was a fire and He was on fire with the Word. The word in his heart was heaven birthed and nurtured and God deployed it from this man. He was made to do this. The more he held back- the pressure of the divine furnace in his bones began to force its way out of him. He was worn out from holding back what was in his heart-he had to speak it!
A Christian, especially a preacher should be a person on fire for God. This does not refer to melodramatic public speaking but they are men who have been touched by the Holy Spirit’s fire. A Christian is deeply affected by the permanent work of the Holy Spirit in the new birth and being made right with God by faith alone. Also, a person is deeply impacted by the baptism of the Holy Spirit as it comes with its life-giving wind and purifying fire. But there comes a time for some when they realize the call of God to gospel ministry and preaching is God’s will for them. There is nothing like it in the world. There is no vocation like it. You cannot think about doing anything else.
Those who have the call of God in their life to preach are precious and few. A man of God should be like a burning and shining light (John 5:35). When the Holy Spirit speaks through them after prayer and as they deliver the message their heart burns (Luke 24:32). The scripture is illuminated to them (Ps. 119:130), the anointing comes upon them (Isa. 10:27) and Christ speaks through them and elevates their words (Luke 21:15). They become soul doctor’s to the needy and weapons against the forces of the devil. Satan and his emissaries will cease at nothing to hinder these agents of the gospel and discouragement and depression are his most powerful tools against them (1 Thess. 2:18). Thus he must use the sword of the Spirit to battle against those forces personally (Eph. 6:17; Heb 4:12).
A gospel preacher is very serious about what he says in the Lord’s name and he expects others to take it serious. If the man behind the pulpit believes that what he says is only a sermon and he does not believe that he should let God speak through him he obviously has not taken his responsibility as a messenger of God seriously (1 Peter 4:11). They need to get on their knees in prayer and ask God for his mercy to reveal his message through them (Dan 2:18). God says, “And I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be speechless and unable to rebuke them, for they are rebels. But when I give you a message, I will loosen your tongue and let you speak. Then you will say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!…” (Ezek. 3:26-27NLT).
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