Seminary Viewpoints

How to Face Opposition with Jeremiah’s Model for Ministry

Steve Hankins | March 31, 2022
Theology Thursday

Adapted from Steve Hankins’ Seminary chapel message and discussed on The Steve Noble Show on March 31.

Opposition from our broken culture is an increasingly discussed topic among believers. However, facing opposition should not surprise us. Men and women throughout the Bible have faced the same struggles and even danger we do because of following God. Think of Noah, Moses, Joseph, Daniel, John the Baptist, the apostles, and even Jesus. With biblical record of many who have faced similar situations, we can continually learn how to face opposition.

Take Jeremiah, for example. Even as the Chaldeans held Jerusalem under siege for a second year, Judah wasn’t listening to Jeremiah’s when he warned of God’s coming judgment and their inability to successfully resist defeat and captivity. Jeremiah was then imprisoned for proclaiming doom and gloom. And on top of all that, he didn’t understand why God had told him to buy property in an area already controlled by the Chaldeans.

In the midst of the metanarrative of God’s judgment and restoration of Israel, Jeremiah’s model for ministry in Jeremiah 32 teaches us how to face opposition today.

Have Courage in the Face of Serious Opposition (1-5)

Ministry takes courage. I think we experience the apprehension of proclaiming truth to an unhearing audience, but imagine how much more courage it took Jeremiah to tell them to give up resisting their oppressors. Not only did Jeremiah need courage for that, he desperately needed courage during his confinement — especially since he could have lost his life.

Commit to Immediate and Complete Obedience (6-15)

Jeremiah’s prior commitment to immediate and complete obedience enabled him to have that courage for ministry. God told Jeremiah to buy property in his hometown, a mind-boggling command considering the Chaldeans already controlled the area. Moreover, he already knew Jerusalem would fall, followed by a 70-year captivity (Jer. 29:10). Even though he didn’t understand why, Jeremiah bought the land without hesitation and signed an irrevocable deed. Then he proclaimed to Judah God’s words that houses, fields and vineyards would be bought again. Without prior commitment to obey, Jeremiah’s confusion would have prevented him from buying the land and faithfully prophesying to an unbelieving people.

Pray Fervently to Understand God’s Actions (16-25)

However, Jeremiah didn’t settle for confusion. Instead, he prayed fervently that he would understand God’s actions — one of many prayers in the Old Testament that help us grasp the importance of prayer and model it for us. Before questioning God, Jeremiah praises Him. He reminds himself of his great confidence in God’s character, expressing to God his belief that nothing is too difficult for Him and that He had done marvelous things for His people all throughout history.

See Your Need for Growing in Faith (26-44)

Once Jeremiah prayed and God responded about the reason for the purchase, I think Jeremiah realized he needed more faith. Even though Jeremiah expressed that nothing is too difficult for God, He essentially asked Jeremiah, “Do you really believe?” He did, but not enough. God showed him that his weak faith did not fully grasp God’s power to do what He promised, though unexplainable.

Are You Following Jeremiah’s Model for Ministry Today?

Jeremiah was a man used by God, just like us, and we can imitate those aspects of his ministry. So consider:

Do you have courage? Being limited and in the minority is difficult for everyone, including Jeremiah, but God calls us to “be strong and courageous” (Josh. 1:6) as we carry out His will. He did not give us “a spirit of fear” (2 Tim. 1:7) but one of courage to proclaim truth to our cancel culture.

Have you committed to obedience so that confusion won’t deter you? As finite beings, we will never fully grasp the perfect ways of our infinite God, so resolve now to follow His will taught to us in His Word, no matter what.

Do you pray when you don’t understand? Immediately express your trust and adoration of God and seek His wisdom and understanding when you are confused. Make it your reflex.

Does your faith need growth? Continually read and remind yourself of God’s power and promises, then hope and rejoice in them! By viewing the past, present and future with the eyes of faith, we can better see light in present darkness, sadness and confusion. As Jeremiah, who faithfully and joyfully ministered to Judah in a dark time in their history, we can be strengthened by joy to serve our broken culture today.