The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.– Jeremiah 17:9-10
Jeremiah had a front row seat to the deceitful heart at work, and the conduct and deeds that spring from such a heart. He prophesied for 40 years to the southern kingdom of Judah, through five different Kings, but both he and his message…“repent and return to God or he will punish”…were rejected. He was thrown in prison, thrown into a cistern, taken to Egypt against his will, and rejected by family and false priests and prophets. Ultimately what happens? Judah falls, Jerusalem is destroyed and Jeremiah’s ministry ends.
But there is much to learn from Jeremiah’s character and the progression of his prophesy. His character is one of determination, endurance, perseverance, faithfulness and obedience in the face of external and internal opposition. Not for a season, not for a couple years when things were going well, but for 40 years he was on the battlefield. The book walks through his pain and frustration as he battles his own deceitful heart trying to pull him off mission with doubt and discouragement.
The progression of his prophesy is where we can really see the path of the deceitful heart and God’s warning. The first 20 chapters of prophesy are general and undated….keep this up and something bad is going to happen. Much like our own deceitful heart and sin. We think about consequences in general terms (if at all) to soften the blow of our actions. But then Jeremiah’s prophesy becomes very specific (Ch 39-45) and God lays out the destruction of Jersualem and aftermath in painstaking detail. He shows them specifically where the path of the deceitful heart leads. The same is true for us today – God will show the specific consequences of where our heart and conduct are leading us. But only if we pause to look and listen which takes us to our Call to Action- our Daily Battle Order.
Daily Battle Order:
What is one area of your life where your heart is deceiving you and your conduct is not where it should be as a man of God? Hint, hint – what are you keeping secret? Another hint – you can’t see what is going on in the picture when you are in it…ask someone else outside the picture this question.
What is the specific destruction that conduct will cause for yourself and others?
Who can step into that space with you?
Look at Jeremiah – courage and obedience takes time and are part of the journey, but the victory is found in developing a character more like God during the journey, not in the destination or destruction.