Tough Job

Jeremiah had a difficult gig. He was a priest and prophet during the days leading up to Judah’s demise and deportation by Babylon in 586 BC. Most of his sermons and prophecies concerned the impending doom. As a result, he was unpopular: “I never sat in the company of revelers, never made merry with them; I sat alone because Your hand was on me and You had filled me with indignation” (Jer. 15:17). His loneliness compounded when God told him he could not marry, either: “You must not marry and have sons or daughters in this place” (Jer. 16:2). Why no wife and kids? God tells him what was about to happen; the consequence of Judah’s faithlessness: “They [parents and kids of that generation] will die of deadly diseases. They will not be mourned or buried but will be like refuse lying on the ground. They will perish by sword and famine, and their dead bodies will become food for the birds of the air and the beast of the earth” (Jer. 16:4). Now you know why he “sat alone.”

But it was not Jeremiah who had the problem; it was the people. God said of them: “The Word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it” (Jer. 6:10). But the people hung their hat on going to “church” anyway. In fact, they were quite proud that they did: “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord” (Jer. 17:4)! But saying the name of the building three times revealed their allegiance was to the place and not to the deity. Call it hypocrisy or call it formalism; but don’t call it worship. Jeremiah would note this later to God: “You are always on their lips but far from their hearts” (Jer. 12:2).

A couple weeks back I was at a school function for one of our children. While there, I chit-chatted with another father at our table who I just met. I asked him what he did. He said he was a bread delivery driver. I commented that probably meant early mornings for him. He said it did. A few minutes later he followed up with the obligatory question: “What do you do?” After telling him I was a pastor, he fired back: “I have a tougher job than you.” He wasn’t joking when he said it. I figured there was something behind his comment but I didn’t ask. I just went back to picking at my taco salad and tried not to be offended by the exchange. But my mind was working overdrive wondering why he thought delivering Ho-Ho’s and hotdog buns was harder than getting to a place each week with a piece of Scripture where you can say: “Thus saith the Lord.” But I digress.

Maybe he does have a harder job. We don’t need to get into a spitting contest over it, though. What is undeniable is that Jeremiah had one more difficult than the both of us. He preached to a people that said the right things but did none of them.

From the pulpit, that does not characterize the people I look upon each Lord’s Day. And for this I am grateful. So maybe the bread delivery guy was right—his job is harder. He has to deliver bread that he knows even when eaten, people will hunger again. It also grows stale. Whereas I get to deliver each week something far greater and more satisfying, preaching the One Who said: “I am the bread of life…the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die” (John 6:48, 50). And He never grows stale.

Pastor Rich Hamlin
November 17, 2011              

1 comment

  1. Quite contrary to the bread mans comment, I believe that being called by God to preach His glorious gospel each and every week, teach and proclaim the truth of His Word to an unbelieving world (Jeremiah) and to shepherd His people is the most difficult vocation a man can have but also the most fulfilling. Thank you Pastor Rich for answering that call and ministering to God’s people for the last 15 years. May God continue to bless, strenghten and encourage you day by day.

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