God had given Jeremiah a word, and Jeremiah was faithful to relay the message as it was given. It started out with a prophecy against Egypt, then against the Philistines. God continued to give prophecies against Moab, then Ammon, Edom, Damascus, and the Arabians. These nations, these people had rejected God, had fought against God’s people, and God let them know the consequences they would pay for going up against Him.
But then God gave a prophecy against Babylon, and I have to think this message wasn’t as easy to deliver for Jeremiah. The Babylonians were enemies of Israel, just like Egypt and the rest of them. But Matthew Henry reminded me that the king of Babylon had been kind to Jeremiah. There was a personal connection between the prophet and the king.
This is what Henry says about Jeremiah 50:1ff:
“Here is a word spoken against Babylon. The king of Babylon had been very kind to Jeremiah, and yet he must foretell the ruin of that kingdom; for God’s prophets must not be governed by favor or affection. Whoever are our friends, if, notwithstanding, they are God’s enemies, we dare not speak peace to them.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary of the Whole Bible; Zondervan Publishing,1961; page 1018)
I don’t know about you, but as much as I appreciate Matthew Henry’s insight into God’s Word, sometimes reading him is like reading a foreign language. I guess, if you were born in 1662 like he was, his vocabulary wouldn’t sound so strange. But for those of us living in the 21st Century, here’s what I get out of Henry’s old world vocabulary:
It’s not always easy to talk to the people closest to us about sin, about their need of the Savior. It’s not always easy to tell someone they are wrong, especially if that person is a really nice, good, upstanding person. And it’s hard to speak the Truth when we know we might offend someone we have a personal relationship with.
But Henry reminds us that all unbelievers, everyone who rejects God or ignores Him, anyone who thinks they are ok on their own, are enemies of God. The Bible is clear; you are either for God or against Him. There is no category of “nice guy” that cancels out our guilt of sin, and our need of Jesus.
Did you get what Henry said? God’s prophets, those of us entrusted with the Truth must not let our affection for someone prevent us from sharing the Truth. And if our loved one, or our sweet friend, or our kind neighbor, has not confessed sin and accepted Jesus as their Savior, WE MUST NOT TELL THEM EVERYTHING WILL BE OK.
We must not say of someone who rejects Jesus and dies, that they are in a better place. They are in a horrible place. More horrible than we can imagine. We must not say of an unsaved person who suffers a painful death that, well at least they are not in pain any more. Because the reality is they are in more pain than they ever experienced in this life. If we say otherwise, what message are we giving to those of our friends and family who have yet to accept God’s grace?
We must not tell someone who is rejecting Jesus, ignoring Him, living in sin, that their choices aren’t carrying severe, eternal consequences. We must not speak peace to a non-believer because, no matter how nice they are in this life, they are without hope without Jesus. They have no promise of peace, so we must not pretend that they do.
It’s not easy sharing the Gospel when that lost person is close to home. But aren’t those the people we love the most, the people we care for above all people?
Do you believe lost people go to hell? Look into the eyes of that lost loved one and see their eternity. Can you be as faithful as Jeremiah to deliver the Truth in spite of your personal feelings for that person?