Jeremiah 15 and the restoration of prophetic responsibility

Marko Joensuu         No comments

Studying Jeremiah 15 well and applying its lessons in practice is key to the restoration of the prophetic movement. 

The last few years have seen many failures in the prophetic movement, but as response, there has been more effort in attempting to move the goalposts rather than admitting failure and seek restoration. 

Jeremiah 15 is a key text in the Bible regarding the prophetic process and responsibility, and although there is a difference between the function and authority of the Old Testament and contemporary prophets, the dynamics of the Holy Spirit’s work in us and through us haven’t changed, and God never lies. 

Verse 1 says, 

“Then the Lord said to me: Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn towards this people.” 

Here, Moses and Samuel represent the Law and the prophets. The implications are clear – both the Law and the prophets demand the destruction of Judah, Jerusalem and the Temple as judgment. 

The prophetic word about the impending destruction continues, and it is a hard word to share, not simply because of the negative response from the people, but also as Jeremiah is prophesying the destruction of his own nation, and he himself came from a priestly family.  

In verse 10 Jeremiah says, 

“Woe is me, my mother, that you ever bore me, a man of strife and contention to the whole land! I have not lent, nor have I borrowed, yet all of them curse me.” 

Jeremiah has become an object for cursing, and many regular people would have thought that he was a false prophet. 

In verses 11-12 the Lord says, 

“Surely I have intervened in your life for good, surely I have imposed enemies on you in a time of trouble and in a time of distress. Can iron and bronze break iron from the north?" 

Jeremiah was born in the village of Anathoth, northeast from the Old City of Jerusalem, so it is possible that “iron from the north” has a double meaning as a reference to unmixed iron coming from near the Black Sea and Jeremiah’s personal history.  

Jeremiah’s words will break the mixed words by other prophets who had mixed bronze with iron and not relied only on the Lord. It seems that God has no time for Jeremiah’s protestations, as He immediately adds to the words of destruction. 

Verses 13-14 say,  

“Your wealth and your treasures I will give as plunder, without price, for all your sins, throughout all your territory. I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you do not know, for in my anger a fire is kindled that shall burn for ever.” 

Verses 15-18 which account Jeremiah’s response are critical, as they document the stumbling block for most prophetic ministries. 

“O Lord, you know; remember me and visit me, and bring down retribution for me on my persecutors. In your forbearance do not take me away; know that on your account I suffer insult. Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts. I did not sit in the company of merrymakers, nor did I rejoice; under the weight of your hand I sat alone, for you had filled me with indignation. Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail.” 

When we begin to receive prophetic words from the Holy Spirit, it is a time of excitement. But sharing them faithfully will always have consequences, as there will be opposition from demonic forces and people. 

At this point, Jeremiah was no more willing to share God-given words faithfully. Perhaps he also wanted to begin to mix bronze with iron. 

Oftentimes, prophetic ministry leads to loneliness and lack of popularity, and this is a price that not everyone in the prophetic ministry wants to pay.  

But the prophetic responsibility is not always joyful. The excitement that comes from receiving the words of the Lord can be addictive, but there are times God is asking us not to operate out of excitement but out of obedience. 

The Lord answers in verses 19-21,  

“If you turn back, I will take you back, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall serve as my mouth. It is they who will turn to you, not you who will turn to them. And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, says the Lord. I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.” 

The only way the prophetic ministry will maintain its integrity is in the place of willingness to pay the price of loneliness. Are we compromising the prophetic word because of the need for popularity and its benefits? 

What is noteworthy is that in God’s eyes Jeremiah is already walking away from Him, and He is asking Jeremiah to repent and turn back. And herein is our hope: if Jeremiah was able to turn back, we are also able to turn back. 

For our benefit, Jeremiah has documented for us the desperate moment he had before God. There is not even a hint that this would have been a public moment. Jeremiah had not yet uttered a false prophecy. But God showed him the moment when he was about to begin to share worthless words that were the product of his own imagination rather than an outcome of a deep encounter with God. 

What Jeremiah 15 says is that we need to stop mixing bronze with iron. It might be that, initially, no one else will see the difference, but we know the difference. We need to stop mixing our words with God’s words and know the difference between them. 


Published by Marko Joensuu

Marko Joensuu has worked for over sixteen years in the publishing and media ministries of Kensington Temple. He is an author, publisher and screenwriter.
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