God warned Jeremiah that there were men in his community who threatened to kill him if he didn’t stop prophesying against them. It wasn’t because Jeremiah was a false prophet. They knew that he was prophesying in the name of the Lord. It was because they didn’t want to hear the truth. And they didn’t want to hear it from one of their own. Anathoth was Jeremiah’s hometown and just as the people of Nazareth rejected Jesus, the people were rejecting Jeremiah. They didn’t like what he had to say and they didn’t appreciate it coming from a member of their community.
Jesus said, “A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house” (Matthew 13:57). When the people heard what He had to say, they were filled with wrath, rose up and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff (Luke 4:16-30). This was the Son of the carpenter, who was He to talk to them like this? Same thing with Jeremiah. Who was he to be telling the people these terrible things?
These people are much like some of us today. We are doing things that are contrary to God’s Word and when God sends someone to point this out to us, we get upset. We don’t like what they are saying. It makes us uncomfortable. It hits too close to home. We would rather hear what we want to hear instead of what we need to hear. We don’t want to hear the truth. It hurts. It cuts into us like a knife. Some of us have cherished sins we don’t want to give up.
The men of Anathoth loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil (John 3:19). In order to hold onto their sinful and corrupt desires, they were willing to go as far as killing God’s prophet. However, God was not about to let them get away with anything. He was going to punish them. This teaches us that we are to obey God and leave the consequences to Him. We are not to allow people to intimidate us into keeping quiet when we have a message to share or work to do for the Lord. We do what we are called to do and let God take care of the rest.
Jeremiah spoke the truth no matter the cost. We need to do the same. When we see someone doing something wrong, we need to say something instead of keeping quiet because we don’t want to ruffle features or upset the person. And when someone tells us the truth, we ought to swallow our pride and listen. Remember this person might have been sent by God to straighten us out and if we reject what he or she is telling us, we are really rejecting Him.
Bottom line: Don’t be afraid to speak the truth. Don’t be afraid to hear the truth.