“The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 2 “Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house and proclaim there this word and say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah, who enter by these gates to worship the Lord!’” 3 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place.’” - Jeremiah 7:1-3
God asked Jeremiah to stand in the gate of His house and proclaim a message to His people. Unfortunately, this was not a once and done presentation that Jeremiah was asked to speak. For the next forty years, Jeremiah would preach the same basic word from the Lord – turn from your idolatrous ways. Don’t worship the false god, Baal, but instead repent and worship the One, True God of Israel.
We could look into the words of Jeremiah’s message, but even before that, I am struck by the circumstance in which Jeremiah was called! What a daunting task the Jeremiah was charged with! In a way, it reminds me of hellfire and brimstone preaching. Though this might not be the most effective method of evangelism in our era today, even for Jeremiah, after being called specifically by God to do it, the people just kept on walking by and ignoring the caution to repent.
CALLED TO SHARE
Standing in a gate does not seem very appealing. You’re neither truly inside being apart of what’s happening or outside doing something else. It makes me think of our door greeters on Sunday mornings. Their job is to stand at the door and welcome people as they come in, but instead of happily greeting them, they would be shouting at them to change their wicked ways. That would not be so pleasant.
However, I believe that just like Jeremiah was called to stand in the gate and share a message from the Lord, we are all called to share God’s message. Thankfully, for most of us, our mission will look much differently than Jeremiah’s and have a much better outcome (The Israelites ended up in captivity after ignoring Jeremiah for 40 years. Yikes!).
But what can be learned from the Prophet Jeremiah and his outrageous assignment? OBEDIENCE! Over the course of 40 years, Jeremiah was obedient to be a Messenger of God, even when it was tedious, when his own life was in jeopardy, and even when literally no one listened to him.
This may be going on a bit of a rabbit trail, but it is an important one for me at this point in my life. It is easy to consider what it would look like to live in a different house or work a different job or attend a different church. It often seems like different would be better or easier than staying where you are. And it could be, but we have to ask: is that what Jesus is asking us to do? It is not always easy to stay where you are and sometimes it’s just as difficult to move as He leads, but ultimately, obedience is what the Lord is asking for.
I will be honest; there are a lot of changes happening in my life right now. There are growing pains in my family, and loss, there are some major modifications at work, there are various trials that our loved ones are suffering and that weighs on us, there are unexpected financial demands… I could respond in a lot of different ways and I could make many alternate plans. But God is asking me to stay put (to stand in the gate, if you will), even though it is tough and even when there are other enticing options.
STAND YOUR GROUND
Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever struggled with being obedient where God has placed you? Do you see grass that looks greener and speculate or desire? If so, you’re not alone. I hope that you will find solace in the fact that others have been in the same place where you are. And I pray that while you wrestle with these things and wait for the Lord’s clear direction for the decisions you’re facing in your life, you will stand your ground at your gate and focus on being obedient regardless of the outcome.