Occasionally in Jeremiah’s ministry we can read the signs of a man under immense pressure. The evidence of severe stress, weariness and weakness show through. He comes to a point of spiritual collapse!
He is in such a condition at this point. In prayer he follows this line of thought:
- I have fed on your word and preached it faithfully, v16.
- This has led to rebuke and indignation for the Lord’s sake. Cp v15, 17-18. Loneliness, rejection, perpetual pain, incurable wounds, disappointed hopes…etc.
- Why…? is the question that wears heavily on his mind. How can this be so?
The Lord’s response is, Stick with the diet! Cp v19-21. This is the way to power and victory in his heavenly calling.
I THE EXPERIENCE OF THE BIBLE AS FOOD BELONGS TO THOSE CALLED BY GOD’S NAME.
- This is therefore the experience of the Christian. The child of God bears the identity of the Lord. They belong to Him. Those who do so must recognize a special relationship to the words of God. The have been brought into the family of God and bear His name by the word, 1 Peter 1:23, James 1:18. There is an ongoing need to feed on the word of God. Cp 1 Peter 2:1, Heb 5:13-14. This is what maintains the evidence of their identity.
- It is the necessary experience of the preacher. Jeremiah is specially speaking in the context of his calling to the ministry and speaking in God’s name. The man of God must give evidence of feeding on the word. Cp Ezek 3:1, 3, Rev 10:7-11. This involves more than a mere academic/intellectual study of the word—but an ingestion of it and growth by it etc as eating rather than studying food impacts the body. This is how God-honouring communication of truth occurs.
- It is a vital experience in the context of war. The context here is one of spiritual warfare—Lord of hosts. Jeremiah is intensely aware of the battle he is in and how it saps spiritual strength. Just as an army is said to march on its stomach, the Christian is enabled to wage this warfare by feeding on the word.
II HE HAD EATEN WHAT GOD HAD PROVIDED.
- Divine provision.Thy words…Thy word… There is a focus both upon the individual words of God and the collective unity of Divine revelation. This is what God has provided for the diet of His people. We must get to the words of God Himself for nourishment. The spiritual equivalent of fast food, over-processed food etc. has robbed the Church of vitality and health.
- He had come to the word. The word found has the idea of arriving at, coming to a certain experience. His course in life took him to the word—just as our path will lead us to the table at appropriate times. He looked for it, searched for it—and found it. The Christian is to be driven by an appetite for God and His truth.
- He ingested God’s word, v16. The metaphor of food reaches its climax here. I did eat them…The nutritional resources for spiritual health, life and strength, are found in the words of God and must be eaten. Cp John 6:63—like the manna, it must be gathered and eaten.
III THE JOY OF A SATISFIED SOUL.
- Personal satisfaction. Deep-seated, personal spiritual satisfaction. There is contentment to be had in a Biblical diet for the soul. The discontentment of today is an evidence that many have not found the delight of feeding on the word of God.
- Joy and rejoicing.Joy > ‘to leap, spring’. Rejoicing > ‘to have a happy face’. These terms concentrate our attention on the external expressions of an inward joy. Cp Ex 34:5-7. This revelation made Moses’ face to shine.
- This was the case though the food was in a sense bitter. Jeremiah, in eating God’s word, was taught concerning the nature and consequences of apostasy. This formed the heart of his preaching ministry. Cp 20:8. Yet it was still a sweet portion to him. Cp Ezek 3:3, Rev 10:9, Psalm 119:103. Communicating the word of God brought severe opposition and real hardship—yet he professes here a delighted acquiescence to God’s words. He did not refuse them as unpalatable as many do, John 6:60.
- Yet even these benefits are secondary. Strength, unassailable power and vigour to do the will of God as a man fashioned by God Himself is the result of continuing to feed on God’s truth. Cp v20-21.