Oh, that my head were waters,
Today while studying Jeremiah 9, I was struck by a few things. First was Jeremiah's obvious distress. He basically says that his eyes would be like a fountain of tears if his head were full of water. That's a lot of crying. He was known as The Weeping Prophet for a reason. This tells me a lot about Jeremiah, the person:
The most interesting thing about Jeremiah for me is that he wasn't just a prophet for the Jews. He was a prophet for the nations (Jeremiah 1:5). God appointed Him to speak to ALL people. And thousands of years later, remarkable as it is, the book of Jeremiah is still doing exactly that. At least it is for me. The warnings in this book have seemed to parallel what our world is going through today, convincing me once again that ALL of God's Word (not just the New Testament) is relevant for Christians. Those who say we are not bound by the Old Testament and never bother reading it do themselves a disservice because, in the Old Testament, we find lessons we can take to heart and learn more about the ways of our unchanging God.
In Jeremiah 6:27, we are told that God has set Jeremiah as an assayer and strong tower among God's people. An assayer is someone who is an inspector of metals. He judges their value. So Jeremiah is out among the people, and he is assessing them. He knows they are unworthy, and God knows he knows. So God makes a decision and says:
Behold, I will refine them and try them;
How are metals tested? They are put through the fire to see how well they stand up. It's called a refiner's fire. In Revelation 3:18, Jesus says: “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich.” In my book He Who Has an Ear, Who the Seven Churches of Revelation are Today, I explained it this way:
To refine gold, it must be hot enough to burn away the dross or impurities. It is known as a “refiner’s fire,” and this is what Jesus was saying the Laodiceans needed to go through. They needed to be refined or tested so all the dross in them could be cleaned out. Then they would be truly rich. If there is one thing I have learned in life, it’s this: When God wants to deal with something about me, He knows I’m not seeing clearly or haven’t worked towards refining, I can be sure I’ll go through a trial. Of course, when those trials go on for months, one starts to wonder, “What am I not getting?” But it may simply be that the dross is gone, but God knows He has to “test the gold,” as it were, to see if it endures.
Jeremiah's people were about to be put through the refiner's fire. Not only would they be tested with the horrors of war (they would end up going into captivity for 70 years), but the land would also be put through the fire. God said:
I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins,
You may be wondering why God would punish the land. Jeremiah asked the same question, and God said it was because the people had forsaken His laws. They had not obeyed His voice or walked according to it (Jeremiah 9:13-14). Instead, they had walked "according to the dictates of their own hearts." Their sin polluted the land. So what was God's solution?
“Behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink.
What God was about to do in response to the unrepentant hearts of His people would be (essentially) bitter for them to drink or endure. Since they refused to obey Him or listen to Him anymore, He was not only going to bring destruction to Jerusalem and its surrounding cities, but He was also going to send them among the heathen nations (Gentiles) they had followed after.
How Does This Apply to Us Today?
Only the blind cannot see what is happening in the world today. We are rushing headlong toward God's judgment once again. Don't be surprised if you find your troubles in life increasing for those who know the Lord. Rejoice if they are because the Lord is preparing you for the future. All Christians will go through a refiner's fire at some point. Be strong, stand firm and you will come out shining like gold.
To those who do not know the Lord, consider this a warning. Jesus is coming again, and He will not be coming as a meek shepherd but as a righteous judge.
For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead." - Acts 17:31
God set Jeremiah as an assayer - to test the people to see if they were worthy. Today, we have an intermediary who stands before God on our behalf. His name is Jesus, and one day He will come again to judge the living and the dead. He alone will decide if we have stood the test and have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Will you be found worthy when He returns?