Brisco analyzes the prophet Jeremiah
March 5, 2014
PLAINVIEW – Serving as the guest speaker for the Willson Lectures at Wayland Baptist
University, Dr. Thomas Brisco, Provost and Chief Academic Officer at Hardin-Simmons
University in Abilene, offered an in-depth look at the prophetic call of Jeremiah
in the Old Testament.
Speaking in the Tuesday night session, Dr. Brisco focused on the conflicts within Jeremiah’s life, beginning with his life-long isolation. Brisco said as part of the calling on his life, Jeremiah was isolated socially, politically, religiously and personally as he was unmarried and his own family shunned him. Brisco explained that this isolation was part of the prophetic call -- a 40-year journey in which time none of his prophecies came to pass.
Another source of Jeremiah’s conflict came from his prophetic attacks on the sacred temple. The temple had become a symbol of God’s covenant to the people of Judah. Jeremiah was attacking their belief that as long as they took care of the external issues in life, they could do what they wanted and still maintain the covenant with God. Jeremiah’s prophecies dealt with people’s personal issue, saying the temple would be destroyed.
These prophecies led to a conflict with false prophets who proclaimed that he was not a prophet at all since none of his prophecies had been fulfilled.
“What would you do if you worked for 35 years and had nothing to show for it?” Brisco asked. He compared Judah to modern times, saying “We are called by God, but we live in a broken world.”
Jeremiah’s final conflict was internal. In chapter 20 of the book of Jeremiah, he begins to explore the depths of his hurt and his feelings, cursing the day he was born. He questions God about his constant message of death and destruction that is met with nothing but derision and ridicule from the people. Yet, no matter how desperately he wants, he cannot escape his calling and he continues to preach his message.
Brisco said Jeremiah is eventually vindicated in the New Testament when Jesus asks the disciples who people think He is and they reply that some say He is Jeremiah.
On Wednesday, Brisco continued to look at Jeremiah’s call and how one can continue the work of God through difficult times. Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet, because even though he was called to preach a message of destruction, he did not wish destruction upon his people. Brisco described how Jeremiah was caught between an insistent God and a resistant people who would not listen. But despite all of the difficulty Jeremiah had to endure, the true purpose of his ministry was to bring hope to his people.
After God brought about destruction on his people by the Babylonians, He would use Jeremiah to build his people up once again. Brisco explained that God did not intend to leave them in ruin, but instead had plans to rebuild them and without God’s divine destruction there could not be restoration.
Brisco pointed out that God is all about relationships. His people can never be so far gone that they would be out of reach of God’s restoration. There is always a future for God’s people. However, that restoration often cannot happen without first experiencing destruction.
Using an analogy of a parent’s discipline, Brisco described how God sometimes must punish us in order to protect us from greater pain and suffering.
“Real love does not let people go in the direction of destruction without doing everything possible to stop them from pursuing that direction,” Brisco said, “and that’s the kind of love that God has for us.”