Job is a primary example of a man who unjustly suffers. Through it all he questions God, but never casts off his faith and trust in God. He says “although you (God) slay me, yet will I trust you.” I would argue that Jeremiah is another one of 12 fear godthose guys. I like the way Constance summarizes Jeremiah’s mission for us. He writes, “Young in years he had nothing of a promise of comfort, ease, or honor (of that which comes from man). On the contrary, the Lord assumed that Jeremiah’s life-work would be bitter, hard work, thankless, repulsive, experiencing opposition; and the only consideration given him for so much hardship and suffering was, ‘I am with you … to deliver you.’[1] In Jeremiah 1:17 God speaks to Jeremiah, “But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them.” God is preparing Jeremiah for the conflict he will meet in life. He knows there will be conflict and much pain for Jeremiah.

The phrase “dress yourself for work” is literally “Gird up your loins.” Ryken says, “Today Jeremiah would be told to roll up his sleeves or to put on some sweats and lace up his sneakers. Back then God told him to hike up his robe and tuck it into his belt so it would not get in his way.”[2] Willis says, “This is the language of war, of military preparation. Jeremiah is to expect a hostile audience. They will consider him a threat to their religious beliefs and wish to silence him, so he must be ready for a fight.”[3] The presence of God is Jeremiah’s comfort and encouragement just as the presence of God was Joshua’s basis for being strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9). Cowards don’t willingly stand in hostile environments. Jeremiah proved to be no coward!

The last verse is a bit disturbing. God says that if Jeremiah allows the opposition to terrify him, God will terrify Jeremiah even more. What does he mean by this? I would argue that God is simply reminding Jeremiah of the ultimate truth that you either have reverence for God and trust Him and His word or you will be on your own in a hostile world. You only have two options. You either fear God or you fear everything else. God has a plan and a purpose for everyone’s life, not just Jeremiah! Thankfully our mission is not one of physical suffering like Job’s and Jeremiah’s, although it for some Christians in other parts of the world. We live in the land of the free where we can take Jesus off the shelf of world religions and offer Him to the world for who He really was and is! There will be discomfort! There will be social ostracism but gird up your loins, there is still a battle going on.

[1] Mrs. T. M. Constance, Jeremiah, vol. 1 (Dickson, TN: Explorer’s Bible Study, 1978), 10.

[2] Philip Graham Ryken, Jeremiah and Lamentations: From Sorrow to Hope, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2001), 33.

[3] Timothy M. Willis, Jeremiah/Lamentations, College Press NIV Commentary (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 2002), 38.