So I have told you today, but you have not listened to the voice of the LORD your God, even in whatever He has sent me to you.
There are no fewer than three parties to any message: the sender, the deliverer, and the receiver. In the case of God’s messages, this trio is always played out.
The world is full of messages, but none of these messages ever really originates with the ones who deliver it. Not the true messages. Not the false. In one of Jesus’s confrontations with the Pharisees, He tells them that they are basically delivering the messages of Satan, because they are lying. The standard God set for believing a prophet was whether or not that prophet’s messages turned out to be true. Truth comes from God. Lies come from the other guy. Messages have a source. Jeremiah notes that it is the voice of the LORD that is being disobeyed by the folks who are about to do exactly what Jeremiah told them that God said not to do. Jeremiah, for his own part, probably does not really care where he goes, so long as God is in the mix. God is the One telling those folks to stay put.
Jeremiah also notes that he was sent. In order for a message to travel from source to destination, it must be sent. Today, we send messages over the airwaves with cellular phones and transmit longer missives via e-mail. We connect with anyone we like any time we like and say anything we like instantly. There was a time when distance communication was done primarily via letters. A message was carefully crafted and, in the time before the postal service, entrusted to someone the sender was reasonably certain was not going to mess it up. You had to trust that the person would carry your message and deliver it without opening it and changing it to suit themselves. If we were wiser (or more paranoid) we would still be concerned that our messages could be intercepted and changed. Because they can.
Lastly, a message has a recipient; an intended audience who should hear it. Jeremiah tells the people who asked him to talk to God on their behalf that the message is sent to them. Jeremiah was not planning to do what God had not told him to do, but these folks were.
The application is in three parts.
One, I need to examine the messages I receive every day. In the modern world, we are bombarded with messaging — there are whole firms that help businesses craft their messaging to ‘consumers’ (the shorthand for ‘sheep we intend to fleece out of their money’) — and not all of it (very little, in fact) is from God. I need to examine the messages being delivered to me.
Two, I need to examine the messengers. Some folks have a history of lying and I am not likely to believe them. Others more often tell the truth, so I should consider their words more seriously. Through it all, I must consider whether or not the one giving me a message is, as far as I am able to tell, a follower of God. The messenger must be trustworthy, or the message is in doubt. This can also be flipped and I can apply it as an examination of myself. Does my life hold up to scrutiny and can the message I deliver be believed based on the messenger?
Three, I need to determine whether or not I am the intended recipient. Not every message I receive is for me. Not every word spoken is applicable to my life. A feminine hygiene product advertisement, while aimed at society like s shotgun blast, is not meant for me. Likewise, messages for people who have used medications I have never even heard of are not meant for me. And sometimes, just sometimes, I think that the message God gives me is not meant for me, either. The message given to Jeremiah was not meant for the prophet, but for those to whom the prophet spoke. There are mornings that I sit and I read and I wonder why I am being reminded of something that I have heard from God before — sometimes heard often. Reminders are good, so it is mostly curiosity that makes me wonder. Sometimes, I think the reminder is not so much about me as it is about God wanting to speak that message new to someone else — someone who will hear that message from me in some way.