‘Weeping Prophet’ also espoused hope – Odessa American


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In this painting by Italian artist Michelangelo, the Prophet Jeremiah is depicted in a state of melancholy over the captivity of his people and their long exile in Babylon. It is part of the panorama of Michelangelo's paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City. (Courtesy Photo)

Known as “The Weeping Prophet,” Jeremiah was also a very important one, husbanding Israel and Judah through their long enslavement in Babylon and writing two of the Old Testament’s key books, Lamentations and the one carrying his name.

The Revs. Curtis Benninghoff, John Bohacek and Mario Martinez say God called Jeremiah early in life, about age 17, and he was severely persecuted during his life from 650 to 570 B.C., ending with his martyrdom by stoning in Egypt.

“It was a perplexing time when the Israelites went into bondage for failing to honor the Sabbath,” said the Rev. Benninghoff, pastor of 7 Cities Church in Midland. “Jeremiah was not well-received, but he was true to the word. He was put into a pit with sewage up to his armpits and kept there for a duration of time.

“But even with the gloom and doom, there was a glimmer of promise because he was told that after 70 years the people would be coming out. God never left them without hope.”

Benninghoff said the most quoted passage in the Book of Jeremiah is 29: 11-13: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

The Rev. Bohacek, pastor of the Harvest Time Church of the Permian Basin, said the prophet “was extremely loved by the Lord.

“I’m not sure he was encouraged by the amount of people who responded to his message, yet he was one of God’s strongest prophets,” Bohacek said. “There are so many voices trying to distract us and gain our attention today, but he was not distracted.

“His message was one of hope and warning. The Israelites were getting away their destiny and God was trying to call them back. Jeremiah was faithful when God gave him a strong word and challenged him to execute that word. They called him the Weeping Prophet because his heart was so tender.”

Bohacek said Jeremiah tried for a time to resist God’s call but then realized he had to obey. “In Jeremiah 20:9, he says, ‘His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones,’” Bohacek said.

“‘I am weary of holding it in. Indeed, I cannot.’”

The Rev. Martinez said the prophet “is very significant because he gave the prophecies that were partially fulfilled in the Old Testament and in Jesus’s days and that we are waiting to be fulfilled in our days.

“We’re still totally affected by what he wrote about Jesus coming to reign for 1,000 years,” said the pastor of Genesis Christian Church. “He didn’t like most of the ways that God dealt with the people, but he was very obedient and was a suffering prophet.”

Citing Jeremiah 13:4-10, Martinez said, “He was told to dig into the ground and bury his belt, then when he went to get it after many days it was so rotten that he couldn’t tie his clothes with it any more. God said, ‘In the same way, the nation will be torn apart.’ It was very unpleasant for him as an Israelite himself, but as a messenger he had to tell the people.

“Because of God’s mercy, we are not consumed in the 21st Century. I like Lamentations 3: 22-23. Every time I see a sunrise, it reminds me that God’s grace is a new beginning. The mistakes of yesterday are gone and it is a new day. His mercy is new every morning.”

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