God spoke to Jeremiah in a time when those calling themselves prophets of God were giving messages of peace and comfort to people who had no intention of trying to serve God or ever turning from their sin. In this passage the Lord reveals the root of both the sin of the prophets as well as the lack of salvation among the people with one phrase: “If they had stood in my counsel.”
Two words in the phrase are of great significance: the word “stood” and the word “counsel”. “Stood”, is the Hebrew word “amad” which can also be translated, “continue”, “stay”, or “abide”. The word “counsel” in Hebrew is “sod”, which carries with it a connotation of privilege. It can also be translated, “secret session” or “familiar converse”, indicating a depth of relationship between the one being counseled and the Counselor. Some scholars have translated this word, “intimacy”.
The ramification of this is a strong admonition to those who claim to speak for God; The Almighty requires intimacy with His messengers. This passage is clear that the effectiveness of the prophet is directly related to his decision to live with his ear and heart tuned to the voice of the Most High. This requires time in His presence. It mandates a regular shutting out of the world and humbly waiting at the Throne of God for both the message and the power to proclaim it. Look at what God says would have happened if the prophets had sought Him: the people would have heard the words of God, and would have turned from their sinful acts as well as their sinful habits.
Preacher, does your preaching result in changed lives? Do you find yourself struggling to find things to preach? Do you spend a great deal of time seeking illustrations and ideas that will speak to the emotion of your listeners or gimmicks to engage their attention? Perhaps the question you need to consider is this: are you regularly alone with the Father? Are you listening to His voice and His voice alone? Are you waiting in His presence at His feet, or are you so filled with the importance of your own education, talent and agenda that you don’t have time?
The transforming power of God does not, and never will, come through human intellect, eloquence or ingenuity. God couldn’t care less about your knowledge, degree or skilled tongue. E.M. Bounds said it well, “…a pulpit without a closet will always be a barren thing.”
Grasp this truth: you have no business speaking for God if you are not daily speaking with God. The saving work of Jesus is a miraculous thing and can only be accomplished by miraculous means. God has never relegated His miraculous power to any vessel or messenger that was content to operate of his own accord. If our ministry and message come up short of the power of God, it may very well be that we have neglected the Presence of the One who called us in the first place. Close your books, clear your calendar and do what you need to do to find the “Secret Place of the Most High.” The salvation of those God has entrusted to your care may very well depend on it.
Pastor Chet Todd