I read an article in Psychology Today that discussed the art of constructive criticism and how to avoid combative encounters with people. The Sandwich Method was cited as a good way to avoid the defense mechanisms that arise in those of us who are on the receiving end. The suggestion was to ‘sandwich’ the meat of the criticism in-between two positive comments. Sounds like a great approach, right?
I don’t think the prophet Jeremiah read that article. God chose this young man from birth to deliver His messages to His covenant people. They were very simple: repent and return. The fact is, though, that God didn’t mince words or use the sandwich method very effectively. He told Jeremiah what to say and this prophet of God obeyed.
Then the LORD reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth! Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.” (Jeremiah 1:9-10 NLT)
It was a dark time in the history of the southern kingdom of Judah. The northern tribes had been dispersed to the nations by the Assyrians almost 200 years before and now Jeremiah’s assignment was to warn God’s people that a similar event was coming if they didn’t obey. They didn’t turn and repent and God did fulfill His Word. Jeremiah ends his messages, 52 chapters of them, with the fall of Jerusalem and the burning of the temple by the Babylonians.
Jeremiah may not have sandwiched his messages of rebuke but he did ‘sandwich’ Jesus in them. We find some of the most endearing prophecies of Christ in this book. Watch for the phrase, “the days are coming…” when reading the prophets; they usually have some aspect of Jesus in them.
• Jer. 16:14-15 tells us that Israel will not only return to her gifted land but will become a united kingdom again. They will prepare the city and the temple for the appearance of Messiah who we know to be Jesus Christ.
• Jer. 30 prophesies that Israel will be restored, not only land and people but also to prosperity. Even though there are still dark days ahead, the time of tribulation that Jesus spoke of in Matt. 24, God will arise on her behalf. Jesus will return as Warrior and King.
• Jer. 31 is a pivotal chapter. Jeremiah describes the New Covenant that God will make with Israel and therefore with all believers in Him. “I will be their God and they will be My people.”
Even though reading Jeremiah can be tedious and downright depressing, it is a necessary book that shows God’s heart of compassion and tenderness for His people. As a good Father, God allows us to make our own decisions in life but not without also allowing the consequences. Let’s learn from our mistakes and watch Him restore us when we, along with Israel, repent and return to Him.