Tales of the First Cancelled Person
By John A Carroll
Week 43 in the Word—October 22-28, 2021
Getting canceled is a frequent topic today. It comes from the collision of social media celebrity with the power of big tech to remove unacceptable voices and personalities from their online platforms.
For baby boomers, this was called “peer pressure” and usually did not extend much beyond our immediate schools and communities.
To cancel means “to withdraw one's support (for someone, such as a celebrity, or something, such as a company) publicly and especially on social media… the internet has canceled her over her alleged anti-black and homophobic past,” [See https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cancel].
The “cancel culture” is a recent development in our society, but it is nothing new. In my opinion, the first cancelled person lived more than 600 years before Christ.
His name? Jeremiah.
We read about him in the Old Testament books of Jeremiah and Lamentations. His story contains vital lessons for us who find getting cancelled or unfriended a real possibility.
Jeremiah grew up in a family of priests and he was called by God as a prophet to the kingdom of Judah and her capitol, Jerusalem. But he never aspired to be some national figure and, when called by the Lord, he felt completely inadequate (Jer. 1). God promised to be with him and make him equal to the hard task before him.
If his calling was hard, his message was worse. God gave him a dark and hated message—Judah and her capitol, Jerusalem, would be invaded and taken captive by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar and Babylonia. The authorities rejected his words and arrested him, first putting him in stocks and later leaving him sunk in the bottom of a muddy cistern. [Jer. 38:6].
How did Jeremiah respond to all this? He struggled to accept his difficult role but he held steady and obedient to relay the messages the Lord gave him for Judah and Jerusalem.
Did he hate the people who rejected him? Not at all. Rather, he grieved and wept for the sin of the people that would lead to their suffering.
In Jeremiah 8:21 he said,
“For the wound of the daughter of my people is my heart wounded; I mourn, and dismay has taken hold on me.”
He prayed for someone to heal them.
“Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of the daughter of my people not been restored?” (Jeremiah 8:22).
Reading on, we learn that there would be healing and restoration through a king who was to come from the line of David--a wise, just, righteous king, who would bring salvation and security to God’s people.
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land” (Jeremiah 23:5).
And the promises got better, as Jeremiah goes on:
“In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness’” (Jeremiah 23:6).
Centuries later the Apostle Paul would write: “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30) and “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jeremiah will later introduced the promise of a new covenant and one day Jesus would tell His disciples that it was made in His blood shed for them on the cross (Jer. 31:31-34; Luke 22:20).
Clearly, Jeremiah gave good news with the bad to Judah and Jerusalem. He was the weeping prophet, but we can be delivered from our tears because of the fulfillment of his message through the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Do you live with the pressure of being canceled for proclaiming the bad news of the law (all have sinned and stand under the wrath of God) and the good news of the gospel (the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord)? Let Jeremiah be an example to us, even if, like him, our vindication does not come until we enter the eternal kingdom of God.
Have a great week in the word and may God bless you (like that first canceled man) with hope and steadfastness amid threatening opposition.
Week of October 22-28, 2021
October 22/Day 295 Healing for Sin-sick Souls (Jeremiah 7-8; 1 Timothy 2)
October 23/Day 296 What a Church Leader Needs (Jeremiah 9-10; 1 Timothy 3)
October 24/Day 297 Danger of Neglecting God’s Word (Jeremiah 11-13; 1 Timothy 4)
October 25/Day 298 Competition for Glory (Jeremiah 14-16; 1 Timothy 5)
October 26/Day 299 Flee Idols; Worship God (Jeremiah 17-19; 1 Timothy 6)
October 27/Day 300 The Calling to Carry a Cross (Jeremiah 20-22; 2 Timothy 1)
October 28/Day 301 Christ, Our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23-24; 2 Timothy 2)
This schedule and devotionals are taken from my book Concealed and Revealed: a year in the old and new testaments. Available here.