“Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillarand a bronze wall to stand against the whole land.” Jeremiah 1: 18
God promised Jeremiah to make him like an iron pillar. This was an indication that Jeremiah would be given inner strength to face the challenges, attached with the difficult mission he was called to do. God promised Jeremiah to make him emotionally and physically strong in life-threatening situations. That he should stand “against the whole land – against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land” (1:18). With few friends and uncertainty lurking over his own security, Jeremiah went onto fulfil his mission of proclaiming the destruction of Jerusalem, which was wrought by the sins of the people.
This image of inner strength represented by the iron pillar can also be extended further to indicate the support a pillar gives to any structure. When we see skyscrapers, we rarely give attention to its pillars. These pillars are often hidden, or are made to look attractive by painting or depicting some design on it. But these gigantic structures are built and stand tall solely on the support and strength lent by the pillars. If the pillars become weak, the whole building would simply collapse.
Jeremiah was made to be like an iron pillar; not only was he strong in midst of oppositions, but he was a support system to his fellow countrymen. Jeremiah used his strength to support and strengthen others. God himself was told Jeremiah, “Do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you” (7:16). But Jeremiah, moved by compassion, identifies himself with the people and prays, “Although our sins testify against us, O Lord, do something for the sake of your name” (14:7). This was the support he gave to the people, who were trying to slander his name and kill him.
This is the kind of Christian life that fulfils Jesus’ words – “you are the salt of this earth” (Mat. 5:13). Just like a pillar, salt also remains unseen and unassuming; yet, its presence is vital and its absence makes any food tasteless. Jeremiah lived like a pillar and salt. Though he warned people of the oncoming destruction, he plead with God for forgiveness and asked for His mercy. He did not want his countrymen to be destroyed or exiled. Whether the people realised this or not, Jeremiah upheld them like a pillar so that they would not be destroyed!
We as Christians are called to be like pillars, that possess internal strength to support others around us. Living a Christian life is not easy! Standing like pillars in our family, community and society, we can get overlooked or might even go unappreciated at times, but remember our presence is essential. We can live a pleasing life when we forgive others, suffer for our neighbours, and walk an extra mile for someone in need with our inner strength. The list can go on and on. This is exactly what Jesus meant when he said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16: 24).