From Genesis to Revelation

Day 23: A Successful Failure?

Duncan Parlett

Each day of this devotional series, we will consider key moments in God’s glorious plan to redeem us. We will understand both the overarching story of God and the highlights of all He’s done for us in Christ.

One Last Prophet

The Kingdom of Israel reached its height under Kings David and Solomon. Soon after, the kingdom divided and God’s people increasingly turned away from Him. During those hard times, God sent His prophets all over His kingdom (and beyond) to preach and call people back to faithfulness. Before the heartbreaking Babylonian exile, God sent out one last prophet, Jeremiah. God gave him the hardest assignment of all. 

Last Chance

Persistent sin brings destruction, both personally and nationally. The Northern Kingdom deteriorated faster, and the Assyrians conquered and scattered them. The Southern Kingdom lasted longer, but they too eventually fell away from God.

For forty years, Jeremiah faithfully warned the people of Jerusalem that their sin was leading them to captivity and exile. No one responded. Was Jeremiah a failure?

Mission Impossible

Why would God call him to such a futile task? Jeremiah experienced profound rejection, loneliness, depression and discouragement. He was known as “the weeping prophet.” 

Today, we might consider Jeremiah a failure. No multicampus megachurch. No TV show. No best-selling book. Yet he obeyed God. He brought an unpopular and convicting message to a nation in decline. 


When I look at the culture I live in, I see similar patterns to Jeremiah’s day. The increasing rejection of God’s truth and His life-giving ways depresses me. Like Jeremiah, I want to weep. Can you relate? 

A Message of Hope

Yet to this “failure” of a prophet and these non-responsive people, God gave a beautiful vision. Yes, their sin drove them out of God’s promised land, but God would gather His people again. And further, through Jeremiah, God gives His people one of the clearest pictures of the promised new covenant in Christ. 

“‘I will put my law in their minds

    and write it on their hearts.

I will be their God,

    and they will be My people.

No longer will they teach their neighbor,

    or say to one another, “Know the Lord,”

because they will all know Me,

    from the least of them to the greatest,’

declares the Lord.

‘For I will forgive their wickedness

    and will remember their sins no more’”

                            – Jeremiah 31:33-34, New International Version

Jeremiah was a very successful “failure.”

Next: Despite the work of the prophets, the people in the Northern and Southern Kingdoms continued to turn away from the Lord. The Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom first. Then the Babylonians conquered the Southern Kingdom, carrying many into exile in Babylon. However, after 70 years of Israel’s exile, God was ready to reestablish His kingdom.


  • If you were called to preach for 40 years and knew ahead of time that no one would respond to your preaching, how would you react?
  • We tend to measure “success” in terms of results. Is that how God views us? Why or why not?
  • Have you had to endure a time of “no results”? What did God reveal to you during that time?

Going Deeper:

A Legacy of Changed Lives

See how students are making a lasting impact through summer missions with Cru.

©1994-2024 Cru. All Rights Reserved.