Hezekiah's great grandson was Josiah, who had a wicked father and grandfather. It was from Hezekiah's reign in Judah until the carrying away of Judah into Babylonian captivity that Jeremiah did most of his prophetic work. Were people any more receptive to the truth during the ministry of Jeremiah? Read a part of the divine commission given to the weeping prophet. The Lord said - "Therefore prepare yourself and arise, and speak to them all that I command you. Do not be dismayed before their faces, lest I dismay you before them. For behold, I have made you this day a fortified city and an iron pillar, and bronze walls against the whole land--against the kings of Judah, against its princes, against its priests, and against the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you, to deliver you" (Jer. 1:17-19).
The Lord forewarned Jeremiah of the difficult assignment. God did not paint a rosy picture of Jeremiah's work. It was going to be difficult. People were not going to appreciate what the Lord said through him. They would attack him. Thus, God made him tough to withstand the assaults made against him.
One of the great prophets during the Babylonian exile was Ezekiel. Did the people listen any better during his day? Were the people malleable and compliant as clay in the potter's hand in Ezekiel's day? Did they listen any better during their captivity than before it? Hear the divine commission given to Ezekiel:
"Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. For they are impudent and stubborn children. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD.' As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse--for they are a rebellious house--yet they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you dwell among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, though they are a rebellious house. You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you" (Eze. 2:1-8).
The Lord told Ezekiel that he was sending him to a rebellious nation and a stubborn people. Why send him if they were not going to listen? Why preach if people are not going to listen? The answer is simple, and it is still true today. Preachers are duty-bound to preach the truth whether people accept it or not. They must do so in order to be faithful to God! As Paul told Timothy - "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables" (II Tim. 4:2-4). Marshall Keeble used to say that the expression "in season and out of season" meant to preach it when people want it and when they don't. We pray that men will have honest and good hearts (cf. Luke 8:15), but there will be some who will not receive the word, or having received it for a time, will fall away (cf. Luke 8:10-14).
Think of the apostle Paul and all that he endured to preach the gospel of Christ (e.g., II Cor. 11:23-28). No one that I know of has had to endure what Paul did in order to preach the gospel. He finished the work the Lord set before him, and so must each gospel preacher do likewise today!
May all who preach the gospel of Christ be strengthened in doing what is good; may we not faint (cf. Gal. 6:9)! The prophets of old, the apostles, and Jesus Christ endured persecution, even death, in order to preach the truth to others. They are examples for us to follow. God's preacher is to preach the truth, regardless of whether people accept it or not. Preach the word; don't quit!