Tag Archives: Jeremiah

Morning Thoughts (Jeremiah 12:5)

Jeremiah 12:5, "If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?"

This morning, the world sometimes gets fuzzy-headed notions that regrettably creep into the church.  Since all of us still share in being a part of fallen creation, none of us are immune to wrong thinking in this world.  Have you ever heard someone say, "If things get rough, I'll hang tough" or "Some might fall, but I'll keep going" during an easy time?  Have all of us ever uttered similar sentiments?  All too often, these statements are made with the following two circumstances: 1. they are made when things are going well, 2. they are made even though little problems are not handled very honorably.  There is something in the pride of man that likes to think that he will shine above and beyond when no one else will, and though none of us knows for sure how we will react to some mammoth problem or towering adversity, we can glean some Biblical insight about ourselves and those possible future situations.

Jeremiah had perhaps one of the hardest "preaching assignments" known to man.  He prophesied in Judah before and after the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of foreign Babylon.  He dealt with some of the most stiff-necked mentalities that a man has ever had to face in ministering God's word.  Through it all, the Lord blessed him in spite of some horrible outward circumstances.  Jeremiah was imprisoned, impoverished, despitefully used, and even double-crossed at times.  Though Jeremiah had moments of despondency and sorrow, he still faithfully served the Lord in spite of the hardships.  In our study verse, Jeremiah draws our minds to a very important principle of life that he had, no doubt, learned not just intellectually but also experientially.

If someone has never been in a war, there is an old saying from war veterans that states, "You never know for sure how you will react when that first bullet flies over your head."  As one who has never engaged in a bloody conflict of that sort, I must confess that I cannot answer with absolute certainty what I would do exactly in such a situation.  However, our Lord tells us faithfully in His word through verses like the one before us that how we handle certain situations is a good litmus test on how we will handle other situations.  Jeremiah draws the people's mind to two natural analogies.  The first analogy deals with different phases of a battle, while the other analogy deals with a contrast between war and peace.  In a nutshell, how we handle peace will be the manner in which we handle war.  In the way we handle one phase of the battle, we can have some assurance of handling the other phase of the battle the same way.  If honorably in one, then honorably in the other.  If dishonorably in one, then dishonorably in the other.

Let us begin with the second analogy and move into the first.  Jeremiah says that if we get weary in the land of peace where trust is found how can we expect to make it in the swelling of Jordan (wartime or time of trouble)?  That makes sense logically, yet so often we fail to look at things in that way.  For example, if someone cannot handle an assignment while in a vacuum and no outside hindrances, how could they hope to handle it when things are crowding in and the pressure mounts?  One of the things that good trainers attempt to do is accurately stage and mimic the circumstances of a contest or war during practice.  The mindset is simply this, "If you can handle it the way we throw it out at you, then you should be able to handle it when you are actually going through it."  So, a sergeant will stage a battle scene in training that has gunfire, explosions, etc. so that the troops will not experience those things for the first time in the real life battle.

Jeremiah's point is that people cannot hope to survive a war or time of trouble when they get weak and weary during a time of stillness and peace.  I fear that in this great nation in which we live our people generally do not know how to survive a time of trouble for the simple fact that they get weary during these times of peace and prosperity.  The great generation in this land that will soon leave us completely knew what it was like to survive a Great Depression and a World War.  They knew what it was like to meet national and international adversity head-on, and they still conducted themselves honorably – in a general sense.  No they were not perfect, but they handled that crisis in a generally honorable fashion.  Contrast that with the last 50 or so years.  The succeeding generations have handled some wars rather haphazardly, and the personal lives and health of the nation have also followed suit.  What if another Great Depression or World War broke out?  How would the nation, individuals, churches, families, etc. respond?  If in time of peace we have been wearied, how can one hope that we would not just falter and fail completely during a time of trouble?

Moving into the first analogy, consider a phase of battle.  Jeremiah says that if one cannot stand up with the footmen, then there is no real hope that he could survive the cavalry.  Consider the tactics of war, particularly from that time period.  After the opposing armies had engaged somewhat, the purpose of the cavalry was to exploit and break through any of the holes that the footmen had made.  So, what was the goal of the army before the cavalry rode down upon them?  The hope was that they would have little to no holes for opposing forces' horses to ride through.  If the holes were small to non-existent, the cavalry’s success would be greatly diminished.  If the footmen had been effective enough, the cavalry could break through.  If the footmen had been more than successful, the cavalry would absolutely cut whatever lines of men that were left to splinters.

Jeremiah's point is not that the cavalry has enough holes to break through.  Jeremiah's point is that the people have not stood up to the infantry at all, and therefore, the cavalry horses would cut what is left all to pieces.  When Satan comes calling in our lives, he does not start with the "big things" (horses).  He starts with the "little things" (footmen).  By doing so, the aim is to exploit our defenses sufficiently for the big things to pass through.  How is it today?  Today – as we previously stated – we have had times of rest, peace, etc. like no other.  Times have not been nearly as tough as they have been in days gone by, yet how have we stood up to the ploys of Satan?  Sadly, our lines look like we have been through a ravaging war rather than a time of extra-special peace.

I have no doubt from Scripture that things are going to continue to get worse.  Paul assured Timothy of that in II Timothy 3.  However, no matter how badly things generally get, we can still stand honorably during the times of trouble.  Nationally, we may crumble and fall.  Churches may – regrettably – close their doors for complete unfaithfulness to the Master.  However, let us never delude ourselves into thinking we will do better than others have if we have ample and sufficient evidence that we will not.  As I personally ponder my daily warfare and walk of discipleship, I see littered about many failures with the footmen.  I see much weariness in the land of peace.  If the pattern does not change, can I reasonably hope that my decorum will be better and more honorable with the horsemen or a swelling tide?  No I cannot.

Brethren, there is no way that I would compare myself to Jeremiah (and I frankly shudder when men compare themselves and this generation with Jeremiah and that generation).  However, the principle that Jeremiah espouses here is not only universal, but it is timeless as well.  If we have been faithful in little, we can hope that we will be faithful in much.  However, the converse is also true.  Let us who know the truth rearm ourselves for the fight.  Let us handle the small things honorably.  Let us meet the many little ploys of Satan in full, unbroken fashion.  During times of peace and practice, may we work up buckets of sweat to prevent gallons of blood being spilled in battle.  One of the ways that I am very much unlike Jeremiah is I have been given no vision or prophecy of the future in the land I live.  Jeremiah was plainly told by God what would happen, and he just as plainly declared that word to the people.  I do not know the future.  It feels and has the sense that things will get worse and much worse.  However, no matter what happens, may we as individuals, families, and churches stand united against the forces of darkness.  May we use these times of peace to stand honorably.  Then, no matter what comes may our honour in these times yield sufficient hope that we will stand equally solid in times of impending trouble.

In Hope,

Bro Philip

Morning Thoughts (Jeremiah 23:7-8)

Jeremiah 23:7-8, "Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land."

This morning, man likes to think and dwell upon things other than the present.  Oftentimes, man thinks longingly about the "good old days” of the past or thinks with heightened anticipation toward the future.  By falling into either of these two pits, he therefore misses the here and now of today and fails to use and redeem the time as Scripture commands us to do. (Ephesians 5:19) Quite often, the past is thought about because some aspect of former things seems better than today.  The future is thought about because some aspect of that is expected to surpass what goes on today.  While it is important to consider the past so that previous mistakes are not repeated, dwelling in the past can hinder our walk today.  Likewise, things are coming that are better than right now – heaven and immortal glory being the chief of those things – but constantly thinking about the future will similarly hinder our walk today.

How many times do well-meaning Christians pine for the events of yesteryear as recorded in Holy Writ?  How many times have people remarked how great it would be to see the Red Sea part, watch David kill Goliath, or talk with Christ and His apostles in the first century?  Truly, being able to enjoy such times and seasons would be a great blessing, but constantly thinking about them as somehow better than our present situation impedes our ability to appreciate the wonderful blessings of our Lord in our lives today.  Consider how the Lord is known throughout time.  While He never changes (Malachi 3:6), He is prominently known in different ways throughout human history.

When the patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – arrived on the scene of history in Genesis, God was known as their God.  After Moses came, He was known as the God that delivered Israel out of Egypt.  For many centuries, that was the prominent moniker that people used for God.  However, as our study verses show, that particular identifier for God was soon to be replaced with a different statement as the most often used to describe Him.  This does not imply that God has changed but something much more significant would occur to supersede the general perception of Him.

In Jeremiah's day, God was dealing with His children in Judah rather severely in chastisement for their continually wayward behaviour from Him.  Jeremiah would prophesy and live to see the ruin of the nation at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon.  While going through these things, it would be natural for people to think that God had forsaken the very people that He brought up out of Egypt centuries before.  While that was not the case – they had in fact forsaken Him and not the other way around – people would generally think so.  So, God gives Jeremiah a prophecy about this change of perception toward Him and how He was described.  Would this change the fact that God was the One who brought them out of Egypt?  No, but that would not be the first thing people thought about when considering this Almighty One.

A time was coming in which people would refer to God as the One that brought back His people from the north country and gathered them together from the places whence they had been scattered.  Just as surely as God had said they would go into captivity, He just as surely promised that they would return again after 70 years.  God's mercy would be seen and perceived by general description as having brought them back again.  Though Jeremiah and others would never live to see it, it was still true and sure by God's own word.  However, this gathering together unto Him was simply a natural occurrence that Biblical history records during the days and writings of Ezra and Nehemiah.

Even though that natural gathering would literally happen some 70 years later, it pointed in short term to something more powerful and far-reaching in the long term.  Oftentimes, some are prone to think that God will at some future time (yet still future for us today) gather together natural Israel here on the earth for some great purpose.  Generally, the purpose is promoted as an ingathering of natural Jews to the truth of the gospel shortly before the end of time.  While there are Scriptures that can be used to intimate such an idea, Scripture seems to record a greater tenor – particularly in the New Testament – that this present age is marked less by such natural parameters.  Rather, God interacts with people based on inward, spiritual factors and their obedience rather than some natural characteristic that they possess. (Ephesians 2:13-15, Romans 2:28-29, Colossians 3:10-11)

Scriptures like our study verses can sometimes be employed by people to teach some future Jewish revival and ingathering, but let us consider the immediate context and use the short term fulfillment to see what the intended meaning of the prophecy should be.  In verses 6-7, we see a direct and undeniable prophesy of Jesus Christ: God in the flesh.  As God's anointed and only begotten Son, He would come and do something no other could.  As our LORD and our RIGHTEOUSNESS, His kingdom would supersede and outshine any other monarch or dignitary.  His lasts forever, and He never fails in His governance over His subjects and domain.  While He trod this earth in human flesh, He showed forth with remarkable brilliance the legal execution of God's covenant and counsel, while also vividly marking the acceptable path of obedience to God.

What is the direct result of His work?  The direct result is that all of God's banished family was gathered from all the corners of the world in all ages of time by His reconciling us to God by the sacrifice of Himself. (II Corinthians 5:18-19) By His great work, all of God's family – spiritual Israel if you will – is brought from the north country and wherever they have been scattered upon the face of the earth.  Big and small, young and old, male and female, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, and whatever other group we could possibly comprehend has been brought legally into justification before God in heaven. (Revelation 5:9) No charge can be laid against them, and one sweet day all – without the loss of one – will be manifestly gathered in body, soul, and spirit in the resurrection of the dead unto God.

How was God known after the captivity of Judah in Babylon was over?  He was known as He who gathered His people home again.  How is He known today?  He is known as the Just One that put away the sin of His people by the offering of Himself unto His Father in heaven.  Is He still the God that delivered from the bonds of Egypt?  Truly.  Is that the first thing about Him we think about?  Surely not.  While the deliverance from Egypt continues to amaze as we read the wonderful account on the page, the brightest act of power, majesty, glory, and abounding grace and mercy was the event that gathered us legally to God some 2,000 years ago at Calvary and the subsequent resurrection three days and three nights later.  We call Him our God, and we describe Him as the God that loved us, gave Himself for us, and gathered us home to Him again. (II Samuel 14:14)

Should we pine for the days of old like the children of Israel were so prone to do?  Heavens no!  Should we anticipate the future to the neglect of today?  Paul cautioned the Thessalonians against just such a mindset and behaviour pattern. (II Thessalonians 2:1-2) Today should be viewed with the proper lens of thanksgiving to God, describing Him as the One that gathered us unto Himself.  Jeremiah could die knowing that God would surely bring His people back to their homeland again.  We today can die knowing that God has gathered us legally and will just as surely gather us manifestly when time shall be no more.

Jeremiah gave the prophecy that would change God's commonplace descriptor.  When Christ came, He changed God's commonplace descriptor that we should have for Him.  Even though the geography will change one day when we get to heaven, the description will not.  We will praise Him world without end in heaven as the Lamb that was slain to redeem us to God by His blood.  This people from all kindreds, nations, tongues, and tribes will unite as one harmonious family in a song that will make the arches of heaven ring.  Even though not in heaven currently, we can still unite in singing that song today and thank God through this wonderful description as One that gathered His banished home to Him.

In Hope,

Bro Philip