Thursday, November 5, 2015, 1:45 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “I Do Not Seal My Lips.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 15:10-21 (NASB).
The passage in Jeremiah 15 begins by God telling Jeremiah to send the people away from his presence and to let them go. The reasons why God said for them to leave his presence:
• They rejected God Almighty
• They keep on backsliding
• They have not changed their ways
• They persecute, reproach, and fight against God’s Word & His messengers
With God (and us) they Contend (vv. 10-14)
Woe to me, my mother, that you have borne me
As a man of strife and a man of contention to all the land!
I have not lent, nor have men lent money to me,
Yet everyone curses me.
The Lord said, “Surely I will set you free for purposes of good;
Surely I will cause the enemy to make supplication to you
In a time of disaster and a time of distress.
“Can anyone smash iron,
Iron from the north, or bronze?
“Your wealth and your treasures
I will give for booty without cost,
Even for all your sins
And within all your borders.
“Then I will cause your enemies to bring it
Into a land you do not know;
For a fire has been kindled in My anger,
It will burn upon you.”
When God called Jeremiah to his service, he was told that God had set him apart, from even before he was conceived in his mother’s womb, to be a prophet to the nations. He was to say to the people whatever God commanded him to say, and he was not to be afraid of the people, for God would be with him, and he would rescue him. He told Jeremiah that he had made him a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land. He also told him that the people would fight against him, but they would not overcome him, for the Lord was with him and would rescue him (See: Jer. 1).
Here Jeremiah is lamenting that he had even been born, for the people fought against him, and they opposed him continually. Then, he recalled a promise he had been given from the Lord of deliverance, and that his enemies would one day seek him out during a time of disaster and great distress, yet he was not yet seeing the fulfillment of this. This promise reminded me of a promise the Lord made to the church in Philadelphia (Rev. 3:9) that he would make their enemies (the false church) fall down at their feet and acknowledge that God had loved them. The Lord gave a similar promise to the children of Israel, i.e. to believers in Jesus Christ, that in the last days the nations would bow at their feet and would acknowledge that they were the people of Almighty God (See: Isaiah 60:14; Isaiah 49:23).
We read in Psalm 139 that all the days ordained for us were written in God’s book before one of them came to be, and that it is God who created us, and who knit us together in our mother’s wombs. We Christians, like Jeremiah, were chosen by God for his service even before we were born into this world. In fact, he “chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (Eph. 1:4). God has a plan and a purpose for each one of our lives. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth, and we are to be the Lord’s witnesses throughout the earth, and to make disciples of Christ of people of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey all that Christ commanded us.
Yet, like Jeremiah, God also promised us that we would be hated, persecuted, abandoned, falsely accused, mistreated, imprisoned, and betrayed even by those closest to us because of our testimonies for Jesus Christ and for his gospel, and because we stand strong on the Word of Truth, do not deny the name of Jesus, and because we do not compromise with the world (See: Rev. 12:17; 14:12). Paul said that we are destined for such trials (1 Thess. 3:3). Jesus said, though, that when they arrest us, that we should not worry about what to say, because he will give us the words to say, “For it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matt. 10:19-20). In other words, as Christ’s followers, we are his messengers, too, and because we believe in Jesus and we stand on his word, we will also be treated in like manner as Jeremiah was treated by the people.
Yet, we are not to be afraid or back down out of fear of what people might do to us, or what they might say to us, for God is with us, and he will strengthen and help us, and he will give us the words to say. They cannot overcome us spiritually, for we are the Lord’s, but they will persecute us and may put us to death. Yet, God will judge them for how they treated him and us, his servants. As well, I believe scripture teaches that, in judgment, the church will be revived, and that many will flock to Jesus Christ in that day, and that when they repent of their sins, in repentance they will acknowledge that God has loved us and that he was with us, even if this happens after we have left this earth.
Remember Me (vv. 15-18)
You who know, O Lord,
Remember me, take notice of me,
And take vengeance for me on my persecutors.
Do not, in view of Your patience, take me away;
Know that for Your sake I endure reproach.
Your words were found and I ate them,
And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart;
For I have been called by Your name,
O Lord God of hosts.
I did not sit in the circle of merrymakers,
Nor did I exult.
Because of Your hand upon me I sat alone,
For You filled me with indignation.
Why has my pain been perpetual
And my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?
Will You indeed be to me like a deceptive stream
With water that is unreliable?
Jeremiah appealed to the Lord’s mercy based upon Jeremiah’s faithfulness to the Lord in believing in the Lord, in listening to him, in obeying him, in taking pleasure in his words, and in faithfully imparting the truths of God’s words to the people, despite being hated and persecuted in return. He asked the Lord to take notice of how he was suffering reproach for the sake of God, whose name he bore. He reminded the Lord of how he didn’t join in with the world in their sinful ways, but he walked in God’s holiness, set apart from the world, and set apart to God and to his service. Then, he asked God why his pain must be so grievous and seemingly incurable. He questioned the sovereignty of God over his life, and he wondered why he must suffer so, and that it seemed as though God had abandoned him.
When we are persecuted for our faith and testimonies for Jesus Christ, and for being the Lord’s servants and witnesses in sharing the truths of the gospel so that many may be saved, or so backsliding Christians might return to their Lord in repentance, it hurts. We are not unfeeling or hardened to being treated wrongfully, especially when such treatment comes through those who are supposed to love us. And, we will cry out to God in our pain, and we will seek him for answers, at times, praying for wisdom and discernment. Yet, at other times, the pain may be so overwhelming that we may also begin to question God’s sovereignty, or we may begin to fear what others might do to us, or feel as though we need to shut up, back down, or compromise in order to not face such treatment. We may, at times, even begin to feel abandoned by God, and wonder if he is even noticing our plight.
His Spokespeople (vv. 19-21)
Therefore, thus says the Lord,
“If you return, then I will restore you—
Before Me you will stand;
And if you extract the precious from the worthless,
You will become My spokesman.
They for their part may turn to you,
But as for you, you must not turn to them.
“Then I will make you to this people
A fortified wall of bronze;
And though they fight against you,
They will not prevail over you;
For I am with you to save you
And deliver you,” declares the Lord.
“So I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked,
And I will redeem you from the grasp of the violent.”
When we begin to complain about God’s justice, and to doubt his watchful care over us, and to question his sovereignty over our lives, he may answer us in like manner as what he responded to Jeremiah’s complaints. He will ask that we turn from this type of thinking and lack of faith, and then God will restore us, so that we may serve him. We have to believe that God is absolutely sovereign over every aspect of our lives, and that he has all things under his control, and he will work out all things for our good (for what is best for us). He will never leave us or forsake us. He has this all worked out. We don’t have to worry, and we should never back down or compromise out of fear of what man might do to us. God will take care of us. He may not rescue us from our circumstances, but he will see us through them to the end, and then he will take us safely home. So, we just need to pray for strength, wisdom, discernment, and for him to lead us in the right way to go, and then we need to rest in him, and trust him to do what is best. And, we have to keep fighting the good fight of faith until Jesus takes us home to be with him forever. Amen!
I Do Not Seal My Lips / An Original Work / January 13, 2014
Based off Psalms 37, 40
Do not fear when evil man
Has success in all their plans,
For like grass they’ll wither soon.
They’ll be cut off from the land.
Trust in the Lord and He’ll give you peace.
Find your delight in Him through all stress.
All of your ways commit unto Him.
All your desires from Him He’ll fulfill.
Wait for the Lord; keep His way.
Delight in His Word always.
He’ll be with you to the end;
Life eternal found in Him.
I waited patiently for my Lord.
He turned to me, and He heard my cry.
He set my feet on the Solid Rock.
He gave to me a firm place to stand.
Blessed are we, who trust the Lord,
Who do not turn to false gods.
Our desire’s to do God’s will.
His word is within our hearts.
I will proclaim salvation to man.
You put a new song now in my mouth.
I’ll not withhold your love and your grace.
I’ll speak forevermore of your truth.