Jere. 11:9,19 &21 And the LORD said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem.19) But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered.21) Therefore thus saith the LORD of the men of Anathoth, that seek thy life…”
Have you ever felt like everyone was out to get you, spreading lies about you and speaking against your name? This is for those times when you face great opposition and feel like there is no remedy or reason for your situation.
In this passage, the prophet Jeremiah is facing this very situation. He has been preaching against sin, telling people how the word of God tells them to live; he is calling out by name the “sins” of his generation and because of this the people turned against him; even the people of Anathoth. Anathoth was the birthplace of Jeremiah. This meant his family, friends, countrymen and even the government was conspiring against him. This must have felt very lonely for this man of God. Here he was doing what God asked him to do and the people of his own land hated him for it.
God assured Jeremiah that he would deal with his enemies, but in His time. God said in Jere.11:23 “…I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their visitation.” Meaning, I will deal with them some “year” but not now. Have you ever wanted God to move right away, but instead your problems seemed to drag on and on. This is where Jeremiah was at, and in Jeremiah 12:1 the prophet says to God himself “Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments…” Jeremiah is saying to God, God I know your decisions are righteous but I need to talk to you about your most recent decision about waiting to judge my enemies.
In his frustration Jeremiah calls out the punishment (Jere.12:2-4) he feels God should visit upon his enemies immediately….DEATH! God responds in verse 5 with a very interesting and straightforward response: “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? Jeremiah 12:5” In plain terms, God is saying to Jeremiah, If you can’t handle this little problem (the footmen) what are you going to do when the horsemen (meaning cavalry, or a stronger enemy) charge after you. And furthermore, what will you do when the Jordan River floods over your entire land (prophesying of the day when Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar would conquer Jerusalem) and sweeps you away?
Often times we think our problems are the “End of the World”; not to say they are not important to us but are they really the end of the world and civilization as we know it? We experience some ridicule from family and co-workers for serving God and going to church; we are told we cannot hand out gospel tracts in our town without a permit (so get a permit); we experience financial difficulty that makes us question whether or not we are going to give God his tenth, we face family issues, vehicle problems, health issues….and the list goes on. These would be the “footmen” God mentioned to Jeremiah. They are an enemy, but a small one. What will you do when the horsemen come? When the government closes your church, seizes you home or splits up and imprisons your family for the gospel’s sake…will you still trust God then? Or what about the “swelling Jordan”, What if our entire country collapsed! Government, financial structure, electric plants, communication centers, defense departments ect…what would you do if our country was bought out by or dissolved into another country (it happened to Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 1)? Would you still trust God then?
I am not trying to scare you with doom & gloom, but we need to trust God in the little problems of life, so we can learn to trust him in the big problems when they come. Grow closer to God and trust him more now while you are only fighting the footmen. Remember these truths the next time you face a trial.
1. Every time you face a trial and trust God, you come out stronger on the other side. Small doses of a virus will eventually make you immune to its sickness.
2. In trials we learn to appreciate the basics of our Christian Faith. We discover that prayer, Bible reading and church attendance are a main source of strength to us in our Christian walk.
3. Trials teach us to prioritize and put important things first. Our hobbies and special interests often take a backseat when we are fighting for our lives.
4. Trials cause us to grow closer to God and trust him more. Adversities will make us appreciate and love God more.
5. Trials reveal our weak areas and prompt us to work on strengthening them.
6. Trials will reveal our true friends and allow us to develop stronger bonds with them.
7. Trials cleanse us of sins. Sometimes it takes us reaching a place of desperation that causes us to cast the sin out of our life in order for God to hear us and answer or prayers. Isaiah 59:1-2 Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. Psalms 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
8. God’s way is always the best way. Jeremiah did face great adversity, but God was with him every step of the way. God delivered him from the prison and the evil men, and along the way God revealed his great love to Jeremiah. In the end, Jeremiah loved and trusted his Lord even more. In his book Lamentations Jeremiah wrote:
“This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. 22 It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. 24 The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. 25 The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. 26 It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. Lamentations 3:21-26”