Gleanings in Jeremiah : 6: Going to War
Jer 1:17 “Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.
Often when men go to war they are frightened of the potential of fighting, but having enlisted they are more frightened of being shot as a traitor by a firing squad. One fear overcomes the other fear. As the Lord commissions Jeremiah we will see a similar element in it. We’ll see that in a minute, but let’s look at the elements of what comes in this word in the following verses.
First, Think Aright: He simply instructs him, “Get yourself ready! Stand up.” (v.17a) We have probably heard the expression, “Pull yourself together!” It’s the same thing; get yourself in a right attitude. ‘Stand up’ says get into a fighting position, at least in your mind and your spirit. Be wide awake, be alert, get ready. I wonder if we realise that we CAN take control of our thinking, our attitudes and so subsequently our emotions? David the psalmist declared, “Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.” (Psa 27:3) It was an attitude he took on and why was he able to do that? “The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psa 27:1) Attitude based upon knowledge of the Lord.
Second, a principle, do what you’re told: Now this is all you have to do: “say to them whatever I command you” (v.17b) That sounds rather easy. As I described it yesterday, its just like being an office boy running errands for the boss. The only problem is the people you have to go to. It seemed to run through Israel’s history.
Jesus told a parable full of meaning about just this sort of thing: “There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. `They will respect my son,’ he said. “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, `This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.” (Mt 21:33-39) The servants in this story were the prophets, and the son was Jesus.
This came up in Jesus’ teaching again and again: “you say, `If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.” (Mt 23:30,31) and “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together.” (Mt 23:37) This is how Israel came to be known, as those who rejected God’s messengers.
Third, get a right perspective: So the Lord is warning Jeremiah about what he is going to face: “Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.” (v.17c) It’s the ‘one fear conquers another fear’ thing again. Don’t let them terrify you or I’ll let you know what real fear is by (implied) revealing myself to you.
Fourth, realise who God has made you: The Lord seeks to reassure Jeremiah with a threefold description of what He has made him: “Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land–against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land”. (v.18) See the pictures He gives. First, “I have made you a fortified city.” That speaks of security and impregnability, a place that cannot be overcome. Jeremiah, remember this, they will never overcome you! Second, you are like “an iron pillar”. Have you ever been in an old building where there are either old cast iron or steel columns that will withstand anything. They are the curse of the demolition contractor. Remember this Jeremiah, you are tough, hard and immovable! Third, you are like “a bronze wall.” Brick you can plough through. A stud partition you can kick through, but a bronze wall!!!! Nothing is going to get through that. Jeremiah you will stand before this nation as an obstacle. They may wish to run amok, doing their own thing, living without restraint, but they are my people and in my love for them I will get you to stand before them and you will act as an immovable obstacle to stop them getting worse.
Fifth, be realistic: Very well, let’s face what is coming head on: “They will fight against you but will not overcome you,/ for I am with you / and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.” (v.19) They are going to oppose you but understand these three things: 1. They will not overcome you. If God says it, it is a promise. Jeremiah, remember this, they will not overcome you. 2. I am with you. Jeremiah, remember this: you are not alone for I will never leave you and if they come against you, they come against me (implied). I will always be your present resource. 3. I will rescue you. Jeremiah, hear this, not only am I with you but I will act on your behalf to deliver you from them.
Now if you read to the end of the book you will find that kings and princes and other dignitaries come and go but Jeremiah remains. Opposition comes against Jeremiah but he is delivered and it is the other who are carried away. When the enemy comes to destroy Jerusalem he hears about Jeremiah and promises him safe passage. Did the Lord honour and fulfil each of these promises to look after Jeremiah? You bet He did! Jeremiah is one of the most amazing testimonies of the Lord’s safe keeping in the long term that you will find in the Bible. The Lord promised these things and kept every one of them. Praise His name! Know He will keep you too! Hallelujah!