Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Call To Courage

I love the book of Jeremiah.  My wife calls me the "Weeping Prophet," so I'm probably biased.  Be that as it may, I truly like the book of Jeremiah.  I like the prophet Jeremiah.  Jeremiah is the type of man I can respect.  In chapter 26, Jeremiah has his life threatened again.  Frankly, as a prophet, he's hated.  He's one of the few true prophets in Judah, and the message of the true prophets isn't exactly popular.  I don't care what time period you're in, "God is going to crush you" is never popular.

Anyway, in Jeremiah 26, Jeremiah steps on some toes.  He angers the priests, the prophets, and everyone else present at the temple by saying God is going to destroy Jerusalem, the home of his temple, the same way he had allowed Shiloh to be destroyed, the original home of the tabernacle and the ark.  There is such a commotion over what Jeremiah has said that the king and all the officials leave the house of the king and go to the temple.  The priests' suggestion to the king was to go ahead and kill Jeremiah.  Here's Jeremiah's response.
It is the LORD who sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard.  Now therefore amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God, and the LORD will change his mind about the disaster that he has pronounced against you.  But as for me, here I am in your hands.  Do with me as seems good and right to you.  Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will be bringing innocent blood upon yourselves and upon this city and its inhabitants, for in truth the LORD sent me to you to speak all these words in your ears. -Jeremiah 26:12-15

Remember, he said this after the priests said, "Kill him."  Now that's some moxie, and he's not saying that to his neighbor.  He's addressing the king, who can very well kill him.  And to prove the point, this exchange is followed by a story of King Jehoiakim doing just that to another prophet, Uriah.  The prophet Uriah also prophesied against Jerusalem and Judah, but unlike Jeremiah, he fled to Egypt when he found out the king was mad at him.  Sadly, it didn't do him any good.  The king sent men to capture him and bring him back to Jerusalem, which they did.  Upon arrival, they killed him and threw his body into a common burial place.

It's very popular in America to market Christianity as a religion of blessing, a self-help religion to get a person healthy, wealthy, and wise.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  God calls the people who would serve him to hold their ground in difficult situations, to say the unpopular thing when everyone else will nod their heads in disagreement, and that's if they're feeling nice that day.  God's people are called to a life of courage, to look death in the eye, in all its forms and all the people wielding it as a power, and take a stand for God.  The faint of heart need not apply.  The Church is full of priests and monks, but also warriors.  The weapons we carry may be peace and love, but we must hold the line none-the-less.

Stopping point: Jeremiah 29

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