in this land, and I will build you up. But if you say 'No, we will go
- the prophet Jeremiah
Sky, by Paul Kopchak
These are moments when a certain quality of faith is defined. It is not so much the faith to move mountains, or the faith to resist enemies. It is not the faith of a lion, but that of the "Lamb who opened not His mouth." Not the faith to "charge" in the name of the Lord, not even the faith to take the next step in a wilderness of wandering - it is the faith to stand still and see His salvation. To do nothing, to say nothing until God Himself acts on our behalf. Sometimes the greatest "step" of faith is not stepping at all, but waiting. Especially when confronted with the unexpected disappointment.
this sort of shocking disappointment towards the end of his life. For
decades, Jeremiah had faithfully proclaimed the word of the Lord. Prophesying
certain destruction, of course, did not endear him to his countrymen.
Yet his words were proven true. Jerusalem had been destroyed, the people
carted off to captivity. While being taken to Babylon, Jeremiah is all
at once released by the commander of the guard, and given the freedom
to go anywhere in the land. Jeremiah returned to Judah where a pitiful
remnant of people had gathered. After a short period of hopeful beginnings,
the Babylonian-appointed governor was assassinated by a renegade Jew
Knowing that they
face likely retribution at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, this small band
comes to Jeremiah to ask him what they should do. No doubt, Jeremiah
thought that finally a remnant would
Yet, when they
came to Jeremiah, he waited ten full days before God spoke. Why? We
are reminded of the time God made Moses wait forty days and forty nights
on Mt. Sinai to receive the Law. As comprehensive as the Law was, it
certainly shouldn't have taken forty days for God to
So it is here with Jeremiah. A word that could have come in five minutes was not given for ten days. The truth is, God saw what was in the hearts of that remnant people. They were sincere, as far as they knew - but secretly they harbored the desire that God's word would align with their intentions to go to Egypt. God knew that they did not have a heart to follow Him totally.
We as leaders need to be careful not to rush the processes of God. When the people of God demand direction and we honestly do not feel the Divine stirrings, we must trust God for what is not being said. How true it is that we need to trust God as much for what He doesn't say as for what He does say. There are many times that God will delay answers so that hearts can be laid bare. It is one of the most significant reasons for delay, and one of the most strategic tests of a leader.
When the word finally came - at odds, of course, with their agenda - they defied the Lord, calling Jeremiah a liar. The shock of their stubbornness must have left Jeremiah absolutely numb with disbelief. Their rebellion at this point borders on the incredulous. Jeremiah's accuracy as a prophet had been verified beyond all doubt, yet they resisted the word of the Lord through him -again!
Jeremiah might have received at being vindicated in the very twilight
of his life was snatched from him by the unbelief of the people. Jeremiah,
with whom disappointment had been a constant companion, who had been
disregarded by his peers all his life, is once again slammed into the
concrete wall of rejection. The people not only rebel, but force Jeremiah
himself to go to Egypt against his will. There Jeremiah dies. No legacy,
no following, no success to point to,
Yet this whole episode presents to us a provoking contrast: a prophet who was willing to risk all for generations he could not see, and a remnant of people who, because they could not risk, lost their chance to impact the next generation.
Consider. The Word God had given them was essentially this: Stay in the land, do not go to Egypt where you feel it is safe. Do not say that you are tired of war, no longer want to hear the sound of the trumpet, and do not want to face the specter of famine. In the face of their fear of Babylon, the Lord tells them that the safest place is the place where they would face war, would hear the trumpet, and would risk scarcity. In other words, safety was to be found in the place of maximum vulnerability and risk! The safest place, the place of war. The most fruitful moment, the times when the alarm was sounded. The most satisfying seasons, those when circumstantially satisfaction was elusive.
So the Lord comes to us today and says:
"Do you want to feel safe? Then stay in the place of war. Do you want to feel successful? Then respond to the alarms - the prophetic word of the Lord, the cries of the intercessors. Do you want to truly feel satisfied? Then stay at the place of little return."
The irony is that
this remnant, called to stay in the place of struggle and risk, did
not realize that they were in fact destined to prepare the land for
a generation they could not see. They had a chance to rebuild to a measure,
to prepare the way for the people that were to come under
It was God's desire and intention to leave behind a small remnant that could have provided a landing strip for the returning captives. Like the small platoons who, during World War II, would establish small beachheads on remote Pacific islands in order to clear landing strips for their P-51s, this remnant was given a momentous opportunity. It was not for them to win the war; it was not for them to rebuild the land. It was not for them to see great signs of visible success. They were to stay at the place of risk and vulnerability for a generation they would never see.
in stark contrast. Here is a man who stayed at the place of vulnerability.
Here was a man who was not allowed to marry, never had the chance to
father a child, was considered an outcast, was regarded as a fool. He
had few friends. The sum total of his personal disadvantages, public
ridicule, social isolation, loneliness, and personal temperament caused
him to once curse the day he was born. And then to end his days rejected
by a people who refused to believe even
Yet, Jeremiah was given eyes for the future, and in a sense, became the sole person to prepare for the generation to come. For it was given to him the time frame of the nation's captivity: 70 years. The wifeless, tribeless, childless, almost friendless prophet is given the divine chronology from which Daniel receives his inspiration to pray and to act! Because Daniel prayed in Daniel 9, the momentum was sparked that ultimately resulted in the return of the captives. But it was the disregarded Jeremiah through whom the prophetic countdown was set in motion.
God give us eyes for generations we will never see. Keep us at the place of vulnerability, exposed though we may be to the sounds of war. Help us to measure success not by the accomplishments of today alone - but by the legacy of faith we leave for future overcomers.
- STEVE FRY
experiences as a youth pastor also germinated the