INTERESTING FACTS : Robert Treat Paine, MILITARY CHAPLAIN; SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE; ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MASSACHUSETTS; JUDGE
"I desire to bless and praise the name of God most high for appointing me my birth in a land of Gospel Light where the glorious tidings of a Savior and of pardon and salvation through Him have been continually sounding in mine ears. I am constrained to express my adoration of the Supreme Being, the Author of my existence, in full belief of His Providential goodness and His forgiving mercy revealed to the world through Jesus Christ, through whom I hope for never ending happiness in a future state. I believe the Bible to be the written word of God and to contain in it the whole rule of faith and manners."
Daily Reading : JEREMIAH 38 - 41
TEXT : Jer 38:1 Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken unto all the people, saying, Jer 38:2 Thus saith the LORD, He that remaineth in this city shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth forth to the Chaldeans shall live; for he shall have his life for a prey, and shall live. Jer 38:3 Thus saith the LORD, This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon's army, which shall take it. Jer 38:4 Therefore the princes said unto the king, We beseech thee, let this man be put to death: for thus he weakeneth the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words unto them: for this man seeketh not the welfare of this people, but the hurt.
THEME : COURAGE
Jeremiah, like all the prophets, was persecuted for righteousness sake. He withstood the contradictions of the people and the false prophets until finally the Day of Judgment came. Then, instead of merely persecuting Jeremiah, some of the leaders of the Jews sought to kill him. Appealing to the king, permission was granted to imprison Jeremiah. Consequently, he was put in a dungeon - lowered into a pit, where his feet sunk in the mud that lay at the bottom.
To tell the truth has its price. Whether one is a prophet or not, speaking what people do not desire to hear has a price tag. Further, the price is high. If you are a prophet of God though, the cost is [or, at least - was] your life. When not killed, the prophets were lonely and ostracized. How could it be other? They spoke what people did not want to hear - namely, the truth.
It is naieve to think people want the truth. That is not the case. It never has been from the beginning of time. Man is inherently selfish, and wants his own way. Ignorant of God's laws and principles, Man would rather "reign in Hell than serve in Heaven," as Milton put it. This is the essence of sin. Defined in an acronym it is - "selfishness invested in nothing" [S.I.N.]. Sin leads nowhere except to the depths of Hell.
Still, the courage of the prophets must be recognized. They were all reluctant to speak, and at times, they no longer wanted to preach in the Name of the LORD. Yet, they stayed faithful to God, which took tremendous fortitude and persistence. All the prophets and apostles had to stay the course that at times was beyond difficult and never desirable. In short, it took courage to speak for God. It still does.
Hence, courage is making the effort to overcome your fears. Jeremiah was reluctant to preach. Most, if not all the prophets were hesitant or outright resistant to the call of God. Yet, they overcame their fears through courage. For this reason, courage is needed in ministry. To speak the truth in love takes a heart of valor.
TRUTH FOR TODAY : "BETTER TO BE ALONE THAN IN BAD COMPANY"
President George Washington while commander of the Continental Army said - "It is better to be alone than in bad company." Certainly, this is the credo of all true men of God. Jeremiah was no different in this respect. He braved the false accusations of treason, and of aiding and abetting the enemy [for which he was thrown in prison] and stood alone. Even when the armies of Nebuchadnezzar were surrounding the city of Jerusalem, the Jews and their king would not believe the LORD. Rather, they imprisoned Jeremiah and blamed him for siding with the Chaldeans, which surely he did not. He merely spoke the Word of God.
Oddly, the man that comes to Jeremiah's aid is an Ethiopian - a foreigner, and a eunuch. More importantly and encouraging, is that God sets Ebedmelech free as well as Jeremiah because of his faithfulness to the truth. Perhaps is it always true in each generation - "...strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." [Mat.7:14]
Friendship is sharing your life with someone with whom you agree. Fellowship in Christ is walking to the Kingdom with all others who walk in the light. Truly, friendship and fellowship are preferable to loneliness. Yet, if being one of the crowd is purchased at the expense of losing salvation in Christ, truly it is better to be alone. Thankfully, there are many who follow Christ with whom you can agree and walk comfortably. However, if ever there comes a time when you must walk alone, follow the example of Jeremiah. In the end, he was set free and his opponents taken captive. The truth will always make you free.