"Do not be a terror to me; You are my refuge in the day of disaster." (Jeremiah 17:17)
There is this nagging question, why? Why is the world imploding in spite of the efforts of many good people, in spite of the Church of Jesus Christ doing the good works of the Lord, and in spite of the many Christians seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness? Why do so many Bible-believing people ask why a God of love would allow so many trials and tribulations to come into their life? Aren’t they blessed? Aren’t they the chosen people of God? Aren’t they the ones who will overcome the world? Why?
Jeremiah was called to be a prophet of the Lord in his youth at a time the Israelite nation was in rebellion to God’s Word. A time when the judgment of God was upon them. He was given a vision on the coming disaster of Israel. "Then the LORD said to me, "Out of the north the evil will break forth on all the inhabitants of the land. "For, behold, I am calling all the families of the kingdoms of the north," declares the LORD; "and they will come and they will set each one his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all its walls round about and against all the cities of Judah. "I will pronounce My judgments on them concerning all their wickedness, whereby they have forsaken Me and have offered sacrifices to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands." (Jeremiah 1:14-16) I am not a prophet but I know that since we as a nation have forsaken God then surely His judgment is coming upon us. All the efforts of our leaders to correct the path have failed as they have not sought the path that has been prepared for us to follow by the Lord.
We as Christians must remember that we are of the Kingdom but we are not living in the Kingdom. We are still in the world, we are the Church militant that some glorious day we will be the Church triumphant. I question how much effort are we giving in the effort to the making of disciples of all the nations, to fighting the spiritual battle for the souls of our neighbors, and to fighting the spiritual battle for our own soul? This Scripture from this prophecy seems to have residency on the far ends of the spectrum. Jeremiah is asking the Lord to not be a terror to him while also acknowledging the Lord is his refuge. Why was Judah being judged? Because they forsook the Lord. Why do I think that judgment is coming to our nation? Because we have forsaken the Lord.
This has always been and will always be a world of trials and tribulation. It was not God’s will or purpose but man’s choice in the Garden of Eden on one fateful day when a man died. "The LORD God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die." (Genesis 2:16-17) From that time on man was appointed a time to die and the ground of the earth was cursed. God did not forsake man, man forsook God in his disobedience to God’s Word and is now accountable to his action. God is love but He is also just as God is righteous. Satan who wants to destroy and steal the souls of men from the Creator of men laughs today at the foolishness of man. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (John 10:10) God did not forsake us, He sent His son to redeem us that we might have life and have it abundantly. God who loves us enough to sacrifice His Son will not forsake us and leave us to complete terror. "The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." (Deuteronomy 31:8)
We are called to be a Holy Priesthood, separated from the world as we are not of the world but of the Kingdom of God. "And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 2:4-5) We are a sanctified nation growing into the image of God in whom we were created. This is what we are to become the image of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the power of His Spirit, we are reborn to become as He is that we can fulfill the mission of His calling. "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2) We are representing Him by our word and deed that through us His light can shine on the darkness of this world and enlighten men to follow the Lord and repent from the wicked ways of the world which lead to complete death.
In a world that is subject to the ancient errors of its history, which is suffering from the blood of Abel calling out to the Lord for justice, we as people will face trials and tribulations until the Lord comes and purifies the universe with the fire of His judgment. "He said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to Me from the ground." (Genesis 4:10) But we need not fear for the Lord will not forsake us and all that comes into our path shall work for our own good according to His purpose for our lives. "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)
The spiritual battle has come from long ago and we cannot be idle and allow ourselves or our neighbors to be overtaken. Our Savior has overcome the god of this world and through Him, we shall overcome as well. Out of our love for one another, we have a concern for the spiritual welfare of all that the Lord leads into our path. Everyone deserves to have the choice to accept God’s graceful salvation or to reject it. We must share the key to winning the greatest spiritual battle, which is against our very own self. "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Chris" (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
By remaining true in the faith we learn to endure the little skirmishes and grow in our spirituality to overcome the larger battles that lie upon the horizon. God is able to take the trials of this world and through them perfect our small faith into great faith. "And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Romans 5:3-5)
We cannot let our countenance fall because of the evil that is all about us. It is for this purpose that we have been placed by God into the battle. "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:21) We are not the keepers of His truth but the sharers of His truth that the hearts that have been prepared by Him might receive it. Our battle has been won by He who overcame the world. "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) The reality is that He has overcome the world for all men, yet, they reject this truth. We must testify by our action and word to His truth that they might also see. We as Christians are only instruments in the hands of the Master to be played into the beautiful hope of all mankind. We are working for the reward of sharing His love and being in the complete presence of His love and fellowship. That on that day with the Apostle Paul we too can proclaim, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
Talk to Him in prayer, listen to Him in His living Word, and follow Him in faith in praise of His holy name. "Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time--He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen." (1 Timothy 6:12-16) Live not in fear for God is our refuge.
Thomas N Kirkpatrick April 29, 2015