Running after God
If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan? For even thy brethren, and the house of thy father, even they have dealt treacherously with thee; yea, they have called a multitude after thee: believe them not, though they speak fair words unto thee. Jeremiah 12:5-6
The prophet Jeremiah could not understand why the wicked people around him seemed to prosper. Called by God to pronounce sentence on the rebellious nation of Judah, he saw no repentance in response to his preaching, and no sign of imminent judgment on the horizon. On the contrary, sinful men and women carried on as normal with nothing to check their selfish behaviour, while Jeremiah, with his unpopular message of coming judgment, became the special target of their hostility. Should he relax his methods and message?
To continue doing what is right before God amidst fierce opposition, especially when it comes from friends and family, is no easy task. Jeremiah was beset by many adversaries. Whether the antagonism came from commoner or king, stranger or his own flesh and blood, he was slandered and plotted against because of his unbending loyalty to God and His word. In answer to His servant’s bewilderment, God candidly informed him that things would become tougher still: if he found it hard enough in a race with other athletes, how would he compete against horses? If he grew weary running across open fields, how would he manage to cut his way through the dangerously tangled thickets beside the Jordan River? The Bible is transparently honest. It tells us that all who seek to serve the Lord in this world will find it an uphill struggle until the Saviour returns.
In many ways, Jeremiah reminds us of the Lord Jesus. He too was misunderstood by members of His own family, despised by His local townsfolk, and rejected by the Jewish nation as a whole. As He said, ‘A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house’ (Matt 13:57). Nevertheless, as Jehovah’s perfect Servant He persevered unwaveringly to the end, faithfully passing on the words the Father had given Him to say, doing the works the Father had given Him to do, and finally offering Himself without spot to God as the one sacrifice to deal with our sins.
Those who seek to serve a rejected Saviour will often find themselves unappreciated, despised, rejected and maligned, even by people from whom they might have expected support. Jeremiah wondered why. Christians are better informed, because the Lord Jesus clearly taught His disciples that ‘in the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33). Let all who try to stand for truth take heart from such a word. Things will get even tougher before Christ comes for us, but we belong to a victorious Master who is greater than all who oppose us.