a letter a friend of mine wrote about our times
i am a little late in writing this musing. It is two weeks since the last one during which time I have been in four countries and I am now in the largest and most influential of them, some say ‘the world’s most powerful man’ is at its helm. I mention no names but declare the disturbing and saddening sense that pervades my soul over long months and increases as I travel here and there for these countries are part of a civilization in decay. The balance of power is shifting to the East, the residue of Christian truth restraining and slowing down the headlong pursuit of self-interest manifested in rampant materialism has been eroded until there is scarcely anything left of any substance and we are in the twilight of the proud western world empires who thought there would be no limit the improvements their ingenuity could engineer. It is a gloomy scenario I paint, but in truth, much more could be said. In the Northern Hemisphere we are entering that time of year a poet called “the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,” but there is nothing much mellow about the world as it is becoming and the vile fruit of faith in man is visible for all to see, it lies everywhere with worms eating its heart out. We are passing through the autumn of history and a dark winter is almost upon us.
The world draws near to judgment, it moves inexorably forward to that time when the King of nations shall appear and all shall give account unto Him from Whom there is no escape. For some these things will be so much “pie in the sky” and the ranting of a religious fool but for others, those being taught of God, there will be a witness as to their veracity. Being the time that people in North America call ‘the Fall’ I arrive again at that period when much of my reading is taken up with the events of the forty or so year prophesying of Jeremiah. I recommend ‘The Victory Bible Reading Plan’ to anyone who wants to seriously go through the Bible in a year. It endeavors, as much as is possible, to help us read chronologically and this is particularly helpful when we get to the history of Israel, the fall of the Northern Kingdom headquartered in Samaria and then later the tragic decay of the Southern Kingdom with its capital of Jerusalem. Alas, the Kingdom of Judah ignored the warning God had given them through the demise of their northern neighbor. All the while the tide of history ebbed and flowed for God’s chosen people He never ceased to raise up His prophets and among them and none had such a heart-breaking ministry as that to which Jeremiah was called. (By the way, you can get the Victory Bible Reading plan from Omega Publications at PO Box 4130, Medford, Oregon. 97501. USA.) Jeremiah was a young man when God called him to be a prophet.
The Lord commissioned others too and they were His confirming voice, but the periods of their ministry were much shorter whilst Jeremiah prophesied during the reigns of five kings, two of whom ruled only a few months each and one of the others came to the throne when only eight years old, his name was Josiah. The history of Judah had been a real seesaw depending who was on the throne. On occasions a king had reigned who had a heart for the Lord and there had been a measure of revival and turning back to God. Some years earlier Manasseh had reigned for fifty-five years, he was thoroughly wicked, though there was a very late repentance on his part. He was the son of Hezekiah, the fruit of his loins during the fifteen-year prolongation of his life for which he had pleaded with God when He had warned him to make ready for his death. In the light of everything that followed, it would certainly have been better if Hezekiah had acquiesced in God’s word that his time on the earth was at an end rather than to have lived on and spawned such a filthy, idolatrous son.
But, be that as it may, God never leaves Himself without witness, the political intrigues, the false alliances with empires round about, the changes of government went on and all the while the general direction was downward into deepening estrangement from Him and the moral decay that always accompanies it. Yet there is an arresting of this tragic slide when the eight-year old Josiah came to the throne, a change of government brought fresh direction in the nation. (2 Chronicles 34v1-) As a sixteen-year old boy he began to seek the Lord and he fearlessly instigated significant changes among his people. It makes for a thrilling read, to see the power of good government rooted in the fear of God; idols were torn down, false worship outlawed and Josiah’s godly reforms spread through the land. When he was twenty-one he instructed that the Lord’s temple should be repaired. Perhaps we should not be surprised that with the country full of false worship God’s temple was a forgotten relic with broken down doors and walls, unused and filled with debris. It seems likely that the High Priest Hilkiah who, along with Shaphan was commissioned to this work was none other than Jeremiah’s father. Certainly Jeremiah was of the priestly family, destined to the service of God whose home was Anathoth, a priestly town about three miles from Jerusalem. During the clearing of the temple a book was found. This is incredible; to think that the scrolls containing what we know as the first five books of the Bible had been buried so long, unread and forgotten! Now the word written was let loose, what an effect on the King and simultaneously Jeremiah began to prophecy.
The word written and the word spoken sounding together! Jeremiah must have studied the book of the law avidly, so many of his prophetic utterances are rooted in the language and promises God had spoken and recorded in those scrolls. Yet what is it I am seeking to say, what is my point? Just this, we live in days of moral decline when our nations are in decay, yes, there are signs of spiritual renewal in some churches, but, in the Western world fettered by materialistic madness frequently the renewal, the revival does not go deep enough. Jeremiah saw this. Josiah brought reforms, spiritual life was renewed in a measure but the decline was not arrested. The people rested in the external changes, rejoicing in the Temple, the Temple, the Temple, (Jeremiah 7v4) but there was no fear of the Lord and their ways were not amended. Jeremiah saw with God given vision, God called him “a tester of metals among His people,” (6v27) Beneath the surface the majority of people were rejecting God and He was rejecting them as a result. Nine times on various occasions God used an unusual term to describe His ministry through Jeremiah and the other prophets, the old version words it this way; that God was “rising up early and speaking.” (Jeremiah 7v13, 25; 26v5; 29v19; 32v33; 35v15) It is a tender word; God is describing Himself (and His prophetic messengers) as a beast of burden, roused early in the morning, laden with goods to carry. God, serving His people, pleading with them through His messengers, bidding them get utterly real with Himself before tragedy struck and the future led to sore captivity.
Thus I read Jeremiah again and I am stirred deeply. He begins his ministry when but a young man and has the most difficult job of all for he presides over a people the majority of whom will not hear. The road to bondage and loss seems inevitable and he must stand, speak and watch, often surrounded by false prophets declaring a comfortable message of peace, peace when there is none really. He sees deeply into the heart of things, in the midst of a time of political upheaval, declining morals, superficial spiritual revival, impending judgment He bears testimony to true God Who is faithful to His own Being and promises. Let us in the churches live prophetically, bearing our testimony to God and His will and ways. At such a time as this, with broken, God adoring hearts and tearful eyes let us look upon our fellow human beings with pitying love and have mouths filled with words from God that witness to the consciences of all.
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]2001 f250 4x4 cc sb 6 in lift...dp 6 pos..