Thursday 22 September 2011
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Read Jeremiah 14-15 at Bible Gateway.
While the false prophets continue to prophesy, in the name of the LORD, that peace will be Jerusalem’s assured future, Jeremiah alone prophesies that destruction is coming on the people, that they will be consumed by sword, famine, and captivity until they are consumed. How were the people to know who was telling the truth, and whether they were in the LORD’s favor, or not?
Drought was their big clue. The land was suffering from a terrible drought (Jer 14:1-6). One of the blessings of obedience that would follow Israel, to confirm to them that they were walking in the LORD’s ways and obeying His voice, was that the LORD would open the heavens and give them rain in its season, to bless the work of their hands (Deu 28:12). One of the curses for disobedience that would follow Israel, to confirm to them that they were going astray, was that the LORD would change their customary rain to powder and dust, which will rain down on them from heaven until they are destroyed (Deu 28:24).
You know, thus summer Texas experienced a terrible drought, the worst in a hundred years or more. Cattle ranchers were selling their cattle herds off for beef — even the cows of bearing age which were normally kept back to bear the next season’s calves — because there was no grass to keep them alive. Sounds a little bit like Jer 14. Even in our modern day society, when science and technology rule everything, a drought such as Texas experienced can drive a people to its knees, to acknowledge God.
Really, drought seen that way is an act of mercy, a call to wake up and remember God, repent and turn your life around, before it is too late and the final destruction comes upon you, from which there is no return.
Why Texas, I ask myself? Why not California (I mean, if judgment is really to come upon a people …)? Listen, it is the LORD’s children whom He chastens, not outsiders. The wicked prosper, we learned, and nothing troubles them, because they are being fattened for the day of judgment like sheep for the slaughter. But because God does not want that end for His own, He shakes them to wake them up.
So how is Texas (and the rest of the country, that is paying attention to these things and not asleep) to know what to repent of, what to return to? Read Torah, God’s definition of righteousness and sin. Whatever we are not doing that He commands — begin doing. Whatever we are doing that He commands not be done — stop doing. THAT IS REPENTANCE. Texas, I would start by putting down the baby back ribs (Lev 11:4-7), but that is just me.
Jeremiah stood alone, proclaiming the message, “Wake up from your evil ways and return to the LORD, for destruction is surely coming!” The LORD encouraged him to stand fast where he was, and let the people return to him, but let not him return to the people. They were to move toward the Word of the LORD; the Word of the LORD was not to change or move toward them (Jer 15:19). What a lesson for the church in these days!
So what do the righteous do when the wickedness of a nation calls destruction on it? Drought, war, disease, these things affect the righteous too. The LORD’s answer:
“I am with you to save you and deliver you,” says the LORD. “I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grip of the terrible.” Jer 15:20-21
Until heaven is finished with us and our calling on this earth, we are good. But as Corrie ten Boom learned, sometimes our mission field changes, from our comfortable homes, to prison camps and difficult circumstances. Why? Not because God has abandoned us, but because God has sent us to be light, comfort, and instruction in that place of darkness. If we belong to God, our life is not our own, and we are not living for ourselves. We have a job to do now, and we will be rewarded with rest and comfort for eternity, on the other side of heaven.