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God’s Promised Protection of Jeremiah

How God outfits His people to do what He has commanded

Jeremiah 1:17-19; Joshua 1:1-9; Matthew 28:18-20; Hebrews 13:5

Aug 05, 2012 12:00 AM

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17 But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed [intimidated -HCSB] by them, lest I dismay you [cause you to cower -HCSB] before them. 18 And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land. 19 They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.” ( ESV)

Earlier this week, I sent all of you a brief Youtube video of Paul Washer describing the coming persecution of the American church.  I am glad to hear someone as respected and credible as Brother Washer saying the unpopular things I have been alluding to for years.  The common attitude of American Christians toward persecution has always caused me to wonder.  When the rest of the world has treated believers with disdain and scorn for thousands of years, why do we believe we can avoid the same sort of treatment indefinitely?  Why have we believed applies to all believers elsewhere, and not us?

Prophethood is not for the faint of heart.  If we look at the prophets of the Old Testament we see one fairly consistent theme: they were not called of God to speak pleasant things to His people.  There were times when they did do that, when they were sent as an encouragement to the children of Israel.  But typically, their mission was to speak warning and to call God’s people to repentance.  That message, when spoken to self-righteous people, is dangerous.

Nevertheless, God spoke to Jeremiah and told him that his life was created for this purpose.  There is no question in Jeremiah’s mind what God’s will for his life is.  God puts His own words into Jeremiah’s mouth and commands him to go and speak to the people of Jerusalem and Judah at a time in their history when they have never been further from God and His ways.  Never has the nation of Judah been more wicked than in the days of Jeremiah.  And Jeremiah gets the call to speak to them for God.  He will not be treated like Billy Graham.

Notice in verse 17 that God gives him specific instructions: Arise, and say to them everything that I command you. “OK.  Well how bad can that be?  I just say whatever God tells me to say.  And since it’s God’s word, surely they will listen.”  Just remember, men have been ignoring the word of God ever since Eve.

Then God tells Jeremiah not to be dismayed by them.  Again, that doesn’t sound so bad.  But the Holman Christian Standard Bible uses the word “intimidated”.  “Do not be intimidated by them.” That sounds a bit more imposing.  But then God goes on to say, “Do not be intimidated by them, lest I dismay you [cause you to cower] before them.” This is not sounding good.  That almost sounds like a threat!  From God!  Jeremiah is to go to these obstinately wicked people and tell them whatever God says, fearlessly.  Or at the very least, courageously.  And if he doesn’t, God knows how to make him afraid.

How does one do such a thing?  We’re afraid to whisper a prayer in public to ask the Lord to bless our Chik-fil-A sandwich here in “Christian” America.  How is Jeremiah supposed to confront an entirely idolatrous culture with a message they most surely do not want to hear?  How is he supposed to do so without being intimidated by the enemies of God?

The same way men and women have done so for thousands of years: by the grace of God.  Jeremiah has not been created by God and commissioned by God to go and do the work of God in his own strength.  The God who raised up this young man for this intimidating task is also going to grant him the power to do it.  Verse 18:

And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land.

“Today, you are an impregnable castle.  Today, I am making you invincible against all the people throughout all the land of Judah.  Today Jeremiah, you are Fort Knox!”  I suspect he didn’t feel like Fort Knox, but God instantly fitted him for the task to which He had called him.

All of this sounds intimidating, doesn’t it?  Because we see here in this text why Jeremiah needs to be fortified and strengthened and hardened like bronze and iron.  EVERYBODY is going to be against him.  Kings, officials, priests, and the people throughout the entire land of Judah will stand against this young prophet.  But they cannot and will not prevail against him.

Last night on our way back from the Missions Banquet in Camp Hill, we met quite a lot of resistance as we drove.  We met up with air.  And that air resisted Jim and Melissa’s car all the way to Camp HIll and back.  But we persevered.  We also met opposition from bugs.  Lots of bugs.  But they could not stop us.  And then there were the mountains that stood in our way.  But they were no match for an engine with two or three hundred horsepower.

In fact, even though we met continuous resistance, because we were in a large car with a large engine, we actually didn’t give all that resistance much thought.

“Jeremiah, you will meet resistance from all people on every side.  But today, this day, I make you impervious to their attacks.  “They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.”

Is it not a comfort to know that God can instantly transform a nervous young man who is convinced he is not up to the task of being God’s spokesman, into a tower, a castle, a fortified city whose enemies cannot defeat him?  God doesn’t need years to fit us for what He calls us to do.  He can create the person He needs on the spot.  That is what God did with Jeremiah.  He did not remove Jeremiah’s enemies.  Rather, He outfitted Jeremiah to stand successfully against them all.

We sometimes worry about how we would do if we were openly persecuted.  We wonder if we would remain true and faithful to the Lord Jesus.  But half of that battle is knowing to expect such a thing.  The movie Band of Brothers was about the US Army’s 101st Airborne Division the first Army unit trained to parachute into enemy territory.  They did so on D-Day at Normandy, France.

On one occasion, a Lt. George Rice was speaking with Lt. Richard Winters: “Panzer division is about to cut the road south.  Looks like you guys are going to be surrounded.”  To which Lt. Winters replied,

“We're paratroopers, Lieutenant.  We're supposed to be surrounded.”

That was the nature of the task.  They were trained to parachute in and be surrounded by the enemy.  Beloved, we’re all airborne.  We’re always surrounded by the enemy.  That has always been the case.  God trains and fits us for just such a thing, by His grace.  So it should never be a surprise to us when we run into opposition to the Gospel.

I was reading about the nature of fortified cities and castles.  The strongest castles were built on high ground, and the more inaccessible, the better.  It was no fun for those building them, but being on rough terrain and at a high elevation was perfect for defense against one’s enemies.  One of the most successfully defended castles ever is a huge fortress by the name of  Hochosterwitz Castle in Austria.  The only approach to the castle was a long, winding, uphill path.  Along that path are 14 large gates.

Each of the 14 gates, created from 1570 onwards, presents a different obstacle to intruders, ranging from hidden spikes to huge drawbridges or even chutes for boiling oil. The 14 gates have been successful.  Hochosterwitz was never captured; and assailants only ever managed to reach gate number four!

God makes Jeremiah into Hochosterwitz Castle.  But in all that the Lord says to Jeremiah, there is one thing that brought him more comfort than any other.  It wasn’t that God was making Jeremiah unassailable, a fortified city with bronze walls and iron pillars.  It wasn’t that Jeremiah would be indestructible before his enemies.  The greatest thing he heard God say was the same thing God said to Moses, to Joshua, and to all the prophets.  The one thing that gave him the most comfort was this: “I am with you.”

1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' assistant, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. 3  Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. 4  From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. 5  No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. 6  Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” ( ESV)

How else could Joshua conquer the Promised Land?  If God is for us, if God is with us, if God goes before us, if God has chosen us to do His bidding, then what is there to fear?  Not only was this true for Moses and Joshua and Jeremiah, but it was true for the disciples.

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” ( ESV)

Jesus Christ Himself is the driving force behind every true missionary enterprise.  Christ is with us always!  Not only was this true for the prophets and apostles, but it is true for us as believers:

5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ( ESV)

That was God’s promise to this young, inexperienced man whom God raised up for a very daunting task: to confront the idolatrous, rebellious, wicked people of God, from the king all the way to the peasant.  And He sends us out to do the same thing.  To be light in the darkness, to reveal sin for what it is, to stand against those who hate God and us, and to be immovable, unshakable, unassailable, uncompromising, and unafraid.  Because God Himself is with us.


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