I don’t think I’m in any real danger of being arrested for posting a Christian devotional on line every day. And, where I live, we are not in any danger of attack when we meet at church. But for a lot of the history of the church, persecution has (and still is in many places) been a reality. It was so real, in fact, that Jesus warned the disciples to expect it and Paul spent his life encouraging the early church, helping them to embrace their persecutions. It has always been the case that when God speaks words of warning through the mouths of human prophets, they face hostility. What is astonishing, is that men who know the Lord has asked them to speak his word and also know what they face when they do so, do it anyway. Jeremiah had been arrested, whipped and chained up in the stocks. Imagine your first instinct on being released after such an ordeal. I doubt you would immediately repeat your prophesy and direct a personal footnote straight into the face of your persecutor.
Jeremiah 20:1-6 NLT
Now Pashhur son of Immer, the priest in charge of the Temple of the Lord, heard what Jeremiah was prophesying. So he arrested Jeremiah the prophet and had him whipped and put in stocks at the Benjamin Gate of the Lord’s Temple. The next day, when Pashhur finally released him, Jeremiah said, “Pashhur, the Lord has changed your name. From now on you are to be called ‘The Man Who Lives in Terror.’ For this is what the Lord says: ‘I will send terror upon you and all your friends, and you will watch as they are slaughtered by the swords of the enemy. I will hand the people of Judah over to the king of Babylon. He will take them captive to Babylon or run them through with the sword. And I will let your enemies plunder Jerusalem. All the famed treasures of the city—the precious jewels and gold and silver of your kings—will be carried off to Babylon. As for you, Pashhur, you and all your household will go as captives to Babylon. There you will die and be buried, you and all your friends to whom you prophesied that everything would be all right.’”
I think it is only possible to persevere in faith despite persecution if you have truly seen the Lord. But even then faith can be worn down through suffering. My goal today is really search my heart and my conscience for the memories of the times when God has spoken to me, answered my prayers, and revealed his magnificence to me. In doing this I arm myself against doubt. Times are not easy for many of us right now, and that is reflected generally in the church, which is experiencing a time of great loss. It is as if it’s people have all been carried off to Babylon as captives. Let us not let this make us doubt God’s presence and God’s plans for us, both as individuals and as his people, the Church.
Jeremiah: 19:1-21:14, 1 Thessalonians 5:4-28, Psalm 82:1-8, Proverbs 25:9-10