An Irrepressible Fire: More than anything else, during these perilous times, we need an antidote for discouragement. Even faith is dormant when the spirit of a man become discouraged. When we try a few times to interest people in the things of the Kingdom of God, only to be met with indifference or scorn, we are tempted to say, What’s the use? “Who hath believed our report?” (Isaiah 53:1; John 12:38; Romans 10:16)
Which is in fulfillment of the prophecy that the sun (Jacob), moon (Rachel) and stars (Israel) will cease their shining: “The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.” (Joel 3:15)
Nevertheless, our task as Watchmen on the Wall of Israel is to bear witness to the Divine Truth. It is not our responsibility to make people believe it and receive it. We are only to warn them of the enemy coming upon them, yes even inside the walls. “Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.” (Ezekiel 33:2-6)
But if one has the prophet’s insight and the shepherd’s heart, he feels a sense of futility and depression when the message is unheeded. Yet, if he is worthy of his calling, he will find it impossible to quit, to remain silent, in spite of the seeming hopelessness of his efforts.
Jeremiah 20 is an amazing account of the prophet’s battle with himself on this very issue. The Lord had sent Jeremiah from Tophet to Jerusalem to say to all the people: “Behold, I will bring upon this city and upon all her towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they have hardened their necks, that they might not hear my words.” (Jeremiah 19:15)
Pashur the priest, being angered by the prophet’s words, beat Jeremiah and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin. On the next day, when Pashur brought the prophet out for questioning, Jeremiah said to him (see Jeremiah 20:4-6)
After delivery of this fateful prophecy, Jeremiah sank into a period of despondency, equaled only by that of Elijah under the juniper tree. (1 Kings 19:4) Jeremiah was a patriot if there ever was one. He loved Judah better than his own life. Nothing could have tortured his sensitive soul more than to deliver a message of doom and deportation to the citizens of his beloved native land. In the violence of his reaction to the painful duty he had performed under Divine compulsion, he actually turned, for a brief span, against God. In anguish of soul, he exclaimed: “O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name.” (Jeremiah 20:7-9)
That was the prophet’s impulse for a moment only. The very next sentence is highly significant and reads: “But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.”
Jeremiah found that he had to speak the truth regardless of consequences. The words of the Lord were like a consuming fire in his soul, they had to be spoken despite the risk of suffering; shame and persecution. Let us never imagine that the ancient prophet thought it any easy thing in their day to oppose the leaders of Church and State (And neither should we be surprised when we are tortured and murdered in our day and time with the antichrist leaders we have allowed to take office in our land) Because their words came forth with the certainty and power of God, we are unmindful of the fear and trembling which often filled their own hearts. Prophets and apostles, the same as other people, yearned to enjoy the respect and esteem of heir fellow men. But when God gave them an unpleasant message of warning and rebuke for their countrymen, that message was a irrepressible fire burning within them until it was delivered. However, the task was not easy. It usually meant bearing the taunts of reproach and misunderstanding.
None felt the sting of false accusation more keenly than Jeremiah. For he lamented: “For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, say they, and we will report it. All my familiars watched for my halting, saying, Peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him...Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed...Wherefore came I forth...to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?” (Jeremiah 20:10, 14, 18)
In the midst of his troubles, Jeremiah came to himself and began to see things in their proper perspective. Then it was that he saw God over all, making even the wrath of men to praise Him. Faith returned to dispel his doubts and fears and sorrows. (Jeremiah 20:11-13)
The same spiritual fire burned in the heart of Daniel, when he stood courageously against the kings of Babylon and pronounced God’s judgments upon the once mighty kingdom. The words of the Lord Jesus Christ were as a fire burning in the hearts of Peter, Paul, John and the other apostles, as they hastened to spread the Gospel. Like the saints of former days, “they loved not their lives unto death.” Only an irrepressible fire could have produced a William Tyndale, a Martin Luther, and the Reformation. Only a Divine flame in the souls of John and Charles Wesley could have evangelized two continents, and led millions of Christians to sing new and glorious Spirit-Filled hymns of praise to God for His redeeming love in Christ Jesus.
Tennyson said, “The path of duty is the way to glory.” Although this is true, it never seems so at the time one is treading the thorny path of duty. Jeremiah never realized that his faithfulness to difficult assignments would place his name on the honor roll of the immortals. When Paul was beaten and left for dead, when he languished in prison, he never dreamed of the eminence which history would accord his name twenty centuries later. Only Jesus, who knew the end from the beginning, was able to see the crown shining beyond the stake.
Truly we are living in a wonderful age. The time at hand to proclaim in fulness the Gospel of the Kingdom and the soon return of the King. But this is not a popular message among the Judeo-Christian church dignitaries; they do not want it any more than Pashur the priest wanted to hear what Jeremiah had to say. STATE OFFICIAL TAKE THEIR CUE IN SUCH MATTERS FROM TOP CHURCHMEN (who hunger and thirst after money and not the Word of God). It was so when Christ was here on earth and in Judea. Representatives of the Roman government were not convinced that He had done anything worthy of death, yet they did nothing to prevent it because the Jewish religious leaders clamored for His crucifixion.
Jesus’ disciples passed through a trying period after His death. They were discouraged to the point of despair. Despondently they went back to their fishing boats, not knowing what to do without their Master. Then came His resurrection; but it took some weeks for them to grasp its reality and its meaning for them and for the world. It took Pentecost, and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, to put fire and power and courage into their hearts. After that they had to speak. They were men with a message of life and hope for Israel scattered abroad; and for all who would hear and believe the Gospel.
The Good News was like a fire burning within them. Peter and John said to the religious authorities who persecuted them: “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20)
In his first Epistle, Peter wrote: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” (1 Peter 4:12-14)
It takes stouthearted men and women to withstand ridicule, one of the chief weapons of our adversaries. When clergymen, educators, writers, lecturers and others, who make an impressive show of learning, begin to poke fun at precious Biblical truths, such as Christ’s Kingdom on earth, His Kingship, and the relation of present day Judeo-Christians to the ancient House of Jacob/Israel, fainthearted believers take refuge in silence. The more they do this, the more complacent and inactive they become.
There is an old legend which teaches the danger of complacency. A flock of wild ducks flying south for the winter passed over a barnyard where the farmer had tossed grain to his chickens. One of the fleet, streamlined ducks left the flying formation and joined the earth bound chickens in their repast.
After a bountiful meal, the duck was tempted by the warm shelter of the barn to remain for the night, thinking he could easily catch up with his friends in the morning. The next day he thought it silly to leave without breakfast, so again he shared the chickens’ meal. It was so comfortable that he decided to spend the entire winter in the barnyard.
Early one morning, after months of selfish eating and no flying, he heard the call of his friends returning from the south. The familiar call aroused his desire to join them. But when he attempted to fly, he realized that, because of too much inaction, he had lost his ability to soar with his former ease and swiftness. He had been grounded by his own selfish comfort and complacency and finally wound up on the farmers table.
Note how J. Montgomery expressed the same thought in these lines:
“He alone who hath
The Bible need not stray;
Yet he who hath and will not give
That light of life to all who live,
Himself shall lose the way.”
Some who were once active in the work of our Lord’s Kingdom are now grounded and useless. Perhaps they are discouraged; or, worse still, they have become indifferent. In either case, the fire of enthusiasm has gone out. They no longer rise to answer the Master’s call: “Go work to day in my vineyard.” (Matthew 21:28)
Thus the man/woman who goes astray and does not continue to follow after the Lord the judgment will come: “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.” (Matthew 10:35‑40)
It will help all of us to remember that God did not promise Jeremiah nor us immunity from opposition, but rather that his persecutors would not prevail against him. So Christ does not promise to keep us from tribulation; but to save us out of it. Power to endure is the test. Christ said to His disciples: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves...And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 10:16 & 22)
Again, in Matthew 24, Christ instructed His disciples, although His words were not directed to them so much as to those who would be His followers near the end of this present age or dispensation. “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matthew 24:7-14)
If His Word is as a burning fire in your heart, do not suppress it; speak out, though it may be done with fear and trembling. Above all, every one of us must be careful to speak only the Lord’s truth; and not our own opinions. It will help to notice that, although Jeremiah bowed before God, crushed by distress of spirit, he betrayed none of this to the people, but stood before the multitude with heroic valor, warning kings, priests and people of the doom of their sins invoked. Let us be thankful if we are counted worthy to die for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom.
For remember our enemies will be totally destroyed in the end by Almighty God. (Taken in Part from Special Alert, No. 225, by Destiny Editorial Letter Service, P.O. Box 177, Merrimac, Massachusetts 01860-0177, (978) 346-9311, by C.R. Dickey)