“Making our way through the words and phrases to the truth that lies behind, we have an unshakable rock of confidence. Many times in the Scriptures the Lord is called the Rock. The Psalmist used that as a favorite title for the Lord. We all need something rock-like upon which to stand and to rest, and Jeremiah needed a rock under his feet as well. I don’t know if you are familiar with the prophecies of Jeremiah. Perhaps you think that they are not particularly interesting or inspiring, perhaps a bit depressing, but, those of you who are, know this that, if ever a man needed a rock under his feet, Jeremiah did. Oh, the forces that he encountered, that broke upon him. Jeremiah would not have survived at all, let alone at last triumphed with his ministry, but for a rock under his feet. And that which was of the nature of a rock was found in one word repeated many times – underline it in you Bible- “I…”, “I…”, “I…”; “Before thou camest forth I knew thee; I formed thee; I have made thee a prophet to the nations; I have put My Word in thy mouth, I appointed Thee, I equipped thee. I put My Word in thy mouth – I…”. If Jeremiah had started this business he would not have got very far. If someone else had put him into it, he would have had good reason to have had a controversy with them, and to retire very early in life. But for forty-five years of unceasing and ever-growing antagonism, hostility and sufferings that few men have known or surpassed, he went through. I believe it was because underneath him and behind him, was this fact which remained: I did not put myself into this; I did not take this work on; this was not my idea for my life; I really had nothing to do with it; indeed, if I could have escaped it I would have, but I came under a divine compulsion. I am where I am, I am what I am, doing what I am doing because God said, I knew thee, formed thee, appointed thee, sent thee – God!!
There are a number of things that accompany that, to which we have no right, to which we can make no claim, only as we get right into line with God’s purpose concerning His Son in fullness, and stay there. Look again at Jeremiah as instancing this. When God gets hold of a people, a vessel, an instrument, in line with this purpose of His heart, this counsel of His will, this secret (translated as ‘mystery’) among the nations, He commits Himself. That is the next thing: God acts, and getting a response to His sovereign action, He commits Himself to that vessel, to that instrument. Jeremiah is a wonderful example of an instrument, or a vessel, to which God committed Himself. Go away and read through again and see how many times it looked as if Jeremiah was finished by the designs, cruelty, hostility, and wickedness of men; finished by the awful weariness of his own hard way; finished by the drooping of his own soul: “I said, I will no more speak’ – finished! Go through and you find again and again, for reason within himself and outside of himself, it looks as though Jeremiah is finished. At last you reach that terrible time when the vehement wrath and fury against him has taken him and dropped him down into a deep, dark, muddy pit, in which he sinks up to his arms, to be left to starve and die. Finished! Who can survive all this? But he survived! he came up out of the pit, and went on for quite a long time with his work. And even when his prophecies were being fulfilled and they came and destroyed Jerusalem, and carried away all who had opposed, the very king who was doing it all marked out Jeremiah to be set free! God, in committing Himself to this vessel, saw to it that he continued as long as He wanted him to continue. Let all the forces, men, and devils, and all the human weaknesses and readiness to give up declare that it is impossible to go on, still there is continuance until God says: I have finished! That is what it means. Oh, it is a tremendous thing to be right in line with God’s purpose! God will commit Himself to that, and there will be continuance until God finished that story. That is the sovereign continuance of God.
I am saying to you that if you come right into line with God’s purpose, and are wholly committed to God’s purpose concerning his Son, and stay there, you will go through. You may experience all the Jeremiah did, if not literally, then spiritually, but you will go through. It is a wonderful story of continuance of a vessel to which God has committed Himself. Get out of line with God’s full purpose on to some subsidiary line, some bypass, some other track, some alternative, and this will not be true.
Much has been made of the fact that Jeremiah was called to a ministry that was never going to succeed, that of calling the people of God back to Him; it was destined to failure. They never did come back. In a sense it looked as though he was giving his whole life to a lost cause. But don’t forget, the return of the remnant from the judgement in captivity was definitely put on record…. It was put right at the beginning of the Chronicles of Israel, that “the Word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus.”
Well, there may be a good deal of adversity, a lot of time taken, much suffering and cost, but a vessel that is right in line with God’s purpose concerning His Son will stand vindicated at last. God Almighty has committed Himself to that, and will see to it. Is that not a rock to stand upon, the sovereignty of God?
What is the essential basis of this whole position? It is just this: Fellowship with God in a purpose much larger than just a personal ministry, or a personal bit of work for God. It is to see everything in the light of the whole, and to be committed, as Jeremiah was, without consideration of what is personal, to what God wants, to what is nearest to the heart of God. It is fellowship with God in that which He has projected and is pursuing, and is set upon realizing, fellowship with God!
These sufferings of Jeremiah seemed to be very personal, very much because of himself. But no, they were the sufferings of God. It was like that with the prophets, was it not? They had been baptized into the passion of god concerning His great purpose in the nation. And oh, how they were baptized into that passion! So many of the experiences, the happening in their lives, were just sovereignty brought about. Call them tragedies if you like, brought about in order to be vivid illustrations of what God Himself was suffering.
The young man, Hosea, married a young and beautiful woman. They set up a home; they lived together happily and in blessed fellowship. He went about his work, and she kept the home. But after a time she tired of that life, and tired of him for some reason. Perhaps she got tired of his ministry; she did not like the kind of ministry. It was not very popular; it did not bring many friends; indeed, it alienated quite a lot of people. Well, for some reason, or reasons, she tired of him, and in so doing, became opened to other approaches to which she succumbed. Other lovers came her way, and she yielded and left the home and left Hosea. How long she was away we do not know, but long enough to have her whole life wrecked and ruined, leaving this broken-hearted man behind, alone. One day he went out, sad, heavy at heart; perhaps for some business. He took with him a bag with some meal in it. As he went through the city he had to pass the place where slaves were bought and sold, and a sale of slaves was going on. He heard the noise and the bidding and the asking, and when he looked up, he saw someone being offered for sale – a woman! There was something about her that made him look again, and as he looked, he saw that it was his former wife – emaciated almost beyond recognition, in shame and degradation! Was it revulsion that welled up in his soul? No, the old love came up and overcame everything. And he asked, What price are you asking for her? They said, Thirty pieces of silver! As he looked in his wallet, and only had fifteen, he gave them fifteen and said; here is the fifteen, and here is fifteen worth of meal; will that do to make up the thirty pieces of silver? They said, Alright, we will accept that! He took her home and restored her to her old place of respect and love, and cherished her once again.
Why must that come into a prophet’s life? Sovereignty of God! you say, cruel, hard, bitter! But you see, a vessel committed to the purpose of God has to enter into the very heart feelings of God, because it has to become the very embodiment of His message. And the message of the prophet is this: “Israel, whom I betrothed unto Me! I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after Me! Israel, betrothed to the Lord, married to the Lord, His Spouse, had forsaken Him, had gone after other lovers, and been wrecked and ruined; and was found in the market for the price of a harlot! And God comes out to Israel like that with a new embrace, to bring that Israel back, and to love as before; to restore and honor as before; to pass over the transgression in great forgiveness as though it had never been. That is the grace of God, and the messenger had to embody that message in his own experience.
Jeremiah well have complained along one line as perhaps you have. I have personally complained along this line: I was never made for this; my whole constitution and make-up is such that, well, another kind is necessary for this job, this work. Have you ever said that? Well, I have quarreled with the Lord many times on that and said, Lord, you have the wrong man; it is another type of man You need for this job; I am out of my place. I could do a lot of things very much better, naturally, than I can do this job. Lord, You have made a mistake.
And yet, in the sovereignty of God, this was the man [Jeremiah] that was chosen. The Word says definitely, “I formed thee”; oh, the mystery of God’s ways! It becomes quite clear, as you go on through his life, that, difficult as it was for him naturally, he is the man. God can write in this man His own heart. God can come through this man as He might not be able to come through many others. The point is, the man was constituted not as he thought he ought to be, but as God chose that He should be; and being constituted by God he fulfilled his ministry because God was behind it, God was in it. If you and I are really in line with God and in the hands of God, though everything is to be against us in ourselves, the thing is done sovereignly, the thing is done spontaneously.”
The Golden Candlestick
The two seemed right for each other, I did not doubt that for a moment. Heimler was a hard-working, decent young man who'd seen the worst of the world for what it really was. I couldn't say less for Miss Abigail Reynolds, though in many ways I had always found her very delicate; much less able to handle the sort of life which scores of the women around her were callused to – despite the fact that she had been a maid in my home for above six years. She needed a man like Heimler to support and help her – protect her, if that were possible with Heimler being by my side every moment since Andrew's dismissal. I knew they were a perfect match – I certainly did not need Author Bennet telling me that! – but I could not bide any sort of official union… not now. Another six month voyage ahead of us or not, Wolfgang Heimler would have to put his personal affairs behind him and keep his work as first priority.
Turn the Page please…..