If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan? — Jeremiah 12:5
A few years ago, my friends and I decided to go white water rafting on a river that was new to us. We looked at a map and saw that there were three main big drops where the river changed elevation dramatically. I had a slight worry that I might be getting too old for such a thing, yet it sounded challenging and exciting.
As I got into the raft with my friends, I felt a little nervous. We hit a few small runs and I began to relax a little. But I still felt dread for the challenging “big water” that was coming. We had packed lunches, and I asked that we not stop to eat until we had passed all three big drops, so I could relax.
After traveling for some time through small drops and falls, we hit our first big one. It was scary, but we made it, and that helped my confidence. When we made it through the second drop, I was feeling a bit more brave. Some time later, we came to the third big drop. What a relief it was when we got through it! Then we stopped for lunch, and I was set to enjoy the rest of the trip because the worst was behind us.
As we sat on the bank eating our lunches, some men came by on kayaks, and we talked with them. Imagine my horror when I was informed that we had not even hit the first big drop yet! I thought things were as tough and scary as they would get, but I was wrong. However, going through those seemingly “big” drops actually prepared me for the huge ones that were to come.
In today’s text, Jeremiah was facing far more than white water rapids; he had people around him who wanted to take his life. Yet in the focus verse, Jeremiah was challenged by God. Even though the previous troubles he had faced had been hard, more difficult things were coming. Jeremiah was not to let the smaller challenges get him down. Instead, he was to meet them, and then he could face the bigger ones with confidence.
In our Christian walks we are going to have trials. We can either let those trials discourage us, or we can use them as faith-building experiences to make us stronger in the Lord. At times, we may be tempted to question God as Jeremiah did. Yet, God knows what He is doing. When we do not understand why we have to go through a trial, we can rest assured that there is a bigger plan involved. We should remember that the trial of our faith will bring patience and endurance. It will make our faith stronger, so we can be prepared for whatever is coming.
We can be assured that all things do work together for our good, and that God has a perfect plan for our lives. We do not have to fear the future!
Today’s text concludes Jeremiah’s fourth sermon. Shaken by the treacherous actions of his relatives and fellow citizens of Anathoth in their efforts to take his life, Jeremiah questioned God about why the wicked seemingly prospered in their evil doings. It appeared to him that God had planted the evildoers in Judah and allowed them to succeed and flourish when, even though they claimed to serve God, their hearts were far from Him. Jeremiah stated that God knew his heart and his desire to serve God, and he asked God to vindicate him by singling out those who were wicked, just as sheep were separated for slaughter. Jeremiah questioned why the land and animals had suffered as judgment for wrongdoing, rather than those who committed the transgressions.
Beginning in verse 5, God’s response focused on Jeremiah rather than the evildoers of Judah. God used two proverbs to make the analogy that if Jeremiah was overwhelmed by the smaller hardships, how could he withstand the intensifying adversity that was to come? God then warned Jeremiah against trusting his own family or neighbors in Anathoth, who had deceitfully caused many to turn against him.
God told Jeremiah that He had been compelled to forsake His beloved people because of their rejection of Him. God had claimed Judah for His heritage, but instead of obeying Him, they had snarled at Him like a roaring lion, and had defiled the inheritance that God had given to them. Speckled birds, with unusual markings, were susceptible to attacks from other birds. Judah was as a “speckled bird” to the surrounding nations, and the rulers of these nations and their armies would devour Judah and its inhabitants. The land, which had been fruitful and bountiful, would become desolate and barren.
In verse 14, God warned the Gentile nations that those who chose to harm God’s inheritance, Judah, would also be “plucked” from their lands by their enemies. God then said that after He had removed them from their lands, He would benevolently give back their heritage if they would acknowledge that the God of Israel is the only true God, and would serve Him only. However, the nation that refused to obey God’s directive would be completely destroyed.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The pronouncement of judgment against Judah
A. The condemnation of the prophet
4. The fourth sermon: The broken covenant
e. The prayer of the prophet (12:1-4)
f. The reply of Jehovah (12:5-17)
(1) The tests (12:5-6)
(2) The judgment on Judah (12:7-13)
(3) The restoration of Judah (12:14-17)
We know that God wants to strengthen our faith, so by His grace, we can overcome anything that will ever come our way.