Jeremiah and His Times: The Christian and These Times

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 8
The Christian should sense the character of this present time through which we are passing. The great powers that are destined to fill out the action of Christendom's closing day are practicing themselves, each in its several sphere, with great earnestness and skill. These powers are the Civil and the Ecclesiastical.
1 do not doubt but that for a season the Ecclesiastical will prevail. The woman is to ride for a while, and is the symbol, as I surely judge, which signifies the supremacy of that which takes the place of the Church. And this present moment is marked by her efforts to mount the saddle. And she is so adroitly directing those efforts that I doubt not success will soon attend them, and then the blood of the saints may flow afresh.
The civil power, however, is not idle. The wondrous advance that it is making every day in the cultivation of the world is the proof of great skill and activity on its part. It is largely boasting and showing what it can do, and pledging what further it means to do.
At this moment each of these powers is abroad in the scene of action, and men's minds are divided between them. They are, in a sense, rivals and opposed. There is the commercial energy and the religious energy, the one erecting its fairs and exhibitions and such like, and the other its religious entrenchment. The attention of the children of men is divided between them; but the saints who know the cross of Christ as the relief of their conscience, and the ground of their separation from the world, are equally apart from both.
I doubt not but that the civil power will yield to the religious for a time; and the woman will ride again, though her state and greatness will be but short, for the civil power will take offense and remove her.
For between these powers there is at times confederacy, and then at times there is enmity.
If we, in God's grace, keep a good conscience toward Christ and the truth, we may count upon it that no inheritance or portion in the earth is worth many years' purchase (Lev. 25:1515According to the number of years after the jubilee thou shalt buy of thy neighbor, and according unto the number of years of the fruits he shall sell unto thee: (Leviticus 25:15)).
I have been sensible lately how much the language and spirit of Jeremiah suits these times. He lived in the daily observation of evil and iniquity advancing in the scene around him, though it was called by God's name, and was indeed His place on the earth. The house of prayer had become a den of thieves. He knew, likewise, that the judgment of God was awaiting it all; but withal, he looked for sure and happy days in the distance which lay beyond the present corruption and the coming judgment.
He mourned over it; he also testified against it. And like his Master (John 7:77The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. (John 7:7)), he was hated for his testimony.
He was, however, full of faith and hope touching the future; and therefore he laid out his money in the purchase of Hanameel's field (chap. 32). All this was beautiful—the present sorrow, the certainty of approaching judgment, and the hope of closing, crowning glory. This is a pattern for our spirit.
And I observe another feature of character or of power in the prophet. He was not to be seduced from the conclusions of faith by occasional circumstances or fair, promising appearances. This is seen in chapter 37.
The Chaldean army had broken up their camp at the walls of Jerusalem, because of the arrival of the Jews' Egyptian allies. But Jeremiah left the city, for he could not but hold the conclusion of faith that Jerusalem was doomed of God; he was not deceived by the flattering appearance of a moment like that (Jer. 37:5-155Then Pharaoh's army was come forth out of Egypt: and when the Chaldeans that besieged Jerusalem heard tidings of them, they departed from Jerusalem. 6Then came the word of the Lord unto the prophet Jeremiah, saying, 7Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel; Thus shall ye say to the king of Judah, that sent you unto me to inquire of me; Behold, Pharaoh's army, which is come forth to help you, shall return to Egypt into their own land. 8And the Chaldeans shall come again, and fight against this city, and take it, and burn it with fire. 9Thus saith the Lord; Deceive not yourselves, saying, The Chaldeans shall surely depart from us: for they shall not depart. 10For though ye had smitten the whole army of the Chaldeans that fight against you, and there remained but wounded men among them, yet should they rise up every man in his tent, and burn this city with fire. 11And it came to pass, that when the army of the Chaldeans was broken up from Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh's army, 12Then Jeremiah went forth out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin, to separate himself thence in the midst of the people. 13And when he was in the gate of Benjamin, a captain of the ward was there, whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he took Jeremiah the prophet, saying, Thou fallest away to the Chaldeans. 14Then said Jeremiah, It is false; I fall not away to the Chaldeans. But he hearkened not to him: so Irijah took Jeremiah, and brought him to the princes. 15Wherefore the princes were wroth with Jeremiah, and smote him, and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe: for they had made that the prison. (Jeremiah 37:5‑15)).
This is a fine exhibition of a soul walking by the light of God, not only through darkness, but through darkness that seemed to be light—and with all this, he was a suffering witness.
Things are advancing and prospering as far as the accommodations of social life go. But the moral of the scene in the eye of faith is more serious than ever. The apostate powers of man are ripening themselves into their most abundant exhibition. There is somewhat of rivalry between them just for the present. The secular and the religious powers are apart as yet. Each has its respective votaries and worshipers. But confederacy is to succeed for a time, I believe. The world must, even for its own ends, for a season, adopt religion; and then for that season the woman will ride the beast again, that man's system may grow solid as well as extended, and propose itself as the thing that has earned for itself a title to conform all and everything to itself.
Separation is the Christian's place and calling—separation because of heavenly citizenship, and oneness with an already risen and ascended Christ. Abraham's was a very complete separation. It was twofold. He was separated from the natural associations of Mesopotamia, "country... kindred... and father's house," and from the moral associations of Canaan, or its iniquities and idols.
May the Lord, in the thought of these solemn truths, be more real and near to us! May the prospect of His presence be more familiarly before us, and the hope of His glory be found lying more surely and certainly in the very midst of the affections and stirrings of our hearts!