Heaven's Heroes


You can find lists of them in the Bible; in Hebrews 11, for example, or, in 2 Sam. 23, David’s "mighty men." But there are individuals also, such as David in the Old Testament, the young man who killed Goliath with only a slingshot and cut off the giant’s head with his own sword. Let us lengthen the list a little: David Livingstone, the explorer in Africa, honored by being laid to rest in Westminster Abbey, but whose heart was buried in the Africa he loved. Perhaps best of all was the Scottish martyr, George Wishart, who was burned at the stake on March 1, 1546. He died triumphantly! His chief tormentor on his knees asked his forgiveness by kissing him on the cheek! His death at the age of 33 inspired John Knox to "take up the baton."


Why consider Jeremiah one of heaven’s heroes? For the simple reason that of all the prophets he had the most difficult task, the most determined opposition, and he triumphed gloriously. Israel had drifted a long way from the God who had so abundantly blessed them. In spite of a long history of faithful men, the time had arrived for the Lord to act in judgment. In the life time of Jeremiah, Israel was overcome by the Chaldeans and the remainder of the nation carried off to Babylon. King Zedekiah was executed and Jerusalem destroyed. Jeremiah had to explain to the nation why this extreme chastisement was necessary, speaking to the conscience of the guilty nation. Naturally, he was the most hated man in Jerusalem. His own people, the men of Anathoth, were against him; prophets, priests, and the people fought against him; and the princes and even the King opposed him. He suffered chains, was confined to the court of the prison, and was twice put in the dungeon — once to sink in the mire. His very life was often in danger. Remember, too, that Jeremiah dearly loved the very people to whom he promised only the most awful judgments.

This brings us to the question, how was he sustained in all this indignity and shame and suffering? Surely he needed very special help from the Lord, and help was not wanting. The same help is very much needed today. God’s longsuffering and pleading is most severely tried. Judgment is near. The Lord will presently judge the whole world, not with water, as in Noah’s days, but by fire (2 Pet. 3:7). But faithful men and women today can prove precisely the same resource as Jeremiah. That resource is God’s Holy Word. When God speaks emphatically to men in the Old Testament, the formula is sometimes "thus saith the Lord!" In the Old Testament it occurs about 359 times — about 157 of those times are in Jeremiah. The footnote in the Darby translation of the Bible reminds us that God’s name as Jehovah occurs about 700 times. It is also worth noting that Jeremiah’s name possibly means "Jah is exalted" – a very precious consideration. We can therefore the more easily understand v. 16 in ch. 15, "Thy words were found, and I did eat them, and the words were unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart." What wonderful things were made known to this prophet, e.g., the New Covenant in ch. 31. The length of the Babylon captivity is predicted in ch. 25 and the foundation for Daniel’s prayer in Dan. 9:2. Jeremiah’s confidence in the Lord encouraged him to buy land in a country which was shortly to fall into the hands of the Babylonians (ch. 32). And what wonderful fellowship Jeremiah proved in all his reproach and suffering: Barvek, his secretary, who rewrote the prophecy in writing given to Zechariah when the King had burnt the previous one (ch. 36); Ebed-melech who interceded for Jeremiah to the King, and, with 20 men, lifted Jeremiah out of the dungeon (ch. 38); and Ahikam (ch. 2) who delivered him out of the hands of the people who would have put him to death. "Wisdom strengthened the wise more that ten mighty men that are in a city" (Ecc. 7:19), but Jeremiah was appointed as "a strong city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls, against the whole land" (Jer. 1:18). Like the reformer, Jeremiah could say, "God and Jeremiah are more than a match for the whole world." Remember also that when the Israelites finally did surrender and were carried into captivity, the only free man in Jerusalem was Jeremiah (ch. 40:40)! What a public confirmation that all Jeremiah’s prophecies were true.

What is the message then for the saints of God? Give yourselves to "the Book!" We live in day where God is being bowed out, sometimes sophistically (for example, the evolution theory disposes of God in creation), but sometimes it is done by the hand of one who is the prince of cunning, the Devil himself. He has an inexhaustible list of ways to engage the hearts and minds and lives of men and women with anything at all except God and his precious Holy Word. The verse on the daily calendar is not enough. Nor is the letter of scripture enough! It has to be received in meekness, it has to be the "engrafted Word" (Jas. 1:21). "Search it out, write it down, pray it in, live it out, tell it again, indeed scatter it abroad!" Another prophet tells us encouragingly "It will not return unto Me void" (Isa. 55:11). And to return to the title page, this is the way to become one of Heaven’s Heroes. Rev. 3:11 tells us of a company of "little strength, who do not deny my name, who keep my Name, and keep the Word of My patience." What an honor this is! Let no one rob us of this crown (Rev. 3:8-11). Oh, to know the Bible better and the One who is the author.

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