“O the hope of Israel, the savior thereof in time of trouble, why should you be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turns aside to tarry for a night? Why should you be as a man astonished, as a mighty man that cannot save? yet you, O LORD, are in the midst of us, and we are called by your name; leave us not.”
I read these two verses as part of my devotion time this morning and I admit, I was deeply moved to the point where I needed to stop and just meditate. Those of you who know me, or are regular readers of this space, know my concern for the state of our country. The more I observe what’s happening in our culture, our society, our families and churches, and our government, the more it seems as though all hope is fading.
What makes things worse is knowing how quickly we have fallen. It took Israel several thousand years to reach her point of destruction; Europe was almost 500 years before her ruin; yet we have managed to bring ourselves to the brink of failure in just over 200 years. What a pity.
We started out as a Godly people and the LORD blessed us and prospered us. He gave us victories in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and both World Wars; all conflicts we should have lost handily. He prospered us to the point of achieving the highest standard of living per capita in all of the modern era. The Lord poured out on us the blessings of freedom and liberty largely unknown in the rest of the world. And in 200 years we have thrown in all away.
Don’t get me wrong, I personally have not lost hope of my situation or that of my family. We have every confidence in our LORD to guide, protect, bless, and carry us through anything. We know we are in the loving hands of Jehovah God, never to be let go. We have the joy and peace the Scriptures so readily promise those who follow hard after the Lord. For us personally, life is good because God is good.
But where my country and my fellow believers are concerned, I am losing hope. Jeremiah says our Hope in times of trouble is the Savior, and yet he asks why the Savior should be a stranger in the land. Why should the Lord God be as a ” wayfaring man that turns aside to tarry for a night?” In other words, a wayfaring man is a visitor who’s just passing through town. At the time this was written, the custom of the day would have a traveler stop in the nearest city as evening fell, where someone he met would take him in for the night. The rest of the city would be completely unaware that he was in town. In the morning he would get up and go his way, no one the wiser but his host.
This is such an incredible illustration of the conditions in Jeremiah’s day, and those in our day too. Jesus comes to town so-to-speak in any variety of ways, and one or two people see him and invite him in. The rest of the folks are oblivious that he’s even around. He does a work in the lives of those who have “hosted” him, only to move on the following day as everyone else goes about their business. The New Testament gives us a great example of this in the gospel of Matthew.
“And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, From where has this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brothers, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? From where then has this man all these things? And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” [Matt. 13:54-58]
In Jesus’ own home town he was limited in what he could do because the townspeople refused to believe what he had to say. They ignored his as though he had come into the city like a wayfaring man just passing through. He had nothing to offer so they let him go on his way.
Today, if we try to encourage people to truly be like Jesus they don’t even know what that means; let alone believe it’s necessary in their life. Folks, I’m convinced that if we were to truly please the Father in all things just as Jesus did, we would be radically different. Jesus was radical! If we were holy as God is holy we wouldn’t barely recognize one another. If we truly believed that Jesus could come at any moment, we would be out in the streets watching for him, as it were, instead of allowing him to wander into town while we’re enjoying the evening meal.
According to Jeremiah, the Savior was like a man who was astonished (dumbfounded at what he found in the city) and could not save the people. Then Jeremiah acknowledges that the Savior is among them and pleads that he not leave. The prophet knows that if the Savior leaves all hope is gone.
Personally, I do believe God is still in the midst of his people in America. I experience it during my worship and study time. But I seriously wonder how far away we are from that day of Ichabod. That day when he departs from our midst and writes judgment across the door post.
Dear God of heaven, have mercy on our souls. Do not leave us to perish, I pray.