Monday, August 18, 2014

Jeremiah and John Calvin

As often noted, these days I do not have anywhere near the time for reading as I would like. But I try to squeeze in snippets of things in between crises for edification and pondering. Such pondering often takes place in the car when I have to commute back and forth. I have an hour each way, so it's good time to ponder.

Today, I happened to glance at John Calvin's commentary on Jeremiah the Prophet, namely the section dealing with Jeremiah's prophecy against King Zedekiah. The Lord sent a word to Jeremiah—a word for both the king and the nation. The king didn't take too kindly to it, because the Lord was warning of coming judgment over the nation's sins and unfaithfulness to God. Zedekiah promptly threw the prophet in prison. Here is what Calvin had to say, and it's very profound. You can shut up the prophets, but you can't silence the Word of God . . .

We ought at the same time to bear in mind what I have already said, that though the ungodly sought in all ways wholly to extinguish the Word of God, they yet did not attain what they wished; for God broke through all hindrances, and continued the course of His Word notwithstanding all their attempts. And this ought to be carefully noticed, for we see at this day all sorts of contrivances made by the wicked to impede the course of celestial truth. Let then this history be remembered, that though Jeremiah was a captive, yet his word was free and his tongue at liberty, as Paul also boasts, that though he was bound with chains, yet God's Word was not bound (2 Timothy 2:9). 

Then the reason is added why he was shut up in prison—he had dared to prophesy against the city and the king himself. It is no wonder that the king's mind was exasperated when Jeremiah boldly said he would come into the hands of his enemies, for he had not only spoken of the ruin of the city, but also of the fall of the king; he had said that he would be brought before King Nebuchadnezzar, and be led to Babylon, and be there until God visited him. We know how delicate are the ears of kings; it was then no wonder Zedekiah became incensed against Jeremiah; but yet he ought to have been softened and humbled when he found that this oracle had come from God. That he still kept Jeremiah a prisoner proves his madness and stupidity, for he had no regard for God. 

This was the end of one of John Calvin's lectures in Geneva, for he appended this prayer at the end:

Grant, Almighty God, that since we cease not daily to provoke Thy wrath against us, we may be warned by Thy Word and repent, and so humble ourselves before Thee that we may anticipate the rigor of Your judgment, and that being also chastised by Thy hand, we may not become hardened, but be submissive to Thee and teachable, and so profit under Thy discipline, that being at length wholly devoted to Thee, we may have no other object than to glorify Thy holy name, until we shall become partakers of that glory which thine only begotten Son has obtained for us. Amen.

How often do we read Old Testament passages such as this—assuming we bother to read God's Word at all—and easily dismiss it as a warning for another day and another time. In reality, while yes—this does have an immediate context to the days of Jeremiah and Israel being carted off to Babylon—it also has wider application. God still watches the affairs of this world, and He will bring nations to account. Judgment also begins with the House of God, (1 Peter 4:17). Those of us who name the name of our Lord and Savior need to remember Who we are representing and why. America is not guaranteed eternal existence as a nation, and we who call ourselves believers will not be spared discipline if we "forget our first love."

If you want to see sometime just how far apostasy has gotten, check out The Christian Post online. Just today, a well known Christian singer revealed her lesbianism, and there are other stories from time to time that show a heartbreaking trend away from biblical truth. I don't mean to suggest The Christian Post itself is apostate—they are merely chronicling what is going on in the wider Christian world day by day. This in and of itself was prophesied in Scripture, that in the last days there would be a huge apostasy, or "departure" from the faith.

It's bad now. And it will get a whole lot worse before the Lord's return. May He hasten His coming for His own, and may we who remain faithful keep our lamps lit!



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