Reading Time: 5 minutesThe Crises Is Sneaking Up On Us: Rev 3:10
Jer 12:5 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?
We live in a sometimes, hard, unfeeling, uncharitable world. Satan and his confederacy are trying their every art to seduce and entrap the souls for whom Christ has given his precious life. And every one who loves God in sincerity and truth will love the souls for whom Christ has died. If we wish to do good to souls, our success with these souls will be in proportion to their belief in our belief and appreciation of them. Respect shown to the human, struggling soul, is the sure means through Christ Jesus, of the restoration of the self-respect that many of us have lost in a chaotic world of grief and sorrows.
The prophet has been complaining of his persecutors. The divine answer is here, reproving his impatience, and giving him to understand that harder trials are in store for him.
Both clauses mean substantially the same thing, and are of a parabolic nature. The one adduces the metaphor of a race: ‘Footmen have beaten you, have they? Then how will you run with cavalry?’ The other is more clear in the Revised Version rendering: ‘Though in a land of peace you are secure, what will you do in Jordan when it swells?’ The ‘swelling of Jordan’ is a figure for extreme danger.
The questions may be taken as referring to our own lives. Note how the one refers more to strength for duties, the other to peace and safety in dangers. They both recognize that life has great alternations as to the magnitude of its tasks and trials, and they call on experience to answer the question whether we are ready for times of stress and peril.
I. Think of what may come to us.
We all have had the experience of how in our lives there are long stretches of uneventful days, and then, generally without warning, some crisis is sprung on us, which demands quite a different order of qualities to cope with it. Our typhoons generally come without any warning from a falling barometer.
We may at any moment be confronted with some hard duty which will task our utmost energy.
We may at any moment be plunged in some great calamity to which the quiet course of our lives for years will be as the still flow of the river between smiling lawns is to the dash and fierce currents of the rapids in a grim canyon.
The tasks that may come on us and the tasks that must come, the dangers that may beset us and the dangers that must envelop us, the possibilities that lie hidden in the future, and the certainties that we know to be shrouded there, should surely sometimes occupy a wise man’s thoughts. It is but living in a fool’s paradise to soothe ourselves with the assurance which a moment’s thought will shatter: ‘To-morrow shall be as this day.’ We shall not always have the easy competition with footmen; there will some time come a call to strain our muscles to keep up with the gallop of cavalry. We shall have to struggle to keep our feet in the swelling of Jordan, and must not expect to have a continual leisurely life in ‘a land of peace.’
II. Think of what experience tells us as to our power to meet these crises.
The footmen have wearied you. The small tasks have been more than your patience and strength could manage. No doubt great exigencies often call forth great powers that were dormant in the humdrum of ordinary life. But the man who knows himself best will be the most ready to shrink with distrust from the dread possibilities of duty.
If we think of the ‘footmen’ with whom we have contended as representing the smaller faults that we have tried to overcome, does our success in conquering some small bad habit, some ‘little sin,’ encourage the hope that we could keep our footing when some great temptation of a lifetime came down on us with a rush like the charge of a battalion of horsemen? Or, if we cast our eyes forward to the calamities that lie still ‘on the knees of the gods’ for us, do we feel ready to meet the hours of desolating disaster, the ‘hour of death and the day of judgment’? Even in a land of peace we have all had alarms, perturbations, and defeats enough, and our security has been at the mercy of marauders so often that if we are wise, and take due heed of what experience has to say to us of our reserve of force, we shall not be hopeful of keeping our footing in the whirling currents of a river in full flood.
III. Think of the power that will fit us for all crises.
With the power of Jesus in our spirits we shall never have to attempt a duty for which we are not strengthened, nor to front a danger from and in which He will not defend us. With His life in us we shall be ready for the long hours of uneventful, unexciting duties, and for the short spurts that make exacting calls on us. We ‘shall run and not be weary; we shall walk and not faint.’ If we live in Jesus we shall always be in ‘a land of peace,’ and no ‘plague shall come nigh our dwelling.’ Even when the soles of our feet rest in the waters of Jordan, the waters of Jordan shall be cut off, and we shall pass over on dry ground into the land of peace, where they that would swallow us up shall be far away for ever.
With some people, a little difficulty or trial casts them down. Instead of developing a character and enduring trial and bearing with courage and perseverance, they sink under the cloud. Said the angel, “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]. The time of trouble is before us, and if there is lack of courage and ambition now, how will they pass the fearful scenes of that trying hour?
Some of us make our lives almost useless by thinking we are more afflicted than we really are. The Lord calls for a reform. We must exercise faith, and wipe the disagreeable frown from the brow, and rather have it lightened up with the Spirit of God. Patience and endurance will effect a great work. Every uttered word exerts an influence, every action involves a train of responsibility. No one can live to themselves in this world, even if they wanted to. Each person forms a part of the great web of humanity, and through our individual threads of influence we are linked to the universe. Christ used his influence to draw all people unto God, and He left us an example of the way in which we should speak and act. A person who is molded by the Spirit of God will know how to speak a “word in season to him that is weary,” and will realize the highest human blessedness,– the joy of imparting to others the precious treasures of the wisdom and grace of Christ.
If the smallest evils to which we are exposed cause us to make so many bitter complaints, how will we feel when, in the course of our prophetic ministry, we shall be exposed to much greater, from enemies much more powerful? Footmen may here be the symbol of common evil events; horsemen, of evils much more terrible. If we have sunk under some, small difficulties, what wilt we ever be able to do when great ones come?