“If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses?....” Jer. 12:5a
Our text was spoken by the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet during the latter part of King Josiah’s reign over Judah. His reign in Judah was a good reign. He had restored true worship to Judah and it was a time of revival, peace, and prosperity in the nation. Many of the people were just following the king’s convictions since they had none of their own. They were giving lip service and not heart service. It was to this people the Lord had sent Jeremiah.
His ministry was an unusual ministry as Jer. 1:10 states plainly. (“See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.” Jer. 1:10) No doubt many of the people said, “Things are going well in Judah now.” “Times are good, no wars, prosperous times, don’t rock the boat.” Seems like after about 10 to 15 years of this type of ministry Jeremiah questions God in Jer. 1:1-4: (verse 1 “Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?” verse 2 “Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins.” verse 3 “But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter.” verse 4 “How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? the beasts are consumed, and the birds; because they said, He shall not see our last end.”) Why do the wicked prosper? Why are the treacherous happy? (verse 1) He acknowledges that God is righteous (verse 1) and in control. (verse 2) He also acknowledges the people were giving lip service and not heart (reins) service. (verse 2) Again he questions in verse 4: How long are you going to let this go on? Stating that even the birds suffer when famine comes as punishment.
Basically Jeremiah was saying, “Lord, the people are unconcerned. They will not heed my message. They do not want the truth. They cannot see what I am talking about.” He got so frustrated and discouraged that it came to the point that He was just going to quit preaching. (Jer. 20:7-9a: “O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived; thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name.”) But he could not because “His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.” Jer. 20:9b
Jeremiah had a lot of frustrations and problems but the Lord rebuked him in Jer. 12:5a, our text, as He stated this proverbial expression. The unconcern of the people was only a footman. The hatred of truth of the people was only a footman. Wickedness prospering was only a footman. If footmen are wearing you down, what will you do when the horses come? The horses are coming! The Lord was saying to Jeremiah “If you can not stand true to God during the time of the peaceful reign of Josiah, what will you do when the wicked kings--Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah--begin to rule?” “If you can not serve God in time of peace, what will you think you would do in the time of captivity?” The Lord knew what was ahead and was rebuking Jeremiah for looking at the people and the problems instead of looking at the Lord. “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” II Cor. 10:12
I can identify with Jeremiah. The footmen have wearied me. (“Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.” SOS 2:15) Therefore, the Lord’s rebuke can be applied to us today. What are you going to do when the horses come? The thing is, they are coming! In contending with the horses in Zedekiah’s day, Jeremiah was lied upon and put in prison. (Jer. 37:11-15,21; 38:6: “Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.”) Then he went to Egypt with the captives who fled their homeland. He was their voice there. It seems he learned to contend with the footmen, so that he was able to contend with the horses when they came. He learned his resource was in God alone.
How does this apply to us? America cannot go on in wickedness without God’s judgment. The pendulum has already began to swing to the side of judgment for our nation. I do not know what form of government we will have in the future nor what we will have to face, but you can count on one thing--“The horses are coming!” You can read Rev. 6 and know the white horse rider of the antichrist is coming and his spirit is already in the world today. Also, it speaks of a red horse rider which may indicate the war of wars as the antichrist takes peace from the earth. Then, the black horse rider, representing famine which follows war and then the pale horse rider, representing death which follows war and famine. The horses are coming!
But before these, we, like Jeremiah, will face greater trials of faith. We will see 1) liberalism rampant in our government and supreme court, 2) partial birth abortion will be reinstated, 3) government will try to rid our country of our guns, 4) terrorist will infiltrate our country in a greater degree, 5) morality will greatly decline, 6) homosexuality will be more open and flaunted, 7) rebellion against authority, 8) socialism and humanism will soon be in control which means capitalism will be gone. These are just a few of many things too numerous to mention in this article. A total government controlled society is almost upon us and if we can not contend with the footmen, what will happen to us when the horses come. The horses are coming!
But Paul said Rom. 8:18: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” and our Lord said in Luke 12:32: “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” May the Lord help us to run with the footmen so that we may be able to contend with the horses when they come, so that the Lord may get all the glory.
This is just a shorten version of a message preached in our church in November 2008. If you would like to have a CD of the message, please let us know. It is free for the asking. If we can be of help in any way, please feel free to contact us.
THE PERSUADER - Jan.-March, 2009