Part III

Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable? It refuseth to be healed. Wilt thou be
altogether unto me as a treacherous [spring], [as] waters that fail?
(Jeremiah 15:18 DBY)

Jehovah's Response To The Prophet Jeremiah Question:

Therefore thus saith Jehovah, If thou return (repent), then will I bring thee again, that thou mayest stand before me; and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: they shall return unto thee, but thou shalt not return unto them. And I will make thee unto this people a fortified brazen wall; and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith Jehovah. Jeremiah 15:19, 20

We can best understand what God is saying to Jeremiah by looking at what God is saying to His church today through the Epistle to Smyrna.;

"And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear not the things which thou art about to suffer: behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life. 11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." Revelation 2:8-11

In all probability the church at Smyrna was founded by Paul during his third missionary journey AD 53-56 (Acts 19:10). History tell us of one called Polycarp was bishop of the church at Smyran mentioned in (Revelation 2:8-11). Polycarp was a pupil of the Apostle John, faithful till death, this venerable leader was burned at the stake in the year AD 155.

The story goes something like this: Polycarp was persuaded by his friends to leave the city and conceal himself in a farm-house, there he was said to spend much time in prayer," After arising from prayer he turned and said unto those that were with him, 'it must needs be that I shall be burned alive.' When his pursuers were on his track he went to another farm-house. Finding him gone they put two slave boys to the torture, and one of them betrayed his place of concealment.

Escape was still possible, but the old man refused to flee, saying, "the will of God be done. He came down to meet his pursuers, conversed affably with them, and ordered food to be set before them. While they were eating he continued in prayer. Then he was led away. {if thy enemies are hungry feed them} On his way, his captors urged him to say, ‘Caesar is Lord', but refused. Brought to the stadium the proconsul urged him, saying, ‘Swear, and I will set thee at liberty, reproach Christ.' Polycarp answered, "Fourscore and six years have I served Him, and he has done me no harm. How then can I curse my King that saved me."

When the proconsul again pressed him, the old man answered, "Since thou are vainly urgent that .... I should swear by the fortune of Caesar, and pretendest not to know who and what I am, hear me declare with boldness, I am a Christian" .... A little later the proconsul answered, ‘I have wild beast at hand; to these I will cast thee, except thou repent..'

When the proconsul had done with the prisoner it was too late to throw him to the beasts, for the sports were closed. It was decided, therefore, to burn him alive. But Polycarp responded, "Thou threatenest me with fire that burneth for an hour, and after a little is extinguished, but are ignorant of the fire of the coming judgement and of eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly. But why tarriest thou? Bring forth what thou wilt."

The crowd therefore took it upon itself to collect fuel, "the Jews (of the synagogue of Satan) more especially assisting in this with zeal, as is their wont" Understand, these were the actual conditions which existed in the churches during the first and second century. And it is to It is to this church , Smyrna, that Christ addresses Himself as follows, "These things declares the First and the Last, who became dead, yet lived" Revelation 2:8

The Lord is telling these Christians, as He is telling us, ‘know ahead of time, it's going to cost you something to be identified with My Name.' We cannot afford to pity ourselves, or loose heart in the "heat" of the battle. Just as He told Jeremiah, to "take forth the precious from the vile", we must endeavor, that is persevere, that we may bring forth the good out of every trial. We are reminded in Psalm 84:5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. 6 Who passing through the valley of Baca (weeping, complain) make (make-consider, regard) it a well (a source of satisfaction); the rain also filleth the pools. 7 They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.

We must also realize that as pilgrims and strangers here on earth we are on probation. We are reminded that it is possible to go from trial to trial gaining more grace. Like Jeremiah God is using our present difficulties to prepare us for those of greater intensity that lie ahead of us. "If running with the fighting-men has made you tired, how will you be able to keep up with horses? and if in a land of peace you go in flight, what will become of you in the thick growth of Jordan?" (Jer 12:5 - BBE)

You ask, "What's the encouragement in all of this?" Like Jeremiah, Polycarp, and those brethren of ours already mentioned , God wants to bless us unimaginably, but He can only give His best to those who remain faithful under persecution. Once again we read;

Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. Revelation 2:10

Let me encourage you to be amongst the overcomers. Take time and read the Book of the Revelation. Not only will you find it relevant to all you are going through, but you will find it a great source of blessing and consolation. .

For The Glory Of His Name
Whether By Life Or Death



Sources For This Devotional
(1) More Than Conquerors -
An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation - By: William Hendriksen
(2) New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12219b.htm