A Long Obedience

The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah (that was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), which Jeremiah the prophet spoke to all the people of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem: ‘For twenty-three years, from the thirteenth year of Josiah… to this day, the word of the Lord has come to me, and I have spoken persistently to you, but you have not listened. You have neither listened nor inclined your ears to hear, although the Lord persistently sent to you all his servants the prophets, saying, “Turn now, every one of you, from his evil way and evil deeds, and dwell upon the land that the Lord has given to you forever. Do not go after other gods to serve and worship them, or provoke me to anger with the work of your hands. Then I will do you no harm. Yet you have not listened to me, declares the Lord. Therefore, because you have not obeyed my words, behold, I will send for all the tribes of the north, and for Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these surrounding nations. I will… make them a horror, a hissing, and an everlasting desolation.”‘” Jeremiah 25:1-9

“And when Jeremiah had finished speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to speak to all the people, then the priests and the prophets and all the people laid hold of him, saying, ‘You shall die!'” Jeremiah 26:8

God calls us to be faithful, not successful. We answer to Him, not to the world or our peers. When we consider that Jeremiah, day in and year out, plodded on with God’s message through the mists of unbelief, the tangle of leaders’ criticism, and the cold of Israel’s rejection, we cannot but be humbled at his long, steady obedience to the One who had called him. (Jeremiah 1:4-10; Philippians 2:12-13)

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Obedience to the Lord is no guarantee that we will be looked upon favorably in the here and now, that we will accumulate accolades among those with whom we live, or that the message we are told to proclaim will be well-received. But it is the path to His blessing, His ultimate, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” What Friedrich Nietzsche called “a long obedience in the same direction” requires, for the Christian, a deep trust in the God who calls us to obey His instructions and see His word through to His directed end, no matter what comes. We can find solace and help by pouring our complaint to Him, and can continue on in His power, because of His presence with us. (Joshua 1:9; Jeremiah 1:8,12; 8:18-19; 12:1; 20:1-3; Matthew 25:23)

Obedience to the Lord is a proof of our love for Jesus. The longer we walk in His steps, doing as He has commanded, the better we know Him, by experience and intimate communion. The better we know Him, the more we love Him. Obedience is a glorious, long journey. (John 14:16; 1 John 5:3; 2 John 6)

Lord, may I never weary in doing the good Your word assigns to me. As You are faithful, so may I continue in long, unbroken, loving faithfulness to You. (2 Chronicles 15:7; Galatians 6:9)

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