Tuesday, March 10, 2015

HMS Stubborn

Wednesday, March 11, 2015
“But my people would not listen to me.  They kept doing whatever they wanted, following the stubborn desires of their evil hearts.  They went backward instead of forward….The land will lie in complete desolation.
Jeremiah 7:24, 34b (NLT)
In 1942 the British Empire commissioned a submarine, naming her “Stubborn”.  The boat had a less-than-distinguished career, at one point having to be towed back to harbor.  But, she stubbornly persevered and lasted the length of the war. 
Ultimately the HMS Stubborn was used for target practice and sunk off Malta in April 1946[2]; something of an ignominious end for a fighting vessel, the Stubborn was scuttled
Jeremiah has been called the weeping prophet, mainly because he hardly had any “good news” to share.  Every time he opened his mouth, it was time to cry over what came out.  God’s stubborn people have often felt judgment’s sting of being scuttled.
In this prophecy Jeremiah is drawing a parallel between ancient Israel when Moses first led the children out of Egypt, and his Israel.  The ancients were constantly complaining about everything, including the menu.  God provided manna; they wanted meat.  God provided protection; they wanted a king.  You couldn’t please this stubborn people.
Jeremiah’s prophecy brought together the ancient result of stubbornness (lack of faith, going backward instead of forward), with his day…a day of open and flagrant distrust of God’s ways.  Jeremiah’s prophecy was of how Israel would be conquered, destroyed and lay desolate. 
Not a pretty picture!
It’s really difficult to refrain from drawing parallels between the United States and Israel.  Our foundations are so similar, born out of a quest for freedom and faith, as well as being world leaders – we share faith in the same God (while differing on the identity of Messiah). 
We are not Israel, but we share the same stubbornness.  As Israel of old, America is on a downward slide in the faith-in-God department.  As Jeremiah noted that in his day, parents were literally killing their children as offerings to false gods; the US continually leads the way aborting the unborn.
An obscene observation!
Allow me to use Jeremiah’s weeping voice at this point:  How long can this continue before the judgment of the weeping prophet falls on this unsuspecting nation for killing the unborn and for other sins of the flesh?  We have sowed to the wind and are courting a harvest of whirlwind[3].
Another Old Testament lesson can offer some hope for America (and all humankind), Esther. 
If you recall, the ancient Jews were in real trouble.  Xerxes was the Persian king whose empire extended from India to Ethiopia, including Jerusalem.  Esther was a Jew but became Xerxes’ queen because she was very beautiful and he fell in love with her.
Jealous officials tricked the king into signing an edict that would have wiped the Jews off the face of the earth.  But Esther’s uncle Mordecai convinced the queen to intercede.  He said to her: 
If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”    Esther 4:14 (NLT) 
Esther spoke up, and the Jews were saved.  God intervened because Mordecai’s faith provoked Esther’s action.
This is always the hope of a nation.  Christians must speak up for righteousness’ sake, standing in faith that God has placed us where he needs us for just such a time as this.

For You Today

Not everyone is called to be a prophet, but all are called to proclaim the truth.
Speak the truth of holiness today.  Go forward, not backward.

[1] Title Image: By Stewart Bale Ltd, Liverpool, via Wikimedia Commons
[3] See Hosea 8:7

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