12. The Loneliest Man
It is impossible to understand the revelation of Jesus Christ, or the ministry of the second witness of Christ, or the great story of God, or what God is doing in the earth today, without grappling with and comprehending Jeremiah. And when I say "Jeremiah," I am not speaking necessarily of the words he spoke to an Old Covenant people who did not know God. I am speaking of the story of his life, which prefigures Christ and which prefigures Christ in us.
12. The Loneliest Man: The Greatest Failure in the Bible
I read this comment on Facebook.
“. . . those prophets seemed pretty jacked!
Some of those cats were much more alive than us...ie. Elijah, Enoch and Moses... Jeremiah.... if we supposed to have this total fulfilment... it seems to be sorely absent...”
Elijah ran in fear; Jeremiah was a frightened little boy. Moses did nothing, he couldn’t even talk – Aaron did that. All Moses ever did was raise his little stick.
I had forgotten how long ago it was that the Lord delivered me from the notion that the men of the Bible were any different from us. It is easy enough to refute this nonsense concerning Moses. Elijah and Enoch can hold their own against the accusation that they were demi-gods and not humans. But Jeremiah? That is a different matter.
No one can comprehend how great Jeremiah’s grief was. Not one person believed him; the only person to stand by him was a black man from Ethiopia. Not one person’s life was saved from destruction through Jeremiah’s ministry. Jeremiah failed, completely (by all human perception). He was a traitor to his nation and to the temple of his God and everyone despised him for it.
Jeremiah was a traitor. Today, the American constitution would sentence him to death for his treason. And American Christians would bless God for his removal and rejoice that they had escaped the “curse” of his presence.
Jesus faced the same misunderstanding of God when He confronted the Pharisees. They had it in their heads that Jeremiah was a “great prophet” and that they would have recognized and stood by him if they had lived back then. Even while they rejected the One who stood before them in their present moment.
That spirit the apostle John calls the spirit of anti-Christ. The denial that Christ is come right now in the FLESH. The spirit that says, “Oh yes, those men back then had something we grasshoppers just don’t have today.”
What a lie! What a denial of the One who fills us with all the fullness of God.
It is impossible to understand the revelation of Jesus Christ, or the ministry of the second witness of Christ, or the great story of God, or what God is doing in the earth today, without grappling with and comprehending Jeremiah. And when I say “Jeremiah,” I am not speaking necessarily of the words he spoke to an Old Covenant people who did not know God. I am speaking of the story of his life, which prefigures Christ and which prefigures Christ in us.
The city of Jerusalem was surrounded by ruthless enemies who hated God. Inside the city was the temple of God, the people who called themselves by His name, and the memory of David. These people had a long history of seeing God deliver them from their enemies by His outstretched hand.
Jeremiah, in the midst of horrendous siege-warfare, told the king and the people of the city to surrender unconditionally and to place themselves under the power of the hated tyrant. He said,“He who remains in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he who goes out and defects to the Chaldeans who besiege you, he shall live . . .”
The most terrible thing God spoke through Jeremiah concerning these people was, “Do not pray for them.” Jesus said the same thing.
More than that, Jeremiah stood before the temple of God, the place of His throne in the earth, the dwelling place of the presence of Almighty God and spoke destruction against it if the people did not surrender to their enemies.
To all human definition, this is treason.
Jeremiah spoke often of the brokenness of his heart and the tears on his face. After it was all over, he wandered around the shattered, empty city and wept.
He had failed.
Jesus offended everyone. Isaiah said that He was a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense. Jesus said, “And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.” Matthew 21 - Luke 20
We like a sanitized deity. We like a tame, comfortable God who does nothing that is not readily perceived as “love.” We leaf through the Bible, picking out those things we like and ignoring those things we don’t. We insist on a God who is completely American, with all modern sensibility.
But I am filled with all the fullness of God in all that He speaks. We cannot think that any word God ever spoke was not Jesus for that day and that time.
I say, “We,” but there are equally innumerable Christians who prefer a God of judgment, one who destroys His enemies in anger – especially if they are Muslims. They have a hard time being filled with a God who lays down His life for His enemies, who is gentle and kind to the worst. They do not comprehend a God whose heart is tender towards the Palestinian, towards the Afghani.
We are filled with all the fullness of a wild and untameable God, a God who cannot be pigeon-holed or defined or cleaned up. A God of overwhelming love and overflowing wrath. A God who wounds with one hand and heals with the other.
Jesus offended everyone. The only ones remaining were a boy hardly twenty – John, the woman who was devoted to Him – Mary Magdalene, and his mother. To all human eyes, Jesus had failed as utterly as Jeremiah.
You see, every Christian believes that if Jesus showed up, or if they had lived back then, they would have known that this man was the Christ of God.
If a man in jeans, tennis shoes and a t-shirt, short hair, brown eyes, maybe a mustache only, came into your church and said, “Hi, I am the Christ of God, the Creator of the Universe,” would you believe Him?
More than that, if this same fellow said, “I have given America into the hands of her enemies, if you submit to the enemies of America, within and without, and obey them, you will live and God will bless you. But if you pick up a gun to fight, then you will be destroyed,” what would be the response?
This is the exact scenario God presented to the people of Jerusalem under Jeremiah, and very similar to the scenario He presented with Jesus.
A man, just like us, making claims that run counter to everything everyone holds dear in this world. This is the only way God ever presents Christ.
Third, Christ in Us
When John in his vision states that the two witnesses walk in sackcloth, there is in that word, “sackcloth,” more grief and mixed emotions, tender love, weeping, determined anger, more weeping, and more tender love.
I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath. He has led me and made me walk in darkness and not in light. Surely He has turned His hand against me time and time again throughout the day. He has aged my flesh and my skin, and broken my bones. He has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and woe. He has set me in dark places like the dead of long ago. He has hedged me in so that I cannot get out; He has made my chain heavy. Lamentations 3
How many times, over the years, have these words been a comfort to my heart, in the night places, in the dark places, in the months and years filled with confusion and pain and tears. I have read them over and over.
They have always given me great hope.
Verse 19: Remember my affliction and roaming, the wormwood and the gall. My soul still remembers and sinks within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!”
Having Asperger’s Syndrome has been for me endless years of loneliness and pain. I knew something was wrong with me; the course of other people’s lives and their reactions to difficulty were not mine. Yet in the midst of it all, always, was God, and I held to His hand – rather, He never let me go.
Many of you who read this letter have also lived through great difficulty, misunderstanding, and grief. Yet, you also have known that God always carried you.
God Himself placed us in great weakness that we might know our own inability and thus look no more upon ourselves except to see the glorious One who fills us with His power. But loneliness and grief are no stranger to us. For we, also, are an offense to this world and to many of our brethren.
The Lord Jesus Christ in His return, in all that that means, will be as offensive now as He always was. Jesus will, once again, offend everyone. He will, once again, come unto His own, and His own will not receive Him.
To say that Christ is my life, to say that I am one with Him, is to say that which is most offensive to the ears of man.
To the people who love judgment, He will give too much mercy. To the people who love mercy, He will send forth too much judgment. He speaks against everything that men hold dear in this world.
Jesus is at war with the world. He is at war with the kingdoms and institutions of men. Jesus is at war with that religious cult called the United States of America and its arrogant violence. Jesus is at war with the spirit of the nation calling itself “Israel” and its falsehood and deceitful claims, seizing the inheritance by violence and lies. All human “nations” are nothing other than false religious cults giving identities to people who do not know that Christ is their life.
The entire crux of the ages, the showdown, the point to which all things come in the outward realm of human history, is found in these words, “Come, let us kill Him, that the inheritance may be ours.” Matthew 21 - Luke 20
If Jesus spoke the same words today to the same people to whom He spoke them 2000 years ago, He would be cast out of every church in America. None would hear Him. He would be hounded to death as a terrorist and an anti-Semite.
If there is anything in this world we hold to as “good,” we will have to chose between it and Christ. I am not speaking of individual people – those we love, nor am I speaking of the life God has given us to live in this world, I am speaking of the glory of man upon this earth. Yet for myself, I know this, my own family is safe in God only as I “forsake” them for all the will and integrity of God.
The Daystar, the Lord Jesus Christ, is rising in our hearts and minds. At the same time, we know more and more, that He is our life; we have no other! In fact, because of the revelation of Christ in us, the revelation of evil in this world continues to rise as the counterpoint, the backdrop, and the proving, of the victory of Christ.
God places His story into a very definite setting, and God’s setting is not anything any of us would have chosen or designed. Yet it is God’s story!
To know that Christ is our life, that we have no other life, to know that He carries every part of us, in all of our humanity inside Himself, to know that He fills every part of our human-ness in the messiness of our lives in this world, to know His power, to know His love, to know His mercy, to know His judgment – this we must give ourselves to with all the intensity that we know.
Let us be consumed with God. We see Him in all things. But we also know His purpose.
God reveals light in the midst of darkness, love in the midst of hatred, truth in the midst of deceit.
He is moving all things towards that final showdown in that wicked city that men call Jerusalem, but that the Spirit of God calls Sodom – towards that final clash over the inheritance between Christ and the natural Jew. God will prove His love by extending mercy to those whom the whole world will know deserve it the least. And the demonstration of that mercy is life from the dead.
God has not placed us in a fairy tale, but in a real world, the world of human history, the world of darkness and grief, of rape and slaughter, of famine and pestilence. He has never spared Christians from these things in the past.
He has placed us as a light in the darkness.
Our precious brethren will soon find themselves in a confusion and darkness they cannot comprehend. All that God has done for us, all that He is right now in us, all that He will do through us, is for their sakes. For they are precious to Him, and He loves them with a tenderness and care that we cannot comprehend.
Yet He has appointed this path, this setting for His great story; it is He who hardens the hearts of His enemies. He has a purpose that has burned in His heart from the beginning. God is telling a story, His story, Christ, and at the heart of that story is the vindication of God, the defeat of every voice that opposes Him.
God will vindicate His name in the earth. He will do it through you and through me.
This word on Jeremiah, on the offence of the Lord Jesus Christ, on the grief of the two witnesses, is the path that lies before us.
Let us fall upon Jesus, and let us be broken. For He is our life.