Jeremiah 40:9 And Gedaliah the son of Ahikam son of Shaphan sware unto them and to their men saying, Fear not to serve the Chaldeans: dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you.
Some of the fear not verses leap off the page into my heart. Others, I wrestle with. Some I don’t want to hear. A few, I must dig deep to understand. My experience with fear is mostly emotional and of disappointing those I love. Some fear physical harm, others live scared of their own shadows and things “that go bump in the night.” This verse from the prophet Jeremiah goes against everything in our natural self: submitting to authority. However, Jesus himself instructed His followers to do this very thing: Love your enemies, serve those that would use you, turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, forgive 70×7, give to the government what belongs to them (taxes) and other expressions of servanthood.
Do you work in a hostile environment? Is your home less than peaceful? Are you at odds with your in-laws? Do you hate some of the laws passed by our country and the way the leadership conducts business? This is our Babylon. These are our Chaldeans. The LORD through Jeremiah the “weeping” prophet is saying “fear them not, do what is required of you, serve them, and you will be rewarded.
The history behind this verse is staggeringly sad. The Jews have been utterly defeated by Nebuchadnezzar and the brightest, youngest, strongest, best have been led on a death march to Babylon, to slavery. Only the weak, elderly, and those of the military who escaped capture (some would call them traitors) have been left behind to fend for themselves in a city, Jerusalem, with no walls, no food, no homes. And the leader, Gedaliah, appointed to govern this group of misfits is a man of God and an encourager too! The name Gedaliah means “God has made great.” Despite the Jews being in captivity and under the oppression of the pagan Chaldeans and Babylonians they have been given a benevolent leader who encouraged the people to get busy living again by planting crops, and begin the process of rebuilding walls of protection. God uses one man to pump resolve into a people who are fearful and no doubt resistant to any notion of “getting along” or serving with those who have just destroyed their lives as they knew it.
Missionaries go out to work among those who know nothing of God and by simply living, working, and giving grace where none has been earned, a door is opened to share the gospel. Yes, some lose their lives to pagan practices and fear. But I John 4:18 says:
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment.”
You may feel like you live and work in a war zone, a hostile environment, a prison, or other foreign land. “Fear not” to serve your oppressors. God will see to it that it shall be well with you! This is our mission field- our Babylon, our captivity, and the fields are “white unto harvest.”
Thank you Father for going with us wherever we go. Thank you for never losing sight of us.
Help us recall these facts regardless of what happens in this life.
As we go through our day, our week, this season of Lent, may we live the mandate of Colossians 3:23, Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, so your glory will shine in the deep darkness. Make us instruments of peace in our homes, our workplace, on our teams, in our community. Lord, in the season leading up to the celebration of resurrection, instead of giving up something may we take on something to serve others. Time is precious and each day is one day closer to our time running out to live the great commission. Father, we lift this prayer in the name that has all power and authority in heaven and on earth, the matchless name of JESUS.
Doing the trudging crawl on the long swim to the unknown,
“No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Savior, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His holy service.” Christopher Columbus