BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…. “Arise and attack a nation at ease, which lives in confidence,” declares the Lord, “a nation that has neither gates nor bars; its people live far from danger.” Jeremiah 49:31 NIV
Wow! It’s been one the longest stretches since I have written a devotional blog. This one was inspired by Debbie’s morning Bible reading.
Jeremiah is the Lord’s prophet and at this point in history the Lord is using Babylon and King Nebuchadnezzar to not only execute judgment on Judah, but other nations as well. The Lord reveals that He is not just the God of Israel and Judah, but all the nations of the world. As a result we see a prophecy spoken against ancient kingdoms of Kedar and Hazor. The Lord is instructing the Babylonians to attack this nation that is living “at ease.”
The wording of this verse reminded us of years ago when were attending a Billy Graham School of Evangelism. The late E.V. Hill from Los Angeles preached one of the most challenging and convicting messages on evangelism I have ever heard. It gripped all that were in attendance. His message was on the “Sin of Job.”
The epicenter of the message is when he shared the sin of Job was in his own words, “I was at ease…” (Job 16:12 NIV) He pontificated that Job’s condition of being well provided for and blessed allowed him to become isolated and insulted from the world around. He lived among the heathen nations of his day, but….he was at ease.
1- Being “at ease” can lead to self-centered living and misplaced priorities. The NLT uses the word “complacent” to describe the people of Hazor. When we are complacent, we are not focused on God-centered living. This is the focus of the “parable of the rich fool.”
“The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops. ’“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? ’“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21 NIV)
We must remember we are to live a purpose-filled life. God desires to use us regardless of who we are and where we are. There is no retirement from being a Christ-follower.
2- Being “at ease” makes us vulnerable. I thought of the verse that I share with my grandchildren. My legacy verse for them. “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith…” (I Corinthians 16:6 NIV) The cities of Jeremiah’s days were walled fortresses. But Hazor is described as being “a nation with neither gates or bars….” They had no defenses they lived care-free, unsuspecting lives.
Ezekiel speaks to Jerusalem in the imagery of “Sodom” and says her sins were, “pride, plenty of food, and comfortable security…” (Ezekiel 16:48 HCSB) The New King James version uses the words, “abundance of idleness.”
It is interesting how a sense of security can lead us to believe we are not vulnerable. I say that with a degree of self-conviction. I would have to admit there was time when it was easy for me to think at least self-consciously, “bad things happen to other people, but not to me!” The verse in Job says, “I was at ease; but He shattered me…”
3 – Being “at ease” leads to temptation. The picture from Jeremiah is an army well prepared and focused that swoops down on an unsuspecting people and before they know it, there sense of security is gone, their freedom is gone.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV)
I recall a leader making the statement, “unseized time, leads to our greatest area of weakness.” This is not just about physical activity. Paul the apostle tells us our thought life is a key to peace in our life. Have you ever heard of the expression, “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop?”
Paul says that God’s peace comes when we fix our minds on, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8 NIV)
Just before this list the apostle gives the assurance that the “peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7 NIV)
The Lord allow us to live in His peace and provision, but He doesn’t want us to become self-centered and vulnerable by simply living “at ease” and becoming complacent in life.