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The Burden Of The Lord

Posted by Job on March 1, 2007

Jeremiah 23:34 – And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of the LORD, I will even punish that man and his house.

I have to admit that I had a lot of trouble understanding Jeremiah’s pronouncements against those who speak of “the burden of the Lord” in Chapter 23:33 – 39 and what will happen to them, because it is not given in any context that I can recognize. I presumed that Jeremiah was denouncing some false doctrine or negative mindset that was afflicting the church at the time. I also had trouble with “the parable of the pennies” given in Matthew 20:2 – 14, where an employer gives the same wages to those who agreed to be his workers no matter how long he worked. I understood the parable; the employer represents God, those who agree to be his workers are those who get saved, and the wages is Heaven. But I found myself thinking that the people who joined the Kingdom at the last minute got a better deal because they avoid the labor and the temptation – “the heat of the day” as said in Matthew 20:12. Not that I would want to trade places with them, as I am not one who wishes to roll the dice with my eternal fate. And I rejoice over every single person who gets saved, and consider that people CAN be saved even with their dying breath or their last thought before their brain waves go flat as evidence of the mercy and power of God over sin, hell, death, and Satan: indeed why Jesus died on the cross and rose again.

But still, it troubled me, not so much because of the labor (a man who does not work should not eat!) but my personal fear of backsliding. I fear not so much that I will just get up one day and turn against God, even if I suffer some sort of great catastrophe as did Job. Instead, I worry about my resolve, dedication, commitment, and faith being worn down by the constant attacks of Satan and his helpers; attacks whose goal I know is NOT to cause me to backslide immediately – for I could repent immediately just as easily – but to do so slowly by a long process of compromises with sin. Such a person can do so and still believe with conviction that they are saved, and hence it is a most difficult state to emerge from. Some – including I – believe that it is far more different to emerge from the status of complete sinner or total unbeliever than it is for a lukewarm compromising “I don’t have to be totally obedient; the word of God isn’t ENTIRELY true or it ALL doesn’t apply to me” type of Christian, and for that reason I constantly remind myself of the warnings that Jesus himself gave in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) as well as in books 2 – 4 of Revelation that so many among even the church of true believers will not be saved because they will have “soiled their garments” by allowing continual temptation to cause them to compromise their faith and ultimately walk in agreement with sin. Thank God, the section of the Book of James that deals with temptation was written for people like me! But I was still somewhat envious of the people who were able to get into Heaven without having to deal with my temptation issues.

I should have gone to the Lord about this earlier, but I did not because I did not want to admit to him my true feelings. NEVER DO THIS! God already knows your thoughts, and he wants to hear you confess them to him, because only when you demonstrate true sorrow and repentance for your evil deeds and thoughts will God deliver you from them. But once I finally did, the meaning of Jeremiah 23:33 – 39 became clear to me. Being saved is not a burden at all. It is an opportunity; a privilege. Nothing that we face – constant temptation, scorn, even death – compares to the benefits of walking in victory. (Indeed, the unsaved also face temptation, scorn, and death just as do we. The difference is that we know how to deal with it and they don’t!) It is not just the security of knowing that were your soul to be required at any instant you would be with God in Heaven. Indeed, that is a false security for many people who will be left behind from the rapture and ultimately cast into the lake of fire. All saints should be constantly asking God to try our hearts to reveal any issues – known or hidden – that separate us from his favor and would keep us out of Heaven so that we may repent and ask him to deliver us from them.

No, the benefit of a long life of serving the Lord is the walk of victory. There is power in the name of Jesus. Indeed, all power is given to us through his name. We are heirs and co – heirs to the Kingdom of The God Of Heaven with and through his Son Jesus Christ. Those of us who are baptized in and have the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit are doubly blessed. We have the power to effect change for our God. We can visit those in prison. We can feed the poor and clothe the naked. We can rebuke those who are wrong and encourage those who are right no matter their station in life (even if they are powerful and influential ministers). We can raise the dead, heal the sick, cast out devils. We can say “mountain move” and it will. We can say “hurricane change your path” and it will. We can command fire to come down from Heaven to consume the wicked, or we can ask God to spare them his wrath to give them yet a little time to repent. We can pray for God to strengthen and save the innocent and weak. We can overpower our enemies by loving them. We have advance knowledge that everything we do for, at the direction of, and according to God will always succeed no matter our personal merit.

We should never envy the wicked, even those who will be ultimately saved. Not only is envy a sin in and of itself, but it is complete folly to want something what someone has when what you have is better. Indeed, it is perversion to not appreciate good things and instead desire those that are evil. Even the person who will get saved later will have to live a life apart from his Creator until he does, and believe me it is a wretched existence! So, if you are feeling envious of sinners of any sort, you must A) ask the God of Heaven to forgive you for your sinful desire and B) recapture the power given to you through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus FOR YOU on YOUR BEHALF so that you may use it to help those very people that you are wrongfully envying. Satan knows that so long as he can get you to envy sinners, you will be that much less effective at helping save them. Your prayers will have less power and your walk with God will be weakened. Instead of having compassion for the sinner and hatred for the sin, you will resent the sinner because he is doing what you want to be doing, you will resent your God for not giving you the same pleasures and comforts (including the lack of temptation) that he allows the sinner despite his evil, and you will develop an accommodation for the evil that the sinner is doing because of the covetousness of your heart, so you won’t stand against it, rebuke it, bind it, or command it to move in the name of your God on the behalf of that sinner.

No bad thing comes from serving the Lord. All things, including the temptation that you are in and the struggle that you are going through, will work to the glory of God. You just have to hold on. You will get your penny at the end of your shift just like that guy who is sinning right now and repent later. But remember the old advertising slogan: “Membership has its privileges.” You have the privileges that come along with being a member of the Kingdom of God NOW. You should remember that and want to keep those privileges. You should want to raise those privileges to another level. You should want to become a platinum preferred member with all of the free gifts and frequent flier miles. And you should want that sinner out there who is causing so much evil to himself and the world to change his ways, join the Kingdom of Heaven, and get the privileges that you are (or hopefully were) foolish enough to lose sight of and complain about. Rejoice, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!
Father God in the name of your Son Jesus Christ, may I never desire that which is evil but instead seek and rejoice in all things that are good, including the privilege of salvation that you have given me. May I bear the burden and heat of the day with gladness and count it all for joy until the glorious day when you say to me “Well done, this way to your mansion” and enter the glory of Your Heaven. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!

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