Violent men clamored and snarled at them to back down. Instead, they relied on God for strength, and spoke words of hope.
This is an excerpt from The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Jeremiah-Ezekiel, Vol. 7, Revised, by Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland.
Jeremiah and Martin Luther King: From Jeremiah - Ezekiel
It is often easy for us to read millennia-old accounts that describe death and devastation, misery and grief, suffering and tears, and to remain unmoved... This is not the case, however, with the book of Jeremiah... The tragic events that unfold in this book [are] hauntingly real: the armies of Nebuchadnezzar inspiring terror as they make their approach, the starvation of a city under siege, the exiling of the people from their ancestral land, the destruction of Jerusalem and the burning of the temple, the slaughtering of the sons of David and the blinding of a king from David's line, and the weeping women teaching their daughters how to mourn. And this is just a sampling. In this prophetic book one actually does hear the cries of the wounded and dying and one does smell the smoke rising from the flames.
Against this bleak and burning backdrop, the extraordinary faith of God's prophet stands like a soaring, unshakable monument, as he never backs down in public and never refuses a divine commission. He speaks words of ultimate hope instead — including wonderful promises of restoration and a new covenant — and even makes a personal investment in Judah's future by buying his uncle's field as a down payment on his nation's coming restoration at a time when its destruction is only moments away. A sacred transaction takes place between God and his servant — a transaction profound enough to carry Jeremiah through a terribly turbulent era and a difficult life, ultimately producing an extraordinary book with an extraordinary message for the ages.
A pivotal moment in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is striking in its relevance, taking us behind the scenes into the heart and soul of a very public and influential leader:
By January 1956, with the Montgomery bus boycott in full swing, threatening phone calls, up to 40 a day, began pouring into King's home. Though he put up a strong front, the threats unsettled him. One midnight as he sat over a cup of coffee worrying, the phone rang again, and the caller said, "[We] are tired of you and your mess now. And if you aren't out of this town in three days, we're going to blow your brains out and blow up your house." King later described what happened in the next few minutes.
"I sat there and thought about a beautiful little daughter who had just been born... She was the darling of my life. I'd come in night after night and see that little gentle smile. And I sat at that table thinking about that little girl and thinking about the fact that she could be taken away from me any minute.
"And I started thinking about a dedicated, devoted, and loyal wife, who was over there asleep. And she could be taken from me, or I could be taken from her. And I got to the point that I couldn't take it any longer. I was weak...
"And I discovered then that religion had become real to me, and I had to know God for myself. And I bowed down over that cup of coffee. I never will forget it... I prayed a prayer, and I prayed out loud that night. I said, 'Lord, I'm down here trying to do what's right. I think I'm right. I think the cause we represent is right. But Lord, I must confess that I'm weak now. I'm faltering. I'm losing my courage. And I can't let the people see me like this because if they see me weak, they will begin to get weak...'
"And it seemed at that moment I could hear an inner voice saying to me, 'Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth. And lo I will be with you, even until the end of the world...' Almost at once my fears began to go. My uncertainty disappeared." [Source: "Martin Luther King Jr.," Christian History 19.1 (2000; issue 65)]
Only God knows how many times Jeremiah reached that same breaking point, though his laments and confessions proclaim loudly and clearly that he was no stranger to such moments of private anguish. And only God knows exactly what happened between the Lord and his servant at such times. But this much is certain: Jeremiah ultimately withstood each test and took his stand again and again, and because of his perseverance he, being dead, yet speaks [compare Hebrews 11:4b]. And his impact on us by his words continues more than twenty-five hundred years later...
["'The days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah. In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteous Savior.'" (Jeremiah 33:14-16)]
(-Adam Forrest, Zondervan. This post does not represent the views of Zondervan or any of its representatives. The writer's opinions are their own, and are shared for information purposes only. To receive new blogposts in your reader or email inbox, subscribe to Zondervan Blog.)