Perilous Times Primer #33

 “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?” Jeremiah 12:5

Question: Are you ready to run with the horses?

Thesis: If you are weary of the struggle today, what will you do with what is coming tomorrow? America today is engaged in a spiritual battle that is raging at every level of society. Are we aware of this battle? Are we engaged in the fight?

Jeremiah’s Calling

In chapter one, we read of the prophet’s calling from God. Jeremiah was born into a priestly family (Jer. 1:1) and was called from the priesthood to become a prophet during the reign of the good king, Josiah (Jer. 1:2–3; see 2 Chronicles 35).

God told Jeremiah that he had been predestined to the ministry of prophet, to which he responded that he could not hold such a position for he was too young (Jer. 1:4–7). He was warned further that his ministry would be resisted and hated by the people, but that he must not fear or waver in the face of opposition (Jer. 1:8–9).

In spite of his own feelings of inadequacy, God declared that He had made Jeremiah “a fortified city and an iron pillar, and bronze walls against the whole land” (Jer. 1:18; 15:20). He could never have guessed how great his sorrows would be.

At the time of God’s question to Jeremiah (Jer. 12:5), his own family had disowned him, and the people of his hometown had tried to assassinate him. The Lord forbid him to take a wife and have children (Jer. 16:1); he was an outcast, lonely and alone. Is it any wonder he prophetically identified with the Lord Jesus Christ, who he foretold would be the outcast Savior (Jer. 14:7–9)?

As opposition to him increased, he was plotted against by popular, false prophets (Jeremiah 28–29), had his writings banned and destroyed (Jer. 36:20–26), was ultimately imprisoned in a pit (Jer. 37:11–38:13), witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem, which he had foretold (Jeremiah 39), and was finally kidnapped by the most rebellious faction and carried away into Egypt (Jeremiah 43).

Jeremiah is often referred to as “the weeping prophet.” How many of us could stand beside him? We also have been called to a destiny (Eph. 1:1–14; Rom. 8:28–30). God has a plan and purpose for each and every person. Jesus Christ died and rose again to make that purpose a reality, if we believe in Him and learn to live by faith. This is not guaranteed to anyone, but requires tough decisions on a daily basis (Heb. 10:37–38). We need to learn today the lesson God was teaching Jeremiah. We cannot accomplish the spiritual demands of our time, unless we learn to rely on supernatural power.

This nation is entering a very dark time, and each of us will be called on to face and endure more than we ever imagined. God’s question to Jeremiah is also a question to us. Are we wearied by running with the footmen, or are we ready to run with the horsemen?

Below are two examples from history of brave men—underdogs—who chose to “run with the horsemen” and fight for a righteous cause. Take careful note in these historical examples of the subtle but crucial spiritual component.

The Battle of Delium

“Imagine a rolling plain of dry grain stubble … Crowd fifty thousand men on it—some nearly naked, others weighed down with more than sixty pounds of arms and armor. Have them mass into two huge armies and then collide at a run with edged iron weapons—all striving to kill one another through their collective muscular strength at stabbing and pushing. Then end the entire sordid business in about an hour—with over two thousand corpses littering the ground in a trail of blood and entrails for a mile … Yet what went on for about an hour or so in that nondescript plain changed the life of ancient Greece and the nature of European civilization itself … the ripples of Delium have lapped even upon us, the unsuspecting, nearly twenty-five hundred years later—in ways that we can scarcely imagine.”

Victor Davis Hansen, Ripples of Battle, p. 171

After the battle, the Athenian army was in total panic. The defeated and weary hoplites began to run in desperate flight. This is when “opportunistic Locrian horsemen arrived for the spoils and now joined the Boeotian [pronounced “Beoshian”] predators in an open-ended killing spree” (Ibid., p. 183).

“After the appearance of the Theban cavalry reinforcements and the subsequent hysteria that infected the Athenian right wing … most of the Athenian army took off at a run to the rear for safety in different directions” (p. 214).

Fighting among the Athenians that day was a middle-aged philosopher, known to us as Socrates. While others were running, he calmly led a handful of survivors in a skillful retreat. “He later thanked his ‘divine’ voice for directing him out of danger … he backpedaled and made an orderly withdrawal toward the borderland … Laches (one of his company) brags of Socrates that if other Athenians had been willing to be like him, our city (Athens) would be standing tall and would not then have suffered such a terrible fall” (pp. 214–215).

One of the survivors, Alcibiades, is later quoted by Plato, saying, “First off I noticed how much more in control of his senses he was than Laches, and how—he made his way there just as he does here in Athens, ‘swaggering and glancing sideways.’ So he looked around calmly at both his friends and the enemy; he was clearly giving the message to anyone even at a distance that if anyone touched this man, he quickly put up a stout defense … For it is true that attackers do not approach men of this caliber but instead go after those fleeing headlong” (p. 215).

“Socrates’ courage and good sense brought him out alive when most around him were killed. Had the middle-aged philosopher been stabbed by an anonymous Locrian horseman … the entire course of Western philosophical and political thought would have been radically altered” (p. 216). Perhaps the chief significance of the entire battle is the philosopher’s close escape from Theban pursuers. On that late, autumn afternoon in 424 B.C., Western philosophy—as we know it—was nearly aborted in its infancy” (p. 227).

The Theban horsemen defeated the Athenians. Yet the courage of one man on the losing side of the battle had tremendous consequences for Western civilization, and certainly for America today! Hanson writes later, “Alexander the Great did not invent Western tactics nor did Epaminondas the Theban. Rather, both generals followed in a strange and now-forgotten tradition of Boeotian warfare that had its inaugural day at Delium” (p. 238).

The Battle of King’s Mountain

This October 7 marked the 239th anniversary of the Battle of King’s Mountain. Few Americans today have even heard of this battle, though many historians credit it as being the turning point of the Revolutionary War.

The siege of Charleston in May 1780 ended in one of the worst American defeats of the war. Then General Lord Charles Cornwallis moved the British Army inland, to rally Loyalists to the Crown and punish American Patriots.

Cornwallis began pushing north, sending Major Patrick Ferguson to his left, where he was harassed by North Carolina militia under Colonels Isaac Shelby and Charles McDowell, using hit-and-run tactics. Ferguson pursued these rag-tag forces, and they retreated across the Blue Ridge to safety.

Ferguson then sent a Whig prisoner into the remote mountain villages with a warning: If they did not lay down their arms and submit to the Crown, he would “march his army over the mountains, hang their leaders, and lay their country waste with fire and sword.” He did not get the response he had hoped for!

Thus far, the “over-mountain men,” as the remote settlements were called, had considered the war of no concern to them. They were engaged in hacking farms out of the forest and protecting their homes and settlements from Indian raids. Now, however, the fight became personal.

About one thousand young men—many in their mid-teens, hunters and Indian fighters all—rallied to the call. Minister Samuel Doak sent them forth with the words, “The enemy is marching hither to destroy your homes … Go forth then, in the strength of your manhood, to the aid of your brethren, the defense of your liberty and the protection of your homes.”

These young warriors left their homes and villages, while the older citizens lined the streets and lanes, singing hymns to encourage them on. With no formal organization or supply system, these hardy young mountain men carried what they needed on their backs, drove cattle along for food, hunted along the way, and covered over 300 miles of rugged mountain country in pursuit of Ferguson. Forward scouts kept them informed of Ferguson’s location. Taking 900 of the best mounted riflemen, they set off in pursuit.

On October 7, 1780, they caught up to Ferguson who was encamped on King’s Mountain. Using the stealth learned from hunting and fighting in the mountains, they crept up, unawares, on the British forces, with long rifles ready. They attacked from all sides with deadly fire. In a little over an hour, the Battle of King’s Mountain was won. Over 200 British loyalists (“Tories”) lay dead, with another 160 wounded. Over 700 prisoners were taken.

The Battle of King’s Mountain demoralized the British and buoyed the Americans. It was a major turning point in the war. In just over a year, Cornwallis would surrender his army to Washington at Yorktown.

One of Major Ferguson’s officers, George Hanger, showed his disdain for the over-mountain men with these words:

“This distinguished race of men is more savage than the Indians, and possess every one of their vices, but none of their virtues. I have known these fellows to travel 200 miles through the woods, never keeping to any road or path, guided by the Sun by day, and the stars by night, just to kill a particular person of the opposite party.”

What a commendation from the enemy! How we need this kind of men today! It is time we lived up to our forefathers’ standards.

Each one of us is brought into this world, a world embroiled in a great, spiritual conflict—at a precise time and place in the plan of God—that by the grace of God we might accomplish His eternal purpose. Failure to enter into His plan through faith in Jesus Christ and, beyond that, failure to seek and prepare for that purpose, means a wasted life and an unfinished task.

In every defeat are the seeds of victory, and in every victory (think WWII) are the seeds of defeat. Our personal victory or defeat on the battlefield of this life will have eternal consequences. I ask again, are we ready to run with the horsemen?

Our personal victory or defeat on the battlefield of this life will have eternal consequences. Are we ready to run with the horsemen?


October 9, 2019

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