If you keep quiet, evil may triumph
“Then said the princes and all the people unto the priests and to the prophets; this man is not worthy to die: for he hath spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God,”Jer. 26:16.
In God’s eyes, Jeremiah was one of the most successful people in all of history. Success, as measured by God, involves obedience and faithfulness. Regardless of opposition and personal curse, Jeremiah courageously and faithfully proclaimed the word of God. Therefore, in giving his message according to Life Application Study Bible, we can feel with him, as he agonises over the message he must deliver, pray with him for those that refuse to respond to the truth, but watch his example of faith and encourage. And then promise to commit ourselves to speaking out, so that evil may not triumph.
The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah was to remind the people of Judah on the need to return to God, as failure to do so would make the place like Shiloh and Jerusalem become an object of cursing in every nation on earth. Remember, Shiloh was where the Tabernacle had been set up, after the conquest of Canaan (Joshua 18:1). The Philistines destroyed it in 1050 BC. God said He would destroy the temple, as Shiloh had been destroyed. When Jeremiah said Jerusalem the city of God would become an object of cursing and the temple would be destroyed (Jer. 26:6), the Priests and the false prophets were infuriated. The temple was important to them because people’s reverence for it brought them power. By saying the temple would be destroyed, Jeremiah undermined their authority. Jesus also infuriated the religious leaders of His time, by foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, (Matt. 24:2).
However, one had expected that such a message given by Prophet Jeremiah, even though it looked harsh, but should have attracted genuine repentance to avert the wrath of God. Rather, the priests and the false prophets engineered the people against Jeremiah, so that, he may be killed. Thank goodness for the officials and people’s reaction: “then said the princes and all the people unto the priests and to the prophets; this man is not worthy to die.” What a timely intervention!
Edmund Burke said: “if bad men combine, good men must associate, less they fall a contemptible fall.” Indeed, it is for our own good that we speak out and such will make evil not to triumph. Fortunately, these two Bible passages are highly illustrative of how God’s children should react in the face of evil. Gamaliel’s advice to the people: “And now I say unto you, refrain from these men and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to naught. (Acts 5:38). Also, what the scribes of the Pharisee’s in defence of Paul said: “And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, we find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God,” Acts 23:9. We must be courageous in speaking out, even if it involves bodily harm in order not to allow evil to triumph and undermine God’s work.
Painfully though, some people shy away from speaking out, either as a result of fear or shame and this accounts for the volume of evil going on in the society. We are witnesses of these evils in our land: prostitution, seductive dressing, unbridled operation of the poor, bribery and corruption, kidnapping and murder, among others. If people of God, such as Jeremiah would have the courage and be faithful to calling ‘a spade a spade,’ then I think evil would be held at bay. More so, the words of Jesus here is highly instructive: “Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men … him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven,” Matt. 10:32-33.
People of God, we must determine today to freely and openly defend the gospel’s cause. We should not allow darkness to overwhelm the light and this we can do by following the footsteps of St. Paul: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek,” Rom. 1:16.
It is my earnest prayer, as the light and salt of the world, that our heavenly Father will count on us to be His voice in any situation, wherein evil may raise its ugly head. Therefore, as we celebrate the 56th Independence anniversary of Nigeria, let the Church and the Nation know that already, we have had enough dosage of evil and so, fear and shame should not inhibit us from speaking out against vices. May our courage not fail us.
•Ven. Ernest Onuoha, Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State. www.ibrucentre.org.