Battle cry – November 19, 2017
Oh, my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain. Oh, the agony of my heart! My heart pounds within me, I cannot keep silent. For I have heard the sound of the trumpet; I have heard the battle cry.
Sometimes a sound can trigger an inner alarm. The smash of the car wreck; the beeping of the heart monitor showing a flat line; the blast of an IED: any of these can panic us.
For the prophet Jeremiah, it was the sound of a trumpet with the cry of battle.
Modern warriors can relate to this. During the firefight, sounds may be scarcely noted. It is afterward; when things have quieted down; when the danger is past, that one’s mind replays the event in memories or dreams. Even years later, the sounds of an old battle might suddenly return to rattle us while walking through Walmart.
Scary sounds can echo in our minds.
But Jeremiah’s case is different. He heard sounds not of present or past battles. His heart pounded because he heard the battle cry from the future.
“Tell this to the nations, proclaim concerning Jerusalem ‘A besieging army is coming from a distant land, raising a war cry against the cities of Judah’” (Jeremiah 4:16).
This was God’s warning. He reinforced the words by providing a vision of the future complete with sound effects. The threatened disaster was as certain as if it had already happened.
Anguish, pain, and agony now welled up within Jeremiah. Bad enough if this had been a memory. Much worse to know this was yet to come.
The besieging army would be the Assyrians. Fortress walls would be breached, defenses overrun. Many would die. The rest of the ten northern tribes of Israel would be taken captive. Jeremiah would also write a book called, “Lamentations.” He had much to lament.
We might ask, “Since this disaster was certainly going to take place, why did Jeremiah need to know about it in advance? Didn’t this add to his misery?”
It surely did. But it also added to his faith and trust in the Lord his God. How so?
Jeremiah would live to see the threats of God take place before his own eyes. He would learn, When the Lord speaks, it is so. When he warns, people should fear. The Assyrian invasion would prove that.
When the Lord speaks, it is so. His promise is as certain as his threat. The unfolding of history would prove that.
When we look to the past, we see his promises fulfilled in amazing and wonderful ways. Two tribes of Israel would survive. The Savior would come. We have the testimony of Scripture. We can see the past through its words.
But that’s only part of the wonder. Like a Jeremiah, we can actually see into the future. We know how the world will end. We can already hear the cry of victory in heaven.
Though at times we may fear and worry, the bottom line is that we can say with Jeremiah: “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him” (Jeremiah 17:7).
Prayer: Lord of time and space, whose hands hold the future and the past, open our ears to hear your voice as you call out to us in your Word. We tremble before your fist of justice, but we smile at your assurance of forgiveness and peace. We wait for the battle cries to cease, and the songs of victory to sound forth. Give us your peace. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.