"Courage to Stand: Jeremiah's Battle Plan for Pagan Times" by Philip Graham Ryken

Steve Matlak
Thursday, July 5th 2007
Jan/Feb 2000

We face many important questions today that need answers: How does God respond to the repeated sin of his people? What is at the heart of idolatry? How should we deal with the suffering we face? Just how much control does God have over what happens in the world?

Questions like these were just as pressing a few thousand years ago when God set Jeremiah apart to be his prophet. Again and again, the book of Jeremiah records how "the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah…" The answers to the questions were on their way.

In Courage to Stand: Jeremiah's Battle Plan for Pagan Times, Philip Graham Ryken walks us through Jeremiah to help us understand some of the answers the Lord gave. Ryken then faithfully interprets Jeremiah to show how some of these same answers apply today. We too live in a pagan nation. We too struggle with idolatry. We too suffer and wonder why God acts as he does. Ryken's work serves, then, as a practical introduction to Jeremiah that is well suited to the readers of Modern Reformation.

Though his book is worthwhile to read for its discussion of God's message to Israel, Ryken's interest is not merely in the answers to questions. God's word must also be properly received. Take, for instance, Micaiah, who heard a reading of Jeremiah's scroll (see Jer. 36). First, Micaiah was careful to listen to the entirety of God's word. Then, he responded appropriately to the message of coming judgment-with fear. For he was well aware that it would be "a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb. 10:31). Finally, he realized he needed to share God's word with royal officials and king Jehoiakim. Ryken comments that "to receive [God's word] properly means to pass it on to others" (pp. 171-174).

God has revealed his character and purposes to us in Scripture. How well have we received it? Are we listening to it in its entirety? Or do we simply return to the same familiar passages? Do we take seriously those passages that speak of God's hatred of sin and warn of coming divine judgment? Or do we acknowledge only God's grace and goodness? Finally, are we active in sharing this word of the Lord with others? Or are we simply content with feeding on it for ourselves? Let us not be like the majority of the Israelites who rejected or ignored Jeremiah's message. Rather, let us be among those who faithfully receive and proclaim the word our Lord has given.

Thursday, July 5th 2007

“Modern Reformation has championed confessional Reformation theology in an anti-confessional and anti-theological age.”

Picture of J. Ligon Duncan, IIIJ. Ligon Duncan, IIISenior Minister, First Presbyterian Church
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