December 23: The Rise to Power
Jeremiah 44:1–46:28; Romans 11:1–10; Proverbs 25:1–28
If you’re driven, you’ve probably worked very hard to get to where you are. Being driven is a good thing, but being driven at a cost to others or by elevating yourself by your own accord is detrimental. Proverbs 25 offers this warning from the perspective of King Solomon: “Do not promote yourself before the king, and in the place of the great ones do not stand. For it is better that he say to you, ‘Ascend here,’ than he humble you before a noble” (Prov 25:6–7).
People tend to get nasty when power or money is involved. It’s uncomfortable to wait for that promotion, but God asks us to remain patient. At the end of the day, attaining leadership because you’re worthy is a much greater honor than obtaining it because you were louder than someone else or placed yourself in front of them. We should always take initiative and strive to succeed, but we need to remember that it’s not our place to decide our fates. We must place that in God’s hands, and we must wait to be asked to take the reins rather than snatch them ourselves.
Many people would put themselves before others when given the opportunity; they would promote themselves at the cost of someone else. As Christians, we have to ward off such temptations. We must maintain our integrity. Proverbs speaks about this as well: “What your eyes have seen [in a king’s court], do not hastily bring out to court, for what will you do at its end, when your neighbor puts you to shame? Argue your argument with your neighbor himself, the secret of another do not disclose, lest he who hears shame you and your ill repute will not end” (Prov 25:8–10).
Abuse of power is one of the most common leadership problems. People seeking and obtaining power when they’re not ready can be equally disastrous. As we seek to advance ourselves, we must be cautious with how we earn power—and with how we handle power when we’ve earned it.
What “power” situations are you currently handling well? What must change in your current “power” struggles?
JOHN D. BARRY
- The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews, which dwell in the land of Egypt, and remained at Migdol and at Tahpanhes, and at Noph, and in the country of Pathros, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts the God of Israel, Ye have seen all the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, and upon all the cities of Judah: and behold, this day they are desolate and no man dwelleth therein, Because of their wickedness which they have committed, to provoke me to anger in that they went to burn incene, and to serve other gods whom they knew not, neither they nor you, nor your fathers. Howbeit I sent unto you all my servants the Prophets rising early, and sending them, saying, Oh do not this abominable thing that I hate. But they would not hear nor incline their ear to turn from their wickedness, and to burn no more incense unto other gods. Wherefore my wrath, and mine anger was poured forth, and was kindled in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, and they are desolate and wasted, as appeareth this day. Therefore now thus saith the Lord of hosts the God of Israel, wherefore commit ye this great evil against your souls, to cut off from you man and woman, child and suckling out of Judah, and leave you none to remain? In that ye provoke me unto wrath with the works of your hands, burning incense unto other gods in the land of Egypt, whither ye be gone to dwell: that ye might bring destruction unto yourselves, and that ye might be a curse and a reproach among all nations of the earth. Have ye forgotten the wickedness of your fathers, and the wickedness of the kings of Judah, and the wickedness of their wives, and your own wickedness, and the wickedness of your wives, which they have committed in the land of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem? They are not humbled unto this day, neither have they feared nor walked in my law nor in my statutes, that I st before you and before your fathers. Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I will set my face against you to evil, and to destroy all Judah, And I will take a remnant of Judah that have set their faces to go into the land of Egypt there to dwell, and they shall even be consumed and fall in the land of Egypt: they shall even be consumed by the sword and famine: they shall die from the least unto the most, by the sword, and by the famine and they shall be a detestation and an astonishment, and a curse and a reproach. For I will visit them that dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have visited Jerusalem, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, So that none of the remnant of Judah, which are gone into the land of Egypt to dwell there shall escape or remain, that they should return into the land of Judah to the which they return but such as shall escape. Then all the men which knew that their wives had burnt incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying, The word that thou hast spoken unto us in the Name of the Lord, we will not hear it of thee, But we will do whatsoever thing goeth out of our own mouth, as to burn incense unto the Queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, both we and our fathers, our kings and our princes in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of vittles and were well and felt none evil. But since we left off to burn incense to the Queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have had scarceness of all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. And when we burnt incense unto the Queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to make her glad, and pour out drink offerings unto her without our husbands? Then said Jeremiah unto all the people, to the men, and to the women, and to all the people which had given him that answer, saying, Did not the Lord remember the incense, that ye burnt in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, both you and your fathers, your kings, and your Princes, and the people of the land, and hath he not considered it? So that the Lord could no longer forbear, because of the wickedness of your inventions, and because of the abominations, which ye have committed: therefore is your land desolate, and an astonishment, and a curse, and without inhabitant, as appeareth this day. Because you have burnt incense, and because ye have sinned against the Lord, and have not walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies, therefore this plague is come upon you, as appeareth this day. Moreover Jeremiah said unto all the people and to all the women, Hear the word of the Lord, all Judah, that are in the land of Egypt. Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, Ye and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand, saying, We will perform our vows that we have vowed to burn incense to the Queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings to her: ye will perform your vows, and do the things that ye have vowed. Therefore hear the word of the Lord, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt, Behold, I have sworn by my great Name, saith the Lord, that my Name shall no more be called upon by the mouth of any man of Judah, in all the land of Egypt, saying, The Lord God liveth. Behold, I will watch over them for evil, and not for good, and all men of Judah that are in the land of Judah: and all the remnant of Judah that are gone into the land of Egypt to dwell there, shall know whose words shall stand, mine or theirs. And this shall be a sign unto you, saith the Lord, when I visit you in this place, that ye may know that my words shall surely stand against you for evil. Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will give Pharaoh Hophra King fo Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life: as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babel his enemy, who also sought his life. The word that Jeremiah the Prophet spoke unto Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the mouth of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoaikim, the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel unto thee, O Baruch, Thou didst say, Woe is me now: for the Lord hath laid sorrow unto my sorrow: I fained in my mourning, and I can find no rest. Thus shalt thou say unto him, The Lord saith thus, Behold, that which I have built, will I pluck up, even this whole land. And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not: for behold, I will bring a plague upon all flesh, saith the Lord: but thy life will I give thee for a prey in all places, whither thou goest. The words of the Lord, which came to Jeremiah the Prophet against the Gentiles, As against Egypt, against the army of Pharoah Necho king of Egypt, which was by the river Perach in Carchemish, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babel smote in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah. Make ready buckler and shield, and go forth to battle. Make ready the horses, and let the horsemen get up, and stand up with your sallets, furbish the spears, and put on the brigandines. Wherefore have I seen them afraid, and driven back? for their mighty men are smitten, and are fled away, and look not back: for fear was round about, saith the Lord. The swift shall not flee away, nor the strong man escape: they shall stumble, and fall toward the North by the river Perath. Who is this that cometh up as a flood, whose waters are moved like the rivers? Egypt riseth up like the flood, and his waters are moved like the rivers, and he saith, I will go up, and will cover the earth: I will destroy the city with them that dwell therein. Come up ye horses, and rage ye chariots, and let the valiant men come forth, the black Moors, and the Libyans that bear the shield, and the Lydians that handle and bend the bow. For this is the day of the Lord God of hosts, and a day of vengence, that he may avenge him of his enemies: for the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate, and make drunk with their blood: for the Lord God of hosts hath a science in the North country by the river Perath. Go up unto Gilead, and take balm, O virgin, the daughter of Egypt: in vain shalt thou use many medicines: for thou shalt have no health. The nations have heard of thy shame, and thy cry hath filled the land: for the strong hath stumbled against the strong, and they are fallen both together. The word that the Lord spake to Jeremiah the Prophet, how Nebuchadnezzar king of Babel should come and smite the land of Egypt. Publish in Egypt and declare in Migdol, and proclaim in Noph, and in Tahpanhes, and say, Stand still and prepare thee, for the sword shall devour round about thee. Why are thy valient men put back? they could not stand, because the Lord did drive them. He made many to fall, and one fell upon another: and they said, Arise, let us go again to our own people, and to the land of our nativity from the sword of the violent. They did cry there, Pharoah king of Egypt, and of a great multitude, hath passed the time appointed. As I live, saith the King, whose Name is the Lord of hosts, surely as Tabor is in the mountains, and as Carmel is in the sea: so shall it come. O thou daughter dwelling in Egypt, make thee gear to go into captivity: for Noph shall be waste and desolate, without an inhabitant. Egypt is like a fair calf, but destruction cometh: out of the North it cometh. Also her hired men are in the midst of her like fat calves: they are also turned back and fled away together: they could not stand, because the day of their desttruction was come upon them, and the time of their visitation. The voice thereof shall go forth like a serpent: for they shall march with an army, and come against her with axes, as hewers of wood. They shall cut down her forest, saith the Lord: for they cannot be counted, because they are more than the grasshoppers, and are innumerable. The daughter of Egypt shall be confounded: she shall be delivered into the hands of the people of the North. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I will visit thy common people of No and Pharoah, and Egypt, with their gods and their kings, even Pharoah, and all them that trust in him, And I will deliver them into the hands of those that seek their lives, and into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babel, and into the hands of his servants, and afterward she shall dwell in the old time, saith the Lord. But fear not thou afraid, O Jacob my servant, saith the Lord, for I am with thee, and I will utterly destroy thee, but correct thee by judgment, and not utterly cut thee off. Jeremiah 44:1–46:28
- I Demand then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid: for I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he knew before. Know ye not what the Scripture saith of Elijah, how he communeth with God against Israel, saying, Lord they have killed thy Prophets, and dug down thine Altars: and I am left alone, and they seek my life? But what saith the answer of God to him? I have reserved unto myself seven thousand men, which have not bowed the knee to Baal. Even so then, at this present time is there a remnant according to the election of grace. And if it be of grace, it is no more of works: or else were grace no more grace: but if it be of works, it is no more grace: or else were work no more work. What then? Israel hath not obtained that he sought: but the election hath obtained it, and the rest have been hardened, According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber: eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a net, and a stumbling block, even for a recompense unto them. Let their eyes be darkened that they see not, and bown down their back always. Romans 11:1–10
- These are also parables of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah King of Judah copied out. The glory of God is to conceal a thing secret: but the King’s honor is to search out a thing. The heaves in height, and the earth in deepness: and the king’s heart can no man search out. Take the dross from the silver, and there shall proceed a vessel for the finer. Take away the wicked from the King, and his throne shall be established in righteousness. Boast not thyself before the King, and stand not in the place of great ment. For it is better, that it be said unto thee, Come up hither, than thou to be put lower in his presence of the Prince whom thine eyes have seen. Go not forth hastily to strife, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbor, and discover not the secret to another, Lest he that heareth it, put thee to shame, and thine infamy do not cease. A word spoken in his place, is like apples of gold with pictures of silver. He that reproveth the wise and rhe obedient ear, is as a golden earring, and an ornament of fine gold. As the cold of the snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters. A man that boasteth of false liberality, is like clouds and win without rain. A Prince is pacified by staying of anger, and a soft tongue breaketh the bones. If thou have found honey, eat that is sufficient for thee, lest thou be overfull, and vomit it. Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbor’s house, lest he be weary of thee, and hate thee. A man that beareth false witness against his neighbor, is like an hammer and a sword, and a sharp arrow. Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble, is like a broken tooth and a sliding foot. He that taketh away the garment in the cold season, is like vinegar poured upon nitre, or like him that singeth songs to an heavy heart. If he that hateth thee be hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt lay coals upon his head, and the Lord shall recompense thee. As the Northwind driveth away the rain, so doth an angry countenance the slandering tongue. It is better to dwell in a corner of the house top, than with a contentious woman in a wide house. As are the cold waters to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country. A righteous man falling down before the wicked, is like a troubled well and a corrupt spring. It is not good to eat much honey: so to search their own glory, is not glory. A man that refraineth not his appetite, is like a city which is broken down and without walls. Proverbs 25:1–28