Friday, May 12, 2017
The Place of Influence
Jer. 26:20 There was another man prophesying in the name of the Lord, Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath-jearim. He prophesied against this city and against this land in words exactly like those of Jeremiah. 21 And when King Jehoiakim, with all his warriors and all the officials, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death; but when Uriah heard of it, he was afraid and fled and escaped to Egypt. 22 Then King Jehoiakim sent Elnathan son of Achbor and men with him to Egypt, 23 and they took Uriah from Egypt and brought him to King Jehoiakim, who struck him down with the sword and threw his dead body into the burial place of the common people.
Jer. 26:24 But the hand of Ahikam son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah so that he was not given over into the hands of the people to be put to death.
The king was very frustrated at the prophetic words of Jeremiah. The crowds were stirred up and the mobs were smelling blood. Jeremiah was not alone in speaking prophetically and another prophet Uriah found himself at the end of the King’s anger. There was no one in a place of influence to speak up on Uriah’s behalf and ultimately, he lost his life. However, a gentleman by the name of Ahikam was willing to support Jeremiah and interceded for his safety. Because Jeremiah had someone (and probably a few more) in a place of influence, his life was spared.
More than likely we all have the possibility of being people of influence. In the case of Jeremiah there was need for someone to speak up and intercede when the mob wanted to rule the day. This was a very dangerous place in which to be for whenever crowds and mobs of people begin to win the day we have a problem. Something unseen seems to take over when crowds of people gather together around a particular cause. Most of the time, the result is not positive. Somehow common sense seems to be lost and a mob mindset can result in extremely destructive behavior, including violence against particular individuals. It took great courage for Shaphan to step up and use his influence to save Jeremiah’s life.
Studying the Reformation we discover that Martin Luther was not alone in his work. He was called to the Diet of Worms to answer charges regarding his activities. His life's work was prophetic and very disturbing to the religious leaders surrounding him. And the same time he found himself surrounded by a great number of supporters. He was whisked away from the Diet at Worms and hidden in the castle at Wartburg so that he would not be killed. While finding refuge in the castle he took the opportunity to translate the New Testament into German for the local people. Back home in Wittenberg the people rallied around Martin and the entire community used their influence for the changes necessary for Christianity. Eventually one of the Princes used his influence to back Luther and he was not punished for his activity.
Sometimes the person who supports the prophet of God is just as important as the one speaking the prophetic word. We may think that we are not gifted in the same way as another individual or that we don’t have a unique role in the kingdom. Our responsibility may be to use who we are to be a person of influence. Our support of another person may be just as meaningful as having the prophetic voice.
We are called to use our influence every day. Every person has power and influence in a particular sphere of this world. That energy is not to be wasted but to be used for the kingdom. When the moment comes to stand up for what is right, or the person in the right, use the power of influence to move the kingdom work forward.
Lord, help me to use influence wisely for your sake. Amen.