In spite of that, Ahikam stood up for me. He was the son of Shaphan. Because of Ahikam, I wasn’t handed over to the people to be put to death.
~Jeremiah 26:24, NIRV
It takes a strong person to stand up for themselves but an even stronger person to stand up for someone else.
Ironically, the name Anikam means my brother rises or supports and this is precisely what Anikam did for Jeremiah; he lived up to his name. The LORD instructed Jeremiah to deliver a message which he did; he delivered the sermon in the courtyard of the Temple. The courtyard was packed with people made up of priest, prophets, and worshipers. Jeremiah’s message was brief but blunt: “change your ways are God is going to make this house like Shiloh [destroy it].” As soon as Jeremiah delivered the message, the priest, the prophets and the people grabbed him and began saying, “you must die.” Jeremiah was at the mercy of a mob and they were going to execute him on the spot. News of the riot spread quickly and soon there were government officials on sight. They listened to the accusations against Jeremiah and then gave Jeremiah a change to speak in his own behalf. Jeremiah said, “I told them to change the way they live and act and God would relent but if they don’t, He is going to destroy this place.” This sets the mob off again but the elders remind them that Jeremiah is speaking for God and that he should not be harmed. The mob refuses to listen to the elders and call for Jeremiah’s execution. Another prophet by the name of Uriah had already been executed by Jehoiakim the king but the king was not present on this day. Anikam, a very influential official of the kings court interceded. He stood of for Jeremiah and in so doing, saved Jeremiah’s life.
I don’t know if you’ve ever needed a friend to stand up for you or not but I have. The stinging words of our critics are sometimes painful but the silence of our so called friends in heartbreaking. One of our basic instincts is self-preservation and it is very strong in all of us but there are a few who have the courage to stand even when it puts them at risk. If you have one such friend, you are blessed; if you have more than one, you are rich. Let me share a little secret: the key to keeping a good attitude and not turning bitter is to lower your expectations when it comes to people. Very few people have the courage of an Anikam. I was fortunate to have two friends with this rare courage: that and the grace of God is the only reason I stayed in one place for 38 years.
Faithfulness seems to be a thing of the past: would you believe it if I told you, one of the most faithful families we have at DBC drives over 600 miles to attend our Sunday morning service. It is no joke, Eddie and Sue may have missed one Sunday, not sure about that, but it seems that every time I look up on Sunday morning, I see Eddie greeting people in the foyer. He drove 8-9 hours to get here. For most of us, it would be a 10-12 hour drive. We have folks who will not drive 2 minutes to get here. I was speaking with a retired IMB Missionary yesterday and he told me a story about a crusade they had overseas. I believe in was Africa but can’t remember. What I do remember is that the crowds started small but kept growing as the week went on. Someone asks why the crowd was down for the first two days and the missionary said, “Because most of these people walked to get here and some of their villages are two days or more away.” Every Sunday would be like Easter if we had that kind of commitment.
Old Gregg who does a pretty good job counting and making coffee is going to have both knees replaced today, LORD willing. He doesn’t check in until 11:30 so surgery may not be until after lunch. It will be a long morning for Gregg but when it comes to waiting patiently, he does pretty good.