Running with Horses
“Running with the Horses”
A young man was learning to be a paratrooper. Before his first jump, he was given these instructions:
- Jump when you are told.
- Count to ten and pull the ripcord.
- In the unlikely event your parachute doesn’t open, pull the emergency ripcord.
- When you reach the ground, a truck will be there to take you back to the airport.
The young man memorized these instructions and climbed aboard the plane. The plane climbed to ten thousand feet and the paratroopers began to jump. When the young man was told to jump, he jumped. He then counted to ten and pulled the ripcord. Nothing happened. His chute failed to open. So, he pulled the emergency ripcord. Still, nothing happened. No parachute.
“Oh great,” said the young man. “And I suppose the truck won’t be there when I get down either!”
Have you ever felt that way? Nothing seems to go right in life? In the meantime, we look around and see others who do not love God, flourishing? Life just does not seem fair!
Jeremiah 12:1-5 (The Message)
You are right, O God, and you set things right. I can’t argue with that. But I do have some questions:
Why do bad people have it so good?
Why do con artists make it big?
You planted them and they put down roots.
They flourished and produced fruit.
They talk as if they’re old friends with you,
but they couldn’t care less about you.
Meanwhile, you know me inside and out.
You don’t let me get by with a thing!
Make them pay for the way they live,
pay with their lives, like sheep marked for slaughter.
How long do we have to put up with this—
the country depressed, the farms in ruin—
And all because of wickedness, these wicked lives?
Even animals and birds are dying off
Because they’ll have nothing to do with God
and think God has nothing to do with them.
“So, Jeremiah, if you’re worn out in this footrace with men,
what makes you think you can race against horses?
And if you can’t keep your wits during times of calm,
what’s going to happen when troubles break loose
like the Jordan in flood?
This morning I want to talk to you about running with the horses.
Jeremiah served as a prophet to five of the kings of Judah during his lifetime. He had the privilege of preaching, prophesying and proclaiming God’s word to the leaders of the southern kingdom Judah and others.
In this passage of scripture, Jeremiah has run into some challenges in life (11:18-19). People (including family and friends) were rejecting his messages from God! He said people wanted to kill him for prophesying. And God seemed to be silent and not dealing justice. That was Jeremiah’s problem!
Situations have caused Jeremiah to feel forsaken by God. He wants to have some dialogue with God. He looks around and compares how things are going in his life to the evil people around him and is disturbed. Jeremiah goes to God with a series of questions.
Jeremiah 12:1 (NIV) You are always righteous, Lord, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?
In other words, “God all of your judgments are good and righteous, yet let me speak to you about some of your recent decisions.” How many of you have been in difficult times and wanted to dialogue with God? He says “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those who deal so dirty and crooked happy in life?”
You may be asking God: Why God? Why am I stuck with this car that barely gets me to work, when those who don’t even think about you are pulling up in a new car? Why are they getting ahead at work, getting overtime, raises, promotions, recognition, and I am overlooked? Why am I having all the problems when they can live without any worries?
Jeremiah 12:2 You have planted them, and they have taken root; they grow and bear fruit. You are always on their lips but far from their hearts.
In other words, they are where they are because of you, God!
Jeremiah 12:3 Yet you know me, Lord; you see me and test my thoughts about you.
In other words, “But you know me God! I’m right! I’m holy, I’m spirit-filled, I’m a good Christian!”
He was telling me one Sunday he would no longer be coming to church because he saw how the wicked were prospering and he was struggling.
Jeremiah 12:4 Drag them off like sheep to be butchered! Set them apart for the day of slaughter! How long will the land lie parched and the grass in every field be withered? Because those who live in it are wicked, the animals and birds have perished. Moreover, the people are saying, “He will not see what happens to us.”
In other words, he is saying to God, “Kill them, God! Get rid of them. They’re mocking you, God!”
Finally, in verse 5 God says, “I’ve heard enough! Now let me respond.”
Jeremiah 12:5 “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?
Notice God does not provide a defense for what is happening to Jeremiah or how he will vindicate Jeremiah. Instead, God, in essence, tells him that he will be stretched more than he can ever imagine! So, just like every Christian today, he must be prepared!
There are two observations we need to make from this passage:
- Jeremiah is running with the footmen
- God calls the problems Jeremiah is having right now “footmen problems.” They are light.
- He’s been allowing these problems to wear him out. Much of what we face in our lives today are footmen problems.
In Old Testament days when they fought battles, they used footmen to begin before they would send in those on horseback. They were not powerful or heavily armed. But there were always a lot of them. Their purpose was to thin out the enemy lines and the opponent’s soldiers.
- Satan sends footmen into your life to try to weaken you. He gives you footmen problems: people talk about you, footmen. You’ve been disrespected, misunderstood, cheated, rebuked, sometimes up, sometimes down, disagreements, not enough money to pay the bills, children don’t listen, people bring up your past, no promotion at the job, can’t get a job – footmen!! These are footmen problems. They are intended to wear you out, discourage you, cause you to give up!
- But when you have footmen in your life it means you’re heading in the right direction! The enemy never sends footmen after you if you are heading in the same direction as him!
- We need to celebrate that we have some footmen in our lives. It means you’re going somewhere. You’re headed for your destiny. You’re heading for your purpose that God has for you!
- The truth is that the enemy sends footmen into your life when he sees you are getting close to your destination!
- The text tells us Jeremiah was weary from the footmen. Don’t let them wear you out. Some of you have been through a lot.
- You wanted to give up, but you didn’t. You’re still there.
- You should have lost your mind, but you’re still there.
- You should have quit your job but you’re still there.
- You should have quit your marriage but you’re still there.
- Sure it may not be all you want it to be right now, but you are still there! The fact is, you have been running with the footmen. You’ve come too far to give up now!
- You’ve had one thing right after the other come down the pike. You need to thank God for the footmen. “Why should I thank God for all these problems?” Here’s why…
FOOTMEN ARE PRECURSORS TO HORSES! Your present trials are preparing you for what’s coming next!
As the Union Pacific Railroad was being constructed, an elaborate trestle bridge was built across a large canyon in the West. Wanting to test the bridge, the builder loaded a train with enough extra cars and equipment to double its normal payload. The train was then driven to the middle of the bridge, where it stayed an entire day. One worker asked, "Are you trying to break this bridge?" "No," the builder replied, "I’m trying to prove that the bridge won’t break."
- “Why should I get all excited? If this is light and it’s going to get more intense what should I be happy about?” Because THE GREATER THE TRIAL, THE GREATER THE BLESSING! Nobody has ever done anything great for God or experienced the greatness of God without going through difficulties. THE TEST OF THE TRIAL PURIFIES THE MOTIVE!e. Joseph (ruler over Egypt), Daniel, 3 Hebrew boys, Jesus had to go to the cross in order to be resurrected! You’ve got to go through something in order to get to where God is trying to take you. What you are facing now is a footmen situation. You’ve allowed light stuff to discourage you! You need to celebrate the fact that you’ve been running with the footmen!
- We must run with the horses
- Jeremiah 12:5 “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?”
- In the natural we cannot contend with horses. Horses are strong! We measure the power of engines in horsepower.
- They are fast. Horses can gallop 25-30 MPH! Fastest speed was 55mph.
- An average horse walks 22 miles a day. A horse can run full speed for several miles.
- They can perform in the heat and the cold.
- They can sleep while they are standing.
- We can’t do any of that! If we try to run with a horse, it will beat us every time!
- But God says, as it is implied in the text, that we are supposed to contend with the horses. His intention is this: If you can make it with the footmen, God is going to empower you to do supernaturally what you can’t do in your own power! It’s in the mind of God to do in the supernatural what you can’t do in your own strength and ability. He wants to give you the ability to endure over long distances, perform in the heat and the cold. He wants you to rest while you’re taking a stand! DON’T GET WEARY WITH THE FOOTMEN. God is about to empower you to run with the horses!
David. Killed bear and lion. Goliath. Then becomes King! Look at your life.
- There are some of you who can attest to this – you are running with the horses – doing things that you could never do on your own!
- What footmen are you struggling with today? What is trying to discourage you, take away your strength, stop you, make you want to quit? They are light! But if you keep going, worshipping God, He can use those things to prepare you for what’s coming down the pike. If you’re struggling with the light stuff, you will not be able to handle how God wants to use you in the big things!
- God’s plan is to empower you to do what you never thought you could do! It’s not about ability, education, skills, knowledge. When God finds someone who is just available, it becomes good ground to be used by Him.
Don’t get discouraged with where you are or what you are going through! Hang on! God’s plan is to empower you and take you places you’ve never dreamed of. Get ready! You’re about to run with the horses! I believe for some of you today will be a turning point in your life as you contend with the footmen and prepare to run with the horses! I believe there will be some of you who will look back a year from now, five, ten years from now and see how God used the footmen in your life to get you to where you will be then. You will be able to see how God empowered you beyond your natural capacity to enable you to run with the horses!!