‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. 18 You show steadfast love to thousands, but you repay the guilt of fathers to their children after them, O great and mighty God, whose name is the Lord of hosts, 19 great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the children of man, rewarding each one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds. 20 You have shown signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and to this day in Israel and among all mankind, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day.
The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 27 “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?”
“Now therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning this city of which you say, ‘It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine, and by pestilence’: 37 Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety. 38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40 I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. 41 I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul. – Jeremiah 32:17-20;26-27; 36-41
Some people like to get into silly arguments about whether or not God can set himself up for failure by doing things like making a rock so big and heavy that he can’t pick it up. The catch 22 of that question is that if God can’t make a rock too heavy to pick up, then there is something God can’t do. And if he can make a rock too heavy for him to pick up again, there is something that God can’t do. It is a silly discussion.
However, many of us do think there is something too difficult for God to do. Oh, we may speak that he could theoretically do anything, but in practice, we don’t really believe it. I am thinking of something really big and unprecedented, at least in the United States.
Jeremiah 32 is a prophecy for Israel about being taken into captivity with the promise that God will return them to Jerusalem and the Israeli territory. God is making it clear that this is not too difficult for him to do. But there is language in verses 38-40 that tells us that the promise isn’t limited to Israel. God is talking about an everlasting covenant which had been previously referred to by Jeremiah as a new covenant. This is a covenant in which God will put the fear of him in our hearts that we may not turn from him. This is prophetic language that refers to what Jesus spoke of as being born again. Ultimately, Jeremiah is not just talking about Israel returning to Jerusalem and Israel, but receiving their Messiah and enjoying the fruit of the New Covenant in Christ.
So the question is, “Is it too difficult for God to take the constantly backsliding Israel into captivity as discipline for their backsliding and then to return them to the promised land and make them so they will not continue to be backsliding people again?” God makes himself clear, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” It is rhetorical, the answer is, “No.”
The church in the United States is not unlike Israel. She has often been visited with times of revival but she regularly, almost like clockwork, backslides and fails to follow her Savior in all things he has taught. Can God do something for the church in the United States similar to what he promised to Israel and has fulfilled in Christ? Put another way, is it possible for God to build his church in such a way that literally everyone in the United States will have heard in a viable way the gospel of Jesus Christ and had the opportunity to enter into the Kingdom of God?
Jesus pulled off a victory like this in a matter of two to three years in the province of Asia, so the Paul had to go elsewhere to carry on his Apostolic mandate to take the gospel to the Gentiles (or the nations).
“And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9 But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. 10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.” Acts 19:8-10
Note: all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. It is believed that this amounted to somewhere between eight and fifteen million people. According to the 2010 Census, San Diego County has a little over 3 million people. Is reaching all of the residents of San Diego County too hard for God? I am preaching to myself here. I am trying to expand my vision for what God can do in my neighborhood. And I admit I have a hard time believing he could do this even in five years, let alone a space of two to three years.
Jesus said he will build his church. He commanded us to make disciples. We should concentrate on our mission of making disciples and let him take care of building his church.
Is there a contemporary precedent anywhere in the world? Actually, it seems there is. There are phenomenal movements of disciple-makers growing at amazing rates in places like Africa (even the Muslim territories), China, Southeast Asia, and India. If you need your faith bolstered by reading of the mighty works of God, I refer you to a few books.
The Kingdom Unleashed by Jerry Trousdale and Glenn Sunshine
Contagious Disciple Making by David and Paul Watson
Miraculous Movements by Jerry Trousdale
If God will be so gracious as to grant a movement like this in our country, it will be very disruptive. It won’t be “church as usual.” We can’t handle a movement like this in our current forms of doing church. But for me, I am ready for a change if it will mean millions of people coming to know the Savior and becoming productive multiplying disciple-makers. Will you pray with me for just such a movement to sweep through our communities?