Jeremiah 50:8 “Flee out of Babylon;
leave the land of the Babylonians,
and be like the goats that lead the flock.”
Goats generally get a bad rap, but here they are used as something to be emulated. When people are in a bad situation, someone has to lead the way. Goats tend to have much more initiative than sheep, and so are suited to leadership. We have the expression, “Judas goat,” from a goat that is used to lead sheep at a slaughterhouse, and Jesus used goats as the type to illustrate those who were not His (Matthew 25:31-46), but we should not let that blind us to goats’ good qualities. In recent years “sheeple” has gained popularity in the US as a term to describe the masses of people who don’t seem really to think for themselves, especially politically. What God is saying through Jeremiah here is, “Don’t be one of the sheeple.” Rather, each person who perceives God’s truth needs to act on it, whatever the people around them are doing. Maybe someone will see our example and follow it! In Jeremiah’s day Babylon was certainly a physical location, but today the term applies more to the world system, and taken that way, this verse could not be more timely. Rather that “going with the flow” of “everybody’s doing it,” we need to get serious about what God says in His Word and living that out, even if the people around us think we’re strange or even take us to court. Right now “Babylonian” thinking is totally rampant, and judgment seems overdue. For most, physical relocation is not a viable option, but we must be very careful that our “spiritual location” is not in Babylonian degradation.
Again, being at a physical distance from the US puts me in a different situation, but then Japanese society never has been based on the Bible. I need to be careful I’m not carried along with the “Babylonian” tide, but be someone to lead others out of it. Actually, as a pastor that is a major part of my job description. As I am often reminded, being a Caucasian in the Orient tends to make people think they can’t emulate me even if they admire me. They say things like, “I wish I could live like you do,” with the unspoken assumption that it would be impossible for them. Actually, sometimes they come right out and say it, and are not persuaded when I tell them otherwise. That’s all the more reason to seek to get their focus on Jesus rather than on me. After all, He wasn’t European, however He is depicted in paintings.
Father, I want to be more effective in leading people out of the devil’s traps, but I can’t do it in my own wisdom and strength. I ask for Your anointing of wisdom, power, and love, so that more and more will indeed “come out of Babylon” and into Your kingdom, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!