During the period of history when Israel had been taken into Babylonian captivity for seventy years there were three major prophets of God speaking and working with different people. Jeremiah was preaching God’s word to the Israelites who were left in the land of Palestine, made up largely of the poor among the Israelites. He also went with this group to Egypt when they disobeyed God and left trying to find safety. Ezekiel was God’s prophet among the captives of the Israelites. He lived among them and felt the pain and pressure of captivity. He worked to turn their hearts back to God and to realize it was their sin that had led to this awful situation. Daniel at the same time was God’s prophet to the people of Babylon. He was among the captives who were kidnapped in their youth and brought to Babylon to be trained in the language and ideas of the Babylonians with view to them becoming advisors to the king as they grew up. Daniel went from being a captive to being one of the primary leaders in Nebuchadnezzar’s cabinet, then in Belshazzar’s cabinet and then in the cabinet of Darius the Mead.
These three godly men, all called of God for a great mission and were all faithful to the mission God gave them. But how completely different that mission was. Can’t you imagine Jeremiah hearing about the work of Daniel and thinking, “What in the world is going on? He is living among the Babylonians and giving them advise? How can he be a real prophet living in such luxury and ease?” Likely, Ezekiel who seemed to lose everything including his wife for whom God told him not to weep, as he worked among the captives of Israel, must have wondered why he was struggling so much among the captives when Daniel seemed to have it so good. I would guess that Daniel may have thought, “If they only knew what I was going through here where I can advise the king but am hated by those who work around me to the degree they will trick the king into passing a silly law about prayer and worship to try to get me thrown into a lion’s den to be killed.” Their work couldn’t have been more different from each other. Yet they were all living right with God, doing exactly what God called them to do. They all suffered in some hard ways. Jeremiah wasn’t allowed by God to marry even though he was called into his work as a prophet at a very young age. Daniel was likely castrated when he was taken captive as a boy by the Babylonians so he would never have been able to marry or have a family. Then Ezekiel who had a wife, lost her and wasn’t allowed to grieve over the loss. So none of them lived in ease. We don’t even know how much they knew about each other and the work the others were doing. We know that late in Daniel’s life he was reading from Jeremiah’s prophesy and learned that the captivity was to last for 70 years and knew that time was approaching. Probably by this time, Jeremiah had already gone to be with the Lord in death.
This whole story teaches a powerful lesson that we need to learn. Just because some other person serving God seems to have life better than we do doesn’t mean they have compromised the truth or turned away from the Lord. They may well be doing all God wants from them but be in very different circumstances. Each man was prepared by God for the work they would do and it involved stress, pain, disappointment, separation and often the threats of those who they were trying to help. Too often we fail to do what God calls us to do where we are because we are so busy looking at some other person in a different situation and wondering why they have it so good. Most likely if we actually walked with them for a month or so we might want to get back to the work we were called to do. God uses people to do the work they are best suited to do. He trains people for a work in going through hard times and difficult situations. His training doesn’t stop just because we are doing the job. It isn’t ever what other people think of our work that matters. It is what the Lord thinks that matters and his thoughts are not our thoughts or his ways our ways. By the way, what God sees we are suited for may not be at all what we see or think. The fact he chose Saul of Tarsus, the Pharisee to become the apostle to the Gentiles would have seemed to everyone looking on to be the craziest decision ever made. But what a job he did for the Lord.
Where is your mission field?