Posts Tagged ‘Jeremiah’

Tell It Like It Is

Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying, The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard.  Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; and the Lord will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.  As for me, behold, I am in your hands: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you.

Jeremiah 26:12-14

It’s hard to not feel a little bad for the prophet Jeremiah.  At the same time, it is impossible to not admire him.  He preached a message of judgment to a stiffnecked and hard hearted people who did not want to hear it.  He was persecuted and saw few, if any, results from all of his efforts.  He was preaching to a people who had rejected God and who had no interest in repenting and turning from their evil ways.  Yet he preached on.  How often do we stop telling others what the Lord wants us to tell them because they aren’t nice to us?  How often do we give up because we can’t find anyone who will listen to our message?  I know that I have given up far too easily and far too often.  I think that we can all learn from the testimony of Jeremiah.

He tells the people to “amend their ways and their doings” and to “obey the voice of the Lord your God.”  That is a simple, but very powerful message.  The first step today would be to tell people to obey the voice of the Lord with regards to accepting His Son Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour.  Then, with His help, they can “amend their ways and their doings.” 

Earlier in the chapter, they had decided to kill Jeremiah.  In verse 14, after delivering his message, he tells them that he is in their hands and to do with him whatever they want.  He does not fear the people.  God gave him a message to give, and he gave it.  God has given us a message to give.  Have we given it?

Kill the Messenger

Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die.  Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant?  And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the Lord…    …Then spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the people, saying, This man is worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears.  Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying The Lord sent me…

Jeremiah 26:8-9, 11-12a

The New Testament tells us that the things in the Old Testament were written for us as “examples” and that they were written “for our learning.”  This is one of those passages from which we can learn something. 

We have all heard the phrase (and, in some cases, have spoken it ourselves) “don’t kill the messenger.”  That is exactly what the Israelites are wanting to do in these verses.  The nation of Israel was horribly backslidden.  They had rejected the Lord, and had refused His numerous offers to return to Him and be restored.  In light of that, God had sent Jeremiah to warn them of their coming destruction.  As such, most of the book of Jeremiah is a pronouncement of judgment. 

When faced with this pronouncement of judgment, instead of repenting and humbly returning to the Lord, the people decided to kill God’s messenger, Jeremiah!  They said “Thou shalt surely die” and “This man is worthy to die.”  Why?  “For he hath prophesied against this city.”  

While we would agree that this is a terrible thing, what lesson can we as Christians gain from it?  I think the lesson is this: what is our attitude toward those whom the Lord uses to bring conviction to our hearts?

 

God’s Repentance

Thus saith the Lord; Stand in the court of the Lord’s house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lord’s house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word:  If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings.

Jeremiah 26:2-3

The Bible speaks very often of repentance, and it also speaks often of God Himself repenting.  Repentance simply means a change of mind.  In these verses, God gives the Israelites a recipe for getting Him to change His mind regarding the judgment that He is about to bring against them.  And that recipe is a simple on that still works today.

God must punish sin.  Of course, His greatest punishment of sin came at the cross.  There, He laid all of mankind’s sin on Jesus.  As it says in Isaiah 53, “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”  When we accept His sacrifice on our behalf, we are no longer under condemnation for our sins.  But, now as children of God, we must still face His hand of chastisement and judgment when we sin.  But there is a way to get forgiveness for those sins.  Confess them and forsake them.  If we have sin in our life, we need to hear what God says about it, and “turn from our evil way.” 

Doing this allows God to repent (or change His mind) about how to deal with us.  The analogue is that of a father seeing his child do something wrong.  If the child comes to him, admitting his fault and honestly wanting to amend his ways, the father will lovingly receive him and help him.  The father would have had a punishment in mind, but obvious contrition on the part of the child would have allowed the father to change his mind.  It is through stubborn refusal to deal sin that we bring down God’s chastening hand.

If we find ever find sin in our lives, let us “turn from it” and turn back to the Father!

Turn and Dwell

And the Lord hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear.  They said, Turn ye again now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings, and dwell in the land that the Lord hath given unto you and to your fathers for ever and ever: And go not after other gods to serve them, and to worship them, and provoke me not to anger with the works of your hands; and I will do you no hurt.

Jeremiah 25:4-6

When you think about it, this is exactly what our “prophets” of today are supposed to do.  Of course, we don’t have prophets any more, but we do have pastors and teachers who are given to us by the Lord to help us follow Him.  These verses give us some good things that our pastors are supposed to be telling us and helping us with:

1. “Turn ye again now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings…”
–  Pastors and teachers should warn people about evil.  They should implore us to stop doing wrong, and if we aren’t doing wrong, they should implore us to not start doing wrong.

2. “dwell in the land that the Lord hath given unto you and to your fathers for ever and ever…”
– On the flip side of the coin, we need to be encouraged to “dwell in the land.”  The Lord has given us so many promises.  We need to take hold of those promises and live in the victory that He has given us. 

We need to both avoid evil and do good.  It seems that sometimes we get one or the other down, but getting both is a difficult thing to do.  Sometimes we don’t really do anything horrible, but we don’t really do anything good either.  Other times, when we are really trying to do something good, we fall on our faces.  No matter who is “preaching” these things to us, it is important that we listen and take heed.

What More Can He Say?

And the Lord hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear.

Jeremiah 25:4

There is an old hymn titled “How Firm a Foundation.”  It has to be one of my all-time favorite hymns.  It contains a line that says “what more can He say, than to you He hath said?”  I like that song and I like that line and I think that this verse fits in with that thought.

What more can say than He has already said to us?

In this verse we find the Lord telling His people that He has sent prophets to them, but they have not listened to them.  He sent prophets to warn them about continuing on in their rejection of Him, but they didn’t want to listen.  They continued to ignore and reject Him.  What more could He have done for them?  He brought them out of Egypt.  He gave them the Promised Land.  He fought their battles and gave them food to eat.  Even when they strayed from Him, He did not immediately destroy them.  He sent prophets to warn them.  Still they rejected Him.  What more could He have done?

An even scarier question is what more could He have done for us?  He gave us His Son to die for our sins.  He gave us a complete Bible to tell us of this sacrifice.  He made a way for us to have forgiveness and life instead of guilt and death.  He has literally done everything that He could possibly have done for us.  Yet how many times have we still rejected Him?  That is a powerful question and one that we would do well to meditate upon:

What more could He have done?  And what have we done with what He did?

Tell Everybody

The which Jeremiah the prophet spake unto all the people of Judah, and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day, that is the three and twentieth year, the word of the Lord hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened.  And the Lord hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear.

Jeremiah 25:2-4

The entire book of Jeremiah is the sad story of the fall of nation of Israel.  God’s people have rejected Him over and over again and have followed their own lusts and have refused to return to Him. 

Here we find Jeremiah telling the people that, though the Lord sent them prophets to speak to them, they have “not hearkened.”  They have “not inclined their ear to hear.”  This truly is a sad story, but what caught my eye was the simple phrase found in verse 2, “Jeremiah the prophet spake unto all the people…”  He spake to ALL of the people.  They didn’t listen to him.  They refused to listen to him.  But still he did what the Lord told him to do and he spake to all of the people.

Too often I think that we don’t get the message of Jesus Christ out like we should.  We want to tell “some of the people.”  It’s natural to be intimidated by some and it’s natural to want to pass by some.  But we are to tell “all people.”  God did not have Jeremiah tell only those who would listen.  He did not have him tell only those who fit a certain demographic.  He spake unto “all the people.”

A convicting question: how are we doing as “Ambassadors for Christ?”  How are we doing at speaking His message to “all the people?”

Breaking and Burning

Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?

Jeremiah 23:29

God compares His Word to many things throughout the Bible, and I enjoy thinking about these images that He provides.  In this verse, we have two things that the Bible is likened to, and both are wonderful pictures of what God’s Word is and does for us (and to us).

He begins by saying “Is not my word like as a fire?”  Yes it is!  The prophet Jeremiah said that His Word “was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones…”  There are many different directions that you could take the fact that His Word is like a fire.  You could say that it is a purifying fire.  He uses the Bible to cleanse us and purify us.  You could say that it is like a fire in that it is very difficult to contain.  Fires tend to spread and, given free reign, God’s Word spreads from heart to heart.  His Word is definitely “like as a fire.”

The Bible is also “like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces.”  Reading His Word will crush us.  When our hearts get hard, getting into the Bible is the remedy.  His Word will break us.  We can not be used of Him until we are broken, and that breaking comes from His Word.

He tells us in the Psalms that “… thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.”  The Bible is vitally important to our lives.  We come to Christ through His Word and we walk with Christ in and through His Word.  Let us never get away from His Holy Word!

How You Got It

Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour’s service without wages, and giveth him not for his work

Jeremiah 22:13

There is an old saying that says something about “it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.”  While winning is obviously an important thing, there is some truth to that statement.  Many people and teams have “won” games or events or contests, only to be later disqualified and eliminated for not “playing by the rules.”  The same is true in life.

How many people are out there “building their houses by unrighteousness?”  How many people are working and building their lives on a false foundation?  How many people do we know who have “gotten ahead” by stepping on others and being dishonest?  Have we been guilty of those things?  The Bibles tells us “woe to that person.”  There is a right way and wrong way to do things.  We might be doing something that outwardly would seem good, but are we doing it in the right way?

“Building a house” is  a good thing.  I would like to build a house.  “Building a life” is a good thing.  But a house or a life built by unrighteousness is a terrible thing.  We might be viewed as a “success” in the world’s eyes, but God sees our hearts and knows our motives and intentions.

I love the fact that, though the Bible was written hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of years ago, it still contains practical truth that we need every day.  The world is full of ambitious people who would do anything (including using dishonesty, deceit and treachery) to “get ahead.”  But the next time we are tempted to join them, we would be wise to consider this verse.  No amount of wealth or worldly success is worth an ounce of unrighteousness!

The “Ugly”

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  I the Lord search the heart, I try the reigns, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

Jeremiah 17:9-10

What is the most deceptive and deceitful thing in the entire world?  Many people would point to some criminal or someone like that.  Others might find some scam or scam artist that they may have followed at one point or another.  But most people in the world would point their finger at someone else.  But that is not what the Bible has to say.

The Bible tells us that the absolute most deceitful thing and the most desperately wicked thing in the entire world is our heart.  My heart is deceitful and it is wicked.  In fact, it is more deceitful and more wicked than anything else I might come across.  That is a hard pill to swallow.

We are often told to “follow our heart.”  We are told to “trust our heart.”  Unfortunately, Satan has deceived us as to our very nature.  If we really do “follow our heart,” we will end up in a pit of sin and surrounded by problems and heartaches.  Our heart is deceitful and desperately wicked.  Our heart is black with sin and rebellion against God.  Our heart is just plain ugly!

Fortunately, God can wash and clean our hearts from the filth of sin.  He can even give us a new heart that will love and obey Him. 

This is an important truth for us to remember as we are constantly bombarded with the world’s philosophy.  We should not trust our wicked and deceitful heart, we should trust only in the Lord.  He will not deceive us and is worthy of our trust.

The “Bad”

Thus saith the Lord; Cursed by the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.  For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.

Jeremiah 17:5-6

Yesterday we looked at “the good.”  The man who puts his trust in the Lord was described as a tree planted by a river, always green and fruitful.  Today, we see “the bad.”

“The bad” in this context (or “cursed”, if you want the actual word used) is the person who “trusteth in man…”  “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man.”  It also says this cursed man “maketh flesh is arm.”  In the Bible, the arm is a symbol of strength.  Even a child knows that.  If you went up to a boy and told him to “make a muscle” or “show me your muscles”, what would he do?  He probably wouldn’t roll up his pant leg and flex his calf muscle.  He probably wouldn’t stick out his tongue and show you that muscle.  He would show you his “arm.”  That is symbolic of strength.

When we take pride in our own flesh as our “strength,” we are part of this group upon whom is pronounced a curse.  The Bible tells us in the New Testament that “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  The flesh is weak and sinful, but how many people put their trust in themselves instead of the Lord?

The third negative description this passage gives us is a person “whose heart departeth from the Lord.”  That one hits a little closer to home.  How many times have we let our heart stray, even just a little? 

When these things happen, we are likened to “heath in the desert.”  It is dead and dry.  Which would we rather have describe us: parched, dry heath in a desert wasteland of a fruitful tree rooted by a river?