Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Sobering Message in the Midst of a Reformation

By Cult Pastor Williams

Jeremiah 6:9-30

Jeremiah began his ministry as a prophet in the thirteenth year of Josiah (Jer. 1:1). He is known as the “weeping prophet.” Jeremiah 2-12 are messages given during Josiah’s reign. Chapters 2-6 cover the first five years of Jeremiah’s ministry which would have been the earlier reforming campaign under King Josiah (13th to 18th years as king).

It was not until after Josiah’s 18th year that the temple was cleansed and the book of the Law was discovered and read to Josiah by Shaphan the scribe (2 Kings 22). Jeremiah 7-9 are the messages delivered in connection with the cleansing of the temple and the discovery of the book of the Law. Chapters 10-12 are the messages delivered in connection with the more drastic reform which followed upon the discovery of the book of the Law.

2 Kings 22 gives the details of the Judah’s reformation under good King Josiah. Josiah was a very Godly, sincere man that experienced true revival in his heart. 2 Kings 22:2 “And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left. 2 Kings 23:25 “And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.” Josiah wholeheartedly sought to rid the land of all forms of idolatry and wickedness. However, as the nation was concerned, it was a mere following of a popular king. The people’s hearts did not wholeheartedly turn to God. Their true condition is revealed in Jeremiah 3:10 “And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly saith the LORD.”

Notice four elements in this message of Judgment to the people of Judah:

I. The Deplorable Condition of God’s People

A. Given to Covetousness
Jeremiah 6:13 “For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.” This was not isolated to a certain group. The majority of God’s people were guilty of breaking the 10th commandment (“Thou shalt not covet” Ex. 20:17).

To covet is not being content with what God has provided. Webster 1828: “A strong or excessive desire of obtaining and possessing some supposed good” Notice that is says they were “given to” which means they were under its control. It had become a life dominating sin. They were never satisfied and had a constant desire to have a little bit more. Does this not sound familiar? The advertising market today makes millions on people’s covetousness. Many are in debt today and having to work many hours of over time to make ends meet. Many mothers have gone into the work force to the detriment of the family. Paul had to address this matter of covetousness in 1 Tim. 6:6-10 “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

B. Deceptive
Vs. 13b “...every one dealeth falsely.” Lying and deceiving had become so prevalent that even the spiritual leadership was guilty. God’s people had lost their integrity from the spiritual leadership down to the common man. No one could trust each other. The prophet and priest could not trust the people and the people could not trust the prophet and priest. Are we any better off today? It is getting more and more difficult to find honest, sincere people of integrity even amongst professing Christians from pastors down to the layman!

C. Self-Confident
Vs. 14 “They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” They were going on with their lives as if nothing was wrong. Prov. 30:12 “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.”

D. Brash
Vs. 15 “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.” They were not ashamed over their sin to the point where they could not even blush. Prov. 30:13 “There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up.” They were simply too proud to admit they were wrong. How often are we ashamed and broken over our sin? How often are we guilty of covering our sin as if nothing happened? How many believers today sit by the hours and watch the filth on commercial television or by video without a bit of shame because they have become so desensitized to sin. Are we really any better off than the people of Judah in Jeremiah’s day!

E. Disobedient
Vs. 16 “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls, But they said, We will not walk therein.” God very clearly instructed His people to walk in the old paths where is the good way. We would call this the “old fashioned way.” How did they respond? “We will not walk therein.” This was bold faced disobedience to God! God has given us the “old paths” to follow in His Word with commandments, instructions, warnings, admonitions, promises, principles and examples. However, so many of God’s people today refuse to walk the “old paths” and are on the paths of ease, compromise and worldliness. They desire a religion of ease without surrender. They want the “grey area” rather than the black and white so clearly spelled out in Scripture. They want the privileges and blessings of Christianity without having to bear the cross. They want things fast and easy without the daily discipline. They want to pick and choose what they want to obey in God’s Word without having to be accountable to the whole counsel of God. Disobedience was prevalent in Jeremiah’s day and it has not gotten any better in ours!

F. Willful Rejection
Vs. 10,19 “To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it...Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it.” They were guilty of the serious sin of blatant rebellion and rejection of God’s Word. God’s people were truly in a deplorable condition before God and they were not going to get by with their sin!

II. The Dreadful Judgment of God’s People

A. Fury of God
Vs. 11 “Therefore I am full of the fury of the LORD; I am weary with holding it in: I will pour it out upon the children abroad, and upon the assembly of young men together: for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with him that is full of days.” The fact that God was “weary of holding in” reveals God’s longsuffering and mercy. However, God’s patience had run out and he was now ready to pour out His judgment on His people.

B. Stumblingblocks Layed by God
Vs. 21 “Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will lay stumblingblocks before this people, and the fathers and the sons together shall fall upon them; the neighbor and his friend shall perish.” Notice several things concerning these divine stumblingblocks:

1. What would be the results of these stumblingblocks?
Vs. 21b The people would fall on them and perish

2. What was the source of these stumblingblocks?
Vs. 22 It would be from the “north country” and would be a “great nation” which was Babylon.

3. What was the description of these stumblingblocks?
Vs. 23 “They shall lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy...”

4. What was the response to these stumblingblocks?
Vs. 24-25 Anguish, Pain and Fear!
Hebrews 10:31 “It is a fearful things to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Having described the coming judgment on His people, God gives a plea to them.

III. The Determined Plea to God’s People
Vs. 26 “O daughter of my people, gird thee with sackcloth, and wallow thyself in ashes: make thee mourning, as for an only son most bitter lamentation: for the spoiler shall suddenly come upon us.”

A. A Plea to Brokenness
God told them to put on sackcloth, to wallow in ashes and to mourn over their sin! This is so vividly seen in the repentance of the city of Ninevah. Ps. 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”

B. A Plea to Repentance
This plea is found in Jeremiah 7:1-6. In Vs. 3, God said for them to “amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.” True repentance of sin is confession and forsaking of the sin. Prov. 28:13 “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” It also involves turning from the sin and doing what is right and pleasing before God.

What would happen if they did break over their sin and repent?

IV. The Delightful Promise to God’s People
Jeremiah 7:7 “Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.” God would hold back the judgment He was going to bring on them and instead would allow them to remain where they were.

We need to keep in mind that these people were under Godly King Josiah. Reformation was taking place in the land. Outwardly, they were following Josiah and things looked good on the surface. What about underneath? Prov. 15:3 “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” God saw their hearts and what was going on behind the scenes of that “Reformation.” Jeremiah 3:10 “...Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the Lord.”

God saw how they were at home, at work and behind closed doors. All outward show of reformation did not impress God! He saw their covetousness, self-confidence, brashness, disobedience and willful rejection of His Word. That was what really was going on, regardless of how good the outside looked.

Jeremiah 6:20 “To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me.” They were very religious and were trying to wrap their ungodly ways in a cloak of spirituality, but God had rejected them (Vs. 30).

For what was God pleading with His people? This involved two things: Brokenness over their sin and Repentance. What was coming if they refused to get right with the Lord? The Judgment of God was imminent! This same warning of Divine judgment comes to our churches today. 1 Peter 4:17 “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God...” The Lord our God is not interested in our outward show (church attendance, conformance to dress standards, giving, service or lip service to Him) when our hearts are not right with Him.

If we want to have God’s blessing on us and to escape His judgment, then our only course of action is to be broken over our sin and to repent. Let us quit playing church. Let us quit deceiving ourselves into thinking that God will overlook our sin as long as we are involved in Christian service and outwardly conforming to Christianity. Let us be open and honest before God about our true condition and how we fall so short, and then fall before Him in brokenness and sincere repentance.

Let us get past that facade that impresses those around us and deal with what is really going on underneath! It is only then that we will go from mere outward reformation to genuine transformation and revival of heart that honors and pleases the Lord.