21 Oct Jeremiah 5:18-25, Blunting The Blessing
Reference: Jeremiah 5:18-25
Date: 21 October 2012
The Blunting of Blessing • Jeremiah 5:18-25
I. INTRODUCTION – Read vs.
Does God love us? Does He love YOU?
1. The message today is simple.
2. Sometimes, the passage we’re looking at is difficult to understand; the truth we’re wrestling w/more of a challenge.
3. Not today. This is pretty basic-because the things that are the most important God wants everyone to understand & enjoy.
Does God love YOU?
4. Are you experiencing that love?
a. Is God’s love merely a doctrine;
b. Or is it a tangible blessing you actually enjoy?
1. That’s the question our text sets before us today.
2. God tells Jeremiah to announce to the people of Judah that the Babylonians are coming as the instrument of His righteous judgment.
a. They will conquer Judah and carry them away captive.
b. In the vs. just before this, Jeremiah describes what’s coming.
1) Their cities & homes will be destroyed.
2) Everything they’ve lived for & trusted in will be wiped out.
3) It will seem to be the end of the world; but it’s not …
A. V. 18
18 “Nevertheless in those days,” says the Lord, “I will not make a complete end of you.
1. He will leave them a remnant.
2. God’s judgment wasn’t vindictive. He wasn’t just so ticked at them that He flew off in a rage & sent the Babylonians to wipe them out.
3. His judgment was restorative; it aimed at awakening His people to their distance from God.
a. It was meant to move them to return to Him, so they could repair their relationship to Him & restore His blessing.
b. This is still part of the larger message of chs. 2-6 where God likens their covenant w/Him as a marriage.
c. While He’s always been the faithful husband, they’ve been the wayward wife committing spiritual adultery by worshipping idols.
d. And though God has spent decades pleading w/them to return to forsake their idols & return to Him, they’ve refused.
e. So now He will in effect divorce them.
4. But God will not make a complete end of them. He will preserve a remnant, & from it resurrect His promises to them.
5. Because God is faithful, His promises cannot fail.
a. No matter how bad things may get, how spiritually dark the days grow –
b. God always reserves for Himself a root & core from which He launches a recovery & revival.
c. I believe with all my heart CCO is a spiritual refuge, one of several, where God has stashed His remnant & that right now He’s set us apart to be the preserve of His Grace & Truth.
d. In the growing darkness of our times, God intends us to be a city on a hill, radiating the light of Christ.
e. And that revival WILL break forth from here to restore the blessing of God on His people.
B. V. 19
19 And it will be when you say, ‘Why does the Lord our God do all these things to us?’ [meaning judgment at the hands of the Babylonians] then you shall answer them, ‘Just as you have forsaken Me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve aliens in a land that is not yours.’
1. They were to understand that there was a direct link between their sin and their punishment.
2. Why were they being carted off to a foreign land?
a. Well, they’d been worshipping foreign gods for a long time.
b. They were only get what they’d been asking for.
c. They’d left God & since the land of Israel was His land, they must leave that land.
d. If they wanted to worship foreign gods, they’d have to go to a foreign land & serve foreign masters.
e. Because they were already spiritual captives of idols, they’d become political captives as well.
3. We’re back to the idea we’ve seen over the last 2 weeks; Judah was supposed to be God’s wife.
a. But she’d committed adultery in her worship of idols.
b. God gave her ample warning & pleaded w/her to return but she’d flagrantly blown Him off.
c. God had to keep His word & moved to apply the judgment He’d long warned about.
4. In need to stop here & issue a very sober warning.
a. Don’t make the mistake ancient Judah made. It’s one people throughout the ages have made.
b. And that is to presume on the mercy & grace of God.
c. This passage reminds us while God is merciful, He’s also just. While He’s gracious, He’s also righteous.
d. Mercy assumed turns to judgment. Grace abused is punished.
e. Too many people think because God hasn’t judged them, He never will. They mistake His mercy for permission.
f. They assume because they’ve had grace up till now, grace is what will always be.
g. No! It’s a limited time offer. >> This is precisely what these vs make clear.
5. Don’t abuse the grace of God because it’s a precious gift He will not allow to be mistreated.
6. I need to press in on this point because there are church-people who make the same error the people of Jeremiah’s day made.
a. If we’ve truly received the grace of God & been forgiven, then the sin we’ve been forgiven of becomes loathsome to us.
1) And the grace of God becomes a treasure & delight we can sing about.
2) Amazing Grace becomes more than just a hymn; it’s a declaration that brings tears of joy to our eyes.
3) We still sin; but we abhor the fact we do & ache to be free of corrupt desire.
b. But if grace is nothing more to us than the assumption that God is reluctant to judge us & has given us a pass – not so that we’d have time to repent, but so that we can go on sinning – In that case we’re RIPE for judgment!
c. Never allow yourself to think that grace means permission to sin.
d. That is an abuse of grace that will LEAD to judgment – just as it did ancient Israel & Judah.
C. Vs. 20-22
20 “Declare this in the house of Jacob and proclaim it in Judah, saying, 21 ‘Hear this now, O foolish people, without understanding, who have eyes and see not, and who have ears and hear not: 22 Do you not fear Me?’ says the Lord. ‘Will you not tremble at My presence, Who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass beyond it? And though its waves toss to and fro, yet they cannot prevail; Though they roar, yet they cannot pass over it.
1. This was a potent image for Jeremiah’s day because the Jews traditionally were terrified of the sea. That’s why Israel was never a maritime power even though their western board was the Mediterranean Sea.
2. They saw the sea as unsafe, a danger. Storm waves freaked them out.
a. We see this in the disciples’ terror on the Lake in Galilee.
b. So imagine their apprehension about the Med!
3. God says, “As fierce & dangerous as the sea you fear, I set the beach as its barrier. The waves cannot pass the shore. So, I can block the Babylonians if I want to.
a. You guys ought to know this! You ought to be able to figure this out –
b. But you’ve become utterly foolish! It’s like you’re deaf & blind.
c. You are because your idols have made you that way.”
4. It’s a spiritual principle that we become like what we worship.
5. Psalm 115 says –
3 Our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases. 4 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. 5 They have mouths, but they do not speak; eyes they have, but they do not see; 6 They have ears, but they do not hear; noses they have, but they do not smell; 7 They have hands, but they do not handle; feet they have, but they do not walk; nor do they mutter through their throat. 8 Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them.
6. We become like the god we worship.
7. “Great” you say, “I’m a Christian so I’m becoming more like God.” I certainly hope so à but be careful!
a. You see, that’s similar what the people of Jeremiah’s time thought – & thought wrongly.
b. They said, “Yahweh is our official god. He’s our national deity.
1) Our capital is Jerusalem, God’s city
2) And the center of Jerusalem is the temple, God’s house.”
c. All that was true. But the real object of their devotion were the foreign gods; Baal, Asherah & Molech.
1) These gods were represented by idols carved from wood & stone.
2) They were dead; blind & deaf.
3) They were fun to worship because they allowed the people to do what they wanted.
4) But when trouble came they were unable to help because they weren’t real.
8. We become like what we worship. Again, we say “Great! Because I’m a Christian, so we’re becoming more like Jesus.”
a. Careful! Are you really a Christian; a follower of Jesus?
b. I think most of you understand the caution I’m calling for.
c. Polls continue to reveal that a high percentage of adults in America call themselves Christians.
1) But when asked to define what that means, they reveal beliefs very wide from a Christian worldview.
2) Like the people of Jeremiah’s day, their official religion & personal practice are 2 very different things.
3) Many Americans think like this: “I’m not Jewish, a Buddhist, a Hindu, or a Muslim. And I do believe there’s a god, so I’m not an atheist. What major religion is left? I’m a Christian.”
4) I say the Pledge of Allegiance – This is one nation – Under God.
5) It’s on my money; In God we trust.
6) I go to church. I’m here aren’t I? So – I’m a Christian. It’s the religious default of the USA.
9. Do you trust Jesus-ultimately? What I mean is – if you had to give up everything, what one thing would you NOT give up, even if it meant giving up your life to hold on to?
a. What do you live FOR?
1) Your glory, your God’s?
2) Your happiness or His pleasure?
3) Your plans or God’s purposes?
10. In the very last verse of John’s first letter, he says something shocking –
Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
a. He writes that to Christians! Christians don’t worship idols, right?
b. This seems obvious; yet John ends his letter with those words.
c. Because he knew while Christians don’t worship at a shrine of an idol in their home or in town, they may have one in their heart.
d. They may say the worship God, may even say they worship Jesus – but that’s just a name, a word they’ve poured their own desires into.
11. I’ve talked w/ many who claim to be a Christian whose “Jesus” is not the One we read about in the Bible.
a. He’s an idol of their own devising.
b. A god who sanctifies their desires, excuses their sin, permits their lust, encourages their greed.
c. They love their fake-Jesus when things are going well because he helps rid them of guilt,
d. But when life goes south & they need help, fake-Jesus can’t help them – because he’s – well, FAKE!
12. And because we become like what we worship, they become fake; all image, no substance.
a. They lose the capacity to see what’s real & hear the truth.
b. There’s nothing so frustrating as speaking to someone about something that seems so obvious but they’re oblivious.
c. You share what you know to be absolute truth & they argue & cling to the patently absurd.
d. It’s a sure sign they worship an idol. It’s blinded & deafened them.
D. Vs. 23-25
23 But this people has a defiant and rebellious heart; they have revolted and departed. 24 They do not say in their heart, “Let us now fear the Lord our God, Who gives rain, both the former and the latter, in its season. He reserves for us the appointed weeks of the harvest.”
1. They will fall in judgment to the Babylonians because their hearts are set on rebellion against God.
2. God CAN’T bless rebellion. And He can’t because of love. We gotta’ get this!
a. Sin leads irresistibly to death. The inevitable, inescapable result of sin is sorrow & ruin.
b. Because God loves us & wants the best for us, He withhold blessing form us when we turn from Him.
c. Not because He’s getting even but because He wants to get us back to the blessing.
d. He never STOPS loving us; but He does withhold blessing in the hope that the curse that takes its place will awaken us to the reality that we’ve departed from God.
e. And returning to Him, we re-enter the place of blessing.
3. Sin blunts the blessing of God
25 Your iniquities have turned these things away, and your sins have withheld good from you.
4. When they found themselves in a time of famine, when the economy was in shambles, when violence filled their streets, & foreign powers threatened their security – they were to realize it was evidence they’d left God.
5. If they wanted out of famine, economic depression, drive-by shootings, terrorist attacks, the path was clear.
6. Repent of their sin & rebellion against God. Forsake their idols – whatever their names were, and return to the Lord.
7. God loved them, He never stopped loving them. But they weren’t experiencing the benefits of that love because God can’t bless sin.
8. God loves us! He’s never stopped loving us. Are we experiencing the benefits of His love?
9. In Jude 21 we read this: Keep yourselves in the love of God.