07 Oct Sun. Msg. – Jeremiah 2:33-37, Backed Into a Corner
- Reference: Jeremiah 2:33-37
- Date: 07 October 2012
Backed Into a Corner • Jeremiah 2:33-37
I. INTRODUCTION • Read vs.
A. Remember? This Is It
1. Remember what I said last week: Jeremiah is a tough book—not to understand, but to hear.
2. We see that today. // These are hard words.
B. A Spiritual Harlot
1. Chs. 2-6 are the 16 yr old Jeremiah’s inaugural message to the kingdom of Judah.
2. He rolls out a major theme in God’s Word to them.
3. It is that they’ve broken their covenant w/God. They’d broken faith w/Him.
4. The image painted by the prophet is of marriage.
a. God rescued Israel from the slave pits of Egypt, courted them in the Exodus, then propose to them at Mt Sinai.
b. To God’s proposal, Israel said “Yes!”
c. The next few decades was their honeymoon as they were wandered the wilderness, learning about Him, daily experiencing His love, protection, & provision.
d. Then God carried them across the threshold into their new home in the Promised Land.
e. But after the honeymoon of those early years, Israel began to stray.
f. She was seduced by the idols of the other kingdoms, Baal, Asherah, Molech, & a gang of lesser deities.
g. Because Israel was God wife, this idolatry was spiritual adultery.
h. But God was merciful & sent prophets to call her back. Problem is, the people didn’t want to.
i. The idols were more fun. They allowed the people to indulge their lust & greed.
j. It seems like a good deal when your religion justifies the sin you want.
1) Want to lust? Great – Just call it love!
2) Greedy? Awesome – Call it faith!
3) Baal was just an mask for power.
Asherah was the idol that allowed lust.
Molech justified greed.
And if one of those big-3 didn’t cover your fetish, there were many lesser idols to pick from.
k. But what we need to know is that while worshipping idols, Israel claimed to believe in God, in Yahweh.
1) He was their official, national deity.
2) They went once a year to His temple in Jerusalem.
3) They threw Him the proverbial bone by offering a sacrifice.
4) But their real devotion was to idols.
5. So when God’s prophets accused them of spiritual adultery, at first the people ignored them. When the prophets would shut up, they killed them.
6. Having rejected God’s Word & offer of forgiveness, their wickedness grew.
7. An epidemic of evil grew throughout the land.
A. Vs. 20
20 “For of old I have broken your yoke and burst your bonds;
1. God was the One who delivered them from bondage in Egypt. It wasn’t Baal that did that – it was Yahweh.
And you said, ‘I will not transgress,’
2. Israel’s promised to be faithful to Him there at Mt. Sinai.
3. At every marriage I perform, the last part of the vow is “leaving all others, will you keep yourself only for you husband / wife, so long as you both shall live?” TO which they say, “I do! I will – YES!”
4. That’s precisely what Israel said in her covenant w/God. We will be faithful to YOU alone.
5. The very first command which was her wedding vow was – “You shall have no other gods besides Me.”
6. But Israel was unfaithful. And not just “kinda’ – a little.” She wasn’t just a flirt. She was a harlot –
When on every high hill and under every green tree You lay down, playing the harlot.
7. Hills & forest groves were where they built their pagan altars.
8. In modern terms we’d say Israel was a married women who didn’t just flirt with other guys, bat her eyes at them & make suggestive comments. à She was seducing every guy she could find; hauling them off to a hotel room at all hours of the day & night.
B. Vs. 23-24
23 “How can you say, ‘I am not polluted, I have not gone after the Baals’? See your way in the valley; Know what you have done:
1. When God confronted them w/their adultery, they acted all innocent.
2. He’s the husband who brings the credit card bill to his wife w/2 dozen charges to the NoTell Motel, & pictures from the private investigator he hired showing her in bed w/ her lovers.
3. And she claims to not know a thing. “Someone else must be using my card. That’s not me in those photos.”
Really? Cuz that’s your birthmark. / I know! That’s so freaky – but it’s not me!
4. This is exactly how Israel responded to the message of the prophets. “We’re not idolaters!”
a. Well, how do you account for this altar on this hill & this pillar in this grove?
b. Where did this blood on these stones come from and how do you explain these ashes?
c. That’s so freaky! But we have no idea how they got here. We didn’t do it.
5. They’re denial is absurd! So God just ells them like it is . . .
You are a swift dromedary [young female camel] breaking loose in her ways, 24 A wild donkey used to the wilderness, That sniffs at the wind in her desire; In her time of mating, who can turn her away? All those who seek her will not weary themselves; In her month they will find her.
a. Anyone who’s worked around horses or donkeys will appreciate this.
b. And of course, the people to whom this was originally spoken understood what God was saying about them because camels & donkeys were something they saw every day.
c. When mating season comes, they are into it!
d. The scent is in the air & they are ALL worked up.
6. God tells them they’ve become like brute beasts in their pursuit of idols.
7. There’s no discretion in them at all. It’s like they’re in heat, ever sniffing the wind.
8. This points out an essential truth: It’s the nature of sin to grow.
a. Temptation offers satisfaction – but it never really delivers.
b. Know this: The pleasure, meaning, fun, kicks, excitement, purpose, power, popularity, or happiness you’re aiming will elude you.
c. You’ll get a whiff of it, but not the real thing; not satisfaction; just enough of the scent to keep you sniffing, searching, looking for more; just enough to keep you hooked on the search.
d. But you will always be wanting more. [Story of candy wrapper]
e. Sin drops bread-crumbs of temptation that lead to death. Sin will never hand you a loaf of bread; the best you’ll get is crumbs. Only God has the loaf. Jesus is the Bread of Life.
C. Vs. 31-32
1. Jump on down to v. 31 –
31 “O generation, see the word of the Lord! Have I been a wilderness to Israel, or a land of darkness?
2. God, as a faithful & good husband asks His wayward wife, “WHY? Haven’t I been a good husband – a faithful provider? Didn’t I meet your needs? What fault is there in Me that caused you to stray?”
3. In all the years I’ve pastored, the vast majority of troubled marriages find both spouses contribute to the problems. But there are a couple where the blame lies w/1.
4. God had done everything right & nothing wrong. Israel could not blame her adultery on some failing in Yahweh. The fault was all hers.
Why do My people say, ‘We are lords; We will come no more to You’?
5. This really, is the bottom line of idolatry. You see, worshipping an idol is just a socially acceptable way to worship yourself.
a. If people worshipped their image in a mirror, others would call them conceited & foolish.
b. But if they dress up the mirror so it’s not so obvious, that’s acceptable.
c. All idols are, are the wish-projections of the selfish. They are hand-made gods – surrogates for self.
6. I’m going to say something some of you won’t like. But it’s no less true for that.
a. There are 2 gods. 1 is true, the other a false, pretender god.
b. And everyone worship 1 of these 2 gods –
1) There is the One True God – Creator & Sustainer of Heaven & Earth. Yahweh = Jesus.
2) And there is the false god, little ‘g’ – Self.
c. Which God do you worship?
d. No one can worship both, but all worship 1 or the other. è Pick your god.
32 Can a virgin forget her ornaments, Or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number.
7. Every married woman remembers her wedding day. That is quintessentially HER DAY!
a. Somehow – against all reason, Israel had forgotten her wedding day –
b. The day she entered covenant w/God & He’d showered her w/blessing & beauty.
8. And now, in the days of Jeremiah, they barely ever even thought of God.
9. They were like a married woman w/a dozen boyfriends.
a. She comes home once a month to spend a night w/her husband & thinks he’s content w/that.
b. She claims the house as her official address & identifies herself as Mrs. So & so.
c. But in reality she spends most of her time w/her lovers.
10. That’s how the people of Judah were treating God & their covenant w/Him.
11. God sent Jeremiah to tell them – “That’s not gonna’ fly!”
a. Forsake your lovers, turn from your idols & come back to Me alone.
b. “If you don’t & won’t, we’re done!”
12. This was the message God had sent them for years by other prophets.
13. And now – Jeremiah was His last messenger. If they rejected him, God would in effect divorce them.
14. The Babylonians would come to enforce the separation & they’d be forcibly removed from the land.
15. Hardened hearts need strong words. // So God sent Jeremiah w/a shocking message –
D. Vs. 33-34
33 “Why do you beautify your way to seek love? Therefore you have also taught the wicked women your ways.
1. The idea is this: There are wives & there are prostitutes.
a. A wife knows there are female predators out there who want to prey on her husband.
b. She hopes & prays her husband stays faithful, as she’s faithful to him.
2. But the Jews? Though they were God’s wife, they could teach the prostitutes quite a lot about how to seduce a man.
3. The idols didn’t seek them; they sought the idols!
4. They weren’t playing hard to get; they were utterly wanton in their pursuit of sin.
5. Instead of resisting temptation, they encouraged it.
34 Also on your skirts is found the blood of the lives of the poor innocents. I have not found it by secret search, but plainly on all these things.
6. A wife who’s having an affair usually tries to hide it.
a. If her husband suspects something’s going on, he has to dig to find evidence of her unfaithfulness.
b. Judah’s unfaithfulness was so blatant, God didn’t have to search – it was right out in the open.
c. The blood of their infants they’d offered on the altars to their idols was splattered on their clothes.
7. Dating all the way back to Cain & Abel, God made it clear that He avenges the shedding of innocent blood.
8. These words OUGHT to have shaken the people of Jeremiah’s day to their core & made them realize how close to judgment they were.
9. When people remove God from their thoughts, it’s inevitable that the poor & powerless will be abused, taken advantage of, & become poorer & more miserable. It’s inevitable.
a. So today, any platform or policy that rejects God & claims to stand for the poor is a sham.
b. How can anyone with a lick of sense claim they’re for human rights when they refuse them to the most weak & vulnerable among us & need protection the most à The Unborn?
10. Proverbs tells us all wisdom begins w/the fear of God.
a. If you remove or ignore Him you’re left w/foolishness.
b. Any policy or plan that rejects God is folly.
c. It may claim to help the poor but it will in fact end up harming them gravely.
11. What God said here to ancient Judah could be said to our nation today; abortion is the law of the land.
E. V. 35
35 Yet you say, ‘Because I am innocent, surely His anger shall turn from me.’ Behold, I will plead My case against you, because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’
1. Unbelievable! After all this, they still claimed to be innocent.
2. When Jeremiah said God would bring the Babylonians as the instrument of His judgment on wicked Judah, they replied, “Why? We haven’t done anything wrong.”
3. God answers – “I’ll lay out the case against you; 1 supported by a mountain of evidence.”
a. You worship idols in the most lewd & wicked ways imaginable.
b. You’ve turned your back on Me & My Word. You ignore & murder my messengers.
c. You abuse the poor & powerless.
d. Greed, corruption, & violence fill your streets.
e. And worst of all, you offer you infant children as sacrifices to your idols.
4. What we find here happens all the time w/people. It’s happening in this room this morning.
a. God is speaking to people here, convicting them of sin. Their reaction is to push back.
b. They feel guilt, so their mind goes to work justifying their sin.
c. Oh, & the rationalizations are endless. We’re experts at making excuses.
d. It goes all the way back to Adam when he sinned. He blamed it on Eve. She blamed it on the serpent.
5. Then what happens is that when our excuses don’t work anymore, we change the rules & say it isn’t really wrong. // And if it isn’t wrong, then we’re innocent.
6. “I’m not a sinner–& I’m offended to be called such.”
7. It seems the only sin you can commit today is to call something a sin.
A. Vs. 36-37
1. We end with vs. 36-37 . . .
36 Why do you gad about so much to change your way? Also you shall be ashamed of Egypt as you were ashamed of Assyria. 37 Indeed you will go forth from him, with your hands on your head; for the LORD has rejected your trusted allies, and you will not prosper by them.
2. When the prophets warned if they didn’t turn back to God the Babylonians would waste them, instead of repenting, they sent emissaries to Babylon’s enemies asking for an alliance.
3. They’d already tried this but it’d back fired on them badly.
4. Fools prove their folly by continuing to make the same stupid choices.
5. So once again Judah was trying to wiggle out of judgment by looking to help everywhere but to God.
B. Backed Into a Corner
1. They refused to see that God had backed them into a corner so they’d have nowhere to look but to Him.
2. All the things they’d hoped would save them, didn’t. Couldn’t.
3. Some of you are in that place today; backed into a corner by circumstances.
4. You’ve been running from God for years, pretending you were fine & everything was great.
5. But you’re not fine & it’s not great.
6. It’s time to turn your eyes which have looked everywhere else for help – to the only real help there is = Jesus
7. What God said to the kingdom of Judah applies equally to individuals today.
8. In the end we’re faced w/1 question that has only 2 answers.
a. The question is à What will you do w/God?
b. Your answer is either to . . .
1) Continue to ignore Him & declare your innocence & suffer total ruin.
2) Surrender to Him; throw yourself on His mercy & find forgiveness & life.