14 Oct Jeremiah 3-4, A Passion For The Lost
- Reference: Jeremiah 3-4
- Date: 14 October 2012
A Passion for the Lost • Jer. 3-4 (various vs.)
I. INTRODUCTION – Read Luke 15:1-7
A. Our Motto
1. CCO has a Vision & Mission. It shapes everything we do.
2. It directs everything we aspire to be as a local church in Oxnard & where ever we reach around the world.
3. We’ve distilled that Vision & Mission down to this:
Becoming more like Jesus by learning & living God’s Word.
4. The Scriptural peg we hang that on is Romans 8:29 –
Those God foreknew, He predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son,
that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
5. Our goal is to be LIKE JESUS.
a. He came to reveal God, to disclose the Father’s heart.
b. As Jesus told the disciples – to see Him, to hear Him, is to see & hear God.
6. So to become like Jesus is to become more like God.
a. It’s to take on his character; to align our priorities & values w/His.
b. It’s to have His heart mold ours.
c. What’s important to God becomes what’s most important to us.
7. And when that happens—we’ll look at things thru a different lens; filter.
a. Our choices will change.
b. Our actions & speech will reflect this new way of looking at the world.
1. Today we’re going to track thru Chs. 3 & 4 of Jeremiah; cherry-picking several vs that reveal God’s heart.
2. As we begin, let’s remember the setting.
a. Jer was a young prophet sent by God w/a tough msg to people who didn’t want to hear it.
1) He’s the guys trying to sell refrigerators to Eskimos.
2) He’s trying to convince Africans to use sunless tanning lotion.
3) He’s trying to teach the British how to cook, the French how to win a war, the Italians how to make a dependable car – It’s just not working!
b. This msg was given during the reign of Josiah, Judah’s last good king.
1) Josiah had led the kingdom in what looked like a return to God.
2) He tore down the pagan altars & shrines that had been erected during the long reign of his super-wicked grandfather Manasseh.
3) But Josiah’s reforms weren’t really popular w/the people. They went along w/them because he was the king. Josiah was sincere in His faith toward God, but the people weren’t.
4) It was Reform, not Revival.
5) The proof of that is as soon as Josiah died, the entire kingdom went right back to their worship of idols.
c. God saw their hearts were still set on their idols & sent Jer to confront & challenge them.
d. As we saw last week, their covenant w/God was like marriage.
1) God was the good & faithful husband while Judah was His wayward & disloyal wife.
2) Though Josiah removed the pagan altars; the people secretly rebuilt them.
3) This idolatry was spiritual adultery against God.
4) And the people weren’t even trying to hide their unfaithfulness; it was blatant.
e. As grievous as their sin & rebellion was, God pleads w/them thru Jer to come back to Him.
f. If they would just forsake their other lovers; idols—and cleave to Him alone, then the disaster that was coming would be averted.
g. If they refused to forsake their idols & return to Him, then God would in effect divorce them and use the Babylonians as the enforcers who’d come & remove them from His land.
3. Here’s the deal: Here’s what makes reading & teaching Jer difficult è
Judah never did forsake her idols & return to God.
4. So the judgment God warned about came. The Babylonians conquered Judah, destroyed Jerusalem, demolished Solomon’s glorious temple & carried them away into captivity.
5. Did God know they wouldn’t repent & return to Him? Of course! è Then why send Jer to plead w/them?
6. Because it was the right thing for a loving God to do.
a. There are people here/listening – who won’t ever come to faith in Christ.
b. Do we stop preaching/teaching/persuading of the love of God? No!
c. We keep on because we’re not mere pragmatists.
d. We’re the Redeemed who out of love for God, love what He loves. He loves the lost!
e. So we keep announcing His love & calling people to repent of their sin & return to the Lord è Because it honors Him; Pleases Him; Glorifies Him!
“They say, ‘If a man divorces his wife, and she goes from him and becomes another man’s, may he return to her again?’ Would not that land be greatly polluted? But you have played the harlot with many lovers; yet return to Me,” says the Lord.
1. In Deut 24, the first part of v. 1 was spelled out in the Law of Moses.
a. A man can’t re-marry a wife he’s divorced, who then marries another guy.
b. This bouncing back & forth endlessly in marriage wasn’t something God’s people were to do because it made a joke of the whole idea of what it means to be in covenant.
c. You see, it’s inevitable that when people treat marriage so casually, someone’s heart is going to get broken.
d. The pain of a broken covenant is fierce, brutal. It’s why in Malachi, God says He hates divorce.
1) He hates it for the torment it causes those who are spurned & rejected.
2) Many times, just to survive, they end up hardening their hearts.
3) And that diminishes their capacity to love & be loved.
4) When divorce happens, something inside a person dies & God is all about LIFE.
5) So He hates divorce for the Life it quenches.
2. In the relationship w/Judah, it was God as the faithful husband whose heart was broken while His cheating wife ran around w/her idols. Yet still—He calls her back.
a. If they’ll just turn from Baal, Asherah, Molech, & the dozen other deities they worshiped—
b. Back to Him, He’ll forgive & restore them.
c. He’ll renew their covenant. There won’t be a probationary period. They won’t have to regain His trust.
d. The moment they turn – they RETURN to His unreserved favor.
6. [Counseling couples after adultery – Regain trust]
7. Not w/God! Turn – Return to full-favor. // You are NOT on probation w/God. // Not a 90-day trial period.
6 The Lord said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: “Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done?
1. Jer was a prophet in the last days of the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
2. The northern Kingdom of Israel had already been carried away captive by the Assyrians.
3. That ought to have been a huge warning to Judah about what happens when people turn their backs on God to worship idols.
4. But those who refuse to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.
She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot. 7 And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’ But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. 8 Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also. 9 So it came to pass, through her casual harlotry, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. 10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,” says the Lord.
5. What’s shocking is to realize while the people worshipped idols, they claimed to believe in Yahweh—TOO!
a. He was their official, national deity.
b. As long as Josiah reigned, they gave lip-service to God.
1) They went to His temple in Jerusalem once a year. They offered the required sacrifice.
2) But it was all just out of a sense of religious duty. It was the politically correct thing to do.
3) What they really wanted were their idols; their hand-made gods.
11 Then the Lord said to me, “Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.
6. While Judah flip-flopped between loyalty to God & idols, the Northern Kingdom had at least stayed committed to their idols. She’d shown more loyalty than Judah – even though that devotion was misplaced.
12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say: ‘Return, backsliding Israel,’ says the Lord; ‘I will not cause My anger to fall on you. For I am merciful,’ says the Lord; ‘I will not remain angry forever.
7. Even now, if Israel will return to Him in the land of her captivity, God will forgive & renew them.
8. Why? The answer is right here è ‘For I am merciful,’ says the Lord.
a. We have to get this! We must hold on to this & make it a central fixture in our thoughts about God.
b. He is merciful = FULL of Mercy!
c. God is so, so ready to forgive & restore favor.
d. All He’s waiting on is à
13 Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the Lord your God, and have scattered your charms to alien deities under every green tree, and you have not obeyed My voice,’ says the Lord. 14 “Return, O backsliding children,” says the Lord; “for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. 15 And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.
9. This is amazing! If they will simply confess & repent – God will do all the rest!
22 [God says] “Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.” [They reply] “Indeed we do come to You, for You are the Lord our God. 23 Truly, in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains; Truly, in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel.
1. Yet again the appeal of God for them to return.
2. They acknowledge God IS their salvation.
a. They KNOW the help they need won’t come from the idols they worship in the high places. God alone can help them.
b. And while they admit this, when it comes down to it, they end up going back to those worthless idols.
3. It’s one of my great concerns as a pastor that there are people here at Calvary who know God is good, know they can trust Him, & know they should repent of the sin they’ve been convicting about for a while. Yet for all that – they’re still stuck in the same place.
a. It isn’t knowing facts that saves us. It’s knowing Jesus; trusting Him, obeying Him.
4. [Tyrell’s story – Knowing but not trusting.]
1 “If you will return, O Israel,” says the Lord, “Return to Me; and if you will put away your abominations out of My sight, then you shall not be moved.
1. God again invites them to return to Him. That return begins by turning from their idols.
2. They can’t turn TO God w/o turning FROM that which competes w/their loyalty to Him.
A. A Passion for the Lost
1. What we need to see in all this is God’s amazing appeal to them to return to Him.
2. Despite their stubborn rebellion & hideous wickedness, He calls them back & promises to bless them when they repent & turn back.
3. How can God forgive such great wickedness? è Because He’s God & His mercy is bigger than sin.
4. God is always bigger & greater than what is NOT God.
5. One of the main lessons we glean from the Book of Jeremiah is God’s longing to be reconciled to us.
6. It was something Jesus taught as well.
a. We saw it there in Luke 15 where we started.
b. The backdrop for the story of the lost sheep was the Pharisees & scribes; that is, the goody-two-shoes ultra-religious types, who complained that Jesus hung out w/sinners, spiritual riff-raff; people they considered unworthy of God’s attention.
c. V. 3 says that’s why Jesus told the story of the lost sheep. It’s out of love & concern for that poor sheep the shepherd goes in search of it and rejoices when he finds it.
d. But Jesus isn’t finished. He tells another story about a woman who loses a precious coin & turns her entire house upside down to find it. When she does, she celebrates!
e. Jesus still isn’t finished. He has one more story to tell. This time it’s the tale of a father & 2 sons.
1) It’s known as the Parable of the Prodigal Son; you know how it goes.
2) What’s often left out of the story is the last part; which is the real reason Jesus told it!
3) The first part of the tale where the younger son leaves home & wastes his inheritance then comes home to find the father’s forgiveness is really just the prelude & set up for the lesson.
4) The older brother is upset the father is so ready to forgive his younger brother & welcome him back into the family.
5) That older brother represented the Pharisees who were ticked at Jesus’ readiness to forgive sinners.
6) The Pharisees just knew they deserved heaven & didn’t want to share it w/the likes of tax-collectors & prostitutes even if they did repent.
7) They assumed God was like them; He wanted good boys like they but certainly did NOT want the riff-raff mucking up Heaven.
8) They were spiritual racists = God likes us—the good people; but He doesn’t like them—those sinners.
f. So Jesus told them of the Father who as soon as He sees his lost son turn toward home goes running to throw his arms around him and welcome him back into the family.
7. This is our God! He is the friend of sinners. He loves the lost. He yearns for them to come home. He welcomes them into His family.
8. If we’re being conformed to the image of Christ, then we too will love the lost & yearn for them to be saved.
9. We’ll share that message as Jesus did, as Jeremiah did.
10. Listen – the fact we’re still here means God’s not finished saving the lost.
a. He wants more in His house. // More who? More sinners! He wants to turn them into saints.
b. The message that turns sinners to saints is the Gospel. It’s our job to share it.
11. We can’t just gather here in our holy huddle, showing the world our backside as we groove on Jesus.
12. We need to go out into the world God’s called us to love & serve & tell them about Jesus because He’s the Only Savior!
13. To borrow from a message I heard this week by Miles McPherson – we need to be more concerned w/boots in the streets than butts in the seats.
14. This church needs to grow because God loves & wants to save sinners.
a. We need to start more services & plant some other churches.
b. For one reason – because God wants to save more people.