Friday, June 26, 2015

They Have Chosen Lies Instead Of Truth

Jeremiah 6:22-7:16

“Thus saith the LORD, Behold, a people cometh from the north country, and a great nation shall be raised from the sides of the earth.  They shall lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy; their voice roareth like the sea; and they ride upon horses, set in array as men for war against thee, O daughter of Zion.

We have heard the fame thereof: our hands wax feeble: anguish hath taken hold of us, and pain, as of a woman in travail.  Go not forth into the field, nor walk by the way; for the sword of the enemy and fear is on every side.  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.” (Jeremiah 6:22-26)

God had repeatedly warned Judah and Jerusalem that he was going to bring the Babylonians against them because of their sin.  Once again he reminds them that Babylon was a world power that had even been able to block Assyrian expansion and defeat the Assyrian army, destroying any resistance without hesitation or concern, and that they will be coming against Jerusalem.  Jeremiah says the people are aware of the threat and are terrified to the point of being impotent.  They are afraid to open the gates or go outside for fear they will be destroyed and spend their days in depression and misery like a mother who just lost her only son because they are afraid the attack will come. 

“I have set thee for a tower and a fortress among my people, that thou mayest know and try their way.  They are all grievous revolters, walking with slanders: they are brass and iron; they are all corrupters.  The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away.  Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them.” (Jeremiah 6:27-30)

God has placed Jeremiah among the people like a tower or fortress where they can turn for safety, much like a police station in a rough area today.  The captain or chief of that station soon learns the attitudes of the people around them.   Judah was like a ghetto area where everyone is involved in gangs and criminal activity.  Every effort to make changes was met with opposition and the crime continues even as they complain how bad things are.  They are as stubborn and resistant to change as a piece of brass or iron, insisting on going their own way even though it is destroying them like a person who tries to melt lead but the fire gets out of control and destroys the furnace itself.  The lead is lost into the fire and his work is wasted because he didn’t take away the trash and other flammable materials.    

Because they have allowed the sin to continue unchecked, it will result in the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah and the results will be unusable, like silver that has been oxidized as a result of overheating.   God will not accept what is left.     

“The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,  Stand in the gate of the Lord's house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD.  Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.  Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these.    For if ye thoroughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.” (Jeremiah 7:1-7)

Jeremiah was commanded to stand at the entrance to the Temple and warn the people that they if they would change their way of life, they would be allowed to stay in their land.  They would have to quit listening to lies about how they should serve the Lord.  They would need to make major changes, going back to the old standards of justice, being completely fair to everyone involved.   they would need to quit taking advantage of people who were unable to protect themselves and quit allowing the killing of innocent people.  They would also have to quit putting other things and people in god’s place.  If they would do so, God would allow them to continue to live in the land he had given their ancestors. 

“Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit.  Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?  Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD.  But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel.” (Jeremiah 7:8-12)

The Jews had trusted false teachings, adopting things that God had forbidden as being what he had commanded, even though those things were harmful rather than beneficial.  They could break everyone of God’s commandments and come into the temple, claiming they were doing what God had put them there to do.  As a result the church had become a refuge for thieves and con artists.   If they would go back to Shiloh, the place where the Tabernacle was originally set up when they first conquered Israel, they could see what God would do to a place that turned their back on him.   Shiloh had lost its influence long before, but when the Assyrians conquered Israel, the entire population was relocated to other countries. 

“And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh.  And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim.  Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.” (Jeremiah 7:13-16)

Because Judah and Jerusalem had refused to pay attention when God warned them, despite repeated efforts, he is going to do the same thing to Jerusalem that he did to Shiloh.  He will move them out of his land and destroy Jerusalem as completely as he removed the descendants of Ephraim out of Israel and destroyed Shiloh.    Jeremiah was not to waste his time praying for their deliverance or protection because God would not be listening. 

There comes a point where it is wrong to keep praying that God would withhold judgment for wickedness.  At that point we can only pray that they will listen to what God has to say and repent.  It is wrong to ask Him to let them get by with their sin, and He will not honor that prayer.  

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