Thursday, August 8, 2013

Read Jeremiah for a good dose of reality, and then rejoice!

I'm reading Jeremiah 4 and 5 now. The verses in those chapters were spoken by God to Jeremiah to preach to the people of Israel. It was an actual prophesying and an actual call to repentance and the things predicted actually happened. So it is not good to allegorize them nor to spiritualize them. At the same time, there are lessons in the book to take away because human nature doesn't change, not unless they have the Spirit to transform them. Like this:

"They have spoken falsely of the LORD and have said, ‘He will do nothing; no disaster will come upon us, nor shall we see sword or famine. The prophets will become wind; the word is not in them. Thus shall it be done to them!" (Jeremiah 5:12-13)

Matthew Henry's Commentary says of the verses from 10-18, including the ones I excerpted above:

"Multitudes are ruined by believing that God will not be so strict as his word says he will; by this artifice Satan undid mankind. Sinners are not willing to own any thing to be God's word, that tends to part them from, or to disquiet them in, their sins. Mocking and misusing the Lord's messengers, filled the measure of their iniquity. God can bring trouble upon us from places and causes very remote. He has mercy in store for his people, therefore will set bounds to this desolating judgment. Let us not overlook the nevertheless, ver. 18. This is the Lord's covenant with Israel. He thereby proclaims his holiness, and his utter displeasure against sin while sparing the sinner, Ps 89:30-35."

Don't we hear that same sentiment today that the Lord will do nothing. "God is love. He would never send anyone to hell!" Our preachers have become wind, the word is not in them. Think of the prediction of Peter. Peter warned us and told us to remember the prophets of old and to heed the warnings of the apostles:

"that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:2-4)

Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 4:18,

"Your ways and your deeds have brought this upon you. This is your doom, and it is bitter; it has reached your very heart."

God is love, but He is holy. Evil is not HIS way. It is our way and our deed that have brought this upon ourselves. It is bitter and it is hard. Still, the LORD reaches out to His people.

"I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not pay attention.’" (Jeremiah 6:17)

And like Jeremiah, we see all that is done under the sun in the name of the Lord, and we ask,

"Righteous are you, O Lord, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive? You plant them, and they take root; they grow and produce fruit; you are near in their mouth and far from their heart." (Jeremiah 12:1-2).

Isn't that the way today? I know many of you grieve because of the falsity you see and have to endure near and far. You see as well as I do so many Christians today who are near to Jesus with their mouth but are far from Him in their heart. It grieves us all, though I dare to say no one more than Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. But his tears are our tears, too. We love the Lord and long for the day when holy righteousness is on the land for His sake. When His name will not longer be besmirched by them or by us!

The LORD longs for that day too. And He rejoices.

Even during His incarnation when Jesus endured agonies of sin and saw so many sheep lost on the hill, bleating for a Shepherd (Matthew 9:36), even as he approached the most painful, difficult moment the universe had ever seen or will ever see, Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit for the Father's plan!

Jesus sent out the 72 and when the 72 came back,

"In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will." (Luke 10:21)

If Jesus rejoiced in the Father's plan, even though the time was dark and sin abounded, so shall we! What is there to rejoice about, you ask? As they rejoice in heaven over one sinner who repents, so shall we!

"Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10)

We rejoice in His creation, in His city, and in His people!

"But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness." (Isaiah 65:18)

And as Jesus told the 72 who returned from their tasks amazed at the power of the name of the Lord, Jesus said, do not marvel that the demons were subject to them, but

"but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20).

There is much to rejoice about, even as we weep.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." (Romans 12:15)

As Matthew Henry says of the Romans verse, "He is honoured by our hope and trust in him, especially when we rejoice in that hope."

Hope and trust in Him, even as the world is ripening for judgment. Rejoice that this is His plan, His way, and His will. As for our weeping prophet, Jeremiah's tears have been wiped away by the God whom he served, (Revelation 21:4) and yours will too some day! Jeremiah is now forever rejoicing in heaven. We will meet him at the gathering of the saints. Until then, let us heed the legacy he left behind; Godly tears, seeking the holy I AM, and clinging to the hope Messiah has delivered.


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