AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
JULY 3, 2005
Half-Healed Spiritual Refusniks
and the Candour of the Converted Soul
from Jeremiah 8,9 and 15 … Sermon Notes
Presbyterian Call to Christ
Jeremiah was in a nation not unlike our own, and some other sophisticated European-style harbourers of good, now turning slowly, restlessly but seemingly relentlessly and remorselessly to EVIL. Morals do not matter. Canada has just passed into law, this week, its perverted marriage laws, giving equal rights to wrongs. England was some few years ago instructed by the EU to come into line in the same sort of way, in the ARMY, which was to allow same-sex cohabitation, and seemingly is to provide quarters for the process. Corruption, even in the Police, and among school teachers, or in medicine, is now becoming part of the cultural landscape.
Vulgarity is no more a breach, but can have force, and may be useful to some in high places. Religion is in this State, already in the DECS, a matter of gross and libellous degradation, imposed on schools as if it were some neo-Nazi force-model, while daring to allow religious contact, on a depraved basis.
Depraved ? you ask. Yes, when you try to make the God of creation a component of cultural manipulation and permission, already mannishness has gone to the head, and it is lost in the greatness of the God who made it, except that it omits Him. This is human depravity at base level, for it is one thing to misuse body or desire, but far worse is it to misuse the One who made ALL! What then of any such misdirection of children by public authority, through curricular incineration, comic in its lack of scholarly support, impudent in its impiety and gross in its outrage! What is intended is irrelevant; if you kill someone, whether murder or manslaughter, oversight or intention, it is death that is before you.
Jeremiah had a nation falling, failing, with some verbal forms left, and some religion; but it was becoming naturalistic, degraded from its former heights of inspiration and understanding, mixing it up, stirring the dust of surrounding idolatries even in the temple! (cf. Jeremiah 7:1-9). It will be instructive therefore to examine some of his revelation from the God whose response is thus to be known, and known now! HE does not change.
I UNNATURAL HEEDLESSNESS – Jeremiah 8:4-12
Consider the diagnosis from the Lord … The people have some distinguished characteristics at this day of Jeremiah, just before the judgment set in, in parallel to our own world, approaching its own judgment. They have “slidden back” in a “perpetual backsliding”; they do not “speak aright,” “they hold fast deceit” and “refuse to return”, none repenting “of his wickedness.”
“Everyone is turned to his own course, as the horse rushes to the battle.”
Their ears are for their own voice!
They “do not know the judgment of the Lord”,
and as to their ‘wise men’,
“they have rejected the word of the LORD: so what wisdom do they have ?”
As a reference or testimonial, perhaps some current bodies would regard it with favour – and this is perfectly serious, for it beckons for the aggressive self-regard in it! Thus, one major world organisation is reputed to have preferred divorcees as showing more initiative!
Covetousness is rife, the Lord declares, even in the prophet and the priest, and false dealings
are normal (cf. Jer. 5:30-31).
Shame they do not know (8:12). They have lost the art of blushing. This is the divine indictment. The result ? They will be CAST DOWN of necessity, to the lowness they now love to have and inhabit.
If water seeks its own level, then immorality, unspirituality, and ungodliness, such distortions, evasions and derelictions, with or without forms and religious words running off the surface and not coming from the heart: this too finds it own level (Hosea 7:14-16).
At the ripe time, it is led to its fitting end by the Lord who has been derogated as they decline, like a friend, conspired against by his companion, but now exposed.
To be hard of hearing, this can be an affliction; but to shut the ear to His word and way as He has given it, this is an affectation, and it is effective for ruin. He does not speak in order to instruct the air.
Consider the futility of spiritual dysfunction,
calling but not in faith,
approaching perhaps even to the Lord,
but only to abuse the name of the Lord,
the heart cluttered with cultural corruption,
the mind a slave to spiritual servitude,
undetached from its idols, its inventions, its imaginations,
even if His name be a token,
as Hosea 7:13-16 exposed it (NAB):
"Woe to them, they have strayed from me!
Ruin to them, they have sinned against me!
Though I wished to redeem them,
lies against me.
"They have not cried to me from their hearts
when they wailed upon their beds;
For wheat and wine they lacerated themselves,
rebelled against me.
"Though I trained and strengthened their arms,
yet they devised evil against me.
They have again become useless,
like a treacherous bow."
RECKLESS FECKLESSNESS –
Now we come to the response of the true prophet, Jeremiah, who seeing that the Lord has given much mercy to Israel for a long time (Jeremiah 2), but that the follies of generations are now coming to their unnatural but deserved result, declares (Jeremiah 9:1):
“Oh, that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears,
that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!”
He sees as a physician might, the end of the pathology, but in this case, it is spiritual.
Israel ? Alas it had become in its official dealings “an assembly of treacherous men” (9:2). Their tongues are like bows bent, ready to send on their ways, arrows that are but lies; and “they proceed from evil to evil.” Deception is their mode, and “they weary themselves to commit iniquity.”
They speak peace to one another, but the heart is not with the tongue! Ethically a heap, they will thus become deconstructed, disassembled in ignominy, a ruin (9:11).
CALLED TO ACCOUNT … WORMWOOD AND WISDOM
Jeremiah 9:12-16, 15:19ff. with Psalm 69:19-21, Hosea 13:14
listening ? is there ANY wise man amongst them ? WHY is the Lord forsaking them
It is “because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice, nor walked according to it, but they have walked according to the dictates of their own heart,”
and after idols that abound. WORMWOOD will thus become their meal, gall their drink, and
“I will scatter them also among the nations” (Jer. 9:16).
But what is there to be done ?
First, as in Psalm 69, you see the depiction of the Messiah whose covenant (Jer.
31:31) is the acme of His mercy: and it is HE who has the gall to drink, and
where repentance and realisation of His mercy is come, it is done in
substitution for the believer. It is apt because as God declares in Hosea 13:14,
HE will Himself destroy death by redemption, crying,
“O death, I will be your plagues, O grave, I will be your destruction.” Thus, with such a cover in heaven, man need not be afraid to re-learn how to blush, or fear to return to the Lord. But it MUST BE DONE!
Jeremiah 15:19ff., shows how the prophet himself, almost overwhelmed by rejection and duress – he was once put in an oozing well, and would soon have died, had he not been rescued, and was despised - had yet to take renewed faith and fearlessly render the warning, stalwart and unbent, to the people. “If you return,” the Lord declared, “I will bring you back: You shall stand before Me.”
Let us see this with Jeremiah more fully (in 15:19ff.).
"Therefore thus says the Lord:
'If you return,
Then I will bring you back;
You shall stand before Me;
'If you take out the precious from the vile,
You shall be as My mouth.
Let them return to you,
But you must not return to
'And I will make you to this people a fortified bronze wall;
And they will fight against you,
But they shall not prevail against you;
'For I am with you to save you
And deliver you,' says the Lord."
THREE RESULTS TO REALISE:
1. Realise your ransom and give thanks (Matthew 20:28).
2. Relinquish your preferences as criteria of life, and take heart in that glad holiness which God gives (Luke 14:27ff.).
His will with relish!
(Matthew 20:26-7, 16:24-27, Psalm 100, I Thess. 5:16-18),
to do it, in love, through grace, by faith,
knowing that your Redeemer liveth, as Job saw in his afflictions (Job 19),
and though the waters may swirl, He does and will deliver you from every evil work
to His heavenly kingdom in its consummation
(II Timothy 4:18, 1:9, Philippians 3:20-21, II Cor. 1:8-10, 4:17-5:4).