Kittredge Community Bible Church
10 AM - Oct 3
- John 4:23-24
- He Touched Me
- In My Heart There Rings A Melody
2 Timothy 4:3–4CSB
- Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus
- 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
- [Jeremiah 27:1-22 explains the yoke of Babylon and God’s sovereignty over all rulers.]We’re living in some pretty crazy times and part of the reason for the craziness is that everyone has an opinion and is able express their opinions in influential ways like never before.The government says this. CNN says one thing and Fox news says another. Our Facebook friends say one thing, and our closest relatives take an entirely different position. Everybody has an opinion.Some say the divide in our country is greater than ever and more and more people are talking about secession and civil war.Well, I’m not here to share my opinion with you. Oh, sometimes I do but I try to be clear when I am, because I know that’s not why you’re here this morning.We’re here to worship but also to hear what God has to say on the subjects that matter most to Him. So far we’ve heard from Jeremiah that God cares about justice for the oppressed and needy. We’ve heard that God’s cares about his people obeying Him. He wants his people to reject all forms of idolatry and to trust in Him alone for peace and safety. And we’ve heard that God wants his people to repent when they go astray and if they don’t they can expect discipline.God’s words have never been more relevant to us than they are right now because many of us feel oppressed. We feel oppressed politically and socially. We feel like our government is actively working against us. We feel like there is “a truth” out there being suppressed and if all the “lies” could just be exposed then maybe we just might avoid a national disaster and survive to see another generation.The nation of Israel was in a similar situation although it was worse for them as they literally headed off into captivity. God had a message for them and had they listened perhaps things would have turned out differently. See, God’s word isn’t fake news. It’s not just another opinion. It’s not a version of the truth, it’s The Truth, with a capital “T”.The Message to the Ambassadors (1-11)It’s a little ironic that God’s word to us likely begins with a mistake—not a mistake made by God but a human error made by a scribe. In the KJV and some other translations it says “in the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim” but the context of the chapter is pretty obvious that it’s King Zedekiah being referred to, not Jehoiakim. Maybe this error is in the Bible to remind us to pay attention.In any event, what follows is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord.In verse two, Jeremiah is told to make a yoke and put it around his neck. This yoke was very likely a literal yoke since in chapter 28:10 Jeremiah is literally wearing it when Hananiah breaks it.Now, a yoke is a symbol of submission, servitude, and captivity. A yoke is used on oxen or other large animals when we need to control them so Jeremiah wears the yoke as a visual reminder that he and all of us are all under God’s control.In verse three we’re told that this message represented by the yoke was sent to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon. Apparently, these specific nations are chosen to receive the message because they had all gathered in Jerusalem for a convention on how to best resist the Babylonian yoke of oppression.Maybe it’s just speculation about why they were all going to Jerusalem, but why else would they be gathering? The occupation of their lands by Babylon would have been the most important issue of their time.So, they were meeting with Zedekiah to plot a rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar, or at least to coordinate a resistance. They must have seen some kind of weakness in Nebuchadnezzar and thought this was their chance. Maybe they thought he was distracted with his own problems or too far away.And, from a human point of view plotting to overthrow Babylon made perfect sense. Babylon was oppressive. They weren't Jewish. They were the enemy. So it makes sense, but you know what? They didn’t ask God’s opinion. God had a different opinion about what they should do so God sent his message to them through Jeremiah.And in verses 4-7 we see God’s message to the ambassadors is that the sovereign Creator of the universe has the right to give dominion over the earth to whomever he pleases, so stop resisting Him.“By my great strength and outstretched arm, I made the earth, and the people, and animals on the face of the earth. I give it to anyone I please.So on the basis of the absolute truth, not just an opinion, that God made everything, God says he has the absolute right to put whoever he wants in charge, and that’s exactly what he does.So now I have placed all these lands under the authority of my servant Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. I have even given him the wild animals to serve him.Nebuchadnezzar was God’s servant. His rule extended even over the animals and his reign was destined by God to last as long as God wanted it to last which was not what the Ambassadors wanted to hear.God put all of the Ambassadors back in their place but He also put Nebuchadnezzar, the most powerful person on earth, in his place. See, Nebuchadnezzar was just God’s servant doing God’s bidding.Think about it, Nebuchadnezzar, the equivalent of Saddam Hussein in his day, was God’s servant. History says Nebuchadnezzar came to power through military force and maintained it through cruelty and wickedness. Yet, he ruled because God wanted him to rule, as all government leaders do.So Jeremiah tells them, with his literal yoke on his shoulders, that their only hope is total surrender—surrender to Babylon and to God. If they refuse it’s the same a rebelling against God since God put Nebuchadnezzar in authority over them.Verses 8-11 describe how refusing to listen while disobeying God’s authority is a dangerous mistake.Jeremiah 27:8 (CSB)“ ‘ “As for the nation or kingdom that does not serve King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and does not place its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation I will punish by sword, famine, and plague—this is the Lord’s declaration—until through him I have destroyed it.So don’t listen to those who tell you otherwise. There is no higher authority than the word of God. During times of national crisis people flock together to hear comforting messages which may be untrue. The Ambassadors gathered together not to repent but to comfort each other with a common desire to rebel much like many still do today.For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths.Oh how we love our myths! We love to make excuses and come up with all kinds of exceptions to the rule in order to disobey what God clearly tells us in scripture to do. The sound doctrine in Jeremiah 27 is that God rules all the kingdoms of the world. He made the earth and everything in it and he can and does give it to anyone he pleases. So resist the governments God has set up at your peril.Now this doesn’t mean we are to mindlessly do whatever the government tells us to do. Even Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to eat the kings food and worship false gods. They were willing to die rather than submit to idolatry.But neither did these faithful men plot to overthrow the government and when God spared their lives they went back to serving the king of Babylon. Eventually God removed Nebuchadnezzar from his throne and then they served the next king.Now, this isn’t just an Old Testament concept. Romans 13:1 says “Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God.” And 1 Peter 2:13 says, “Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the emperor as the supreme authority.”This is sound doctrine, based upon the truth that God exists at that he is actively putting people in positions of authority and removing them without our help. But rather than accept this we like to act as if God’s not in charge. So, instead of trusting God and humbling serving whoever He puts in authority, we worry, we plot and scheme (if not literally then at least in our minds) about how we’re going to overthrow and resist the very people God has placed in authority over us.But we’re Americans! some might say. We have the right to choose our leaders and even to rebel when we are mistreated. Yes, as Americans we have that right but we are first and foremost citizens of heaven and as citizens of God’s kingdom we need to think and act differently than the rest of the nation.So, God’s message to the ambassadors is that He’s in charge of all nations and that they shouldn’t resist His yoke.The Message to King Zedekiah (12-15)In verses 12-15, the same message given to the ambassadors of foreign nations is given to Zedekiah, the king of Judah. To be perfectly clear— not only are foreign nations to submit to the rule God has placed over them— so are God’s chosen people. The king of Judah in verse 14 is instructed to not resist the rule of Babylon over him even though the false prophets were telling him otherwise.Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are telling you, ‘Don’t serve the king of Babylon,’ for they are prophesying a lie to you.The false prophets were advising in essence to do everything to make life difficult for his captors. Resist every chance you get. But that’s not what God wanted. God wanted Zedekiah to lead his people as a servant, setting an example of service not just to his people but to the foreign invaders!Talk about “an upside down kingdom”! God’s ways are not our ways. Christ came to earth not to establish a kingdom by military power but by dying for his enemies!Again, I’m not sharing my opinion with you but God’s message to his people.The Message to the Priest and People (16-22)This message is so important it is repeated once again in verses 16-22 to the priests and people. In verse 16 the false prophets were saying “Look, very soon now the article of the Lord’s temple will be brought back from Babylon.” But their focus wasn’t God’s focus.God wanted them to concentrate on something more important. His plan was for the people to stop worrying about their national treasures and submit to the rule of Nebuchadnezzar.Do not listen to them. Serve the king of Babylon and live! Why should this city become a ruin?In other words, love your enemies! National treasures are important. For us they would be things like the original Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution from the United States.The false prophets said, don’t worry you’re going to get those things back soon but that wasn’t what God was concerned with. Here’s a test for the false prophets:If they are indeed prophets and if the word of the Lord is with them, let them intercede with the Lord of Armies not to let the articles that remain in the Lord’s temple, in the palace of the king of Judah, and in Jerusalem go to Babylon.’In other words, if you are a true prophet then go to God in prayer like Elijah did when confronting the prophets of Baal. If God is with you he’ll answer immediately in a dramatic way, but if not then you must not be praying according to God’s will.In verses 19-22 the false prophets are revealed to be powerless to do anything to prevent the articles from being taken. God promised they would be returned, and they were returned eventually, but according to his timeline, not that of the false prophets.We need to remember that when we pray. We seem to think that if we can just gather enough Christians to pray for our country then God will have to listen and give us exactly what we want. No, he doesn’t.He will always give us exactly what we need and our job as we pray is to ask that God would enable us to accept his will and to give us a greater desire to serve even our enemies. God will make everything right in his timing not ours. In the meantime we need to serve those God has put in authority over us, no mater who they are.This is what being under the yoke of God means. It means submitting to his will and seeking to obey him regardless of our circumstances. And being under the yoke of God is the best place to be because even if it is God’s will for us to suffer under His yoke temporarily, this is far better than the alternative.And if we belong to Christ then the yoke of God is made far lighter by his grace.“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”Sometimes I think we make living in this world far too complicated. Serve one another and those God has placed in authority over us. And he’ll take care of the rest.
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