Kittredge Community Bible Church
10 AM - June 20
- Lift High the Cross
- I Exalt Thee
- DEDICATED SERVICE (Responsive Reading)
- Jeremiah 15:1-21When God doesn’t do what you expect him to it’s easy to get discouraged, depressed, even hopeless.Jeremiah is about as discouraged as a person can be because he understands God in a certain way and expects God to act in a certain way. So when God doesn’t act in the way He expects him to his world starts to crumble.In verse 10 Jeremiah regrets ever being born (See also Jeremiah 20:14-18).Jeremiah 15:10 (CSB)Woe is me, my mother, that you gave birth to me, a man who incites dispute and conflict in all the land.Woe is me! And my poor mother for having to give birth to such a trouble maker!He’s feeling sorry for himself because there just doesn’t seem to be any point to his life. All he does is cause trouble for others.And indirectly, what he’s really saying is that it’s all God’s fault since it was God himself who chose him to be a prophet even before his mother gave birth.I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.So, woe is me! And God it’s all your fault. It just doesn’t make any sense that God would call him to this kind of life. That’s not what you would expect God to do.So Jeremiah feels discouraged at the moment but of course this isn’t always how Jeremiah feels. There are plenty of times when he is remarkably brave and determined to follow God no matter the cost, but this section doesn’t describe one of those times.Like us, Jeremiah has emotional highs and lows. And this is one of the low times. It’s a time of discouragement.Why? Because God didn’t do what he expects him to. What didn’t God do?God didn’t answer Jeremiah’s prayers (15:1-14). Instead, God sent him sufferings he did not deserve (10b, 15). And God failed to reward him for his obedience (16-18).Unanswered PrayerIn the last chapter (Jer 14) Jeremiah gave an amazing prayer. He humbly confessed his own sins and the sins of his nation. He pled for God’s mercy and then recommitted himself to trust in God.He prayed from the heart with sincerity and it would be hard for any of us to improve his prayer either in content or attitude.Yet, God reused to answer it. In verse 1 God says,Jeremiah 15:1 (CSB)Even if Moses and Samuel should stand before me, my compassions would not reach out to these people. Send them from my presence, and let them go.God says, “great prayer Jeremiah, but no.” Even if Moses and Samuel prayed God’s answer is the same—no compassion.Sometimes we ask others to pray for us because we think God will listen to them when he hasn’t listened to us. And perhaps he will answer and give us the healing or help we need in a tough situation as the direct result of a fellow Christian interceding on our behalf. We should expect him to answer the prayer of a righteous man.But God doesn’t always act according to our expectations. And in Jeremiah’s case, instead of blessing His people because of Jeremiah’s prayer, God promises to send even more judgment.If they ask you, ‘Where will we go?’ tell them: This is what the Lord says: Those destined for death, to death; those destined for the sword, to the sword. Those destined for famine, to famine; those destined for captivity, to captivity.Send them from my presence, says God. Where to? To death, to the sword, to famine and captivity. Send them to hell, essentially, which is what it’s like to be completely away from God’s presence.And there is no prayer that can permanently stop this from happening. Even if great prayer warriors like Moses or Samuel themselves pray, God’s judgment upon the wicked will still happen.Jeremiah 15:3 declares that it is God’s intention to use “the sword to kill, the dogs to drag away, and the birds of the sky and the wild animals of the land to devour and destroy.”And in verse 7 God says his plan is to throw them up in the air like a bunch of grain and let them crash back down to the ground.Jeremiah 15:7–8 (CSB)I scattered them with a winnowing fork at the city gates of the land. I made them childless; I destroyed my people... I made their widows more numerous than the sand of the seas...Can you imagine? So many men killed that the widows are more numerous than the sand of the seas. This doesn’t sound like a loving and merciful God at all. It’s not what we’d expect.This seems to be describing a God with no mercy...Jeremiah 15:9 (CSB)…The rest of them I will give over to the sword in the presence of their enemies.” This is the Lord’s declaration.And when God has made a declaration. That’s it. It’s no use resisting God’s will (Jer. 15:12).And why does all this happen? We know the answer. It happens because of sin but let’s read it in verse 13.I will give up your wealth and your treasures as plunder, without cost, for all your sins in all your borders.Being removed from the presence of God means they will lose everything. Their wealth, their land, even their lives all because of sin.Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death but the penalty for sinning against our eternal Creator is more than just ceasing to exist.The false idea of getting to live a life in rebellion to God and then dying without any further consequences makes a mockery of the holiness and righteousness of God.Hell is an awful reality and it will be much worse than the physical suffering experienced by the Israelites or anyone else in this life.In Matthew 10:28 Jesus said this...Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.If there is no punishment beyond this life then and when we die that’s the end or of suffering then Jesus’ words don’t make any sense. But they make perfect sense if hell is real and eternal.So, as a warning for all people, God is letting us know through Jeremiah that judgment is coming and not even the best prayer warriors can keep that from happening.Why? God works in mysterious ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).This is a hard lesson to learn and it’s a lesson Job had to learn.In the book of Job, Job’s three friends spend days trying to convince him that it’s his own fault for all of his suffering. Since God punishes the unrighteous, Job must be unrighteous. And in response, Job spends a nearly equal amount of time defending his own righteousness.Even though Job is righteous and hasn’t done anything to deserve the suffering given to him, what he gets wrong is that he starts to imply God isn’t just for allowing him to suffer.So God takes him to task and essentially tells him that His ways are not Jobs ways. He tells Job that “I’m God and you’re not so trust me even if I act in ways you don’t expect.”In the end God blesses Job, not as a reward, but because God can. God does what He wants and He isn’t controlled by us.This is a hard lesson to learn but it’s one we all need to learn. Now back to Jeremiah and...Undeserved SufferingLike Job, Jeremiah suffered even though he didn’t deserve it. And like Job, Jeremiah didn’t always trust God perfectly. Sometimes he did but other times he complained.Verse 10 is one of those times.Jeremiah 15:10 (CSB)I did not lend or borrow, yet everyone curses me.Here he’s essentially telling God that his suffering would make sense to him if he owed people money or even if people owed him a lot of money but Jeremiah didn’t owe anyone anything so none of it makes any sense.If we read between the lines there’s a little whining in Jeremiah’s tone.Jeremiah 15:15 (CSB)You know, Lord; remember me and take note of me. Avenge me against my persecutors. In your patience, don’t take me away. Know that I suffer disgrace for your honor.In other words, I’m suffering for you Lord but this isn’t fair. Remember, you chose me even before I was born! I didn’t ask to be a prophet. God this is your fault!Maybe we’ve felt like blaming God before. Perhaps there’s nothing we’ve done to deserve being mistreated, yet we are. Maybe our friends keep telling us to repent but the reality is we really don’t have anything to repent of. We’ve prayed. Our friends have prayed and yet nothing changes so we start to question God’s goodness.Maybe, like Jeremiah, we start to complain about...Unrewarded ObedienceIn verses 16-18 Jeremiah reminds God of how obedient he’s been—as if God doesn’t know.Your words were found, and I ate them. Your words became a delight to me and the joy of my heart, for I bear your name, Lord God of Armies.God’s word is meant to be delighted in. It’s not supposed to be just a tasty snack but a full meal and Jeremiah gets this even when so many around him treat God’s words as if they were disposable.So he reminds God, don’t forget about how much I love your word. I deserve to be blessed, not cursed. Oh, and don’t forget about all the things I gave up in order to obey your word.I never sat with the band of revelers, and I did not celebrate with them. Because your hand was on me, I sat alone, for you filled me with indignation.Jeremiah set a great example for us of how to be in the world but not of it. He had a passion for God’s word and he put it into practice even when it resulted in loneliness.See, Jeremiah understood what was most important and was even willing to be isolated from others in order to be obedient. But where’s the reward?Maybe you feel like Jeremiah sometimes. What have we given up? Drunkenness? Sexual immorality? Wasting time? Jeremiah gave up all these things too and expected to be rewarded for his obedience which is a reasonable expectation considering all the Bible says about how God curses the wicked and blesses the righteous.But that’s not what happened to Jeremiah. In verse 18 Jeremiah asks,Why has my pain become unending, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? You truly have become like a mirage to me— water that is not reliable.God, can I even trust you anymore? I want to believe your word and that you’re good, but everything happening to me says other wise.Psalm 1 says that those who are planted by streams of water will yield their fruit in due season and whatever they do will prosper. But Jeremiah is not prospering even though he’s being obedient.Had God let Jeremiah down?Unfailing GodThe truth is God never fails his people. Like we discussed a couple weeks ago, when God feels far away it isn’t God who moves, it’s us (James 4:8).When we come to God with our unanswered prayers, undeserved sufferings, and unrewarded obedience we might be directly or indirectly implying that God has let us down. But the truth is, God will never let us down.Perhaps you’ve heard the illustration of the battleship at sea. In the darkness, the captain of the battleship can see some lights off in the distance so he radios “Heading for collision. Turn 15 degrees north.”The reply comes back almost immediately: “Heading for collision. Turn 15 degrees south.”But the captain is proud and doesn’t want to have his orders countermanded, so he radios a stronger message: “No, you turn 15 degrees north!”Again comes the reply: “No, you turn 15 degrees south!”The captain becomes so angry that he decides to throw his weight around: “This is a battleship. Turn 15 degrees north.”The last message is a short one: “This is a lighthouse.”God is like the lighthouse. He isn’t the one who needs to move, we are. Jeremiah was headed for certain shipwreck unless he changed course. God wasn’t letting him down. He was letting God down.Jeremiah needed to repent.Jeremiah 15:19 (CSB)Therefore, this is what the Lord says: If you return, I will take you back; you will stand in my presence. And if you speak noble words, rather than worthless ones, you will be my spokesman.Jeremiah was the one in the wrong for implying that it was God who needed to change. When he went to God telling him about all the good things he’d done, God replied with “repent!”Repent of what? Of not trusting in God.Jeremiah’s righteousness had turned into self-righteousness. And instead of telling God about all the reason his suffering was unjust, he needed to repent and return to his calling of being God’s spokesman.And if he did, God would restore him and keep every single one of his unfailing promises.Then I will make you a fortified wall of bronze to this people. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to save you and rescue you. This is the Lord’s declaration.In this declaration are the very same promises God made to Jeremiah when he first called him (Jer 1:18-19). In chapter 1 God promised to make Jeremiah a fortified city and that he would save him and rescue him. So these aren’t new promises but the same old ones which should teach us a lesson.When we feel discouraged or far from God it isn’t a new revelation or dramatic experience that we need. What we need is a reminder of God’s unfailing promises made long ago and that he is determined to keep them. God is still God and He will rescue us. He will save and redeem us. Trust Him.And at the same time, remember that we need an intercessor.Jeremiah prayed a prayer of intercession for his people but God didn’t intercede.Jeremiah 15:1 (CSB)Then the Lord said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel should stand before me, my compassions would not reach out to these people.James 5:16 says “The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.” This is true but it is not absolutely true of us.It wasn’t true of Moses even though on more than one occasion he successfully convinced God to delay bringing disaster on his people.It wasn’t true for Samuel even though he too successfully interceded on behalf of his people on more than one occasion (1 Sam 7; 12:19-25).See, in an ultimate sense no one is righteous enough to save people from their sins. And the greatest prayer warriors among us can beg for mercy but they can’t demand demand it on the basis of their own righteousness.Only Christ can fully intercede for us. Hebrews 7 says of Christ,Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, since he always lives to intercede for them.and...For this is the kind of high priest we need: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.Moses, Samuel, and Jeremiah can’t intercede for us in a way to save us from our sins, but Jesus’ prayers will always be answered. When Jesus prays that God will forgive you, on the basis of His righteousness, then God will answer and grace will be given you.So, repent and turn to God. Keep trusting in Him. We may not understand what he’s doing or the reason for our suffering. But what he’s accomplishing will always be for our good and his glory in the end.Trust in Jesus and He’ll never let you down.
- Beneath the Cross of Jesus
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