Kittredge Community Bible Church
10 AM - August 22nd
- Psalm 95:6-7
- Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
- Love Lifted Me
- The Good Samaritan
- All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name
- 2 Corinthians 13:13
- Everyone has a king. We all serve somebody.When Jesus was in custody Pilate presented him to the Jews saying,John 19:14–15 (CSB)Then he told the Jews, “Here is your king!” They shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Should I crucify your king?” “We have no king but Caesar!” the chief priests answered.Everyone has a King and either Jesus is our king or some other Caesar is. I think we all know Jesus should be our King but how can we know if He really is?Well, today’s passage in Jeremiah has a lot to say in answer to that question.First let’s look at...4 Kings That FailedI’m giving you these kings in chronological order of when they ruled not in the order they appear in Scripture.The first failure of a king was Shallum or Jehoahaz as he’s called in other places in the Bible. He was good king Josiah’s son but he did what was evil in the Lord’s eyes. In other words he committed idolatry. He worshiped other Gods and here’s what happened to him...For this is what the Lord says concerning Shallum son of Josiah, king of Judah, who became king in place of his father Josiah, and who has left this place: “He will never return here again, but he will die in the place where they deported him, never seeing this land again.”Shallum failed as a king.The second failure of a king mentioned is Jehoiakim who was also Josiah’s son. Here’s what happened to him...Therefore, this is what the Lord says concerning Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah: They will not mourn for him, saying, “Woe, my brother!” or “Woe, my sister!” They will not mourn for him, saying, “Woe, lord! Woe, his majesty!” He will be buried like a donkey, dragged off and thrown outside Jerusalem’s gates.The third failure is Jehoiachin, Josiah’s grandson who is also called Coniah...“As I live”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“though you, Coniah son of Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, were a signet ring on my right hand, I would tear you from it. In fact, I will hand you over to those you dread, who intend to take your life, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the Chaldeans. I will hurl you and the mother who gave birth to you into another land, where neither of you were born, and there you will both die. They will never return to the land they long to return to.”And the last failure is Zedekiah. He’s the king that was ruling when Nebuchadnezzar completed his conquest of Jerusalem.Afterward—this is the Lord’s declaration—King Zedekiah of Judah, his officers, and the people—those in this city who survive the plague, the sword, and the famine—I will hand over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, to their enemies, yes, to those who intend to take their lives. He will put them to the sword; he won’t spare them or show pity or compassion.’The point of listing these four kings is to remind us not to put our ultimate trust in any human leader. Rarely can they be trusted to lead their people in the right direction.These four kings all led Judah into idolatry and as a result the people they were supposed to protect and serve suffered horribly.Sometimes suffering leads to a change of heart but not in this case.A Change of Heart?As Nebuchadnezzar approached with his army some of the people asked Jeremiah to pray for them. It was their version of a “hail Mary.” What did they have to lose?They asked Jeremiah to...“Inquire of the Lord on our behalf, since King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is making war against us. Perhaps the Lord will perform for us something like all his past wondrous works so that Nebuchadnezzar will withdraw from us.”Many people when they are facing death turn to God in prayer. There are no atheists in foxholes as it’s said.Here’s what God tells Jeremiah to say to them in response...Go up to Lebanon and cry out; raise your voice in Bashan; cry out from Abarim, for all your lovers have been crushed. I spoke to you when you were secure. You said, “I will not listen.” This has been your way since youth; indeed, you have never listened to me.For 40 years Jeremiah had been warning them that Judgment was coming. He had told them to stop trusting in the wrong kings. He had warned the people and their leaders to stop practicing idolatry but they hadn’t listened and God wasn’t going to listen to them now.Instead, He says,I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and a strong arm, with anger, fury, and intense wrath. I will strike the residents of this city, both people and animals. They will die in a severe plague.And when God is fighting against you your only hope is surrender. They aren’t going to gain anything by bravely standing against their invaders and going down in a blaze of glory.No, tells them to wave the white flag of surrender...“But tell this people, ‘This is what the Lord says: Look, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death. Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine, and plague, but whoever goes out and surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you will live and will retain his life like the spoils of war. For I have set my face against this city to bring disaster and not good—this is the Lord’s declaration. It will be handed over to the king of Babylon, who will burn it.’So, there’s their choice—surrender or die. They will probably die either way, but if they surrender at least they have a chance.So, Judah asks Jeremiah to pray for them. They wait until the last possible moment hoping for a miracle and a change of heart from God but God had already made up his mind.Could God perform a miracle and save so and so on their deathbed? Sure, but we are fools to count on it. Many people refuse to repent of their sins and trust in Christ thinking they’ll get around to it someday but then it’s too late.Could God have a change of heart toward you while your’re on your deathbed? Maybe. But you’re a fool to resist him your whole life and then expect a last minute miracle.The nation of Judah didn’t get a miracle even though they asked and in Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says...“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!’So don’t ignore the warnings of God. Trust in Jesus before it’s too late.Now, why didn’t God show mercy to Judah? As I’ve said, it’s because they they were practicing idolatry but their idolatry was manifesting itself in two particularly offensive ways to God.Cruelty and LuxuryIn Jeremiah 22:8 Jeremiah asks “Why did the Lord do such a thing to this great city?” and in verse 9 the answer is given “Because they abandoned the covenant of the LORD their God and bowed in worship to other gods and served them.”But which Gods? In the context of these two chapters it was the god of luxury. Jehoiakim, was a failure of a king because he had the wrong priorities. He said...Jeremiah 22:14 (CSB)“I will build myself a massive palace, with spacious upstairs rooms.” He will cut windows in it, and it will be paneled with cedar and painted bright red.Jehoiakim did what was evil in God’s eyes because his primary focus was on building his dream home and accumulating things.What’s wrong with accumulating things? Well, for one, worldly possessions don’t last.And here’s what God thinks of his idolatry...I will set apart destroyers against you, each with his weapons. They will cut down the choicest of your cedars and throw them into the fire.See, we can spend our whole lives accumulating the equivalent of “the choicest of cedars” but it’s not going to last.In Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus says “Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “Now, it’s important to see the connection with striving after treasures on earth (luxury) and treating people cruelly—unjustly.This is the main point of these two chapters.These kings were focused so much on acquiring luxury that they were cruel in how they ruled their people.Woe for the one who builds his palace through unrighteousness, his upstairs rooms through injustice, who makes his neighbor serve without pay and will not give him his wages,They were taking advantage of those who had less. They were building their fortune on the backs of others.But you have eyes and a heart for nothing except your own dishonest profit, shedding innocent blood and committing extortion and oppression.So, these kings, and the people following their awful example, were practicing idolatry but it was an idolatry that manifested itself in a love things which resulted in social injustices. They were getting their luxury at the expense of others.It was the way of Stalin, Hitler, and Saddam Hussein and every other person who chooses to sacrifice the the needs of others for personal gain.It’s the way of Caesar and it’s exactly what the Jews chose when they chose Caesar over Jesus. They rejected Jesus’ way of love for sinners and instead embraced the way of Caesar and me first.Jesus doesn’t rule the way Caesar does.How Does Jesus Rule?Simply said, Jesus rules with justice. He doesn’t rule with self-serving cruelty. He rules with humility, seeking justice for others.Listen to what God tells his people...Jeremiah 21:11–12 (CSB)‘Hear the word of the Lord! House of David, this is what the Lord says: Administer justice every morning, and rescue the victim of robbery from his oppressor, or my anger will flare up like fire and burn unquenchably because of your evil deeds.Rescuing the victims of oppression is what God cares about and it’s what his people were failing to do.Now what kind of justice is he talking about? He isn’t talking about justice for sin. He’s talking about justice for the oppressed, for those who the world takes advantage of.He’s talking about justice for those who—because of their ethnicity, the country they were born in, their IQ, or their health—suffer in ways that other people don’t.This is what the Lord says: Administer justice and righteousness. Rescue the victim of robbery from his oppressor. Don’t exploit or brutalize the resident alien, the fatherless, or the widow. Don’t shed innocent blood in this place.If we listen then God says to expect a blessing and protection from enemies but if not...Jeremiah 22:5 (CSB)Then I swear by myself—this is the Lord’s declaration—that this house will become a ruin.’ ”So how does Jesus rule? Jesus rules justice, but not just any justice. This is social justice.Now before you think I’ve lost my mind let’s define what I mean by social justice.Biblical social justice isn’t what we typically think of when we hear the phrase on the news these days but it is still an idea we must embrace.I’m not really interested in what Liberals or Conservatives think of social justice. What I care about is what the Bible says.So, broadly speaking there are two versions of social justice. Let’s call them social justice A and social justice B.Social justice A is biblical justice. When we unite against abortion, slavery, human trafficking, poverty, homelessness, and racism we are seeking social justice A.In biblical language those that seek biblical social justice seek to rescue the victims of robbery and oppression. They refuse to exploit or brutalize the resident alien, the fatherless, or the widow.Rather, they do all they can to help them. They refuse to shed innocent blood and they do all they can to prevent others from doing so. They won’t engage in activities that result in harm coming to others and they do all they can to keep others from doing so, too. That’s biblical social justice and it’s what we should be practicing.Failure to do so brought judgment upon the house of Judah and it will bring judgment on us, too.But as we know not everything that is labeled social justice is biblical. So the distorted versions of social justice we will call social justice B.Causes that justifying violence are not true social justice. When people label others oppressors based purely on the color of their skin that isn’t social justice. When groups attack the biblical nuclear family structure in the name of “social justice” that isn’t social justice at all. Groups that attack Christianity are not practicing social justice. The shutting down of alternative viewpoints isn’t socially just.See, the basis for biblical social justice is that all people are made in God’s image and no person should be treated in a dehumanizing manner.We are all sinners, and we are all—regardless of the country we belong to or the color of our skin or the amount of money in our checking account, etc.— are made in the image of God and therefore deserving of respect.Jesus rules his kingdom by loving the poor, the destitute, the uneducated, and the unhealthy. He doesn’t mistreat them or devalue them. He saves them. He loves them and so should those who are a part of His kingdom.Is Christ Your King?One way to tell is if you are experiencing persecution. 2 Tim 3:12 says, “In fact, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”Persecution is one way tell if Christ is your king. But another way to tell is found in Jeremiah 22:15. Here God is talking to Jehoiakim, King Josiah’s son...Are you a king because you excel in cedar? Didn’t your father eat and drink and administer justice and righteousness? Then it went well with him. He took up the case of the poor and needy; then it went well. Is this not what it means to know me? This is the Lord’s declaration.See, from God’s point of view doing justice, justice for the good of the poor and needy, and knowing God are the same thing.When we defend the poor it is equivalent with knowing God and by implication if we do not defend the poor we do not really know Christ.Defending the poor is more than just not causing them any harm personally. It’s more than just leaving them alone. It involves active involvement with them. It means rejecting the notion that that homeless person we walk by is probably just getting what they deserve.Yes, the Bible does teach personal responsibility but there are many things that happen to us that we can’t control. Is it a refugee’s fault that they were born in Afghanistan? Is it the Iraq veteran’s fault that he came back to the Untied States with PTSD and is now living on the streets?What about unborn children or those that are born in impoverished countries? Does our responsibility for them as Christians end with saying a quick prayer?If Christ is our king then it means we become an advocate for the poor, it much the same way that he is an an advocate for us.We must minister to widows, the fatherless, homeless, refugees. This is what it means to serve and follow Christ our King. It’s what James meant when he said “Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.”So if we hear the term social justice don’t just assume it’s bad. There is a biblical version that all Christians must embrace.If Christ is our king, and we claim to know Him, then we will care about what matters to him. If Christ is our King then we too will take up the case of the poor and needy. We can call it Social Justice, or something else entirely if we’re more comfortable with that, but if we’re to be followers of Christ we must live the same way he lives.
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