Kittredge Community Bible Church
10 AM - Nov 8
- Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
- I Have Decided to Follow Jesus
- Jeremiah 6:16-30No matter what your political beliefs are I think we can all agree that this country is at a crossroads. Trump says Biden “will turn America into a prison state locking you down while letting the far-left rioters roam free to loot and burn.” Biden says Trump will “keep fanning the flames of hate.”And, of course, both sides claim to be the answer to all of the problems facing our country from the economy, to the pandemic, to race relations.But what’s certain is that the outcome of the election is going to bring very little relief no matter what happens.In the words of Republican strategist Alice Stewart “If 2020 is the most consequential election of our lifetime, heaven help us for 2024,” Stewart said. “I’m calling Noah and will start building the ark.”The problem is that people are disoriented. We have lost our sense of direction and are wandering around in the dark thinking we see everything clearly.The same was true in Jeremiah’s day. What they needed was a landmark, something to orient them in the right direction, so Jeremiah gave them one:This is what the Lord says: Stand by the roadways and look. Ask about the ancient paths, “Which is the way to what is good?” Then take it and find rest for yourselves. But they protested, “We won’t!”We will come back to that last sentence in a few minutes but before we do we want to acknowledge that this is a verse for people who stand at a crossroads and aren’t sure which way to turn, or for those who think they know but really should reconsider.Stand by the Roadways and LookThe first thing to do when you come to a fork in the road is to look around and get your bearings. And as we look around it’s important to realize what the two choices are actually between.Joshua, about to die, saw the choice clearly when the people of Israel gathered at Shechem. He said,“Therefore, fear the Lord and worship him in sincerity and truth. Get rid of the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and worship the Lord. But if it doesn’t please you to worship the Lord, choose for yourselves today: Which will you worship—the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living? As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord.”The real choice we need to be most concerned about isn’t a choice between two political candidates. It’s not that Joe Biden is one fork and Donald Trump is the other fork. The real choice is between idolatry and faithfulness to God.In other words, are we going to trust in politics, or any other idol, to save us or are we going to trust and serve the Lord?The same choice was presented to the people when Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel.Then Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him. But if Baal, follow him.” But the people didn’t answer him a word.Our country is at a crossroads. Will we continue to allow the killing of the unborn? Will we continue to devalue the sanctity of marriage? Will we protect the lives of the vulnerable and defenseless? These are some of the ethical questions that are facing our nation but the evangelical church is also standing at the crossroads.Will we glorify God in our worship, or will we approach his throne each week with a bad attitude? Will we tell the truth about the Law of God and the grace of the gospel, or will we tone down our message so we don’t hurt anyone’s feelings? Will we preach the eternal Word of God, or will we replace it with some new revelation? Will we defend the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, or will we add works? These are the questions the evangelical church needs to ask itself as it stands at the crossroads.There are personal crossroads that we face, too. Should I move or not? Should I take the new job opportunity or not? And more seriously, some wrestle with spiritual issues. Does God even exist and if he does is he good? Am I going to go to heaven?How do you know if you’re on the right path? The first step to knowing is to look around and get your bearings. You need to understand at a fundamental level what the actual choices are. Are we going to serve God or serve ourselves?We might deceive ourselves into thinking we’re serving the Lord when we’re actual not, so honesty is crucial as we take a look around and survey the situation.The Ancient PathsThe second step is to ask for directions. When you come to a fork in the road and you aren’t sure which way to go, get out a good map or ask for directions from someone trustworthy.Jeremiah, doesn’t say any map will do, he says in verse 16: “Ask about the ancient paths.” Ask about, “Which is the way to what is good?”Don’t Read the FollowingThis is what the Lord says: Stand by the roadways and look. Ask about the ancient paths, “Which is the way to what is good?” Then take it and find rest for yourselves. But they protested, “We won’t!”This is counter-intuitive because in real life the best maps are usually the newest maps and the best people to ask for directions are those with the most current information.But in Jeremiah’s day, the past path was the well-worn path and you risked losing your life if you strayed too far off the well-established route.Jeremiah isn’t encouraging us to live in the past. Right now there’s so much talk about how Christian our country used to be and how wonderful our founding Father’s were. I’m not advocating disrespect but neither does it do any good to paint over past as some glorious golden Christian age.The author of Ecclesiastes warns against living in the past in chapter 7:10...Don’t say, “Why were the former days better than these?” since it is not wise of you to ask this.The people of the past had their faults and made their mistakes, too. They were sinners, with their own idols just like us.And when it comes to deciding if we follow God or not the ancient path is still the best path.The ancient path is the biblical path.The problem with Israel, and with all nations ever since, is what it says in Jer 6:19 “They have paid no attention to my words. They have rejected my instruction.”Throughout the Bible God’s word is often compared with a path, especially in the Psalms. Psalms 119:105 famously says “Your word is a lamp to me feet and a light for my path.” And it’s interesting that the very last verse of Psalm 19 says this:I wander like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commands.The only way the Psalmist can even know he’s on the wrong path is to remember God’s commands. If we forget the word of GodIn addition to Bible, Jeremiah could have also been speaking of those Christians who have been faithful to the Bible in the history of the church. They, too, can show us the way.Men like Martin Luther, John Calvin, the Puritans and others who have faithfully taught the sovereignty of God’s grace in salvation, should be followed as they follow Scripture.Theology has gone off in so many directions these days. We’ve replaced the creeds and confessions of old with man-centered gospels of health and prosperity. We’ve replaced orthodox understandings of the Trinity and the Inspiration of Scripture with self-informed opinions.As proof we have lost our way, all we have to do is observe how the church is responding to this election crisis. Christians are talking more about civil war, and voting conspiracies than they are about our only hope being in the righteousness of Christ received by faith.Jesus is the WayThe ancient path is the teaching of Scripture and orthodox theology but it is also Jesus Christ.Jesus is the way, he is the only way that leads to eternal life.When Jesus told his disciples that he was going to his Father’s house to prepare a place for them he told them they knew the way to where he was going.But the disciples were confused and Thomas, speaking for the others said,“Lord,” Thomas said, “we don’t know where you’re going. How can we know the way?” Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.We may pin our hopes on this policy or that policy or on some political candidate or in exposing some corruption in the world but none of those things will lead to the peace we all desire.The Wrong PathUnfortunately, many of us our journeying down the wrong path, looking for love in all the wrong places.This is what the Lord says: Stand by the roadways and look. Ask about the ancient paths, “Which is the way to what is good?” Then take it and find rest for yourselves. But they protested, “We won’t!”God set the correct path before them, the way that led to what is good, to peace. But the people didn’t want to go down that path. When God gave them even more help the people continued to reject him.I appointed watchmen over you and said, “Listen for the sound of the ram’s horn.” But they protested, “We won’t listen!”Even when the trumpets blared in their ears the people wouldn’t listen. So God warned them even more with the whole world as witnesses to their rebellion:Therefore listen, you nations and you witnesses, learn what the charge is against them. Listen, earth! I am about to bring disaster on these people, the fruit of their own plotting, for they have paid no attention to my words. They have rejected my instruction.What were they doing that was so bad? Why was God so upset with them? Verse 20 gives us some insight into that...What use to me is frankincense from Sheba or sweet cane from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable; your sacrifices do not please me.The problem wasn’t with the offering itself, it was with the attitude they were given. The Jewish people were very religious. The spared no expense and offered expensive frankincense from Sheba but it was all just a show.What they lacked was sincerity of heart. They were going down the wrong path even though from the outside they seemed very religious.Many of our modern churches have gone down this road, too. They gather to be entertained and educated rather than to glorify God. Our worship becomes unacceptable when the focus becomes all about us.At first when we go down the wrong path everything seems fine. The way is easy and it seems like we’re making progress. But the farther we travel the harder it gets.If you’ve ever tried to find your way to the waterfall at Long Scraggy you’ll know what I’m talking about. At first the trail is easy but before long you’re ducking underneath branches, crawling around bushes and you’re not even sure if there is a waterfall to be seen.Therefore, this is what the Lord says: I am going to place stumbling blocks before these people; fathers and sons together will stumble over them; friends and neighbors will also perish.In Israel’s case the stumbling blocks turned into an army sent by God from the north.This is what the Lord says: Look, an army is coming from a northern land; a great nation will be stirred up from the remote regions of the earth. They grasp bow and javelin. They are cruel and show no mercy. Their voice roars like the sea, and they ride on horses, lined up like men in battle formation against you, Daughter Zion.As you can imagine, God’s people are afraid.We have heard about it, and our hands have become weak. Distress has seized us— pain, like a woman in labor. Don’t go out to the fields; don’t walk on the road. For the enemy has a sword; terror is on every side. My dear people, dress yourselves in sackcloth and roll in the dust. Mourn as you would for an only son, a bitter lament, for suddenly the destroyer will come on us.If you have journeyed down the wrong path, it’s time to come home. Perhaps you’ve been trusting in politics more than in God so you are angry and bitter, feeling hopeless, as a result of the election results. It’s time to come home.Or perhaps you’re trusting in...It’s time to come home. And the quickest way back is to turn around and go in the opposite direction. Don’t keep trying to make the wrong path work. It will never work. Repent and obey trusting only in Christ.Incompatible PathsSee, it’s impossible for us to go down two paths at the same time. Jeremiah gives us this example to show us just how impossible it is.I have appointed you to be an assayer among my people— a refiner— so you may know and assay their way of life.An assayer is a tester of metals. He’s the one who checks and verifies the purity silver or gold and regarding God’s people Jeremiah declares:All are stubborn rebels spreading slander. They are bronze and iron; all of them are corrupt.God’s people are like silver but they are corrupted by the lesser metals of bronze and iron. And when they are tried to be removed it doesn’t go so well.The bellows blow, blasting the lead with fire. The refining is completely in vain; the evil ones are not separated out.Many Christians assume they can hang on to Christ and the world at the same time. They assume the two paths are compatible but they are not so then end up mixing in a little greed, pride, immorality, gluttony, idleness, worry, bitterness, and selfishness with faith hope, and love.But the end result is something completely worthless.This is a solemn warning for everyone who stands at the crossroads and wonders which road to choose. The only safe thing to do is walk in the way of Christ alone.PrayFinal Hymn:
1 Kings 18:21KJV1900
- Cleanse Me
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