Kittredge Community Bible Church
10 AM - Jan 31
- Near To The Heart Of God
- I Will Sing the Wondrous Story
- Jeremiah 8:18-9:11Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet because he weeps for his country.In chapter 9 verse 1 he says...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!There are so many reasons he weeps. He weeps for all of the lost lives. He weeps over the stubbornness of God’s people.But in this section there are two main reasons that Jeremiah weeps. We’ll come back to the end of chapter 8 in a minute but first let’s focus on why Jeremiah is weeping.Two things: he weeps over the deceitfulness of his people and over the inevitable judgment.Deceitful PeopleDeceitful people are those that lie to deceive others. They use misleading words. They say one thing and mean another. They are people you shouldn’t trust. They are the opposite of honest.Oh that I had in the desert A wayfarers’ lodging place; That I might leave my people And go from them! For all of them are adulterers, An assembly of treacherous men.If only there was some way to get away from it all. But there isn’t. The people are deceitfully committing adultery. They pretend everything is fine in their spouse’s presence but then they sneak off and break their promises.They are treacherous. Treachery is another form of deceit that occurs when people violate an accepted standard.When an elected leader violates the law, that’s treachery because it’s an excepted standard for our leaders to obey the law.When a whole society becomes treacherous then that country is in serious trouble.A treacherous society is one that has exchanged truth for lies, in fact they might even prefer the lies.Does any of this sound familiar?“They bend their tongue like their bow; Lies and not truth prevail in the land; For they proceed from evil to evil, And they do not know Me,” declares the Lord.The tongue is like a bow and the lies that come out are like arrows.Lies prevail. In other words they lie all the time. It’s habitual.They go from one lie to the next.And it’s all because they don’t really know the Lord. What does God think of lying?There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.You could say there are six things which God hates, and two of them are lying. God especially hates a lying tongue and a false witness which are essentially the same thing.Satan is the father of lies and when we speak deceptively, we speak satanically.James says goes further to describe what God thinks,But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.Cursing and lying and name calling all come from the same evil heart. They come from a heart that doesn’t know God or what he thinks about those made in his likeness.When we call someone a name we falsely declare them to be something other than a person made in the likeness of God.Unfortunately, name calling didn’t stop in elementary school. Adults are still calling people snowflakes or libtards or radicals or commies , or deporables, or fascists .When we say things like this we speak as if we know the truth about these people, but the reality is we’re just revealing how little we know about them, about ourselves, and more importantly about what God thinks.God doesn’t want us speaking in these ways.That’s why Jeremiah 9:3 says once again...“They bend their tongue like their bow; Lies and not truth prevail in the land; For they proceed from evil to evil, And they do not know Me,” declares the Lord.Name calling and cursing our neighbors is just one example. Jeremiah continues...“Let everyone be on guard against his neighbor, And do not trust any brother; Because every brother deals craftily, And every neighbor goes about as a slanderer. “Everyone deceives his neighbor And does not speak the truth, They have taught their tongue to speak lies; They weary themselves committing iniquity.“Every brother deals craftily” is literally “every brother is a Jacob.” Jacob had good intentions but he had a lying heart. He deceived his father and tricked his brother out his blessing. When that kind of attitude is common throughout the whole country it leads to a lot of mistrust. Everyone is suspicious of everyone else.“A slanderer” is someone who is out to ruin the reputation of another. The example of our politicians is that you get what you want by throwing enough mud at your opponent until enough of it sticks and no one will listen to what they say.In a society where slander becomes the best way to get things done everyone becomes suspicious. Conspiracies based on partial truths run rampant. Everyone is trying to dig up some dirt about their neighbor to use against them.Families turn against each other. Deception becomes acceptable in order to achieve “the greater good.” And the unity of the nation becomes threatened.Sound familiar?You’d think Israel had their own version of social media and biased news sites. But they didn’t need those things to bring their country down. All they needed were tongues willing to bend the truth and speak lies.We have the same problem it’s just amplified by technology.In our culture, social media and the Internet are like a bow. They can be used for good or evil depending upon what kind of arrows come out of it and what falsehoods we buy into and pass on.See if we think we’re immune to being manipulated and spreading lies we are greatly underestimating our human nature.Why is it so hard for us to admit this?Jeremiah says, “They weary themselves committing iniquity.”Keeping up appearances is hard work. Lying takes more effort than telling the truth. When we lie we have to cover our tracks. When evidence comes that exposes what we said was false we have to spin the truth, deny the facts, and start calling the other person scary names.The world would be a much better place if we would just admit the truth. In the words of that great prophet Billy Joel:“Honesty is such a lonely word Everyone is so untrue Honesty is hardly ever heard And mostly what I need from you.”Honesty is hardly ever heard. That’s true.“Your dwelling is in the midst of deceit; Through deceit they refuse to know Me,” declares the Lord.They lived in world that was characterized by deceit, much like ours is today.And by refusing to admit the truth about themselves we refuse to know God.Their biggest lie, as is ours, is that we refuse to acknowledge our own deceitfulness and our own proclivity to be deceived.Everyone is quick to point out the lies of others but when our own sinfulness is pointed out we get defensive, we spin the truth and ultimately reject what God says about us.No wonder Jeremiah weeps.Inevitable JudgmentThe first reason Jeremiah weeps is because the people are throughly deceitful. The second reason Jeremiah weeps is because of the inevitable judgment that’s coming.In verse 7 he uses the metaphor of refining metals.Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold, I will refine them and assay them; For what else can I do, because of the daughter of My people?“Assay” means to try or test. It’s what you do to metal to remove the impurities.The bad news is this testing involves suffering. The good news is that God is still trying to purge his people, not exterminate them.What else can God do? His only other option is to completely destroy them and he’s already promised never to do that again.In verse 8 he reminds them of why this refinement is necessary.“Their tongue is a deadly arrow; It speaks deceit; With his mouth one speaks peace to his neighbor, But inwardly he sets an ambush for him.It’s necessary because of how far they’ve fallen. Would you call a person a name to your neighbor's face? Some have absolutely no sense of decency and might but most would wait until they got back home so they could say it behind their back.That’s what God’s people were doing and God hates this kind of thing.These are deceitful people that leave God no alternative. Face to face they are pleasant enough but in reality they’re just waiting for their enemy to slip up and say something they can use against them.“Shall I not punish them for these things?” declares the Lord. “On a nation such as this Shall I not avenge Myself?Punish for what? For a heart that wants to ambush our neighbors, our fellow countrymen, fellow sinners, who like us are also made in God’s image.Does all of this deceitfulness sound familiar? It should because it’s what occuring on just about every news source I can think of and that’s what’s being practiced again and again in our country by just about everyone it seems, even Christians.What is the future for a dishonest country? It’s not good. God has and will punish for these things. It’s inevitable.“For the mountains I will take up a weeping and wailing, And for the pastures of the wilderness a dirge, Because they are laid waste so that no one passes through, And the lowing of the cattle is not heard; Both the birds of the sky and the beasts have fled; they are gone.The devastation is so complete only scavengers will remain.“I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins, A haunt of jackals; And I will make the cities of Judah a desolation, without inhabitant.”And, of course, all of this is why Jeremiah weeps. It’s why his heart is broken.HeartbreakJeremiah doesn’t gloat over those who oppose him. He doesn’t point the finger and say I told you so! Instead, he grieves.Some of us have lost loved ones recently and we know what grief is. This is how Jeremiah feels:My sorrow is beyond healing, My heart is faint within me!He doesn’t take any satisfaction in God’s people getting what they deserve. His heart is broken.Now some of us might be thinking but this could never happen to us, right? God loves us! We’re his special people. Well, that’s exactly what Israel thought.Behold, listen! The cry of the daughter of my people from a distant land: “Is the Lord not in Zion? Is her King not within her?” “Why have they provoked Me with their graven images, with foreign idols?”They’re asking, “How could this happen to us? Aren’t we God’s people?”Yes, but then God responds with his own question: “If you’re my people then why have you been worshiping other gods?”It’s too late for them.“Harvest is past, summer is ended, And we are not saved.”Isreal is without hope. They were given so many opportunities to repent and now it’s too late for them. Judgement is coming. Is it too late for us?I hope not. The United States is not the nation of Israel but everything Jeremiah said about his special people can also be said of us. We too are a deceptive people in a deceptive culture.There are falsehoods in family relationships, in advertising, in politics, in business, in universities, and even in the church. We’re a deceptive people in a deceptive county.What should we do?1. We should repent of our own untruthfulness.2. We need to become people of the truth.Be cautious about believing things you read that are based upon unnamed sources. Learn to tell the difference between facts and opinions. Be wary when sad stories, instead of facts, are used to play on your emotions. When people draw dogmatic conclusions based upon speculation be hesitant to believe it. Be willing to listen to what people say and examine it based upon available evidence. Stop attacking the character of others so you can justify not having to listen to them. And most importantly, compare everything you hear with the word of God, the ultimate source of truth about yourself, your neighbors and our world.Doing these things will go a long way toward helping us become people of the truth.3. We also need to lament like Jeremiah did. Jump back to chapter 8:For the brokenness of the daughter of my people I am broken; I mourn, dismay has taken hold of me.Their hurt is Jeremiah’s hurt. The people are broken and Jeremiah is brokenhearted over the suffering of others and the dishonor done to God.This is no time to gloat. It’s never time to gloat.Are we broken hearted over the sins of our country? Over our own sins? Can there be healing in a land that is so divisive?Another way to ask the questions is:Is there no balm in Gilead?Gilead refers to a region east of the Jordan river that was famous for its healing balm. The doctors of the day would take the medicine, something like aloe vera, apply it to their wounds, and the people would be healed.Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has not the health of the daughter of my people been restored?I think these are a series of rhetorical question and the implied answer is “Yes, there is balm in Gilead.”Of course there is. Gilead didn’t all of a sudden run out of medicine. A doctor can order you a prescription but you have to follow the directions on the label to get relief.The point is, healing is available, but the people won’t take their medicine. They don’t want to admit the truth about themselves so they continue to suffer and so does everyone else around them.Is there hope for a dishonest country? Only if the country repents.But what about you? Is there hope for you? Yes, but you need to repent and accept the balm that is available to you.In the words of the song you probably sang as a kid:There is a balm in Gilead,to make the wounded whole;There is a balm in Gilead,to heal the sin-sick soul.Sometimes I feel discouraged,and think my work’s in vain;But then the Holy Spirit,revives my soul again.See, Jesus is the balm in Gilead. He is the one who makes the wounded whole. He heals the sin-sick soul. That’s the truth.But if we’re spending most of our energy pointing out the wounds and sins of others, and neglecting our own, I am very much concerned that we may not be receiving the kind of healing we need personally.We have a choice, we can trust that what Jesus says about us is true, and repent, or we can keep going in our self-deceiving ways thinking our version of the truth is better than his.That path leads to God’s judgement. It leads to lament and despair. But the path toward Jesus leads to comfort and healing.
- There Is A Balm in Gilead
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