Monday, 8 September 2014

JEREMIAH 4:5-31 - BEHOLD HE COMES

JEREMIAH 4:5-31
Jeremiah 3:6-4:4 'Return Faithless Israel'
Jeremiah begun his ministry in 627 BC. This message comes from the earlier part of his ministry. A surprise, speaking to the scattered people of Israel. Doing so to catch the ear of Judah for although unlike her sister she has not moved geographically she has gone far away spiritually.
4:4 "Circumcise....your hearts."
Jeremiah warns of the consequences of failing to heed this message and repent:
v4b "lest my wrath go forth like fire..."
Jeremiah follows this with a graphic picture of what it will be like when God's wrath comes:
BEHOLD HE COMES! (v13)
Augustine was astounded. He saw Bishop Ambrose reading but he heard nothing. Ambrose appeared to be reading silently! Augustine had never seen anyone do this before. Augustine was not five years old, but a grown man. One who himself was an avid reader. He, like everyone else he had known until that day, read out loud.
For the first thousand years after it was written anyone reading the book of Jeremiah would have read it out loud. I want to encourage you to read the bible out loud (perhaps quietly if you live with others) to yourself. I believe that we feel the impact of the words more when we do so. Often it helps our understanding.
Jeremiah is often very dramatic. This better than Shakespeare's Henry V:
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Life is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!”Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa
To the people of Jeremiah's day when he preached this it seemed no challenger was in the ring! Assyria had been the undefeated champion for 100 years now seemed seemed like an old man with a zimmer frame who was unable to even climb into the ring. No new challenger had arisen.
Jeremiah's prophecy of invasion, siege and destruction seemed to be without any foundation or reality.
However, it came true forty years later. God is patient. Very patient. But his patience does run out.
1. THE EYE OF THE LION - v5-8
'A lion has gone up form his thicket.' -v7a
v5 Action stations, sound the alarm, soldiers to their battle stations, civilians to the shelters.
v6a Unfurl the standard. Remind ourselves who we are and what we are fighting for. Remind the enemy we are ready, come if they dare.
v6b-7 A lion comes from the North. A destroyer of nations. The Babylonians are coming - although no one knew it would be them. Other nations will also hear the lions roar and feel the bite.
v8 Through this lion the wrath of God will go forth like fire (v4), his fierce anger.

2. A LAND WITHOUT HEROES -v9-10
'..courage shall fail.' -v9
"Whatever happened to the heroes?
                       No more heroes any more." The stranglers!!!
v9 The four groups who lead the people - see 1:18 & 2:26.
v10 Is young Jeremiah being critical of the Lord God? If so for what? How had God deceived the people? Others had prophesied peace, but they were false prophets who had not been sent by the Lord, so how could Jeremiah think the Lord was to blame? The answer may be that Jeremiah is blaming God for allowing false prophets to mislead the people.
Have you never wondered why God allows false religions, and especially 'false Christianity' to thrive and grow (especially if you have friends or loved ones caught up in them)?

3. WE'RE ALL DOOMED - v11-18
'This is your doom..it has reached your very heart.' v18
Dad's army - Corporal Jones - "Don't Panic, don't panic."
Private Frazer - "We're All Doomed" (buy the T shirt!)
v11-12 The wind of judgement will blow.
v13 Wind - more like a whirlwind!
v14 How can a person wash their heart from evil or cleanse their thoughts?
v15-17 Trouble is coming. Dan is the most northern place in what was Israel, and Mount Ephraim is just north of Jerusalem. The enemy are everywhere.
v18 They are going to reap what they have sown.

4. HOW LONG - v19-21
'How long must I see the standard and hear the sound of the trumpet?' v21
'How long O Lord' - the cry of the Psalmist: 6:3; 13:1-2; 35:17; 62:3; 74:10; 79:5; 80:4; 89:45; 90:13; 94:3; 119:84
Jeremiah feels a physical pain brought on by his mental anguish and agony of heart by what he is having to prophesy. These are his people.

5. CREATION UNDONE - v22-28
'The earth.... was without form or void' - v23
Here is God's response to Jeremiah's cry. God always answers his people's prayers. He does not always give the answer we want!
v22 Man has become a reverse of what he should be, wise in things he should be innocent in and foolish in that which he should be wise.
v23-28 So God will reverse creation. Creation will be undone.
This sounds like a poem. Four times he says: 'I looked...'
Is judgement inevitable? Remember Jonah. But how can they comply with v4 & v14? How can they cleanse themselves of their sin?
They cannot do so, but God can. Grace can triumph, but at this point there is no mention of grace, or is there? Where is there grace in this chapter?

6. THE ANGUISH OF THE ADULTEROUS WIFE
'Woe is me...' v31
v29-31 The picture we saw earlier in chapter 2, the unfaithful wife is brought back.

She does not repent. She tries to seduce the invaders to no effect. She ends up in despair and anguish.

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