Series: Thru the Bible
And the preacher said, Everything is NOT alright!
Jer. 8:1-22, “(1) The LORD says, “When that time comes, the bones of the kings of Judah and its leaders, the bones of the priests and prophets and of all the other people who lived in Jerusalem will be dug up from their graves. (2) They will be spread out and exposed to the sun, the moon and the stars. These are things they adored and served, things to which they paid allegiance, from which they sought guidance, and worshiped. The bones of these people will never be regathered and reburied. They will be like manure used to fertilize the ground. (3) However, I will leave some of these wicked people alive and banish them to other places. But wherever these people who survive may go, they will wish they had died rather than lived,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
(4) The LORD said to me, “Tell them, ‘The LORD says, Do people not get back up when they fall down? Do they not turn around when they go the wrong way? (5) Why, then, do these people of Jerusalem continually turn away from Me in apostasy? They hold fast to their deception. They refuse to turn back to Me. (6) I have listened to them very carefully, but they do not speak honestly. None of them regrets the evil he has done. None of them says, “I have done wrong!” All of them persist in their own wayward course like a horse charging recklessly into battle.
“(7) Even the stork knows when it is time to move on.
The turtledove, swallow, and crane recognize the normal times for their migration. But My people pay no attention to what I, the LORD, require of them.
“(8) How can you say, “We are wise! We have the law of the LORD”? The truth is, those who teach it have used their writings to make it say what it does not really mean.”
THIS IS OUR DAY and we all stand in danger of doing this when our love of self is greater than our love and devotion for God.
James offers a solemn warning of the same –
James 1:21-27, “(21) So put away all filth and evil excess and humbly welcome the message implanted within you, which is able to save your souls. (22) But be sure you live out the message and do not merely listen to it and so deceive yourselves. (23) For if someone merely listens to the message and does not live it out, he is like someone who gazes at his own face in a mirror. (24) For he gazes at himself and then goes out and immediately forgets what sort of person he was. (25) But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out – he will be blessed in what he does.”
James then offers an example of hearing the message but not living it…
“(26) If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile!
(27) Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their adversity and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
I don’t believe there has ever been a generation who needs this preached to them more than ours! When I was growing up you NEVER…and I do mean NEVER – heard a Christian cuss.
The only exception were baby Christians and when they did mature Christians would flock to them and encourage away from such behavior, having within the group as a whole, a morality where such language was considered shameful.
Today, it is uncommon to find a Christian who does NOT cuss and that with casual indifference. This is the complete OPPOSITE of not being tainted by the world.
Continuing on in Jer. 8:9…
“(9) Your wise men will be put to shame. They will be dumbfounded and be brought to judgment.
Since they have rejected the LORD’s message, what wisdom do they really have?
(10) So I will give their wives to other men and their fields to new owners. For from the least important to the most important of them, all of them are greedy for dishonest gain.
Prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. (11) They offer only superficial help for the hurt My dear people have suffered.
They say, “Everything will be all right!” But everything is not all right!”
I have to say this is one of the hardest things in ministry. NOT ONLY for spiritual leaders but also for you as those who do the work of the ministry in your daily lives. People want affirmation – they do NOT want the wisdom of correction.
Like I’ve told you before, listening to a preacher a number of years ago who said he is a lousy counselor because people want affirmation – not confrontation.
He offered what might have been a hypothetical scenario once that went something like this…
“I had a guy come in for counseling who said, I am a married man, but I am sexually messed up with my secretary at work.
I told him, well you can leave your secretary and stay with your wife. He said, I can’t do that.
Ok, you can leave your wife and marry your secretary. He said I can’t do that!
Ok, you can leave your wife and secretary and start over from scratch. He said, “I can’t do that”
I said, listen buddy, you’ve only got three options and furthermore if you claim to know Christ you only have one option that will please Christ and if you choose to do anything other than what He says you should do you are going to be messed up for the rest of your life.
…it is about time that we stop playing little psychological games and realize that one of the problems that’s making people sick in this society is that they cannot commit themselves to doing the things Jesus wants them to do, to being the people Jesus wants them to be and that may be your problem today.”
God calls us to the high standard of His word, His message to us which is nothing more and nothing less than His Own self-disclosure. It is a written account of the character of God.
Here God is calling Israel to own their sin and repent of their rebellion while many of the prophet’s and priests, the “religious leaders” of their day, were telling them…
“Everything will be all right!”
But God is saying through Jeremiah – “everything is not all right!”
If you are a spiritual leader in the modern world you are going to be faced with an opportunity to compromise because such confrontation and accountability is one thing modern churches will not endure…and it is also one of the reasons why the devil LOVES huge churches.
Shepherds CANNOT possibly know THAT many sheep. It is quite impossible for any one man to shepherd hundreds of people at one time.
If you remember, several years ago I decided to look up what the world had to say about the number of people any one person could effectively lead, manage and supervise. I chose those roles because they best represent the single job of a Pastor in a local assembly of believers.
I went to the world for some hard numbers because one thing is for certain, God tells us that the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light. They will do studies and surveys and collect and crunch data to death in order to squeeze one more cent out of a work day. Therefore, I knew there would be a wealth of very accurate information about this topic. It is a science we have down to a gnat’s eyelash, so I thought – why reinvent the wheel.
Lets see what they have to say about how many people a single person can lead, manage and supervise and then see how it might correspond to the local assemblies.
What I found is this…
- Supervisors are very task oriented and end-goal minded, but they are NOT particularly personal. They see to it that things get done without truly connecting with the people of the work. Such people can effectively be over many people – maybe even 100.
- A manager is responsible for overseeing the actual work, that it is getting done and how well it is getting done. They can effectively be over fewer people – maybe up to 25.
- A leader provides motivation and inspiration, task and purpose, guidance and direction by example causing others to notice and respond positively. They can effectively be over even fewer – maybe as much as 10.
There is a rule in business that has been around for a long time. It is called the 7±2 rule which has to do with memory.
You see, the work of a leader is more hands on and personal by nature and therefore in order to be effective it requires certain memory skills as well.
People relate better with those who show an interest in them and one of the primary ways in which personal interest is noticed is by things others remember about you.
It is because of this association that some in business recognize a connection between the number of people you can effectively lead and the things you know and can remember about them.
Ever since 1956, the 7±2 rule has been recognized as the effective upper limits of cognitive memory (or working memory) and it was discovered through the work of a cognitive psychologist named George Miller.
With few exceptions, every person has a working memory of between 5-9 things they can juggle at the same time. So it follows that this limits the number of people one can effectively lead.
Now the really interesting bit is that people instinctively and intuitively know this and so they often gravitate to places where they can get lost in the crowd. People do not want to be known and people do not want to be called out and held accountable like Jeremiah is doing by God’s instruction.
People want to get lost in a large church and be taught encouraging topic driven messages. Now, I am not against topic driven messages…many preachers are, but I am not.
A topic driven message is one which begins with a theme or a focus and then consults the scriptures for instruction regarding that topic. By the way, that is largely the way Jesus Himself taught – like with the parables, so again I have no problem with it SO LONG as it is scriptural. The problem with how it is often used is that the “topics” which stir people’s interest are ones which promote a sense of well-being, a sense that they are doing well, that they are powerful, in control and God wants to bless, bless, bless them. If a church where topic driven messages are often preached to a large group of people were to announce that this next Sunday’s message is called, “everything is NOT alright”…it would not stir much desire to attend.
On the other hand, I also believe in expository preaching which is what I largely have done here since I became the Pastor. Expository preaching is a form of preaching that details the meaning of a particular text or passage of Scripture. It explains what the Bible means by what it says. Of course I do this most often with a primary focus in mind so I guess I kinda do both.
What people want and flock to are messages telling them precisely what God is here coming against. People want to hear “everything will be alright” even if that is NOT the truth!
They do not want the connectedness and accountability which comes from a small community of believers with loving and attentive shepherds.
To them, this is not only undesirable, but the shepherd who actually does his job – they view as being a busybody – meddling in their affairs.
They believe the “pastor” belongs up on the platform teaching, but not in their lives encouraging them towards godliness.
Such is the pitiful condition and belief of the modern church which is why we are where we are spiritually, politically and economically.
We blame it on all sorts of things, but the scriptures say that the buck stops with the church. By selling us into the hands of “our Babylonian captors”, God is doing nothing more and nothing less than giving us what we asked for but in the end, not what we really wanted…and in this way, we really aren’t any better than Israel was here in these chapters in Jeremiah.
Let’s continue in Jeremiah 8:12…
“(12) Are they ashamed because they have done such disgusting things? No, they are not at all ashamed! They do not even know how to blush!”
Again – this is the church. We create our own problems and then accuse others of perpetrating it upon us…but we are NOT in truth, the innocent victims we like to believe we are!
“So they will die just like others have died. They will be brought to ruin when I punish them, says the LORD. (13) I will take away their harvests, says the LORD. There will be no grapes on their vines. There will be no figs on their fig trees. Even the leaves on their trees will wither. The crops that I gave them will be taken away.’”
“(14) The people say, “Why are we just sitting here? Let us gather together inside the fortified cities. Let us at least die there fighting, since the LORD our God has condemned us to die. He has condemned us to drink the poison waters of judgment because we have sinned against Him. (15) We hoped for good fortune, but nothing good has come of it. We hoped for a time of relief, but instead we experience terror.”
“(16) The snorting of the enemy’s horses is already being heard in the city of Dan. The sound of the neighing of their stallions causes the whole land to tremble with fear. They are coming to destroy the land and everything in it! They are coming to destroy the cities and everyone who lives in them!”
“(17) The LORD says, “Yes indeed, I am sending an enemy against you.”
Who is doing this? God is!
“Yes indeed, I am sending an enemy against you that will be like poisonous snakes which cannot be charmed away. And they will inflict fatal wounds on you.”
(18) Then I said, “There is no cure for my grief! I am sick at heart! (19) I hear My dear people crying out throughout the length and breadth of the land. They are crying, ‘Is the LORD no longer in Zion? Is her divine King no longer there?’”
The LORD answers, “Why then do they provoke Me to anger with their images, with their worthless foreign idols?”
(20) “They cry, ‘Harvest time has come and gone, and the summer is over, and still we have not been delivered.’
(21) My heart is crushed because My dear people are being crushed. I go about crying and grieving. I am overwhelmed with dismay. (22) There is still medicinal ointment available in Gilead! There is still a physician there! Why then have My dear people not been restored to health?”
In this next segment, one would think that it was Jeremoaih speaking, but our hearts are moved to realize that it is God.
PLEASE, Please, please… open your eyes and your ears to the heart of your God. These are the kind of thoughts that go through His heart regarding all of us when we are in sin and therefore out of fellowship with Him.
“(1) 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!
(2) Oh that I had in the desert a travelers’ lodging place, that I might leave My people and go away from them!
For they are all adulterers, a company of treacherous men. (3) They bend their tongue like a bow; falsehood and not truth has grown strong in the land; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know Me, declares the LORD.”
“(4) Let everyone beware of his neighbor, and put no trust in any brother, for every brother is a deceiver, and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer.
(5) Everyone deceives his neighbor, and no one speaks the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they weary themselves committing iniquity. (6) Heaping oppression upon oppression, and deceit upon deceit, they refuse to know me, declares the LORD. (7) Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts:
“Behold, I will refine them and test them, for what else can I do, because of My people? (8) Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceitfully; with his mouth each speaks peace to his neighbor, but in his heart he plans an ambush for him.
(9) Shall I not punish them for these things? declares the LORD, and shall I not avenge Myself on a nation such as this?
(10) “I will take up weeping and wailing for the mountains, and a lamentation for the pastures of the wilderness, because they are laid waste so that no one passes through, and the lowing of cattle is not heard; both the birds of the air and the beasts have fled and are gone.
(11) I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins, a lair of jackals, and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation, without inhabitant.”
(12) Who is the man so wise that he can understand this? To whom has the mouth of the LORD spoken, that he may declare it?
Why is the land ruined and laid waste like a wilderness, so that no one passes through?
(13) And the LORD says:
“Because they have forsaken My law that I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice or walked in accord with it, (14) but have stubbornly followed their own hearts and have gone after the Baals, as their fathers taught them. (15) Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will feed this people with bitter food, and give them poisonous water to drink. (16) I will scatter them among the nations whom neither they nor their fathers have known, and I will send the sword after them, until I have consumed them.”
(17) Thus says the LORD of hosts:
“Consider, and call for the mourning women to come; send for the skillful women to come; (18) let them make haste and raise a wailing over us, that our eyes may run down with tears and our eyelids flow with water. (19) For a sound of wailing is heard from Zion:
‘How we are ruined! We are utterly shamed, because we have left the land, because they have cast down our dwellings.’”
(20) Hear, O women, the word of the LORD, and let your ear receive the word of His mouth; teach to your daughters a lament, and each to her neighbor a dirge. (21) For death has come up into our windows; it has entered our palaces, cutting off the children from the streets and the young men from the squares.
(22) Speak: “Thus declares the LORD, ‘The dead bodies of men shall fall like dung upon the open field, like sheaves after the reaper, and none shall gather them.’”
(23) Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, (24) but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD Who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”
(25) “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will punish all those who are circumcised merely in the flesh— (26) Egypt, Judah, Edom, the sons of Ammon, Moab, and all who dwell in the desert who cut the corners of their hair, for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart.”
“(1) Hear the word that the LORD speaks to you, O house of Israel. (2) Thus says the LORD:
“Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them, (3) for the customs of the peoples are vanity.
A tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman. (4) They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move.
(5) Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good.”
(6) There is none like you, O LORD; You are great, and Your name is great in might. (7) Who would not fear you, O King of the nations? For this is your due; for among all the wise ones of the nations and in all their kingdoms there is none like you.
(8) They are both stupid and foolish; the instruction of idols is but wood! (9) Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz. They are the work of the craftsman and of the hands of the goldsmith; their clothing is violet and purple; they are all the work of skilled men. (10) But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King.
At His wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure His indignation.
(11) Thus shall you say to them: “The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.”
(12) It is He Who made the earth by His power, Who established the world by His wisdom, and by His understanding stretched out the heavens.
(13) When He utters His voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and He makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, and He brings forth the wind from His storehouses.
(14) Every man is stupid and without knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols, for his images are false, and there is no breath in them. (15) They are worthless, a work of delusion; at the time of their punishment they shall perish.
(16) Not like these is He Who is the portion of Jacob, for He is the One Who formed all things, and Israel is the tribe of His inheritance; the LORD of hosts is His name.
(17) Gather up your bundle from the ground, O you who dwell under siege! (18) For thus says the LORD:
“Behold, I am slinging out the inhabitants of the land at this time, and I will bring distress on them, that they may feel it.”
(19) Woe is Me because of My hurt! My wound is grievous. But I said, “Truly this is an affliction, and I must bear it.”
(20) My tent is destroyed, and all My cords are broken; My children have gone from Me, and they are not; there is no one to spread My tent again and to set up My curtains.
(21) For the shepherds are stupid and do not inquire of the LORD; therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered.
(22) A voice, a rumor! Behold, it comes!— a great commotion out of the north country to make the cities of Judah a desolation, a lair of jackals.
(23) I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.
(24) Correct me, O LORD, but in justice; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing. (25) Pour out Your wrath on the nations that know You not, and on the peoples that call not on Your name, for they have devoured Jacob; they have devoured him and consumed him, and have laid waste his habitation.”
“(1) The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
(2) “Hear the words of this covenant, and speak to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. (3) You shall say to them, Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel:
“Cursed be the man who does not hear the words of this covenant (4) that I commanded your fathers when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Listen to My voice, and do all that I command you. So shall you be My people, and I will be your God, (5) that I may confirm the oath that I swore to your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as at this day.”
Then I answered, “So be it, LORD.”
(6) And the LORD said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem:
“Hear the words of this covenant and do them. (7) For I solemnly warned your fathers when I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, warning them persistently, even to this day, saying, Obey My voice. (8) Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart. Therefore I brought upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did not.”
(9) Again the LORD said to me, “A conspiracy exists among the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. (10) They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear My words.
They have gone after other gods to serve them. The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken My covenant that I made with their fathers.
(11) Therefore, thus says the LORD, Behold, I am bringing disaster upon them that they cannot escape.”
If you remember last week when we looked at the sin under the New Covenant we are NOT to pray for, and that such are to be turned over to satan for the destruction of the flesh. Remember destruction means unavoidable distress and torment. Such are the words God uses here – disaster upon them that they cannot escape.
And what was the point of this under the New Covenant? To bring the erring child of God into the fruit of their own sin so that they might see their folly and repent. God’s judgements over His people are redemptive!
This next statement is JUST like what we covered last week…
“Though they cry to Me, I will not listen to them. (12) Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry to the gods to whom they make offerings, but they cannot save them in the time of their trouble. (13) For your gods have become as many as your cities, O Judah, and as many as the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up to shame, altars to make offerings to Baal.
(14) “Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble.
(15) What right has My beloved in My house, when she has done many vile deeds? Can even sacrificial flesh avert your doom? Can you then exult?
(16) The LORD once called you ‘a green olive tree, beautiful with good fruit.’ But with the roar of a great tempest He will set fire to it, and its branches will be consumed.
(17) The LORD of hosts, Who planted you, has decreed disaster against you, because of the evil that the house of Israel and the house of Judah have done, provoking Me to anger by making offerings to Baal.”
(18) The LORD made it known to me and I knew; then You showed me their deeds. (19) But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. I did not know it was against me they devised schemes, saying,
“Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more.”
(20) But, O LORD of hosts, Who judges righteously, Who tests the heart and the mind, let me see Your vengeance upon them, for to You have I committed My cause.
(21) Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the men of Anathoth, who seek your life, and say, “Do not prophesy in the name of the LORD, or you will die by our hand”— (22) therefore thus says the LORD of hosts:
“Behold, I will punish them. The young men shall die by the sword, their sons and their daughters shall die by famine, (23) and none of them shall be left. For I will bring disaster upon the men of Anathoth, the year of their punishment.”
I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
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