Wisdom to remain
“Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard” 37:21; 38:13,28
Know you are always in God’s hands.
v5 the King said to the officials ‘he is in your hands ‘ but Jeremiah was in God’s hands.
Live your life in such a way that when you are no longer around people talk about you lovingly.
v7 Ebed-Melech heard that they put Jeremiah in the cistern
The way out of a predicament needs adjustment from how you went into it.
v6 he was lowered into the mud; v12 rags and old clothes protected him from the ropes as they pulled him from the mud.
The root of disobedience is fear.
v19 Zedekiah feared the Jews and that’s why he would not surrender to Babylon.
The captain of the ship goes down with the ship.
v28 Jeremiah was the true leader trying to bring Jerusalem to surrender to God. It never did but Jeremiah remained nevertheless. Don’t give up because those you love refuse to see the truth.
Wisdom in the calling
Will face a time when it will look like their work is not needed, v7-10.
( it looked like the Babylonians had backed off )
– when circumstances change God will confirm His calling, listen to Him.
Will face an enemy who never forgets and will continue attacking throughout your life, v13
(Irijah in the line of Hananiah, the false prophet who died because he spoke against Jeremiah)
– if the enemy can’t stop you it will try and contain you based on trumped up charges.
Will hold on to the message of God without deviating from it, v16
((After a long time in prison, Jeremiah on asked by the King spoke the same message regarding the Babylonians)
So Jehoiakim burnt a part of the Bible every time Baruch read from it.
Not the smartest move under the gaze of a holy God.
“Many of us read a certain passage of Scripture and say, “That’s so regressive, so offensive.” But we ought to entertain the idea that maybe we feel that way because in our particular culture that text is a problem. In other cultures that passage might not come across as regressive or offensive. Let me ask you a question: If you’re offended by something in the Bible, why should your cultural sensibilities trump everybody else’s? Why should we get rid of the Bible because it offends your culture? Let’s do a thought experiment for a second. If the Bible really was the revelation of God, and therefore it wasn’t the product of any one culture, wouldn’t it contradict every culture at some point? Therefore, if it’s really from God, wouldn’t it have to offend your cultural sensibilities at some point? Therefore when you read the Bible, and you find some part of it outrageous and offensive, that’s proof that it’s probably true, that it’s probably from God. It’s not a reason to say the Bible isn’t God’s Word; it’s a reason to say it is. What makes you think that because this part or that part of God’s Word is offensive, you can forget Christianity altogether?” Tim Keller, in the sermon Literalism: Isn’t the Bible Historically Unreliable and Regressive?
Don’t burn part of the Bible just because it offends you.
Are you a Recabite?
This was a nomadic people, descendants of Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, through the Kenites. The Recabites had a history of knowing evil and why it was important to get it out of their lives.
God wasn’t trying to test the Recabites by asking them to drink wine. He was exposing the disobedience of His people in comparison.
Can we live within this culture without losing who we are?
Learning from the Recabites …
We can if we have conviction.
We can if we know what to say and how to give an account for our actions.
We can if we keep the values of those who have gone before us.
During the nineteenth century a group of missionaries in what is now Surinam in South America, wanted to reach the inhabitants of a nearby island with the gospel. Most of these islanders were slaves on the large plantations that covered the island. The plantation owners feared the gospel and its results, and would not even allow the missionaries to talk with the slaves. They would allow only other slaves to talk with slaves.
So the missionaries sold themselves into slavery in order to take the gospel to the islanders. Working in bondage in the harsh conditions of a tropical climate, they reached many of them with the good news. Ray Hoo, “Turn Your World Upside Down,” Discipleship Journal (July/August 1982)
The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is one of the greatest artistic triumphs in history. From 1508 to 1512, the artist Michelangelo lay on his back and painted the Fall and the Flood.
But Michelangelo’s magnificent art started to fade almost immediately. Within a century of completing his work, no one remembered what his original frescoes had really looked like. Painter Biagio Biagetti described it in 1936: “We see the colours of the Sistine ceiling as if through smoked glass.”
In 1981 a scaffold was erected to clean the frescoes that adorn the chapel. With a special solution, Fabrizio Mancinelli and Gianluigi Colalucci gently washed a small corner of the painting.
They invited art experts to examine the work. The result was stunning. No one had imagined that beneath centuries of grime lay such vibrant colours. This was not the Michelangelo known by art critics. That artist was the master of form, his paintings resembling sculpture more than painting. This “new” artist was also the master of colour azure, green, rose, and lavender of amazing nuance.
Their success prompted the restoration of the entire ceiling. The task was completed on December 31, 1989. It had taken twice as long to clean the ceiling as the artist had needed to paint it. But the result was breathtaking. For the first time in nearly 500 years, people viewed this masterpiece the way it was intended, in all of its colour and beauty.
Al Janssen, The Marriage Masterpiece
Perhaps you have begun to fade?
Jesus is our righteous restorer.
Buy a field now whilst the enemy is coming against you.
Buy a field now whilst you are in prison, confined and limited.
It sounds crazy to invest in land in such situations.
This is faith.
Jeremiah knew God was asking him to prepare for the future.
If all you do is for now. If all the decisions and plans are about the circumstance you are in now what happens when it is all over?
Prepare for your future because there is one. Do something to demonstrate trust that God will bring you through.
Buy a field.
What has God wanted all the time?
God has always wanted to be our God and for us to be His people.
Mentioned many times in the Bible and 6 times by Jeremiah we read today that in the context of the new covenant, “I will be their God and they will be my people.”v33.
God writes His law on our hearts.
Our heart is who we are as a person, what defines us; the reason why we act and react is our heart. It is our very being.
Thomas Keneally, the author of Schindler’s List, was asked what he thought was the difference between Oskar Schindler, rescuer of Jews and hero of his story, and Amon Goeth, the Nazi commandant of the Plaszow concentration camp. His answer was revealing. “Not much”, he said. “Had there been no war, Mr. Schindler and Mr. Goeth might have been drinking buddies and business partners, morally obtuse, perhaps, but relatively harmless”. What a difference a war makes, especially to the moral choices that lead to good and evil.
We do not know when war will break out. We do not know what stress will be placed upon us. But we do know that we need to let God write upon our hearts so that when that day comes we act like people who belong to Him.
The outcast is an inside job.
The term ‘outcast’ in the OT means ‘thrown out’.
Jer 30:17 I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the LORD, ‘because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares’ – this is a person who is degraded in society.
We can think of many people who may fit this category.
But perhaps there exists an outcast in normal clothing. Maybe they are not the beggars on the street, the drunks in the bar, the criminals and low-life.
Maybe the outcast are God’s people v3; people who have not been where they should have been v3; people who have been oppressed for many years v8; people who struggle with fear v10; people who are hurting from their wounds v12; people with guilt v14; people with enemies v16.
Maybe you are the outcast, uncared for:
I will restore … and heal, says the Lord.
7 things to do whilst you’re waiting for things to improve!
1. Accept God knows where you are, He may have even put you there! v4
2. Make things as easy as you can for yourself, v5
3. Think of ways you can be sustainable in this place, v5
4. Grow, increase, don’t diminish just because you are not where you want to be, v6
5. Get on with the people of your circumstance and bless them, v7
6. Pray for everyone around you, v7
7. Do not be deceived into thinking short-cuts out of this circumstance is God, v8