Text: Jeremiah chapter 2
Preached in Quabbin Valley on 9/28/08
Jeremiah chapter 2 is a vivid description of the nation of Israel’s fall away from God.
We read how God brought them out of Egypt. How he made it so their shoes didn’t ware out, how he drove out other nations before them and brought them to a place of peace and prosperity and a land of their own. We read that this is a land flowing with milk and homey which means a land of abundance where you will not go hungry. God speaks and says they were his bride but they walked away and went after false gods, they went their own way and forgot about God.
This passage is something we can learn from. We as Christians have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and as the church, we are his bride. We like the Israelites have been brought out of bondage and have been brought to the living God. We need to learn that God loves us. That if we walk away God will turn us over to what we want.
I. Israel at one time had been devoted to God
a. Israel at one time had been devoted to God. They followed God and worshipped him and at that time were under his protection. When other nations came against Israel God was the one who fought for them and won the battles. While they were devoted to him they were under his divine protection and his blessings. Now the Israelites knew that God would bless them and protect them as they followed him. They were given, by Moses, the conditions of blessings and cursings.
b. The nation of Israel should have been content to follow Almighty God but they didn’t
i. Often when things are going well we tend to let our guard down and can end up doing, saying, or being in situations that are not good at all due to our lack of concern.
1. America at one time thought that we would never be attacked on our own land and so our guard was down. Then 9 / 11 happened. Being on guard in the good times and the bad times is important because we are in a spiritual war.
II. Sadly the nation of Israel went astray
a. Sadly the nation of Israel went astray. They wandered from God but God didn’t just let them go into this wickedness. He warned them of what would happen if they did wander and when they did he rebuked them and he punished them in different ways. He did what any parent would do for their child, he disciplined them.
b. But even though Israel was disciplined by God they continued to disobey and wander from God getting further and further away from him. They refused to repent and come back to God.
III. No longer under God’s protection
a. Once they turned from God and refused his discipline and continued to walk away from him they were no longer under God’s protection and other nations were able to come in and take control of them and of course when they were threatened and mistreated by other nations they cried out to God but remember they turned from God despised his teachings and his rebukes and discipline and now they find themselves in trouble. They cry out to God but God doesn’t rescue them, why? Because they had not turned to him in repentance they had only looked to him for rescue. They were unwilling to repent and obey God. If they had turned to God he would have been there to heal them. So instead of rescue God tells them to seek out the false gods that they had been following and to not call on him.
IV. We can learn
a. This is something we as Christians can learn from. We should learn from the victories and the failures of those who have gone before us. After all we are told that:
i. Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
b. The first thing we need to realize is our God is a loving God but he is also a jealous God. Jealous over his people. God knows what is good for us and being connected with him is the best thing for us.
i. We often think of jealousy as a bad thing but God is holy and righteous and his jealousy is holy and righteous unlike us.
1. ESV Exodus 34:14 (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God),
2. ESV Deuteronomy 4:24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
3. ESV Deuteronomy 6:13 It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. 14 You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you-- 15 for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God--lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.
ii. He is jealous in respect to different things but here we see he is jealous over the worship of other gods. We know that there is only one God. So to worship any other god is to arouse the jealousy of Yahweh, who alone is the only true and living God, who alone is to be worshipped.
1. What does that have to do with us? We may not have little statues that we bow down to and worship but make no mistake the false gods of the past are still around today.
a. We have the god of money and wealth and finance. People bow down to it and worship at its altar. A woman I worked with years ago told me that she had a little Buddha statue that had his hands up and she would put her fingers on his hands and kiss his belly because that statue was supposed to bring wealth if you did that.
b. People worship at the altar of sex. We have millions of people turning on the internet every day and night and worshipping the sex god as they serf from Porn site to porn site. There was one man I met who told me very clearly that his whole goal in life was to sleep with as many women as possible and every week he went out to the clubs to meet women and worship the god of sex.
c. People can and often do worship anything from material positions to power and clothes and shoes. Some people wash and wax their god on sunny days. We can make our children and families our gods as we care more about them and what they think than we do about the one true God of the universe.
d. In India even today they have a multitude of gods and statues of gods that they worship. Some will even follow around cows in hopes that the cow will urinate on them because cows are considered sacred and holy. Recently people worshipped a little girl who was born deformed with extra arms and legs because they thought she was the goddess Shiva who has multiple arms.
e. Many, many people are enjoying the worship of these false gods and are headed for destruction. We as Christians need to always be aware of the subtle and not so subtle influences of the world. If we place anything above God we are worshipping it and the jealousy of God will be inflamed. Remember Jesus said:
i. Matthew 10:37 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
f. Guard your hearts and seek after the Lord our God and him alone. If we remember the words of Jesus we will be guarding our hearts.
i. ESV Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…
ii. ESV Matthew 6:20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven… Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
c. The second thing we need to remember is that God will punish and discipline us. This is always for our good even though it doesn’t feel good at times. God is said to discipline his children.
i. ESV Deuteronomy 8:5 Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you.
ii. ESV Hebrews 12:6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
iii. A parent who loves their child will spank them if they run into the street because they love them and don’t want them to be hurt or killed. If human parents do this out of love then the God of the universe who is love will do no less than sinful but loving parents.
iv. When we are disciplined and we will be disciplined for rebellion and sin, we need to take that punishment and turn to God in repentance and obedience and we will find the open arms of God looking to accept us back. Not accept our sin or rebellion but accept our turning back to him.
d. Third we need to remember that we cannot live our lives in open rebellion to God and expect him to rescue us when we are in trouble. If our lives are such that we live apart from God then we will experience the troubles of this life and of our sin and if we think that we can run to God and yet live our lives apart from him, worshipping the things of this world and he will rescue us we are sadly mistaken.
i. God will always accept a child who has sinned and yet turned to him in repentance, true repentance but for those who would try and use God as some kind of a “get out of jail free card” and live their lives apart from him except in times of trouble when they only want him to bail them out and then off they go into this world, he will not be used like that and we will be cut off from the vine and tossed into the fire.
The good news is that Jesus Christ died for sinners and in him we have life. We must always look to Christ and aide in him. And when we sin or start to fall away we need to turn to Jesus and repent and he will forgive us. Keep your eyes on our great God and Savior Jesus Christ and abide in him because in him is life and nowhere else.
As we participate in the Supper let’s be reminded of the love of Christ who died for us and examine ourselves. Have you fallen into sin this week maybe drifted from Christ? Take this time to turn back to him and look to him for your forgiveness and your life.