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Its just a matter of life

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IT’S JUST A MATTER OF LIFE

JEREMIAH 38:1-38:13

COMMENTARY ON TEXT
SITUATION OF JERUSALEM
MESSAGE OF JEREMIAH
OPPOSITION TO JEREMIAH
WEAKNESS OF THE KING
IMPRISONMENT

LESSON #1: WE ALL FACE TRIALS IN LIFE.

LESSON #2: DURING OUR TRIALS WE DISCOVER THE WORST LIFE HAS TO OFFER.

BARGAINING FREEDOM

LESSON #3: THERE IS SOMEONE WAITING TO PULL US OUT OF OUR PIT.

IT’S JUST A MATTER OF LIFE

TEXT: JEREMIAH 38: 1-13

PASTOR DOUG FORSBERG, AN ASSOCIATE AT BETHANY FIRST CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE RECENTLY SPOKE OF AN EXPERIENCE HE HAD WHILE PASTORING A SMALL CHURCH IN FLORIDA. IT INVOLVED A MEMBER OF HIS CHURCH, AN OLDER GENTLEMAN BY THE NAME OF BENNY. NOW BENNY WAS ABOUT NINETY-NINE TO ONE HUNDRED YEARS OLD AND HE LIVED IN THE LOCAL NURSING HOME. ONE DAY WHILE IN THE MIDST OF HIS USUAL DUTIES PASTOR DOUG GOT A CALL FROM BENNY, OUT AT THE NURSING HOME. BENNY CALLED UP AND SAID, "HURRY, HURRY. PASTOR DOUG I’VE GOT TO SEE YOU RIGHT NOW. IT’S IMPORTANT. PLEASE HURRY." PASTOR DOUG, KNOWING BENNY’S AGE FEARED THE WORST, SO HE DROPPED EVERYTHING AND RAN OUT TO THE NURSING HOME TO SEE WHAT EMERGENCY BENNY WAS FACING. WHEN HE ARRIVED PASTOR DOUG ASKED BENNY, "WELL BENNY, WHAT’S THE EMERGENCY? WHAT’S SO IMPORTANT?" BENNY LOOKED UP AT THE PASTOR AND REPLIED, "PASTOR DOUG, I’M GOINNA GET MARRIED, AND I’VE CALLED YOU OUT BECAUSE I WANT YOU TO PERFORM THE CEREMONY." PASTOR DOUG WAS KINDA TAKEN BACK AND HE SAID, "UH, OK, BUT FIRST TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT THIS WOMAN?" BENNY REPLIED, "OK." DOUG ASKED, "IS SHE A CHRISTIAN?" HE SAID, "NO!" PASTOR DOUG SAID, "ALL RIGHT, IS SHE BEAUTIFUL?" "NO!" PASTOR DOUG IS LIKE, "WELL, OK." HE SAID, "NOW I’M JUST ASKING TO ASK, NOT IMPLYING TOO MUCH, BUT BENNY, IS SHE RICH?" BENNY SAID, "NOPE!" PASTOR DOUG WAS REALLY TAKEN BACK, SO HE FINALLY ASKED, "BENNY, WHY ON EARTH DO YOU WANT TO MARRY THIS WOMAN?" BENNY LOOK HIM RIGHT IN THE EYE AND GRINNED, "BECAUSE SHE CAN DRIVE AT NIGHT!"
(PAUSE) IT’S NICE TO SUPPLEMENT OUR WEAKNESSES WITH SOMEONE ELSE’S STRENGTHS.

TEXT: JEREMIAH 38: 1-13.

COMMENTARY ON TEXT:

SITUATION OF JERUSALEM
MESSAGE OF JEREMIAH
OPPOSITION TO JEREMIAH
WEAKNESS OF THE KING
IMPRISONMENT

WE LIVE IN INTERESTING TIMES. OR, SO PEOPLE SAY. JEREMIAH CERTAINLY LIVED IN INTERESTING TIMES. HE LIVED THROUGH WHAT WOULD BE THE LAST DAYS OF THE KINGDOM OF ISRAEL. JERUSALEM IS UNDER SIEGE. THE CHALDEANS HAVE ENCOMPASSED THE LAND DEFEATING ALL WHO OPPOSE THEM; INCLUDING THE EGYPTIANS. NOW THEY ARE AT THE GATES OF JERUSALEM. IF I COULD EQUATE THIS TO OUR LIVES TODAY IT WOULD BE SOMETHING LIKE THIS. A NATION RISES IN POWER. A NATION THE SIZE OF RUSSIA, EUROPE, AND CHINA. THIS NATION ESTABLISHES MASSIVE NAVAL BLOCKADES ON BOTH OUR ATLANTIC AND PACIFIC BORDERS. LARGE GARRISONS OF SOLDIERS ARE STATIONED ON BOTH OUR NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN BORDERS. HAWAII HAS FALLEN, AND SO HAS ALASKA. AS A NATION WE ARE PINNED IN WAITING TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS. AND, THAT IS THE NATURE OF A SIEGE. YOU SIT AND WAIT FOR AN OPPORTUNE MOMENT. FOR OVER A DECADE IT IS FAMED THAT A GREEK ARMY LAID SIEGE TO TROY; WAITING FOR THAT ONE OPPORTUNE MOMENT WHEN ONE MAN’S VISION GAVE RISE TO SUCCESS. JERUSALEM IS UNDER SIEGE. A SIEGE WHICH HAS LASTED FOR NEARLY TWO YEARS. TRADE ROUTES HAVE BEEN CUT. FOOD SUPPLIES HAVE DWINDLED. IRRITABILITY IS AT AN ALL TIME HIGH. MORALE IS AT AN ALL TIME LOW. AND JEREMIAH IS PREACHING TREASON. "THUS SAYS THE LORD, "HE WHO STAYS IN THIS CITY WILL DIE BY THE SWORD, BY FAMINE, AND BY PESTILENCE; BUT HE WHO GOES OUT TO THE CHALDEANS WILL LIVE; HE WILL HAVE HIS LIFE AS A PRIZE OF WAR, AND LIVE. THUS SAYS THE LORD, THIS CITY SHALL SURELY BE GIVEN INTO THE HAND OF THE ARMY OF THE KING OF BABYLON AND BE TAKEN."
ONE OF THE KEYS TO A BATTLE, ANY BATTLE, IS THE CONFIDENCE OF THE SOLDIERS. WHEN CONFIDENCE IS HIGH, SOLDIERS FIGHT WELL. BUT WHEN CONFIDENCE FALLS, MORALE FALLS, AND SOLDIERS ARE MORE LIKELY TO DESERT OR JUST GIVE UP. GOD TOLD GIDEON, WITH AN ARMY OF OVER 30,000, "WHOEVER IS FEARFUL AND TREMBLING, LET HIM RETURN HOME." [JUDGES 7:3] GET RID OF THEM. FEAR IS A SOLDIERS WORST ENEMY, AND AN ENEMIES BEST FRIEND.
JEREMIAH IS PREACHING TREASON, AND HIS TREASON HAS ANGERED THE NOBLES OF THE LAND, BECAUSE IF JERUSALEM FALLS, THEY HAVE THE MOST TO LOSE. SO THEY CRY TO THE KING, "LET THIS MAN BE PUT TO DEATH, FOR HE IS WEAKENING THE HANDS OF THE SOLDIERS WHO ARE LEFT IN THIS CITY, SPEAKING SUCH WORDS TO THEM. FOR THIS MAN IS NOT SEEKING THE WELFARE OF THIS PEOPLE, BUT THEIR HARM."
PLEASE UNDERSTAND THIS WAS NOT A ONE TIME DEAL. THESE NOBLES, THESE LEADERS OF THE PEOPLE HAVE SOUGHT JEREMIAH’S LIFE BEFORE. YOU CAN READ ABOUT IT IN JEREMIAH CHAPTER 26. CHANCES ARE THESE NOBLES CONTINUALLY NAGGED, AND NAGGED, AND NAGGED, AND NAGGED, AND NAGGED, AND NAGGED, AND NAGGED THE KING UNTIL FINALLY THE KING HAS HAD ENOUGH; HE CAN’T STAND ANY MORE, AND IN A BOUGHT OF FRUSTRATION KING ZEDEKIAH SAYS, "FINE. TAKE HIS LIFE. YOU’RE GOING TO DO WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO DO, AND I CAN’T STOP YOU. "KING ZEDEKIAH SAID, "BEHOLD, HE IS IN YOUR HANDS; FOR THE KING CAN DO NOTHING AGAINST YOU." LIKE PILATE FACING THE MOB. THE CROWDS ARE SHOUTING, "CRUCIFY HIM, CRUCIFY HIM!" AND PILATE CAN NO MORE CONTROL THE CROWDS, SO HE ABSOLVES HIMSELF OF THE CRIME AND SAYS, "TAKE HIM, I AM INNOCENT OF THIS MAN’S BLOOD.", AND HE WASHES HIS HANDS TO BE RELEASED FROM THE WHOLE MATTER. KING ZEDEKIAH IS WASHING HIS HANDS OF JEREMIAH’S DEATH.
SO JEREMIAH, WHO IS ALREADY UNDER HOUSE ARREST, NOW GETS THROWN INTO THE CISTERN TO SINK, TO ROT, TO HUNGER, AND TO DIE. (PAUSE) TALK ABOUT A BAD DAY (REFLECTIVE PAUSE)

LESSON #1: WE ALL FACE TRIALS IN LIFE. WHETHER WE ARE A PERSON OF GREAT IMPORTANCE, LIKE KING ZEDEKIAH, OR A COMMON PERSON, LIKE JEREMIAH, THE FACT IS WE ALL FACE TRIALS IN LIFE. THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FACES TRIALS. [AND OURS HAS FACED QUIT A FEW.] SENATORS AND CONGRESSMEN, SPORTS LEGENDS, MOVIE STARS, CEO’S, BANK EXECUTIVES, DOCTORS, AND LAWYERS ALL FACE TRIALS IN LIFE. BARBERS, FARMERS, HOUSE WIVES, HOTEL MANAGERS, COOKS, WELDERS, MECHANICS, AND CLERICAL WORKERS ALL FACE TRIALS IN LIFE. NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE, OR WHAT YOU DO; NO MATTER HOW GREAT OR HOW SMALL YOU ARE, EVERYONE FACES TRIALS IN LIFE. JOB, IN THE TRIALS HE FACED SAID IT SIMPLY LIKE THIS, "AFFLICTION DOES NOT COME FROM THE DUST, NOR DOES TROUBLE SPROUT FROM THE GROUND; BUT MAN IS BORN TO TROUBLE AS THE SPARKS FLY UPWARD." [JOB 5: 6-7] ZEDEKIAH WAS THE KING OF ISRAEL, AND YET HE FACED THE TRIAL OF AN INVADING ARMY LAYING SIEGE TO HIS CAPITAL. JEREMIAH WAS JUST A SIMPLE PROPHET, AND YET HE FACED THE TRIAL OF AN ANGRY OPPOSITION AND AN UNJUST IMPRISONMENT. WE ALL FACE TRIALS IN LIFE.

LESSON #2: NOT ONLY DO WE FACE TRIALS IN LIFE, BUT IN THE MIDST OF OUR TRIALS WE INEVITABLY HAVE BAD DAYS WHEN LIFE GETS THE BEST OF US.

DAYS IN WHICH WE FEEL UTTERLY BROKEN, DESOLATE, AND CRUSHED. DAYS WHERE THE SKY SEEMS TO HAVE FALLEN DOWN ON US AND THE EARTH HAS BEEN PULLED FROM UNDER OUR FEET. DAYS LIKE JEREMIAH’S; WHEN IT FEELS LIKE THINGS CAN’T GET ANY WORST, THEY DO. "KING ZEDEKIAH SAID, "BEHOLD, HE IS IN YOUR HANDS; FOR THE KING CAN DO NOTHING AGAINST YOU." SO THEY TOOK JEREMIAH AND CAST HIM INTO THE CISTERN OF MALCHIAH, THE KING’S SON, WHICH WAS IN THE COURT OF THE GUARD, LETTING JEREMIAH DOWN BY ROPES. AND THERE WAS NO WATER IN THE CISTERN, BUT ONLY MIRE, AND JEREMIAH SANK IN THE MIRE." IT’S BAD ENOUGH JEREMIAH WAS UNDER HOUSE ARREST, BUT NOW HE HAS BEEN CAST INTO A DARK, COLD, MUDDY PIT. HE IS FORSAKEN, LONELY, FRIGHTENED, HUNGRY, AND NOW HE BEGINS TO SINK INTO THE MIRE. WE ALL FACE TRIALS, BUT IT’S IN THE MIDST OF OUR TRIALS THAT THE WORST WILL COME.
A FARMER WORKING THROUGH A MAJOR DROUGHT IS IN THE MIDST OF A TRIAL. BUT, A FARMER WORKING THROUGH A MAJOR DROUGHT, FACING FORECLOSURE ON HIS FARM AND CHAPTER ELEVEN BANKRUPTCY IS AT THE END OF HIS ROPE.
A FAMILY WITH AN UNEMPLOYED BREADWINNER IS GOING THROUGH A TRIAL. BUT, A FAMILY WITH AN UNEMPLOYED BREADWINNER, THEIR VEHICLES REPOSSESSED, A LIEN ON THEIR HOME, AND THE BANK LAYING SEIZURE TO THEIR PROPERTY IS AT THE END OF THEIR ROPE.
BEING CHEATED AN ADVANCEMENT AT WORK IS A TRIAL. BUT, BEING UNDER APPRECIATED AND PASSED OVER THROUGHOUT A CAREER CAN PUT US AT THE END OF OUR ROPE.
FACING THE DAILY GRIND OF WORK AND A SPOUSE CAN BE A TRIAL. NOW DON’T GET ME WRONG I LOVE TO WORK AND I LOVE MY WIFE, BUT THERE ARE THOSE TIMES IN EVERY MARRIAGE WHEN FRICTION BEGINS TO RISE. I’M SURE EACH OF YOU KNOWS A TIME OR TWO. FACING THE DAILY GRIND OF WORK AND A SPOUSE, AT TIMES, CAN BE A TRIAL. BUT FACING A DIFFICULT SITUATION AT WORK, AN ANGRY SPOUSE, AND A HOUSE OF HYPER KIDS CAN PUT US AT THE END OF OUR ROPE.
INEVITABLY, WHEN GOING THROUGH TRIALS, WE WILL FACE THE WORST LIFE HAS TO OFFER.

"WHEN EBEDMELECH THE ETHIOPIAN, A EUNUCH, WHO WAS IN THE KING’S HOUSE, HEARD THAT THEY HAD PUT JEREMIAH INTO THE CISTERN--THE KING WAS SITTING IN THE BENJAMIN GATE— EBEDMELECH WENT FROM THE KING’S HOUSE AND SAID TO THE KING, "MY LORD THE KING, THESE MEN HAVE DONE EVIL IN ALL THAT THEY DID TO JEREMIAH THE PROPHET BY CASTING HIM INTO THE CISTERN; AND HE WILL DIE THERE OF HUNGER, FOR THERE IS NO BREAD LEFT IN THE CITY." THEN THE KING COMMANDED EBEDMELECH, THE ETHIOPIAN, "TAKE THIRTY MEN WITH YOU FROM HERE, AND LIFT JEREMIAH THE PROPHET OUT OF THE CISTERN BEFORE HE DIES." SO EBEDMELECH TOOK THE MEN WITH HIM AND WENT TO THE HOUSE OF THE KING, TO A WARDROBE OF THE STOREHOUSE, AND TOOK FROM THERE OLD RAGS AND WORN-OUT CLOTHES, WHICH HE LET DOWN TO JEREMIAH IN THE CISTERN BY ROPES. THEN EBEDMELECH THE ETHIOPIAN SAID TO JEREMIAH, "PUT THE RAGS AND CLOTHES BETWEEN YOUR ARMPITS AND THE ROPES." JEREMIAH DID SO. THEN THEY DREW JEREMIAH UP WITH ROPES AND LIFTED HIM OUT OF THE CISTERN. AND JEREMIAH REMAINED IN THE COURT OF THE GUARD."

LESSON #3: THERE IS SOMEONE WAITING TO PULL US OUT OF OUR PIT. EBEDMELECH WAS A EUNUCH FROM ETHIOPIA. COMMENTATOR A. R. FAUSSETT WROTE THAT "EBEDMELECH PROBABLY WAS KEEPER OF THE ROYAL HAREM, AND SO HAD PRIVATE ACCESS TO THE KING." [HTTP://CCEL.WHEATON.EDU/PAGER.CGI?FILE=J/...JER38_1&TO=JER3 9_1&UP=J/JFB/JFB/JFB00.HTM]

EBEDMELECH WAS NOBODY SPECIAL. HE HAD SPECIAL ACCESS TO THE KING, BUT EBEDMELECH, HIMSELF WAS NOBODY SPECIAL. HE WAS MERELY A MAN WHO, WHEN HE SAW AN INJUSTICE IN THE LIFE OF A FELLOW MAN, COULD NOT SIT IDLY BY AND WATCH THIS OTHER PERSON SUFFER AND DIE; BUT RATHER HE WAS COMPELLED TO ALLEVIATE ANOTHER MAN’S PAIN.

A TRAVELER FELL INTO A DEEP PIT AND COULDN’T GET OUT. SEVERAL PERSONS CAME ALONG AND SAW HIM STRUGGLING IN THE PIT.
THE SENSITIVE PERSON SAID, "I FEEL FOR YOU DOWN THERE."
THE REFLECTIVE PERSON SAID, "IT’S LOGICAL THAT SOMEONE WOULD FALL INTO THE PIT."
THE AESTHETIC PERSON SAID, "I CAN GIVE YOU IDEAS ON HOW TO DECORATE YOUR PIT."
THE JUDGMENTAL PERSON SAID, "ONLY BAD PEOPLE FALL INTO THE PIT."
THE ANALYTICAL PERSON SAID, "HELP ME MEASURE THE DEPTH OF YOUR PIT."
THE CURIOUS PERSON SAID, "TELL ME HOW YOU FELL INTO THE PIT."
THE PERFECTIONIST SAID, "I BELIEVE YOU DESERVE YOUR PIT."
THE EVALUATOR SAID, "TELL ME, ARE YOU PAYING TAXES ON THIS PIT."
THE SELF-PITYING PERSON SAID, "YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN MY PIT."
THE SPECIALIST IN MEDITATION SAID, "JUST RELAX AND DON’T THINK ABOUT THE PIT."
THE OPTIMIST SAID, "CHEER UP! THINGS COULD BE WORSE."
THE PESSIMIST SAID, "BE PREPARED! THINGS WILL GET WORSE."
JESUS, SEEING THE MAN, TOOK HIM BY THE HAND AND LIFTED HIM OUT OF THE MISERABLE PIT.

IN JOHN 16: 33 JESUS SAYS, "IN THE WORLD YOU HAVE TRIBULATIONS; BUT BE OF GOOD CHEER, I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD."

MAYBE YOUR GOING THROUGH A TRIAL AND THE TRIAL IS A DIFFICULT ONE. BE OF GOOD CHEER. WE ALL FACE TRIALS; AND IN THE MIDST OF OUR TRIALS WE FACE THE WORST DAYS, BUT THERE IS SOMEONE WAITING TO PULL YOU UP.
FOR MOST OF YOU THOUGH, LIFE IS PROBABLY OK. THERE’S NO GREAT TRIALS, NO HEAVY DAYS WHERE THE WORLD FEELS LIKE IT’S CRUSHING IN. BUT MAYBE YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS GOING THROUGH A TRIAL. IT COULD BE A NEIGHBOR? A RELATIVE? MAYBE JUST A FRIEND? OR, IT COULD EVEN BE AN ACQUAINTANCE YOU MET THE OTHER DAY? SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS FACING A DIFFICULT TIME IN THEIR LIFE, AND THEY NEED SOMEONE TO PICK THEM UP OUT OF THEIR PIT. YOU MIGHT SAY TO YOURSELF, "BUT I’M NOBODY SPECIAL!" EBEDMELECH WAS NOBODY SPECIAL. HE WAS SIMPLY OBEDIENT AND OPEN, AND HE ALLOWED GOD TO WORK THROUGH HIM.

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