Sunday, July 10, 2011

Submit to Divine Discipline - Jeremiah 19 - 22

Many of you who are reading this lesson will be either parents or grand parents and a Christian. Have you ever wondered why your children are or were prone to be disobedient? Have you ever instructed your children in matters that would be very obviously of benefit; instructions that, if followed, would actually bring joy, peace and maybe financial or other types of gain—and they still refused your advice? Do you want at least one possible answer? Just look in the mirror. Why don’t you “Submit to Divine Discipline?” I think it is because your children and you inherited a sinful nature. Your divine nature was forfeited in the Garden of Eden. You and your children may have been ‘born again’ spiritually speaking, but you still maintain the human nature to sin: and that includes a tendency to rebel against both Divine, and parental Discipline? It is sad and often costly, but we usually must undergo disciplinary action before we will submit. Ask yourself, why do I disobey God when I know there will be a price to pay?

Biblical history was recorded by divinely inspired prophets to give all posterity important information regarding God’s approval or disapproval of the action of His people. We have the opportunity to profit by the mistakes of our forefathers. Read chapter 19 and you will learn that Israel had reached low ebb in human history. As you read this scripture, it will help you to know that the Valley of Ben Hinnom was a place where the people of Jerusalem dumped their garbage; and Topheth was located in the valley. The word Topheth means ‘fire-place” and is probably where their children were burned as a sacrifice to other gods.

Jeremiah wrote this warning during his ministry somewhere between 627 and 586 B.C. and it came true, the first time, about 100 years later, in 586 B.C. during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—and again in A. D. 70 when Titus destroyed Jerusalem. During the siege, food became so scarce that the people became cannibalistic, actually eating their own children. You can find that not just Jeremiah, but others too, had prophesied that these things would happen, by reading Moses in Leviticus 26 and again in Deuteronomy 28. The actual accounts where these predictions came true are found in 2 Kings, 6 and Lamentations 2 and 4: 10. Listen to me now, today; John Vandiver is telling you that these things happened because the people were stiff-necked and would not listen to God’s words [19:14]. Do you think…do you honestly believe…that God will turn his head the other way while Americans do the same things that these people were doing?

We must not blame God. He loves us, [everyone] but He will not condone our sins. Read in 20: 4 and on where He tells us that we are a terror to ourselves and He will hand us and all our wealth over to another nation who will conquer and kill, plunder our land and enslave us. I realize that He was talking about Judah, but He is talking to America too. We must hear [listen attentively] and believe that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Some of you may want to discredit me for writing this, but just remember that Jeremiah was also discredited, beaten and put in stocks because he told the truth, and the people did not want to hear the truth of God’s Word.

The first six verses make a sad statement regarding the fact that a priest [church official] whose name was PASHhur was the one that heard Jeremiah’s condemnation of the sins of the people and condemned him. He ordered Jeremiah to be beaten and put in stocks overnight. Sadly, I tell you that we have Baptist ministers today that feel that it is more important to be ‘politically correct’ than it is to preach the real truth. Just recently, one told me personally that this is necessary in order to maintain his ability to deal with people today, and not be rejected. His feelings seem to be that it is not advisable for Christians to condemn the Islamic threat and other ‘cult’ religions for fear of hurting the feelings of others who may not agree. He said that his job was to win people to Christ…and I agree. However, I believe that people also need to know the dangers that lurk as “Sheep in the skin of lions” and Islam is definitely a threat to Christianity.

The Gospel Ministry is not an easy job, and has never been, and Jeremiah is a perfect example [Read 20: 7-18]. He was so disappointed and distressed that he accused God of deception and even cursed the day he was born; and it was all because he had preached the truth as God had instructed him—and was persecuted for it. The New Testament warns us that the people have itching ears—they want to be told what they want to hear rather than be warned of their errors. Preachers today are not beaten and placed in stocks, but they get fired when they step on too many toes. No wonder we do not hear more messages condemning the sins of our people.

You must read chapter 21 to find that blaming the preacher and persecuting [firing] him will not atone for our sins. And ministers must learn that they cannot compromise the gospel messages because they are not pleasing to their congregation. Jeremiah’s prophesies became real, Jerusalem was attacked by Babylon…the siege started and the same man that put Jeremiah in stocks, Pashur, was sent to Jeremiah by the Jewish King Zedekiah to ask him to beseech God to come to their rescue. He said, “Perhaps the Lord will perform wonders for us as in times past so that he [Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon] will withdraw from us.”

What was the result? In verse 3 we read that Jeremiah told him; “Tell Zedekiah, this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I am about to turn against you the weapons of war that are in your hands, which you are using to fight the…and the Babylonians who are outside the wall besieging you.” This simply means that their weapons will not be sufficient to protect them and God goes on to tell them that they will even suffer from a plague [probably something like, a flew epidemic or typhoid fever]. Not only that, but their food supply will play out and people will suffer famine; then those that survive will be taken into captivity by Babylon. Finally, before they leave Jerusalem, their soldiers will destroy the city by burning it to the ground.

God always has a limit beyond which he will not tolerate our sins. His greatest wrath has always been toward those who deny Him, forsake Him for other gods. God is good, and gracious, [by his grace we are saved] but He is also a jealous God. Please try to imagine how displeased he must be with our government that is allowing His Name to be removed from our money, our pledge, and all public places! Our time and opportunity must be drawing close to the end of his patience. Am I an alarmist? Was Jeremiah an Alarmist? No. We are more like Paul Revere who road at night, just warning you that the British [in this case God] is on his way and there is danger ahead. Even the Communist has warned America that we would perish from within. Our presidents and congress have failed to heed His warnings ever since Rowe vs. Wade; don’t show, don’t tell, and especially since the ugly 1960’s.

Even when we consider the conditions during the days of Jeremiah, there has never been a time in all of history when it was more important for a people to SUBMTI TO DIVINE DISCIPILINE. You and I may not be able to control what politicians do; however, we are responsible and can control what we do as individuals. Have you surrendered to God?

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