This morning when I woke up I began thinking about my study in Jeremiah. I am using as my guide, the New Inductive Series by Precept Ministries founder Kay Arthur. When I first began the study I was thinking it would lead me into the same theme that Kay found - Listening to God in Difficult Times. But the Lord has taken me in a completely different direction.
I began to notice after chapter three, that the Lord was showing me how the warnings from God through Jeremiah to his people apply to the people of this century. These warnings given centuries ago to the Jews are eerily similar to events transpiring today. And that is not a coincidence. The Bible wasn't preserved for over 2,000 years merely to entertain us with its stories. It is filled with words of wisdom, history, the plan of salvation, lessons and commandments on how we should live, and most importantly, how God expects us to live in light of His presence.
But one thing I keep seeing during my studies is how history is prone to repeat itself. Just as the people in the past were sinful, so is this world today. But will God deal with us the same way He dealt with people during Jeremiah's time? Most of the lessons I'm learning during this study seem to be saying yes. But sadly, it seems no one is listening.
Have We Forgotten the Past?
In 2 Chronicles 6 we read a lovely prayer from King Solomon as he dedicates the newly built Temple in Jerusalem to God. Immediately after his prayer this happened:
When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshipped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying,“He is good. His love endures forever.” Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the Lord. - Jeremiah 8:1-4)
God had just made Himself known and His glory filled the temple. Yet, it was this same temple that Jeremiah would stand at the gates of (see Jeremiah 7), hundreds of years later, warning the people that destruction was about to come upon them. Why? Because they had forsaken God and disobeyed Him.
But how did the people get so far off track, from seeing the glory of God to not being afraid of Him and not caring at all if they offended Him? It was because of their leaders. Incredibly, disobedience toward God and sinning against Him started first with King Solomon, the one who built the temple to honour God, whom God appeared to twice. - 1 Kings 11
And it continued on with his children and grandchildren.
In the seventeenth year of Pekah son of Remaliah, Ahaz son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign. Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He followed the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree. - 2 Kings 16:1-4
The king led his people into sinning against God. And it didn't stop with Ahaz. It continued with Manasseh. "He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger. - 2 Kings 21:6. He built altars to foreign gods and put them in the temple of God. You can read about all the evil he did in 2 Kings 21. In fact, if you go to Biblegateway.com and type in the words "did evil" you will get a list of all the kings who led their people into sin.
How Does This Relate to us Today?
Look at our leaders. What are their values? Where do they stand as far as God is concerned? What about the world in general? We don't have to look far to see how ridiculous things have become: Donald Trump, an egotistical, narcissistic, racist maniac is running for president of the United States and God's people (Evangelical Christians) are supporting him. This isn't just evil, it's crazy! Why wouldn't they support Ted Cruz or Mark Rubio, who have both professed belief in Jesus as their Saviour? Both of these men know their Bible. They know their God. Donald Trump "says" he is a Christian, yet it is clear by his behaviour that he is anything but. Donald Trump is a modern day Herod and the only reason Christians are favouring him is because they are no longer listening to God. If he is by some horrible twist of fate, EVER elected president, history will repeat itself and America will have its very own Herod the Great ruling over them.
Think it can't happen? How do you think Obama got elected? The people didn't listen to God and God said, "Fine. Here 'ya go. Here's the leader you wanted so badly." And then He stepped back and watched Obama destroy not only the inner workings of America, but the reputation of America. All because the people wanted a new king (1 Samuel 8:1-20). When people ask for unreasonable things, sometimes God gives them what they ask for just to teach them a lesson.
Obama has destroyed relations with Israel, the only democratic country in the Middle East, and he openly welcomed terrorists into the White House! He played a game of cat and mouse with the American people. Pretending to be a Christian to get votes and then showing his true colours when he was elected. And he didn't do it once - he did it twice! Donald Trump is ALREADY showing his true colours and yet against all reason, people are supporting him. And those Christians who have not fallen sway to a deceiving spirit are shaking their heads in disbelief. People are actually starting to fear Donald Trump might be elected as President. Think it can't happen? As a Canadian I am still stunned at our change in leadership.
Our new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has said he admires China's Communist dictatorship, echoing his father, Pierre Trudeau, who not only claimed communist leader Fidel Castro as a friend, but also deeply admired mass murderers Mao Tse Tong and Joseph Stalin. History shows that Pierre Trudeau was the one who liberalized Canada's laws on divorce, abortion, and homosexuality. Following in his father's footsteps, Justin is a huge supporter of gay rights, he also says yes to murdering babies and wants to make abortion clinics more accessible to women. In addition, he is in the process of allowing medically assisted suicide. So while he isn't personally burning children as sacrifices to Ba'al, his approval and encouragement of both of these practices show us that, like his father, Justin has rejected the Bible and God, by couching it with the words "equal rights."
These things are just the tip of the iceberg and are only about the leaders on this side of the world. Don't get me started on what is going on in Europe. One thing is certain, our world is on a downward spiral, whose leaders are setting the course of our demise and God will wait only so long for a nation to repent before He acts.
God warned the people, speaking through Jeremiah saying:
This warning rings true for us today. Our leaders have forced God out of schools, government, and businesses. They have consistently, as Anne Graham Lotz once said, "Shaken their fist at God." But we don't need to follow our leaders into immorality. We don't need to believe what they believe. We can stand firm in our convictions and believe in and continue to trust in God and follow Him and this is something we must do!
God will be patient for only so long and then He will act. Will you be ready?
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. - 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, “Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who enter in at these gates to worship the Lord!’” Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Do not trust in these lying words, saying, ‘The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these.’ (Jeremiah 7:1-4)
In Jeremiah 7, the Lord told Jeremiah to stand outside the gates of the temple and proclaim His words to the people that were going into the temple. God was very angry with these worshippers because they had become so degenerate they were chasing after false gods, stealing, murdering, committing adultery and even burning their own children as sacrifices to false gods. Yet, on the Sabbath, they showed up to the temple to worship God BELIEVING that all was forgiven because THEY WERE GOD'S CHOSEN PEOPLE. And God basically told them (and I'm paraphrasing here): "You think that is going to save you from my wrath? You think by walking through these doors on the Sabbath you are automatically forgiven of all your sins, cleansed, and made new just because you're here? I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to this place which I gave to you and your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh!" (Jeremiah 7:9-15)
God Destroyed Shiloh
So, what about you Christian? Why do you go to church every Sunday? Do you think by showing up, you are cleansed, forgiven and made brand new, just because you walked through the doors? Are you believing that you are "safe" because you are saved?
What Does God Require of you?
The same thing He required from His people back in Jeremiah's day.
Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you - Jeremiah 7:23
Are you following after false gods? You would probably say, "Of course not!" But there are many ways in which Christians can unknowingly give something else in their lives more priority than God. There are the usual culprits - T.V., the internet, money, etc., but have you ever considered that you might be letting false teachers tickle your ears with a false doctrine, like the prosperity or the grace gospel? Are you listening to the world or are you listening to God? Do you believe that you can do anything you want because you are saved by grace? Or that God is there to give you what you want because you are His child? This is a false idol you are worshipping. Not God.
I know of a woman who came to Jesus only because of the prosperity gospel. She was told Jesus would solve all her problems and make her wildest dreams come true. At the time she was on welfare. A pastor told her to believe that she would get rich and to claim it every day. When she didn't get rich, she not only gave up going to that church, she stopped believing in God altogether. This is the greatest danger of the prosperity gospel. A false doctrine, encouraging the worship of a false idol - greed.
The Grace movement is equally as bad. God's grace is something I marvel at and would never treat with callous disrespect. But I know some people who believe that "once saved always saved" is the key to God's grace. So, if they sin, they don't worry about it because they are saved. They don't confess their sins, neither do they repent of them. They continue to behave as if they are the apple of God's eye and yet those who know them are repulsed by their behaviour. They sincerely believe that their sins need no confession or repentance because they were saved by grace. This is not how you treat God's grace. Jesus' blood does cover a multitude of sins, but that does not give one free reign to continue sinning.
The Jews of Jeremiah's day went through the Temple gates saying, "The Temple of the Lord! The Temple of the Lord! The Temple of the Lord!" They put their faith in the building, rather than in God. Today, Christians who say, "I'm saved because of Jesus! I'm saved! I'm saved!" but do not repent of their sins make a mockery of Jesus death and abuse the grace God has granted them. And those who preach and practice the prosperity gospel by making use of God as some kind of heavenly Santa Claus, also treat God with disrespect. These are only two false doctrines out there today. There are many more. I focus on these two because they are the most prevalent.
False doctrines are like false idols in your life. Why? Because deceptive doctrines and those who teach them, are causing Christians to run after what "sounds good" rather than the truth. A pure love of God and devotion to the Scriptures have been replaced by the idols of grace and prosperity. Sadly, it is because most Christians don't read their Bibles that they are deceived into believing these wrong teachings.
Examine your hearts today. Are you listening to and obeying deceitful teachers who promote false doctrines? If so, you have set up an idol in your life. Put away your counterfeit idols/doctrines, return to the Scriptures and worship God alone.
For the time will come when people will not put up with
Behold, the word of the Lord is a reproach to them;
Today I am in chapter six of Jeremiah. I have found this study fascinating because even though it is about the Jewish people and a warning from God to them that judgement was coming, I can see there are acute similarities between our world and theirs.
For the last five chapters, God has been voicing His displeasure over the wickedness of His people. He has, through Jeremiah, given them fair warning about their impending doom. This is a precedent God has set throughout history. When judgement is coming, He sends a prophet to warn the people.
But who are our prophets today? How do we receive warnings from God? We get our warnings from scripture verses like today. We get them all throughout the Bible. Our final warning being the Revelation of John. We don't have to look far to see that we are living in a world similar to Jeremiah's. Jeremiah's world was filled with the following, and sadly, our world is the same:
Is there a way we can escape judgement?
The same way that was offered to Jeremiah's people is offered to this world today.
Stand in the ways and see,
This world is in danger because, like Jeremiah's people, the people of today refuse to heed the warnings. They refuse to repent, and instead they continue to mock God and promote immorality. There are Christians who claim to follow God, but they have so closely aligned themselves with the world it is hard to distinguish them from unbelievers. Sexual promiscuity, divorce and adultery are rampant in the church. Should we be shocked that judgement is coming?
But unlike Jeremiah's day, we have a Redeemer who came to earth to stand in the gap for us. To save us from eternal punishment. All we have to do is confess our sins and sincerely repent. Jesus is waiting for all to come to Him to be saved.
But how much longer will God contend with man?
The signs are all there. Our world is the same as Jeremiah's. Jesus said in Matthew 24:37, "But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be."
The book of Jeremiah has shown me the conditions that led to judgement in his era are present in ours. If people think God is not going to act - and soon - they are fooling themselves. We need to sound the trumpet and raise the alarm and if we look foolish in doing so, then so be it. I'd rather look a fool in warning people of their impending doom, than to stand before God ashamed that I did nothing.
Jesus' is coming soon.