TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- – JEREMIAH 6:15-8:7

It is a great indictment on a society: “They do not even know how to blush” (Jeremiah 6:15). They have lost all moral sensibility.

Jeremiah speaks the Word of the Lord:

Jeremiah 6:16 16 Thus says the LORD, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.

Jesus personifies the good way. He says to all, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). If you come to Him in the full surrender of faith, take His yoke upon you, and learn from Him, you will find rest for your soul (Matt 11:29).

Knowing the ancient path and refusing to walk in it brings destruction.

This reminds me of words from the half-brother of Jesus, the Apostle James:

James 4:17 17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Despite warnings from appointed watchmen and sounding trumpets, the people fail to listen.

So the Lord announces the cruel invasion from the north. The armies of Nebuchadnezzar will attack and destroy Jerusalem. Because of the hardening of their hearts, the fire of judgment will fail to refine them. The wicked will not be purged out.

Because the people trusted the vain words of false prophets and relied on the false security that they had the temple of God in their midst, they refuse the Lord’s merciful offer to continue to allow them to live there, if they would turn from their idolatries and come back to Him.

Jeremiah 7:4 4  “Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’

They had a false confidence in the temple. The temple was no place of refuge for those who are living in rebellion against God. This false confidence was blinding them from seeing their need for repentance.

The horror is that the people of the covenant, to whom the One True God had revealed Himself, turned to serve idols, burned incense to Baal (Jer 7:9), and made cakes to the Mesopotamian goddess, Ishtar, the Queen of Heaven, the goddess of love, sex, fertility, and war! (Jer 7:18).   After the fall of Jerusalem, those refugees from Judah who fled to Egypt continued to worship her, according to 5th century BC records found in Hermopolis.

Listen to the hearts of the people:   

Jeremiah 44:17 17  “But rather we will certainly carry out every word that has proceeded from our mouths, by burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, just as we ourselves, our forefathers, our kings and our princes did in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; for then we had plenty of food and were well off and saw no misfortune. 

We can see that at this point, the Lord was giving His people over to their own lusts (See Romans 1:24, 26, 28):

Jeremiah 7:21 21 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat flesh.

Sometimes God’s judgments take the form of delivering people up to the stubborn inclinations of their own hearts (7:24). This is spiritual regression- they go backward and not forwards.

The people of Judah built high places in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire (7:31). The valley of Ben Hinnom is a small valley outside the Old City of Jerusalem, also known as Gehenna, which the Lord says will be called “The Valley of Slaughter.” ‘Gehenna’ in Rabbinical literature became a synonym for the place of torment known as hell.

Jeremiah gives us a picture of devastation that calls to mind the slaughter that will occur at Armageddon.

Jeremiah 7:33 33 “The dead bodies of this people will be food for the birds of the sky and for the beasts of the earth; and no one will frighten them away.

Revelation 19:17-21 17  Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God, 18  so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.” 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh. 

Three times in the Book of Jeremiah, the Lord tells him not to pray for these people (Jeremiah 7:16; 11:14 and 14:11).

Jeremiah 7:16 16 “As for you, do not pray for this people, and do not lift up cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with Me; for I do not hear you.

 They listened to lying prophets rather than the Word of God (7:4, 8). They oppressed the weak and helpless (7:6). They presumed upon God’s grace as they committed idolatries and done detestable things (7:9-10). They turned the house of God into a den of thieves (7:11).

Our reading ends with a description of a people who have lost the ability to repent:

Jeremiah 8:6-7 6 “I have listened and heard, they have spoken what is not right; No man repented of his wickedness, Saying, ‘What have I done?’ Everyone turned to his course, Like a horse charging into the battle. 7 “Even the stork in the sky Knows her seasons; And the turtledove and the swift and the thrush Observe the time of their migration; But My people do not know the ordinance of the LORD. 

TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – COLOSSIANS 2:8-23

Beware of high-sounding nonsense!

Colossians 2:8 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

How honestly does human philosophy address the problem of sin as an act of treason against God our creator?  What place is there in human philosophy for the Divine Remedy?   What consideration is given to mankind’s dilemma of being captive to sin and subject to God’s wrath? What appeal does human philosophy make to put trust in Christ alone for the mercy of redemption and reconciliation?

When we consider the perfection of God’s solution in Christ, we can recognize the impotence of deceptive philosophies that direct people to vain pursuits of self-redemption, religious rituals, and pseudo-spiritualities.

Mankind tries to put itself in a right relationship with God through outward conformity to the basic principles of this world- all to no effect. What can wash away our sins? Religious works? The worship of angels?  Gnostic secrets such as the law of attraction?

Hear what Jesus accomplished:

Colossians 2:13-15 13  When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14  having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.

The Gnostics were teaching that the Colossians needed greater levels of experience to get close to God. They could approach God only through the levels of angels and worshipful devotion to angels.

If you listen to some Christians who subscribe to their gospels of life enhancement, you would think that the Christian life is composed of vitamin supplements, family counseling, financial planning, relational therapy, and listening to Christian music, and watching wholesome movies!

Paul tells the Colossians to come out of these systems that substitute themselves for dependency upon Christ.  He encourages them to recognize that their former religious observances were just shadows of Christ. They now were offered the substance of fellowship with the crucified, risen, ascended Christ Himself, whom God has made head of the church.

The Christian life is not about cultural observances or outward conformity to the rules and regulations of religion, but it is about embracing by faith our union with Christ. When He died, we died. We are to reckon ourselves dead to our old life in Adam. Our old life in Adam has been judged as condemnable and crucified. When Jesus was buried, we were buried. When Christ rose, we rose in Him, and when He ascended, we were positioned in Him at the right hand of the Father. The One who died for us rose and ascended to live in us by the Holy Spirit. The Christian life is Christ alive and living in us!

Now we are to grow in a vital relationship with a community of believers, members of His body, living in interdependence, supplied by each member’s portion of Christ’s ministry, till we all grow up into a full mature expression of Who He is (Colossians 2:19; Ephesians 4:16). 

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS – PSALM 78:1-31

This Psalm highlights the responsibility that each generation has for the future ones to come. Let us tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord! Let us make it a priority to teach them God’s Word! (Psalm 78:1-7).

He also reminds us that we have examples of generations that failed to be loyal to God and paid the price for it.

Psalm 78:21-22 21 Therefore the LORD heard and was full of wrath; And a fire was kindled against Jacob and anger also mounted against Israel, 22 Because they did not believe in God And did not trust in His salvation.

Despite their failures, God continued to prove Himself merciful (Psalm 78:23-26). Their ancestors lusted for meat rather than manna. God gave them what they craved for until they got sick of it. 

May we teach each generation to trust the Lord with their whole hearts and not lean on their own understanding! 

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 24:26

Proverbs 24:26 26 He kisses the lips who gives a right answer.

(An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips)

PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – POLAND

There is a great need for witness in Poland, with 90% of municipalities having no evangelical church. There are more evangelicals in Saudi Arabia than in Poland. Most Poles are resistant to the gospel either due to their cultural Catholicism or their spiritual apathy. There is certainly a need and an open door for missionaries to come along and serve alongside the national church. Pray for evangelicals to rise to this great challenge and catch a vision for the salvation of their countrymen as well as of their European neighbors.

The younger generation are caught up in the secular materialism that has rapidly emerged in Poland, although many are spiritually responsive. Summer camps are a major ministry for nearly all evangelical denominations and agencies. Pray that Polish youth and children might have plentiful opportunities to meet the Living Christ.

PRAYER: O Lord, keep me from false confidence in the external trappings of the Christian life. My life comes from You alone.  You are my refuge and my salvation. Keep my heart tender and my conscience sensitive to the convicting power of Your Word and Your Holy Spirit. Teach me. Guide me. Move me. Fill me. Use me.  Show me who you would have me bless today. Give me a life-giving, uplifting word for those I meet. Help me to inspire and teach the young, so future generations will rise to bless Your Name and flourish with Spirit-wrought devotion to Your choice purposes for their lives. All for the glory of Jesus! And in His Name, we ask it. Amen.

 

Pastor David