In Jeremiah 38, we talked about how doing the right thing sometimes leads to punishment. But what about the people doing the punishing? When Babylon destroys our city or we get thrown into a cistern of mud, what happens to the guys doing the destroying or throwing? Will the bad guys get what’s coming to them? And, is it okay to want that to happen?
Sometimes we despair over our sinfulness and turn the Lord for mercy (Psalm 130). But other times, we do the right thing and are punished for it. That’s the situation we find in Jeremiah 38:1-13. Jeremiah has spoken the message that the Lord asked him to speak and others are seeking to kill him for it.
You don’t pick up a cookbook looking for the same things you would find in history textbook or vice versa. You expect a different kind of experience from a “beach read” and a suspense-thriller or from a travel guide and a self-help book. What do you expect from the Bible? What kind of book do you think it is? What do you hope to gain from reading it? Jeremiah 36:1-32 records a story about Scripture and reveals part of the process of how it was written down. In looking at why God instructs Jeremiah to write down His words, we’re going to answer, “What’s so special about the Bible?”
With the Babylonian army threatening their border, Jerusalem was a place with little to no hope. How could that hope be for real? To teach His people that hope is real, the Lord told Jeremiah to do something crazy. In fact it was perhaps the most ridiculous move anyone could take – unless hope is true.
Jeremiah warns the people of Judah that God is about to let the Babylonians conquer Jerusalem and deport them because they have disobeyed God. That raises the question, “If God really is going to let our city be destroyed and send us into exile, what good is believing in Him? What good is faith?” In Jeremiah 31:31-34, God tells Jeremiah to reveal more about His plan and show His people where faith will eventually lead them.
Jeremiah 29:1-14 is addressed to people from Jerusalem who have already been deported to Babylon but before Jerusalem itself has been completely destroyed. These people want to escape. They want the exile to end and they want to get back home. Jeremiah writes the letter in this chapter to set them straight. Surprisingly, he doesn’t tell them how to escape; instead he tells them how to endure. What do we do while we await the not-yet? What’s there to do in Babylon?
We live in a world of a million conflicting voices today. You can be constantly updated with tweets, texts, alerts and notifications. Which voice has authority? Which voice can be trusted? In Jeremiah 23:9-33, God addresses this issue of these different voices, criticizing those prophets who claim to speak for Him, but really don’t. In 23:1-8, the Lord called out Judah ’s political leaders; in this section He calls out her spiritual leaders.
Today’s leaders promise hope and change only to deliver corruption and scandal. We elect bright promising outsiders who go to Washington and immediately become insiders. They cease fighting for the ideals they promised in the campaign and start fighting to keep themselves in power. Who can make things right? Who will help us out of this mess?
We all come to a place at one time or another where we ask the question, “Why is my life so hard? Why do I have to endure this particular problem or experience this pain or go through this situation?” In Jeremiah 20:7-19, we see Jeremiah reach that place. He hits rock bottom and cries out asking, why his life was so hard.
One of the most common complaints is that the God of the Bible doesn’t seem to be very “fair.” We come from different backgrounds, we have different accents and we have different gifts and opportunities. And we look at that and ask, “Is God fair?”
I suspect many of believers today are convinced that Sabbath still means something but have no idea what it is. You take the Bible seriously, you sincerely want to follow and obey God, but in this particular instance you have no idea how to begin, what to do or what not to do. What can we learn from Jeremiah about Sabbath?
What do you do when you sin repeatedly? What do you do when you see something about yourself that you decide to change, you give it your best effort, and you don’t change? What’s wrong with us? Jeremiah gives 3 metaphors to explain the problem of our hearts.
Religion should make a difference in our lives. By “religion,” I mean the set of outward behavior, practices, ethics and rituals that we do or avoid doing to mark ourselves as believers. Believing in God means we ought to love and value what God loves and values, and therefore we ought not to be nicer to each other. Yet, religion doesn’t seem to solve all the problems we think it ought to solve. What is wrong with religion? Why doesn’t it make more difference?
Why is God so difficult to believe in? We want control. We explain away His gifts and provision. We want a predictable god who doesn’t surprise us. The God of Scripture is complicated and does not answer all our questions. We are afraid the hope of the gospel is too good to be true. The truth is that God is really not hard to believe in. The problem is that it is our hearts that are fickle.
Jeremiah Answers: What does God want from us? Faithfulness. Calling begins with God, develops through our relationship with God and that relationship leads us to others.