Someone once told me that when you open the book of Jeremiah, smoke rises from it’s pages. It’s a burning message of God from a weeping prophet, called by God to preach an unpopular message to a rebellious people. That’s the perfect storm for a miserable crisis.
Imagine that you have discovered a cure for a terrible disease that is destroying lives and spreading everywhere. Now, imagine how it must feel when no one will listen to you as you try to tell about it and get the news out, but instead they mock you. So you try harder, but then people begin to hate you for telling them and want to get rid of you, because you are so determined to get them to believe the truth about what you’ve discovered.
You know that this disease will eventually destroy you country and kill nearly everyone in your community. But the more you talk about it, the more hatred you face from those you are trying to save.
Welcome to the world of Jeremiah. This prophet stands between God and Judah, God telling Jeremiah what to say to save them, and Judah, becoming more and more angry and aggressive against Jeremiah as he proclaims God’s word them. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, is the final unheeded herald of God’s call to His people to turn back and be saved, or continue their disobedience and face the destruction of all they hold dear.
Jeremiah didn’t like his job nor his message. In Chapter 20:7-18 we read from one of Jeremiah’s lowest points as he struggled with this mission. Listen to his struggle as we read this passage:
What do you think about those words? Jeremiah just wanted what we all do, love and respect. Instead he received rejection, mockery and shame. How must he have longed for a quiet and peaceful life, far removed from the burden of proclaiming God’s judgment against a rebellious nation, which, sadly was his job for about 40 years.
He would suffer being mocked and hated and imprisoned and falsely accused as a traitor, just because he was proclaiming God’s word to people who didn’t want to hear it. Oh, they would have loved him if he would only do and say what they wanted. Look at Jer. 5:31. Jeremiah was given a vision. He saw God’s people rejecting God’s word and standing under God’s coming wrath. God gave him the job of uprooting, overthrowing, tearing down and destroying the idolatry of this nation, and building and planting a remnant who would survive and return.
There’s no way that this man, Jeremiah, could know that you and I would be reading his book, written over 2500 years ago, and being stirred to conviction by it today. God’s word is forever true. It’s relevance is astoundingly clear. For all our advances in technology, communication, scientific discovery, etc. humanity has not changed, we are still the same.
When God sends punishment and judgements upon nations, God’s people tend to look up and seek His protection. They know God is their hope. But what happens to the rest? What about those who reject God and put their hope in wealth, worldly powers and resources, or in false prophets who tell them what they want to hear? Is there a point where God gives people over to their own devises? Listen to Jeremiah 15:1-6. (read).
It’s passages like this that get the attention of atheists today who say, just look at this God of the Bible! He’s so mean and hateful! But they ignore and gloss over what God is judging. Look at Jeremiah 7:30-31. God is justly punishing these people of Judah who know God’s laws and yet sacrifice their own children to these foreign idols.
So what do we learn from Jeremiah regarding seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness? It appears that Jeremiah reveals what happens when we DO NOT seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Where not seeking Him will lead us.
God is King and Lord Almighty, creator and sustainer of all things! This is without question what the Scriptures tell us. But what happens to us when we resist His rule and reign? What does it do to us NOT to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first?
Jeremiah reveals it. We become entrenched in the destructive ways of this world and become God’s enemies. There is NO NUTRAL ground. Jesus said it this way: He who does not gather with me scatters. We WILL submit to something. We WILL follow some authority. When we do not seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness we WILL seek something. What will it be and where will it lead us?
The prophets answer that question for us. Jesus answers that question for us. All of scripture answers that question for us.
God is the only God and only creator. He is the King over all and He is righteous. Seek Him first and find eternal life. Or resist His rule and righteousness and fall into destruction.
Let’s revisit a chart that makes this message clear:
God is King and He rules in righteousness over all His creation. We were created in His image and likeness in order to glorify Him and spread His image throughout the world.
God is king over the family. He designed us male and female to reflect His image and likeness and be to the praise of His glory. Each of us individually and all of us corporately are designed to reflect God’s image and likeness to the praise of His glory.
So God is king over the family. Husbands and wives are to represent and reflect God’s glory. God blessed the first marriage with children. They were to represent and reflect God’s glory.
Children were to grow up instructed in the word and will of God to submit to God as their righteous King and seek His rule and reign in their lives. Their education was all under the authority of God as king. Every aspect of their knowledge and understanding of God’s creation and all learning and progress were under the authority of God as king. God is the source of all truth, knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Nothing exists that He is not before and does not rule over. Education therefore is from God and must submit to God as king.
As humanity grew in number, God’s image and likeness was to spread throughout the world, developing communities that submitted to God as king. These communities would develop commerce which would allow trading and employment and mutual sharing of the bounty of creation. All under the authority of God as king. Government is from God and must submit to God as king.
Human entertainment, music, arts and creativity all come from God. These are all created to the praise of God’s glory. Their values and boundaries are designed to reflect God’s character and wonder. These are from God and must submit to God as king.
Science and the exploration of the creation are to be a seeking of God’s awesome wisdom, knowledge and understanding to discover His unsearchable power and exquisite detail and order of arrangement of this physical universe. Again, God created it all and all science must submit to God as king.
When God is respected as He upon which all creation is universally united because all things come from God and are God’s and He is king and Lord of all, then unity and harmony take place. That’s way we are to pray: Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
But, when God’s authority as king is rejected or resisted, what happens? Rejection of God as king turns science, and government, and commerce, and arts and music and entertainment, and community and family and individuals into… what? Enemies of God. Oh, there may be an outward form of religion going on, but it is powerless and inwardly full of deceit.
The greatest danger we face in our relationship with God is to deceive ourselves or be deceived into thinking we can resist God’s kingdom and yet enjoy God’s blessings. A divided heart toward God is like a divided heart in marriage, where a husband or wife cheats and commits adultery but feels justified and even considers him/herself ok in the marriage.
Judah’s love of idols brought her down. Judah’s prophets and priests cheered them on. Jeremiah’s voice was a lonely call for her repentance. It went unheeded. Judah fell under God’s wrath.
God help us to seek first His kingdom and righteousness, protect us from the deception of sin and it’s luring temptations, give us humility and contrite spirits, and hearts that tremble at Your word. In Jesus name, amen.