When Things Get Real

January 23, 2019 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 7 Comments
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Jeremiah had placed himself in a collective position with the people: not just speaking on their behalf, but speaking as one of them. Perhaps we should pray this way when praying for our children and our spouses, when praying for our church, when praying for our nation.

The Lord answered Jeremiah in Chapter 15. We say that He always answers prayers, but sometimes the answer is no.

Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.

Jeremiah 15:1

This was not an insult to Jeremiah. Actually, it was something of a compliment, but even the most influential of God’s servants and prayer intercessors would not be able to dissuade Him from what must be done. The Lord told him to “let them go,” as if He would allow them to choose their own form of judgment – although any of the four choices would be terrible: death by disease, death in battle, death by starvation, or humiliation and slavery.

And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the LORD; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.

Jeremiah 15:2

God made it clear to Jeremiah that He had no delight or joy in this. He does not rejoice in the death of the “wicked,” much less His own people.

For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest?

Jeremiah 15:5

He recognized that, without Him, they would be utterly alone and defenseless in a hostile-to-God world.

Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting.

Jeremiah 15:6

They had done this to themselves. They had “forced” God to do it. How heartbreaking that God’s right hand, which longs to stretch out in deliverance and comfort and protection and provision, would now be stretched out – heart-wrenchingly – in destruction. We see the use of anthropopathism and anthropomorphism in the description of God being weary. Time and again He had “repented” – reconsidered venting His wrath, and relented in mercy to allow more opportunity for the people’s repentance – and now He was sick of it. He had only been taken advantage of time and time again. Oh, never let us say that our God is some cruel impersonal force! Let us never say that He is not merciful and longsuffering, nor that He dispositionally “wants” anything for us other than the absolute best – which is repentance, faith, and obedience to Himself.

The Lord’s lamentation provoked Jeremiah’s lamentation, but it was a confused lamentation, because it was a real, human lamentation. As “great” as Jeremiah was, Jeremiah was a man. When his emotions took control – when they eclipsed his faithfully rational mind – He expressed bad theology, but at least He sought God while doing so, rather than trying to consult some worldly philosophy, false idol, or his own imagination.

Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me.

Jeremiah 15:10

Jeremiah’s “woe is me” was a curse upon himself, as he was able to see himself only as cursed because He was hated like a bill collector, forgetting that, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”

The Lord did not coddle Jeremiah in response. Instead, He let him know that, if he thought he had it tough now, he would soon have reason enough to reevaluate how tough it could really get.

Thy substance and thy treasures will I give to the spoil without price, and that for all thy sins, even in all thy borders. And I will make thee to pass with thine enemies into a land which thou knowest not: for a fire is kindled in mine anger, which shall burn upon you.

Jeremiah 15:13-14

Jeremiah pleaded for God to help him, based on what he had done for God.

O LORD, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke. Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation.

Jeremiah 15:15-17

But then he blamed God, and dared to question God’s method and honesty!

Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail?

Jeremiah 15:18

God’s response to this was to give Jeremiah an opportunity that He would not give again to the nation as a whole who had squandered it: Repent.

Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them. And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD. And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.

Jeremiah 15:19-21

What do we stand to lose if we fail to follow God? Our freedom? Our health? Our prosperity? Our lives?! We can’t always control how God will treat our countrymen, or even our kinsmen, but we can make sure that we are surrendered to Him, that we are trusting Him, and that we consider it an honor, rather than a betrayal, to suffer for Him.

God’s Will and Our Will

September 18, 2015 at 9:26 am | Posted in Where There's a Way There's a Will | 8 Comments
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Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law;

Romans 2:17-18 (emphasis added)

One of the distinguishing features about sometimes categorizing God’s will as preceptive, rather than decretive or secretive, is that God’s preceptive will is clearly revealed.

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

Romans 7:18

There is nothing good in our flesh. Have you come to grips with this in your life? Have you preached this to yourself and to the children entrusted by God into your care? God’s will can sometimes be described as dispositive, as can ours, but, in a stark contrast to His, our disposition, apart from His Spirit controlling us, is toward evil.

For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Romans 7:19-25

Our wills are always subject to God’s decretive will, but they are often in abject rebellion against His preceptive will. Our wills are subject to our desires, but there is hope in Christ, for He can change our desires and thereby make our wills subject to God’s will.

One important thing to remember about God’s hidden will is that it is intentionally hidden. God has His reasons for not revealing His secret will to us, and those reasons are good. Historically, though, this has not sat well with everyone who claims to be a Christian. There were those in the early Church – including ascetics, gnostics, and legalists – who wanted to add their beliefs to Scripture’s teaching about God’s preceptive will, and to insist that their additions were binding, when in fact God had not revealed them to be so.

Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

Colossians 2:23

The “things” referred to were possibly things like refusing to eat and wearing itchy clothes – things that appeared to mortify the flesh in an attempt to exercise “self”-control over the will. These denials of self and comfort were supposed to “prove” how spiritual the practitioners were by demonstrating their own “will power,” but they were basically worshiping their own will by pretending it was God’s will.

The truth is that there are certain areas where Scripture grants liberty and the application of personal conscience – for example, exact clothing choices, which holy days to observe, and what to eat or drink. In these areas, we should acknowledge that, where God has chosen to close His holy mouth, we ought not to be loud with ours.


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