Understanding His story helps us to understand that His-Story is our Story!
Announcement of Destruction and an Offer of Mercy - Jeremiah 7:1-15
By: Michael & Angela Anderson
How much do you know? (Answers at the end of the lesson)
Thus says the Lord:
Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, and let not the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, says the Lord (Jer. 9:23-24).
Where Are You?!? That’s the question God asked Adam and Eve on that fateful day of the fall of mankind. In case you noticed the punctuation in the first sentence, I used something called an interrobang(?!?). It is a punctuation to be placed at the end of an exclamatory rhetorical question. That is exactly what I believe God was doing when He spoke to Adam and Eve and said, “Where are you” as they hid in the bushes. I think that God’s call to Adam and Eve was just that… A question and a statement! It was a call to repentance that both asked them if they realized where they were and a statement of where they were - separated from God! God reveals His grace in the fact that He came seeking them! While they hid from Him, He sought them out on that day! Today, God, by His Grace, continues to seek for us as sinners. This account from Genesis reveals the central process God follows throughout the rest of the Scriptures. By His Grace, God seeks out the sinner. By His Grace, God confronts the sinne;, and By His Grace, God offers reconciliation to the sinner. It is because of His Grace that He sent His One and Only Son! “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men...” (Titus 2:11).
In our Chronological Study, we are in the process of leaving the Divided Kingdom Era behind and moving into the Captivity Era. At this point in Jeremiah, there is still a king on the throne of Judah, but Babylon is actually controlling the country. There are already some in captivity in Babylon and more are being taken. But God still offered them Grace and a chance to stay in the Promised Land and be His people! But God!!! Those two precious words! “But God remembered Noah…” (Gen. 8:11), “But God said, ‘...Sarah your wife will bear you a son… I will establish My covenant with him’” (Gen. 17:19), “...but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20), “But God will never forget the needy” (Ps. 9:18), “But God is my helper” (Ps. 54:4), “But God did listen!” (Ps. 64:19), “But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps. 73:26), “But God raised Him up again” (Acts 2:24) and “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8)! But God...
Through Jeremiah, God’s Grace was revealed to Judah in the fact that He was seeking them! God was seeking, confronting, and offering reconciliation to Judah if they would only turn to Him! But the people would not listen… In Jer. 10:10, Jeremiah proclaims that even though they put their trust in things (god’s with a little g) made of wood and metal, they must realize that it is the LORD that is the only True God! He references creation as proof: “But God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding” (Jer. 10:12 NIV). Jeremiah literally proclaims the truth to Judah, but all they heard was what they wanted to hear. All they saw were material possessions, peace and prosperity. When we look deeper into the Book of Jeremiah and see the reasons Judah was carried away into exile, we may not like what we find? But maybe we will find what we need?
Our objective is to understand why Judah was being carried into exile. In this lesson, we will look at the message in Jeremiah 7 and see if God may be gracious enough to reveal the Truth of His Word to us and then help us to apply it to our own lives...
God seeks the sinner because of His Grace and Mercy!
God confronts the sinner about their sin.
God has worked throughout all of history to bring His promise to fulfillment and offer all men restoration.
This sermon recorded in Jer. 7 is a stinging message that attacks not only the people of Judah, but also the leaders and priests. Many of the same things are included in the chapter 26 sermon, but in that case, an approximate date is given. “This message came to Jeremiah from the Lord early in the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah” (Jer. 26:1 NLT). Some scholars think this is the same sermon and was accidentally recorded twice, but it is most likely that Jeremiah gave this sermon (or a very similar one) a second time at the Temple later in his ministry. That would explain the absence of the threats in chapter 7 that are present in chapter 26. Jeremiah was courageous and a man full of faith who carried out the Lord’s commands to speak even if it was repetitious. As a pastor, I know what it is like to be judged by people for preaching a sermon or teaching a lesson that is a repeat of something I have already done. As I pastored Fellowship Baptist Church outside of Livingston TN, I preached three or more times a week for over seven years. That’s over one thousand messages! Sometimes I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to revisit something we had covered in the past. If I chose to preach it again, some people there assumed “he just didn't study!” and they were not shy about saying it to others. But I believe it was God’s will or I would not have used it (although it was certainly a little different). It’s like the old preacher that began preaching at a new church. He preached the message on the first Sunday morning and then the same message on Sunday night. Then, again the same message on the next Sunday morning! Someone asked him after hearing it for the third time if he only had one sermon? He replied, “No, I have more”. They asked him why he was repeating the same one over and over? He replied, “When you start doing what this sermon says to do, I will preach the next one!” Jeremiah said exactly what God told him to say! But they would not do what the first message said to do? God told them what to do - over and over and over…
This message in chapter 7 most likely occurs in the earlier part of Jeremiah’s ministry. It was at this point that the people of Judah could have turned from their wicked ways, but they would not. In this lesson, we will look at this message in Jer. 7 and see if God may be gracious enough to reveal the Truth of His Word to us and then help us to apply it to our own lives...
1. Jeremiah Takes a Stand - Jer. 7:1-7
“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 by these gates to worship the Lord!’” (Jer. 7:1-2)
It must have taken a good bit of courage and a lot of faith for Jeremiah to actually stand in the Temple gate as everyone passed by while preaching against the people and the city. But the Lord told him to do it and that’s what he did! Some scholars suggest that he may have been standing at the gate of the Temple giving this message during one of the feasts, because that would be a time that basically all of Judah would come to Jerusalem. That does make sense. We can only imagine how many people walked by and never bothered to listen to what he said or maybe they just thought Jeremiah was a crazy man. Others probably walked by and were offended by what they heard as they entered the Temple to worship idols like the “queen of heaven” instead of Yahweh. And then there must have been those who felt personally attacked. We can find evidence of these things in much of the Book of Jeremiah, but especially in chapter 26 as I mentioned earlier.
A. Change Your Ways! (7:1-4)
Here in this message, the Lord tells Judah, “Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place” (7:3). Even after fourteen evil kings, worshiping idols in God’s Temple for many years, committing injustices against one another, killing many of God’s prophets, abusing widows and orphans and so much more, the Lord is still willing to forgive them and stop the coming judgment. That is Grace! Something else the Lord addresses is that on top of all of the ungodly things that they had accepted as socially acceptable, they also had prophets and leaders who were telling them whatever they wanted to hear. In verse 4 (NLT), the Lord said, “But don’t be fooled by those who promise you safety simply because the Lord’s Temple is here. They chant, ‘The Lord’s Temple is here! The Lord’s Temple is here!’” I think they were using God’s Word to teach what they wanted to teach. They could take Scriptures like Ps. 132:13-15 (NLT) and twist them to mean the Temple could never be conquered? “For the Lord has chosen Jerusalem; he has desired it for his home. ‘This is my resting place forever,’ he said. ‘I will live here, for this is the home I desired. I will bless this city and make it prosperous; I will satisfy its poor with food.’” But, they were twisting what God said in Psalms in order to give the people justification to: go on living like they were; do business as usual; raise their children like they wanted to and enjoy fleshly pleasures like they had always done! God is not pleased when the Scriptures are twisted into a licence to live in sin or to commit idolatry.
Jeremiah understood something that the people of Judah did not. He understood that God was and is and always will be GOD! “I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course. So correct me, Lord, but please be gentle. Do not correct me in anger, for I would die” (10:23-24 NLT). But, the people of Judah did not believe there was any kind of a problem! Still, if their deeds would change and they would live as He has commanded in His Word, the Lord said, “...then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever” (7:7).
Of course this causes us to ask the question of ourselves, “What am I trusting in?” So many people trust in so many things other than God, but in my opinion, the saddest case of all is when someone is trusting in church membership. They had some emotional experience or copied what their young friends did or something else, but did not have a true experience of receiving Christ into their hearts. But, they are a church member! Yes. They go to church... Sometimes? They have Christian friends… Some of them? They take their kids to church… When there isn’t something “more important”? They have even given money… once in a while? But, God has something to say to that!
B. True Repentance Produces Evidence of... True Repentance! (7:5-7)
“For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly practice justice between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to your own ruin, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever.”
True repentance always produces change that results in good works! Repentance is turning AWAY from sin and turning TO God! That IS change! If Judah really turned their hearts toward the Lord in repentance, they would show that by the way they treat others (5-7a). I find it interesting that the Lord’s list of changes began with: justice for others; caring for those who have no one else to care for them and the preciousness of life, and they all came before he addressed idols? Why? True repentance reveals itself in the way we treat other human beings and then it also reveals itself in steadfast devotion to God over time. True repentance sticks! Idols do not creep back into the lives of those who live a truly repentant life! If they would repent and turn away from idols, then they would be able to treat others correctly. “That is the first and second greatest commandments! Love God (not idols)! Love their neighbor as themselves! (Not love themselves more than others which is the root of idol worship!) Lip service of commitment to the Lord was not enough and it is still not enough. That is not to say that works were required for repentance. It is to say, that repentance brings good works. In Matt. 3:8, Jesus said, “Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (NASB), and the NLT says it this way, “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.”
2. Don’t Believe Everything You Hear!! - Jer. 7:8-11
“‘Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. It’s a lie! Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours, and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and chant, “We are safe!”—only to go right back to all those evils again? Don’t you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the Lord, have spoken’” (7:8-11 NLT)!
This passage actually connects us back to the previous passage. Do you really think you can come to the Temple, worship and say you belong to the Lord and then go out and live like the world around you? God says NO! He cautions them not to fool themselves. That is so very common today! So many people have become convinced that if they say they are a Christian, pray once in a while, maybe read the Bible a little, go to church - especially at Easter and Christmas… If we become or are that kind of Christian, we fool ourselves into thinking we are fine! “After all, God is loving and patient and I’m forgiven anyway? So why can’t I live just like some friends have and have some fun? I only want to fit in!” If we become or are like this kind of believer, we will conduct our families, finances, work ethic, and social activities like God does not notice or even care. We need to ask Him, “Do I do that Lord?”
Could it be that much of the church today is just like Judah was? The Lord said this through Paul, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you” (1 Cor. 3:16)? Do you think that because you are the Temple of God, you are safe? Do you think that you can do anything you want as long as you go to church on Sunday mornings and worship or spend some time doing other things for God? Do you ever stop to think about what the Lord would do if He were making the decisions? Would He take that job? Would He treat your spouse the way you do? Would He teach your kids the things you teach? Would He clutter up your life or your family’s lives to the point that you have no time for Him or His church? Would He work with, walk by, speak to or have lunch with someone and never mention eternal salvation? Maybe we are more like Judah than we want to admit. It certainly is hitting home with me!
The Lord does give us a definite answer to these questions - “...each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:13-15). The Lord Jesus said, “‘Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matt. 7:21-23). It is not IF! It is WHEN the world burns with fire, what will be left as the sum of your life? If I read my Bible correctly, only people make it through the fire. No material things that we have amassed will go through with us. Only people you have brought to the Lord. There are two kinds of people that Jesus is talking about. One brings others with them into eternity and others only have themselves left after the fire. They will be there, but they will be there with no works that counted. I wonder which group most believers fit in?
This is an example of exactly what is going on in Judah just before the captivity in Babylon! Someone had to have taught those who were saying “Lord. Lord”! Someone taught the people the Lord is talking about to prophesy? Someone taught them about casting out demons? Someone taught them religious things, but no one truly introduced them to the Lord as Savior! They did not have salvation and lose it. Jesus said he NEVER KNEW THEM.
Likewise, someone taught the people of Judah to celebrate the feasts. Someone taught them to go to the Temple and someone taught them how to worship, but they were never introduced to the One and Only True God, Yahweh! The Lord tells us that the nations around Israel were the people who taught Israel to worship the idols… “even as they taught My people to swear by Baal” (Jer. 12:16), and Judah happily listened. Judah should have been teaching people about Yahweh. Their failure to reveal Yahweh to the nations around them, forced the Lord to get their attention. That is something worth remembering as a child of God. We have the same choice they had. Serve God or serve self with gods (little g) of our own personal desires. If we serve God, then we must tell the people around us about the Lord! When we follow God, it will show in our passion and compassion for others… ALL others!
3. Pay attention to What God Has Done to Others! - Jer. 7:12-15
“‘But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I made My name dwell at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel. And now, because you have done all these things,” declares the Lord, “and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you but you did not answer, therefore, I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to the place which I gave you and your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brothers, all the offspring of Ephraim’” (Jer. 7:12-15).
The archaeological evidence shows that Shiloh was destroyed twice. Once by the Philistines and once when the Assyrians attacked as they conquered the northern ten tribes and sent them into exile. The place was desolate. It was obvious that the Lord had abandoned Shiloh and allowed the people to be carried away by Assyria. As we said before, the people hearing Jermiah’s message were not paying too much attention to him at this point, but later in chapter 26, the people shout “‘You must die! Why have you prophesied in the name of the Lord saying, ‘This house will be like Shiloh and this city will be desolate, without inhabitant’?” And all the people gathered about Jeremiah in the house of the Lord’” (Jer. 26:8b-9). The truth is that most people, even many Christians, trust in and know more about people, sports teams, celebrities or even politicians than they trust in and know about the Lord! I am amazed at the knowledge that so many have of other people and the goings on in their lives. If we have more gossip in our minds than we do Scripture, something is wrong! Or the vast knowledge of sports teams, celebrities and politics. That is all well and good. (Except the gossip!) I keep up with some of that myself. (Not the gossip! LOL!) But when we know more about these things than we do about God and God’s Word, something is out of whack. It’s ok to know all of this other stuff… But, will any of that come through the fire?!? Be sure you know more about God than you do anything else! If that were true for Judah, then they would have been able to have material possessions, peace and prosperity. God would have blessed them beyond measure.
Study and Application - Finding Jesus in Every Page: There is Hope
What does this lesson teach us about God? Man? Sin? Grace?
“‘Behold I am about to uproot them from their land and will uproot the house of Judah from among them. And it will come about that after I have uprooted them, I will again have compassion on them; and I will bring them back, each one to his inheritance and each one to his land’ (12:14-15).
They did go into captivity. The Lord got their attention! He has gotten my attention before! How about you? But, even that is Grace! As we discussed in the Outline at the beginning of this lesson, God graciously seeks guilty sinners, confronts them and provides for their restoration. He promises us victory over Satan and over the power of sin. And even though He sent Judah into captivity, God was still being gracious! Israel would never again have the problems with idols it once had. Also, in God’s Grace He moved them even closer to the coming of the Messiah. He could have destroyed them all and begin again as He suggested to Moses (Ex. 32:10)? But, He did not destroy them all. In fact, He promised to restore them! That is Grace! Jeremiah 7 is a chapter which gives us great reflection and a picture of who we really are as sinful human beings. But it also gives us great hope. Hope found in the fact that God graciously seeks, confronts, and offers reconciliation to the guilty sinner just as He did for Judah. We are going to see the results of the reconciliation that does occur for Judah during and after the Captivity through people like Daniel, Ezekial, Nehemiah and others in coming lessons!
What did Judah do that was so bad? “‘For the sons of Judah have done that which is evil in My sight,’ declares the Lord, ‘they have set their detestable things in the house which is called by My name’” (Jer. 7:30). They profaned the Name of God! They treated the Name of God like it was a casual everyday thing equal to all of the other things in life. You and I need to remember that we are Name Bearers! We carry the Name of Jesus with us everywhere we go - for good or bad! We are called by His Name to take His Name into the world and tell others of His great love! We are to carry out, “...His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us” (1 John 3:23). - If we are truly repentant before God, we will love others and tell them about and even show them THE NAME! JESUS CHRIST!
God speaks through Jeremiah to reveal the true state of the relationship between Judah and the Lord.
God acts by telling them of the consequences of their actions!
God reveals His Grace through a promise of restoration for the nation of Israel.
1. What does true repentance look like?
2. What are the observable results?
3. Are there Christians who seem to trust the advice of people more than the advice to be found in God’s Word? If so, why?
Does the Lord bring difficult times to us as a way of getting our attention?
Here's the list of Bible readings that your students will be reading the week before you teach this lesson:
Answers to: How much do you know?
Copyright © 2018 Michael & Angela Anderson - Prodigalmike.com, Connections Bible Study - Connecting God's Word From Cover To Cover - Finding Jesus on Every Page! "We receive no compensation from any websites listed in this site or from any part of this website. We just love Jesus and want to spread his Word! All opinions in the website are my own! Always check the things we say against what the Bible says and decide for yourself." - Mike & Angie - All Rights Reserved.
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