God promised Israel, that after all the consequences are carried out against them, when they turn their hearts back to the Lord, he will restore them. God also promised to perform heart surgery on them so that they can love the Lord with all their heart and all their soul and live. Isn’t that amazing?
Last week, Brian did a great job explaining why God obsesses about obedience and it has nothing to do with control and everything to do with wanting to be connected with you! Today we’re going to look at the other side of the story and the tragic consequences that come from misplaced trust.
Today I want to talk about why God obsesses about obedience. God’s repeated calls for obedience and his emphasis on obedience for us in our lives with him is not simply about obedience. Obedience is actually a means to an end. Turn in your Bibles to Jeremiah 35 and let’s see what message God has for us today
Throughout our series God has been trying to wake Israel up to their lifestyle of ignoring God…drifting from him…turning their backs on him…and ultimately giving themselves to chasing after every other experience in life they believe will satisfy their deepest longings. Folks, I don’t think we should consider ourselves any less at risk of this kind of distraction from God and dilution of worship. Our culture pushes and advocates for all sorts of “things,” “ambitions,” and “priorities” that constantly clamor to pull our heart attention away from devotion and pursuit of God.
Zedekiah is now the king of Judah and the text tells us that the Babylonians are about to invade Jerusalem again. Though he’s not been tracking with God at all… Zedekiah sends a couple of guys to go and inquire of Jeremiah to appeal to God for a miracle that will cause the Babylonians to leave him and the city of Jerusalem alone. Have you ever found yourself in Zedekiah’s shoes? I actually know a lot of people like Zedekiah. People who will ignore God in how they live… in the choices they make but when they are in a jam, man… they appeal to God to get them out.
As we continue we see that Jeremiah was doing exactly what God told him to do, and as a result he was soundly beaten and left all night in the stocks. This would have been very painful and humiliating for Jeremiah. It should come as no surprise to us that sometimes, the direct result of obeying God is personal difficulty and discomfort. It was true for the prophets, it was true for the disciples and early church, and it is still true today.
Today, God takes Jeremiah on a field trip and gives him an object lesson for the people. And the lessons we can draw from this field trip remind us what it takes to experience God’s best desires and intentions for us. Let’s load the bus and head out with Jeremiah on this field trip.
We acknowledged last week that discouragement descends on each of us at one time or another. And, as you all know…once discouragement descends on us, it can take some time to recover from it. And that was true for Jeremiah. Our message today is a kind of sequel to last week. As we hear more from Jeremiah’s discouraged heart, and hear God’s response we get the opportunity to learn some additional strategies that can help dissolve discouragement when it descends on us.
It has been said that discouragement is a disease unique to human beings, and it’s universal — eventually everyone gets it, including those in church ministry. I have no doubt you’ve experienced discouragement at times, maybe many times. You might even be discouraged at this very moment. Today we see Jeremiah in the space of deep discouragement for this very reason. And so we get a chance to learn from his interaction with God how we can take heart, when the godless thrive.