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Posts Tagged ‘Death’

                                                         Part Two

                                   SLICING, DICING, AND BURNING

Someone much wiser than me said, “It only takes a generation for a nation to turn away from God.” And the Book of Jeremiah gives the absolute proof certain of this proclamation.

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King Jehoiakim ruled in Judah from 609 B.C. until 597 B.C. He was the son of King Josiah who reigned from 630 B.C. until 609 B.C.

Josiah was a man after God’s own heart, but his son Jehoiakim, was bad-to-the-bone. Josiah cleared the land of idols, destroyed their places of worship, and found God’s word, which had been lost in the temple. (Can you imagine the Word of God being lost in the House of God? Still happens today in some churches, doesn’t it?)

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When Josiah finally heard the Word of God, he tore his clothes and commanded priests and scribes to inquire of the Lord concerning the words of the Book. His story is found in 2 Chronicles 34 and 35 and is so worth the read if you don’t know about this last good king in the land of Judah. God blessed Judah because of Josiah’s obedience. But generational sin lurked like a shroud of judgment, because Josiah’s father, King Manasseh had been the worst of the worst and that gene pool washed like a tsunami over his grandson Jehoiakim.

God sent Jeremiah the prophet, during the days of good King Josiah to remind the priests, rulers, and people of their refusal to listen and obey His Word. To remind them of the judgments He had pronounced against the granddaddy, and remind them of their urgent need to listen and repent.

When Jehoiakim inherited the throne, Jeremiah’s obedience to do what God called him to be and do, proved to be a perpetual pain in this king’s back-side. And the prophet ended up confined, unable to deliver God’s word to the people. But Jeremiah’s work was far from finished. So, the Lord told Jeremiah to take a scroll and write on it the words God spoke to him. God said, “Perhaps the house of Judah will hear all the calamity which I plan to bring on them, in order that every man will turn from his evil way; then I will forgive their iniquity and their sin.”

Even while they were back at their idol worship and evil ways, God was ready to hear and forgive their sins. Just like today, over twenty-six hundred years later, God’s message is still the same. And so is every man, woman, boy and girl—the same. Full of sin without the wisdom to see their great need for salvation through Jesus Christ or the ability to save themselves from God’s judgment.

Well, Jeremiah called Baruch, the scribe, and dictated to him all the words the Lord had spoken to him. We’re not told how long the process took, but remember, God called Jeremiah to be His prophet in 627 B.C. It’s now 606 B.C. That’s a bunch-a-words folks. Written by hand, in pen and ink, on a loooong roll of parchment.

What happened next is worth reading in the 36th Chapter of Jeremiah, verses 10-21. But picture this, the king is sitting in his winter house and there’s a fire burning in the brazier in front of him.

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Jehudi unrolled the scroll and began reading—one column, two, three, and four columns. Imagine the scene, the king is obviously incensed and grabs the scribe’s knife and slices the scroll and pitches it into the fire. Then he sliced and diced the whole scroll containing the Words of God and burned it all in the fire until it was consumed!

“Yet the king and all his servants who heard all these words were not afraid, nor did they rend their garments” (Jeremiah 36:24 NIV).

I’m waitin’ for the lightning and goose-bumps raced across my body as I read this and then again as I’m typing these words to you. Remember his daddy’s reaction when he heard the Word of God? He feared and tore his clothes. Jehoiakim and his crew? Not so much.

I have every Bible I’ve ever owned and if there were a fire at my house, my Bibles would be the first thing I’d race to save. Wouldn’t you? But to cut them apart and watch ’em burn?

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Yet before we cluck our tongues and look down our noses at King Jehoiakim, don’t we reject God’s Word when we leave it in the back of the car from one Sunday ‘til the next. Never thinking about where our copy of the Word is ‘til we leave for church the following week? Or worse yet, we leave it on the end table by our chair, right next to the HD remote. Which gets more use during the week—the Word of God or the remote?

But God didn’t wring His holy hands. No, He told Jeremiah to get another scroll and repeat the process. Which Jeremiah and Baruch did, because we have the words God spoke to Jeremiah in our Bibles today. But listen carefully to the words God spoke concerning King Jehoiakim.

“You will have no one to sit on the throne of David, and your dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and frost of the night. (He wouldn’t receive a proper burial. The birds and beasts would pick his bones.) I will also punish him and his descendants and his servants for their iniquity, and I will bring on them and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the men of Judah all the calamity that I have declared to them” (Jeremiah 36:29-31 NIV).

And God’s Words became reality for King Jehoiakim, the priests, and the people when Nebuchadnezzar and his great armies killed, captured and burned Jerusalem, and carried many from Judah captive to Babylon for seventy years. Why? Because they did not listen to the Words of God to obey them!

God’s Word is the same yesterday, today and forever. Neither Jehoiakim nor any of his descendants will be present in the coming kingdom. His choices brought the consequences of separation from God then, now, and forever. No more chances. His doom was sealed and God’s wrath on him was executed by the King of Babylon. Done. Finished. Forever.

But God’s mercy and grace are still available to us. How will the recount of Jehoiakim’s foolish choices and consequences resonate in your life? The words “…but they didn’t listen…” echo in my ears from 606 B.C., through the corridors of time, to today…

Am I listening? Are you listening? What choices will we make? Will we choose rewards or consequences?

“And He said to me, ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.

But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death’” (Revelation 21:6-8 NIV).

 

Part Three: Weak, Deceived, Can’t Trust – Jeremiah 37 – 38

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Have you ever given serious thought to why Jesus would weep when He stood with Mary and Martha at their brother’s tomb?

God would honor His command and Lazarus would walk from the grave. Resurrected. Alive. And Jesus knew this would happen.

So why the tears?

Could it be that He looked into the hearts of His friends and others mourning and in His humanity became overwhelmed with their sorrow? Could it be He looked back through the corridors of time and saw the centuries of tragedy and anguish that sin and death had inflicted on His creation? Could it be He saw His own sacrificial death looming on the horizon? Could He have gazed into future millennia and seen the wars and disease and destruction that must be completed before the end of this era?

Perhaps Jesus also saw how life could have been. God said creation was very good. A perfect relationship, between God and His creations. A perfect life and a perfect future. With no death.

And He wept.

God tells us that the final enemy is death. And anyone who comes face to face with that adversary weeps.

Still that old “if only” rhetoric springs to our minds. If only Adam and Eve hadn’t made that stupid choice. If only I’d been there, I wouldn’t have listened to Lucifer. If only, if only… But the truth is, if we’d been present at creation, we would have made the same choice they did. Look around. Folks still choose death. Every day.

Glance in the mirror. We all make those wrong choices.

I think about the number of times I have deliberately rebelled against God. Knowing what He said, I made the choice to disobey, and have repeated that defiance over and over again. Continually casting my vote for death.

God told Adam and Eve, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die,” (NKJ Genesis 2:16-17). And they did. They ate. They died. Spiritually and physically. Since that time the sin gene has passed from generation to generation. The Word says, “The soul who sins shall But God had a plan to redeem us to Himself. And His plan was and is His Son—Jesus Christ. God’s righteousness demands judgment. We can’t do anything to save ourselves or to pay that price, because we have birth defects. Perpetual sins that need healing. We’re not perfect. And that’s why Jesus had to die.

Hebrews 9:11(b) tells us “without the shedding of blood there is no remission” from sin. That’s why God killed the animals and used their skins to cover Adam and Eve. A blood sacrifice. That’s why those Hebrew children had to watch their fathers kill their perfect little lambs that first Passover night so long ago. So that when the death angel entered the land of Egypt, he would pass over the houses whose door posts were painted with the blood of the lamb. Another blood sacrifice. That’s why days after raising Lazarus, Jesus would become the once-for-all-time blood sacrifice.

The Lord Jesus Christ, our soon-to-be Passover Lamb stood at the grave site of Lazarus and wept.

This Immanuel—God with us, was born to die.

We want to skim over all that history and get to the good stuff. You know, about the resurrection, our new bodies, and heaven. But we can’t get to the good stuff without going through His blood. And to think there are churches today who never mention the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. They never mention sin. The blood that covers sin. The blood that cleanses. The blood that redeems. And Jesus knew that too.

And He wept.

Could His tears also have been for the multiplied millions who, through all of human time, would refuse to go through His blood? Perhaps He cried for their refusal to hear, their futile attempts to cleanse themselves through religiosity, their ultimate rejection of the only way to God the Father.

And He still weeps.

But the Father has set a day. A day, only He knows, when Death will die.

Dr. Paul Tripp says “We will all get to attend the funeral of Death. And that’s a funeral we will all want to go to. A date certain when we will all see Death placed in the coffin.”

There are two classifications of folks in this world when it comes to grief. Those who are grieving and those who will be grieving. Yes, at some point in your life, you too will stand at someone’s grave site and weep.

But, if your loved one who died was washed in the blood of Jesus, and if you’ve been washed in that blood too, there will be a reunion. God promises. All who have trusted in the blood of Jesus to cover their sins will be with Him. Forever. The curse will be lifted, and the earth restored. And when that day comes, there will be no more death. Death will finally die.

And He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true,” (NAS Revelation 21:4-5).

 

PRESCRIPTION: Are you ready? Ready to cry? Ready to die? If not, please contemplate the words in John 3:16-17 and insert your name:

“For God so loved DiAne Gates that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus Christ) that if DiAne Gates would believe on Him (Jesus Christ), DiAne Gates would not perish but DiAne Gates would have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son (Jesus) into the world (the kosmos) to condemn the world (the human race), but that the world (everyone who hears and believes) through Him (Jesus) might be saved,” (NKJ John 3:16).

 

“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times, things that are not yet done. Saying, “ My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure”  (NKJ Isaiah 46:9-10).

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