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                                                         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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The moment our feet hit the floor in the morning we have the freedom to make choices. Every day, from morning ‘til we pull the covers under our chin at night, we make countless choices.

We choose our attire for the day—physically, mentally and spiritually. Every time you interact with another person on the planet, you choose your course of behavior. The problem with this statement is we’ve allowed ourselves to be desensitized to the fact we are making choices.

I’ll give you an example. Mom and Dad are seated in front of HDTV with their thirteen year old daughter and fifteen year old son. What should be an X-rated soap opera covers the screen and they all sit and watch the entire program.

Mom thinks, these are things the kids probably shouldn’t be seeing and hearing. But quickly shuts that voice off and counters, they probably hear much worse than this at school. And dad sits in silence too. Watching the garbage week after week after week. And we wonder why daughter and son think it’s okay to choose to have sex, drugs, and alcohol with whomever they choose, whenever the urge manifests.

And Dad and Mom, you’ve taught them by your silence.

I laid in bed this morning, talking to the Lord about the state of our nation. Thinking how we’ve just recognized Sanctity of Life Sunday, at least some churches did. My heart and mind mourned over the catastrophic numbers of precious infants murdered—ripped from the safety of their mother’s wombs—under the guise of choice.

And the Spirit convicted my heart—you’re lukewarm!

I gasped and my heart shattered. Lukewarm? Me?

Right!

And so are you brothers and sisters in Christ.

We’ve lived with this abomination so long we’ve become desensitized to the horrific nature of this crime. We’ve grown calloused and accustomed to politically correct, inane words like, A woman’s right to choose.

Each woman, and man, does have the right to choose—whether to clothe themselves in provocative attire that stimulates the opposite sex. The choice to engage in behavior that arouses fiery passions in another. The choice to take what God calls holy and make the union profane. Yes, each person involved makes that decision. That choice.

What the woman or man does not have the right to do is choose the consequences of their choice. Only God does. And the consequence is very often a baby. Not a fetus. A flesh and blood replica of themselves. With their DNA. Their features. And their reaction very often is murder. Getting rid of the evidence of the sin.

And church, we’ve approved this gross infanticide by our silence.

My heart is twisted and wrung out this morning over my failure to pray daily for those on the front-lines of this battle. My failure to financially support Christian pregnancy centers, not just on Sanctity of Life Sunday. My lukewarm attitude and failure to support single moms who choose to give birth and life to their precious babies.

But our far greater sin is going into the voting booth, election after election, and pulling the lever for candidates we know support abortion. You can salve your conscience by calling it choice, but you know in your heart, abortion is the reaction to the consequences of a wrong choice made months before.

God says:

“Innocent blood will not be shed in the midst of your land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance, and blood-guiltiness be on you…you shall purge the blood of the innocent from Israel, that it may go well with you” (Deuteronomy 19:10-13 NAS).

Well Americans, could it be abortion is one of the reasons it’s not going well with our nation?

“There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers” (Proverbs 6:16-19 NAS).

America is in trouble! We have slaughtered well over fifty-five million innocent babies. And a disturbing statistic is the percentage of Christian women who have believed the lie of Satan and have themselves aborted babies.

Let me be quick to say abortion is not the unforgivable sin. That’s why Jesus had to die. And all of us have pushed that painful crown of thorns into His head. Caused those nails to be hammered into His hands and feet. That sword to be thrust in His side. He bled and died. For us.

God forgives our sin when we come to Him, through the blood of Christ, repenting and confessing and asking for His forgiveness.
So who better to lead the fight than those who know the lifelong consequences abortion brings and have come through the blood of Jesus love and grace into life?

Let their be no mistake, when we allow ourselves to be lulled unaware and unconscious to the screams of millions of tortured, murdered babies—we’ve become lukewarm.

It’s long past time to tear off the rags of complacency. This is a vicious battle and we must recognize the few are manipulating the majority. We can no longer hope someone else will do the work. They haven’t. You. Me. We must shine the light of God’s truth on the lie of choice.

Abortion isn’t a choice. Abortion is a reaction to the consequence of a previously made wrong choice.

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