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Posts Tagged ‘rebellion’

                                                         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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Do you remember Fiddler on the Roof? There’s a scene I love between Tevye and his wife, Golde. They’ve worked hard with little to show. Their mood is bleak. All they own is piled on an ox cart. They must leave their meager home. Their daughters have refused their traditions. The Russian army is coming. There is no hope. And the wife asks, “But do you love me?”

In the middle of hopelessness, love brings hope.

Tevye gives Golde a litany of the reasons she should know he loves her—because of what he has done and she is convinced he loves her. But if my memory is correct, a try-out relationship wasn’t part of the deal. Neither were money, fancy clothes, nor a fine house.

No, love is a choice. Not warm fuzzy feelings.

Love is a commitment. A choice to endure. Love nurtures and respects through good times, difficult times, illness, until death. Love is selfless. Considering what the other person needs rather than putting one’s self first.

But we have raised several generations who have no understanding of the meaning of the word love, relationship, or lifetime commitment. Their focus is Me. What I want I deserve. And I will get my way, regardless of the cost.

Welcome to the age of  entitlement. And we created it.

America is a deeply divided nation. Not between the haves and haves not, as some politicians would lead us to believe. But between those who adhere to God and His Word as a model for life and those who reject the authority of God and His Word. The mantra of those in rebellion is Me—I—Mine. Left to itself, America’s great divide will vanish as the World War II generation dies, unless God returns or sends revival, America will become a united pagan nation.

Where are America’s watchmen and women? God fearing preachers, parents and prophets? The trumpet of warning is silent.

Generations coming out of the Depression through the ‘40’s were determined to give their children more than they had. And we have, but not always things of eternal value. Then these adult off-spring followed our example and gave their children even more and more and more—with borrowed money.

The result? Americans are completely out-of-touch with the reality that God brings His judgment by bringing a nation’s actions back on their own head. God prospered America because of the reverence and obedience of our forefathers to His Holy Name. He requires four things out of men and women: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8 NAS).

And the fourth thing? “And you shall teach them (the above things) diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:7 NAS). We’ve taught them everything but the right things. God’s things. The necessary things. If the harvest is displeasing, the sowing has to change. And the harvest of what we have sown has only just begun.

God told Joshua when he led the people into the land of promise, “Be strong and courageous…Only be strong and courageous; be careful to do according to all the law…do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then  you will have success” (Joshua 1:6-8 NAS).

God brought our forefathers across the raging Atlantic, fleeing to a promised land where they could worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in any manner they chose—not any god they chose. They set up a government of the people, by the people and for the people according to the Word of God.

On a score of 1 – 10 how are we doing, America? Remember Tevye’s song? “If I were a rich man…” Well, America has been rich in the things of this world, but look at the mess we’ve created. I can hear your groaning.

We have squandered God’s blessings. We have rebelled or been silent as our nation turned away from His Word. We have allowed deception to fill our ears. Like ancient Israel, we have cozied up to those things God calls profane, embraced them, and called them good. We have refused to come apart and be separate as God commanded. To be a people holy unto God. We’ve invited pagan gods into this land of God’s blessing and those false gods are gobbling up the hearts of our children with their lies.

I don’t listen to those who make predictions for the New Year. But according to the Word of God I can make this forecast for America—the New Year is going to bring increased judgments from the hand of God on this land and her people. God forbid. Perhaps even a judgment as final as the one He brought to Israel in 597 B.C. Unless we repent. As individuals. As His people. As a nation. And if God’s people will humble ourselves, repent, and blow the trumpet loud and long, perhaps He will show us His mercy.

God tells us in Ezekiel 33:11: “As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die…?”

God’s desire is always to lead us to repentance and restoration, to be a people after His heart. A relationship. But don’t miss the warning of the word of God: “In that day…”

What day? The day that this age of grace will be over. Finished. Completed. The day that God will require from the hand of every man and woman an answer why they didn’t choose Jesus. Why they didn’t accept and believe the revelation of His perfect love. His sacrificial love.

The love Jesus committed to, before the manger in Bethlehem. The love He displayed on the cross. The sacrifice of His life for you and for me. To all who come through the cross. God’s way. The only way to the Father—through His Son, The Lord Jesus Christ.

Have you chosen Jesus? If so, are you sounding the trumpet?

If not, I plead with you—consider Jesus. Accept Him. Believe Him. Trust Him. Because He loves you and died so you could live with Him. Forever. No sin is beyond His ability to forgive and cleanse.

We are created beings with eternal souls and the sand in the hour-glass of your life is slipping away. Please don’t delay. Choose Jesus’ eternal love today.

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