Have you ever given a public talk or a private rebuke to someone that you knew would eventually come back to cost you greatly? Yet, you knew if you were going to be obedient to God, you had to do it anyway. Jeremiah gives a series of sermons at the gates of the Temple. This series of sermons over a period of time has been called one of the majestic scenes of history. These sermons undoubtedly unleashed the unrelenting opposition he experienced during the remainder of his life.
According to Jeremiah 26:1, his sermons were counter to what King Josiah had attempted to do along with the hopes of the prophets, including what Isaiah had preached earlier.
They all said reform promised God’s restoration and blessing, not the calamity of the temple and the dissolution of the commonwealth. But Jeremiah was letting the people know they had already gone too far for reform. They were going to have to suffer the consequences of their choices, but that did not mean God could not still bring them back.
Jeremiah addressed the question, how do we courageously come back to God when we have blatantly disobeyed Him? God came to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 7:2 and said to him, “Stand in the gap of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word”.
We see Jeremiah standing in the gates at a critical time when the King has died, and he must stand against the weight of the sinfulness of the day. It must have been truly overwhelming for him to stand up under this. Hard to believe one human being could have this kind of strength and stamina in the face of such adversity and hostility.
Jeremiah proclaims boldly in Jeremiah 7:3, “Thus says the Lord, amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. 4 Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the Lord’".
God tells Israel to amend their ways and stop believing in deceptive words.
What ways did they need to amend? They thought as long as they were at the Temple of the Lord it didn’t matter how they lived; they were safe. God through Jeremiah was about to change that. They needed to stop oppressing people, shedding innocent blood, and running after other gods.
But they refused to turn from their hypocrisy. What is a hypocrite?
A hypocrite is someone who knows what is right, pretends they are doing right, while doing the opposite to their own demise. They believe the lie that they could live any way they want, and God wouldn’t hold them accountable.
God observes attitude and action to determine forgiveness.
God explains to them how He doesn’t see their repentance as sincere. God says to them in Jeremiah 7:13, “And now, because you have done all these things, declares the Lord, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen”.
God persistently spoke to them. They believed the lie that they could do whatever they wanted, and God would still hear the prayers of other’s for them. But they were wrong, God tells Jeremiah to stop praying for these people in Jeremiah 7:16.
Eventually God stops listening to others prayers for you when you refuse to turn back.
Why? There comes a point, and the point is up to God, when he won’t hear the prayers for people if they refuse to hear His words for them. He tells Israel in Jeremiah 7:23, “But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’ 24 But they did not obey or incline their ear”.
If we are not careful, we all can fall into the lie that our disobedience doesn’t impact our relationship with God, but it does. And when we reach this point, we tend to believe that coming back to God won’t require much of us, but it does. God tells Israel in Jeremiah 7:28, “You shall call to them, but they will not answer you. 28 ‘This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, and did not accept discipline’".
Coming back to God requires discipline on our part and discipline is always painful at first because it stings our pride. But once that initial sting wears off, what do we do? How do we courageously come back to God?
God tells Israel in Jeremiah 10:2, “Learn not the ways of the nations.”
What does that mean?
Other nations got caught up in hocus pocus, superstitions, and believing you can be good enough through your actions to merit eternal salvation in Jeremiah 10:5. All other religions besides Christianity has this in them.
Christianity is different, we declare like Jeremiah in Jeremiah 10:6, “There is none like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might.”
Declare the Lord greater than all others.
Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 10:10, “But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King.”
Declare God true, alive, everlasting, and all-powerful.
Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 10:12, “It is He who made the earth by his power and established the world by His wisdom.”
Declare the Lord Creator and Sustainer of the universe.
Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 10:23, “I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.”
Declare God Sovereign over every detail of your life.
Our lives are not up to us, they are up to Him.
Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 10:24, “Correct me, O Lord, but in justice; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing.”
Declare your need of God and dependence on Him, today.
Let’s come back to God courageously, now.
It’s not too late!