God is exposing to his people a major problem.
Find an old path because your new path is killing you
The people structure their lives around getting stuff for themselves. There’s a smug belief that they’re fine. God says the reason he’s bringing disaster is that they haven’t listened to his words. They hated God. The rejection of love and provision is ruining everything. Our culture has rejected God. It’s tiring being your own destiny. You weren’t made to be your own destiny. You were made by someone else and for someone else.
Your religion is empty. Stop rejecting God
Your religious offerings aren’t acceptable. If you’re determined to live your life your way, God is angry and rightly so. He is interested in us relating to him. The God who is speaking in Jeremiah became a person. He became a living human word. He won’t be satisfied with us doing good stuff. He didn’t come to call the righteous but sinners.
What was God doing before he created the world?
What we make reveals something of who we are and what we’re like. Calvin said the created world is like a mirror in which we ought to behold God. If we want to rightly understand the Bible, we need to make sure we ask the right questions of it.
What does creation reveal about God?
He creates out of nothing. God is by nature creative. There are three days of forming followed by three days of filling. Day four parallels with day one. He fills the universe with stars and the seas with life. The God of the Bible is lavish. At the end of each day, it was good. God is relational. He created mankind in his own image. He created them for relationship with him and each other.
Who is this God who creates?
He is plural. God is by his very nature trinity. He loves. What was he doing before he created the world? He was loving. He loves eternally because he has eternally existed in one loving community. It’s that love that motivates everything else in creation. He is one. God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct yet inseparable.
What does it mean for us?
Unity in diversity is good. God created a united yet diverse universe. The gospel is bigger than a ‘Get out of jail free’ card. God’s love for his Son is so great that it bursts out in the diversity of creation. Mission is exciting.
Jeremiah is talking to a group of people who want to give an impression that they’re doing the right thing. The God that we know is personal. He is the God who gives, who shares, who loves.
Intimacy rejected (v1-11)
Jesus’ loincloth isn’t the first one we come across. Jeremiah’s mime is about his own dirty underwear. He has to get a new loincloth. People were made for God’s honour. They are bound to his waist. He is offering us through Jesus the closeness of relating to him. You may choose independence. It results in ruin.
Stuff accepted (v12-14)
Jesus had described his kingdom as a big party. He’s offering a family occasion where no one is left out. When we plead with God for a blessing we really want, he gives us what we ask for. It’s his judgment on us.
What does Jesus’ cloth have to do with this story? Jesus’ ripped and dirty clothes are there because he is taking our place. It was all put on him. You can walk away from God or you can belong with him. If you do walk away, God will have every reason to be angry.
Jeremiah makes a complaint about the way he’s been treated.
He is angry with God (v7). We think we’re great. He’s not pious about it. He says holding it in is worse than the consequences of letting it out. All his friends are waiting for him to slip. We are torn. It’s two cannots against each other.
He’s convinced that God has truly rescued him (v13). You sometimes feel angry with God and then you think you can’t. There’s amazing news that God rescues the needy from wickedness. Jeremiah prays a surprising prayer. He’s intense and inward looking. When we trust in Jesus our old life of rebellion against God dies.
Jeremiah wishes he hadn’t been born. God himself is a God who comes to be weak and rejected. Jesus bears the consequences of our rejection of him. Rejected so that we can be accepted.
God’s people freely offer God’s stuff back to him (25:1-7). The gifts that the people gave to build the tabernacle and its contents were not commanded by God as a matter of law. They were not a condition of being one of God’s people. The things that the Lord was asking for in order for the tabernacle to be built were given to the people by the Lord in the first place. It’s easy to forget that all we have is a gift from him. The appeal of the scriptures is to give generously to the ministry of the church in particular.
When God’s people give, God…
Makes a place where he is present (25:10-22)
The advantage of this arrangement is entirely on the side of the Israelites because the Ark of the Covenant means that God can come and dwell amongst his people.
Shares food with his people (25:23-30)
For God’s people to be invited not only to have his presence in his own tent dwelling amongst them but to join with him in a meal was an amazing and remarkable sign of his favour, grave and desire for intimacy with them.
Brings back paradise (25:31-26:37)
Again and again, God gives signs and symbols that demonstrate that he is in the business of not just giving his people eternal life but of giving them a perfect, real, physical place in which to enjoy that life. The message of the tabernacle is quite clear; God is undertaking a great restoration project. Amongst his people, he is remaking, recreating a perfect sanctuary. Using the freely given gifts of the Israelites, God built a place where he was present, whether he could enjoy fellowship with his people and which recreated the perfect garden of creation.
In the local church, God makes a place where he is present. There is something about the people of God bringing their gifts together in a local church that manifests the presence of God. Through the work of Jesus, the church, our church, is now a picture of openness.
God lives with us, shares fellowship with us and even begins to restore his perfect creation amongst us. Let’s be part of that.
God is a soldier – praise him for your security (v1-21)
Moses composed this song that was an instant hit. Cover versions released throughout the bible. The song celebrates the great battle won by the Lord as a warrior.
God is a patient soldier. People see suffering and ask why doesn’t God do something and when he does, people say he is vile. God takes on those who seek to destroy the defenceless. He exalts himself by saving others. God could demand honour by his creative power but he also exalts himself by doing good and rescuing people. The option to be rescued by God was there for everyone. Revelation 15 – song of Moses.
God is a doctor – trust him for your health (v22-27)
The Israelites treat Moses badly. Instead of judgment God gives them sweet water to quench their thirst. He also gives them a warning in that they need to listen to what he says. Each one of us is an enemy of God the soldier. God showed them that his intentions were kind and good. God heals everyone who recognises the sickness of their sin. He cures us by taking the disease on himself. He heals anyone who comes to him. He just asks for our trust.
We need the healing and forgiveness that only God can offer.
This psalm was probably written for a celebration of who the God of Israel is after a time of hardship.
The whole earth should sing God’s praise
First verse is a pale reflection of what true praise should be. In contrast to some of the other psalms, the writer isn’t just dealing with God’s relationship with his people, it is the whole world that is called to join with the song of worship.
There is a proclamation of his salvation (v2). We’ve got a personal understanding of what his salvation really means for us. We know that his plan for saving all nations is through the gift of his son. The final call (v3) is to declare his glory among the nations.
We praise the Lord because he deserves it
We still find ourselves being drawn back to idols. We should therefore remember who God is, declared as the creator of the universe. A statement of how amazing our God is.
There’s an echo of the first part (v7-9) but we’re also called to ascribe to the Lord, to credit him with what belongs to him. The fear of God is an acknowledgement of his true power.
We should praise the Lord because he is coming back
Our King is coming again to judge his world. The psalmist follows his statement of God’s judgment with a command for joy and rejoicing (v11-13).
We should be declaring his glory to all nations as we have the promise that he is coming back to judge the world, he is coming to renew his creation to the way he always intended it to be.
‘Really? When was that?’
They’re asking God when has he loved us. They want to be reminded of the point of serving him. Life seems to be harder this way. This was a collective problem. It all started when they muttered with one another. These people still looked spiritual. They still prayed and went to the temple but settled without really going anywhere. They denied being radically changed. There’s quite a lot of this collective problem in the church today. We wind each other up into being unenthusiastic. God has answers.
‘Jacob I have friended, Esau I have enemied’
God shocks them with this phrase. Jacob was the nastier brother. God has chosen to befriend him. God treats some people differently. He talks about his special care or love that he has for his people. That’s given by his kindness and not by what we’ve done. It is true that we don’t get to do whatever we like but Malachi is saying ‘wake up’.
We often want what they have.
A common Christian illness. God is saying why fill your life with stuff that’s not going to last. Their answer is that it’s fun. It’s foolish to chase the things other people chase. Apple products etc.
Not just their God
Jesus is Lord of everything in the world. It will be abundantly clear. The only reaction when Jesus clears all the stuff away will be ‘what a fool I was’. We have the amazing privilege of being a friend of God and not an enemy. The things we chase won’t last. Jesus rules over everything.