All those who are saved are encouraged to give thanks to God.
The Lord redeems lost, bound, sick, weak people
Four pictures. First one is of a group of people wandering in the wilderness who are lost. They’re close to death. They’re not lost physically. They’re looking for a city where they can settle. Our society is lost. The bound are in chains. Imagery is symbolic. They were in chains because of their rebellion against God. Sickness is a direct result of foolishness. Many sicknesses are caused by following the lies of society. The weak aren’t afraid until God speaks. The waters become violent. The response is to cry out to The Lord.
The Lord acts in ways that are sometimes painful but always loving
Paul rejoiced in hardships. It made him appreciate God’s grace even more. Our response should be to give thanks to The Lord. Let’s continue to trust in God and rejoice in loving deeds.
Are you ready for what God’s word will do? Jeremiah tells the story of disaster. People constantly reject God.
A happy assurance
God had designed Jeremiah for this job. He feels he’s too young. We are designed so that to do our job, we need to know God. When God became a person, he became weak. God has made you exactly as he needs you to be to serve him. There are no mistakes. He loves working through weakness. God is with you by his spirit. If you take God seriously it will become more important for you to do that thing.
A train wrecked life
God is watching to see that his word is fulfilled. The closer you get in your relationship with God, the more his word is written on your heart and the more you see the world from his point of view. You’ll see this world marked with the heartbreak and anger of God. If you listen to God’s word it will uproot everything.
There’s good news and different news
You are made perfectly the way God wants you to be to know him. You are made to enter that relationship just as you are. If you know God that way, he will uproot everything that the world says is important.
Why God wants to get rid of sin:
God is perfect in self giving love. He reached down and welcomed people to know him. Before that, they were helpless. Those people chose to love and give their lives to other things. They made a terrible mess. We were made for him.
It brings slavery out of freedom
They were unable to clean themselves up. False gods always ask for everything and never give you anything back. They leave you feeling broken. We’re being defined by something but not a loving God.
It brings helplessness out of dignity
God, through Jesus, offers dignity. When God became a person, he became poor. Sin steals that dignity. It makes people less than human.
It brings greed out of gifts
The poor and the voiceless are always pushed down. As we reject God, someone is always hurt. The problem is you. We have offered our lives to serve other cruel things. God will eventually destroy the systems and people who participate in them.
Jesus will take all of your condemnation onto himself if you admit your failure.
There is a dangerous power to being smug. As we long as we look at our achievements and compare them to others, we think we’re ok. Jesus saved his talk about hell for the people who were morally smug. The story of the two sons is similar to what’s happening in Jeremiah.
Israel’s story: The God who pursues
God wants to be a committed father. The people went up to the hills and set up idols to other gods. God tells them to return. He wants them back. Those shameful things ate up all the good stuff they had. They would’ve rather had those things.
Judah’s story: The God who expects
Plough up your unploughed ground. God says it’s all his and it’s there to give him glory. The threat of the unquenchable fire is for you. Jesus says the servants who knew the right thing to do but didn’t do it will receive the worst punishment of all.
Israel goes from being a group of people to one person. Jesus is tempted to do what Israel did, only he doesn’t do it. He is the perfect Israel. He invites you to share in the benefits that are his.
If you come to God ready to see him as he really is, he promises to be with you. The invitation is to trust Jesus. You’re not too bad for that and you’re not too good for it either.
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.