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.
The context is the teaching that Jesus will return. We’re told that the wait will be painful. How do I keep going when life is so hard? Pray and do not give up. The one person who stands in between this woman and disaster is a judge. This story of those in power abusing responsibility is familiar. The woman keeps on asking. She metaphorically has the judge on the ropes.
Pray because God loves you and he will bring justice
Set your expectations rightly. The justice he is talking about is for when he returns. God does deliver us from many injustices but the full revelation of justice will happen on the last day.
Pray because it will revive your faith
The delay is a hard wait. When you meet Christ will your faith have endured? We have a judge who is infinitely more kind and loving. As you wait for justice, keep talking to God about how you’re doing. As we pray, we are filling our minds with a heavenly perspective.
Say what’s on your heart to God. Prioritise prayer. Pray with others regularly.
What is the gospel? A message about Jesus (as promised) (v1-4)
Most people assume Christianity is merely advice. It’s news. It’s not a message about what we should do. It’s a message about what someone else has done.
What does the gospel bring us? Powerful salvation (v14-16)
Paul says the good news that Jesus died and rose again is the power of God that brings salvation for those who believe. If you trust in Jesus, you have the most powerful gift. The gospel is shameful to those who don’t yet believe it. It’s because of Jesus’ death and resurrection that salvation is available to those who believe.
How does the gospel work? By making us right with God (v17)
The more we think about Jesus’ life, the more not like us he seems. Through faith in Jesus, people can have right standing before God as a gift. The gospel demands that everyone who believes it is eager to preach it.
The good news about Jesus’ rescue isn’t that good if you don’t know you need rescuing. We’re not okay as we are.
- God’s wrath is seen in our world right now (v18a)
- God is angry because people reject the truth about him (v18b)
- God is right to be angry because we all know the truth about him (v19)
- Everybody knows the truth about God (v19)
Everyone can see the truth about the invisible God. Paul says it’s obvious. This has implications for the way we talk to people. The problem isn’t that our friends don’t know the truth, it’s that they suppress the truth. We can always talk to our friends as if they know that God exists.
Everybody steals God’s glory (v18b)
We’ve robbed him. We know God but do not glorify him as God or give thanks to him. Adam and Eve decided that if they ate from the tree they would be in charge and be wise. God had rescued the people of Israel. They decided if they made an idol and said it had rescued them, they could use it and become powerful and wealthy. They worshipped other gods. Paul is hinting at both of these stories. These aren’t the only times humans have behaved like this. They’re universal stories. We are all like plagiarisers. We’re failing to live in the universe as it really is. We are exchanging truth for a lie.
Everybody is being judged for this right now (v18a)
God is judging people’s rebellion of him. God’s wrath on our sin is seen in our sins. Paul says we don’t glorify or give thanks to God so he hands us over to degrade our bodies. We’ve exchanged the truth for a lie so God gives us over to shameful lusts. We think it’s not worth bothering to know God so he gives us over to a deprived mind. We choose to find our significance in created things. We go to images instead of him. We serve created things, not the creator. The word ‘natural’ can’t be about our desires. It ignores the evidence we have about sexuality. It means the way God made things in the beginning. Paul is using the example of homosexuality because it’s a sin that moral religious people are good at condemning. It’s an obvious sin. It’s not like the way God first made the world.
God gives us over to the fair and just consequences of forgetting him. We ignore the God of truth and are full of deceit. These are the things we have chosen instead of God. Isn’t it obvious that we are not righteous? By the gift of faith in his Son, we earn God’s righteousness. We badly need the grace and mercy of God. Jesus died and rose again so we can be justified and made right freely. He died to save you from God’s wrath.
No excuse because…
We behave just like others we judge (v1-5)
The list of terrible sins is really just a list of symptoms. If you do any one of those things, you are doing the same things as other people. You are meant to respond by recognising God’s kindness. God’s judgment is a ‘we’ problem.
God requires persistence (v6-11)
It’s a good idea for God to repay each person according to what they’ve done. God’s impartial, fair and just judgment is a good thing as it conclusively proves that God is just. We should rejoice that God will not allow injustice to continue forever. We haven’t persistently sought to do only good. We are amongst those who do evil. God’s lack of favouritism means we will be judged.
Nobody is ignorant of what God wants (v12-16)
What about those who don’t know? The Bible’s answer is simple. People will be judged according to what they know. If you don’t know the law, you won’t be judged by it. That doesn’t mean everything is okay. All who sin apart from the law will perish. Even the person who has never read the Bible knows enough to be judged. Each time they do something good or true, it shows God’s law is written in their hearts. A part that knows when we have done right and when we’ve done wrong. On that final day, Jesus will ask if you kept the law that came out your own mouth.
There are millions of people who hear what God says and then misunderstand it. God’s requirement isn’t that we know what he wants, it’s that we do what he wants. There is no hope for us in being good. Sin isn’t a ‘they’ problem. It’s a ‘you’ problem. We need to throw ourselves at God’s mercy.
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.
This section is critical of Judaism and Jews. As far as being right with God is concerned, Judaism is useless.
God’s law condemns the Jews (2:17-24)
The terms Paul uses were found in Jewish documents. The Jewish people were intensely aware they were privileged. What have they done with their spiritual riches? They’ve spoken against theft and adultery. They have done those things. 500 years ago Isaiah said that God’s name had been dragged through the mud by God’s people. Paul is saying that each Jew isn’t guilty of minor infringements but breaking God’s law. Even the pagans can see they haven’t kept it.
God’s circumcision proves Jews aren’t really Jews (2:25-29)
This was ancient even when Jesus was walking around. Circumcision was the sign of an intimate personal relationship between God and his people. Paul says it misunderstands the symbolism. It has value if you obey the law. They’ve mistaken the sign for the reality.
God’s faithfulness is not to the Jews but to himself (3:1-8)
God promised he would be faithful and just to his own character. God would always be seen as truthful and righteous. Paul identifies himself with the Jews. God’s judgment brings out his righteousness.
Christianity is not like Judaism so thank God for Jesus. Under this covenant, God doesn’t give you a bunch of rules. God makes a promise that we will save you from death forever through the death and resurrection of Jesus. There’s not set of rules that if you break them, God will cut you off.
Christianity is just like Judaism is heed God’s warning. The covenant requirement is to trust in Jesus. God requires faith in Jesus. Having the Bible or communion won’t save you. We have to keep the covenant. It isn’t a bunch of rules.