Tag Archives: judgment

Light Piercing the Darkness ~ Jeremiah 25:1-14

“And the LORD has sent to you all His servants the prophets again and again, but you have not listened nor inclined your ear to hear, saying, ‘Turn now everyone from his evil way and from the evil of your deeds, and dwell on the land which the LORD has given to you and your forefathers forever and ever; ~ Jeremiah 25:4-5

English: Okienko Zbójnickie Cave in Kraków, Po...

English: Okienko Zbójnickie Cave in Kraków, Poland Polski: Okienko Zbójnickie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I remember as a Boy Scout we went spelunking on one of our weekend camping trips. We entered this narrow, wet cave in groups of eight. Each of us had a flashlight, and I had the map. As we entered the cave and rounded the first bend the outside light from the entrance quickly gave way to complete darkness. At one point along the way we all turned off our flashlights and experienced a scary, overcoming darkness. Within a few seconds we felt completely disoriented and scared. We quickly turned our lights back on and held tightly to them as we completed our journey.

In this passage, God’s words through the prophet Jeremiah are words of anger and warning of consequence for sin. For 23 years, Jeremiah has proclaimed God’s wrath to Israel and for 23 years Israel has chosen not to listen. In this passage, God’s sovereignty is on full display as He lays out the consequences for Israel’s sin. (Read on, though; there is a Light to come!)

Note that God refers to King Nebuchadnezzar as “servant” in describing how this foreign king will come against Israel and bring them into exile in Babylon. They will be in exile for 70 years. At the end of the exile period, God says He will punish Babylon for its deeds. After all, even in His anger, Israel is still God’s chosen people.

Human wisdom says this is unfair. However, we must always remember that God is completely sovereign over His creation. He can use whomever he wants, even those who do not acknowledge Him, to carry out His good and perfect will. This is a tough pill to swallow. We all sin and the message here is that God is angered by that, and sin bears its consequence. For Israel, the consequence was to be a successful invasion by a foreign power.

There is no good news in today’s Jeremiah passage. But in order to understand where we humans stand in relationship to our sovereign God, we must understand His wrath over sin. Is God as angered by our sin as He was over the sins of Israel in Jeremiah’s day? The Bible tells us He is. In fact, the Bible tells us that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and the punishment for sin is death. What hope do we have? Where do we turn?

Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 6:21-23

Cross & Clouds

Cross & Clouds (Photo credit: John H Wright Photo)

In ourselves there is no hope. If we rely on our efforts, our knowledge, our works, to appease God’s righteous anger with our sin we become like a group of boy scouts trying to find our way through a dark, wet cave with no flashlight; we will get nowhere. Recognizing that fact, God paid the price in full for our sins. Justification for sin comes through the shedding of blood, and Jesus shed His blood on the cross in our behalf. The Light of the World has overcome the wet darkness of that cave of sin. Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords humbled Himself to die, that we who believe in Him would be forgiven and spared the punishment we deserve. That is Good News, indeed!

Ponder this: At we read about God’s wrath we must never forget that God shows His love and mercy through Jesus. Isn’t it comforting to know that through Jesus we are forgiven? Who in your world needs to hear this Good News?

 My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, I know I sin every day. I ask Your forgiveness as I seek to turn away from my sins and live a life that glorifies You. Thank you for Jesus’ sacrifice in my behalf for I know it is through Him and Him alone that I am reconciled to You. In His name I pray, AMEN.

Judgment and Mercy ~ Jeremiah 1:1-19

Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” ~ Jeremiah 1:9-10

God called Jeremiah to deliver bad news to a divided Israel. Over a span of 40 years, Jeremiah delivered God’s message of judgment to an audience that didn’t want to hear it; no wonder, as the message foretells destruction because the people have turned away from God: “I will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods, and in worshiping what their hands have made” (vs 16). We must always remember that God is righteous, just, and sovereign. There is judgment for sin, and everyone will face it. God’s judgment is pure and just; never forget that.

Two points strike me about God’s calling of Jeremiah:

  1. God chose Jeremiah “before I formed you in the womb” (vs 4). What an insight this offers into the eternal scope of God’s plan! Our all-knowing God has already chosen those who will come after us to proclaim His Word! Here we see clearly that God has a plan for everybody, even before He makes us.
  2. Jeremiah was anything but enthusiastic as he received God’s calling. He was reluctant. He said he was too young; that he could not speak. But God knew better; He had made His choice. Even in spite of Jeremiah’s reluctance, God calls him anyway.

The news God is calling Jeremiah to deliver will not be received well, and Jeremiah appears to know that. God reassures him, instructing Jeremiah not to be terrified in front of the leaders. God has made Jeremiah a fortified city, able to stand up to anything as long as he trusts God. What great reassurance for all of us who love and trust the Lord!

Many modern-day Christian churches don’t like to talk about God’s righteous judgment. The reality, though, is that God’s righteous judgment still applies today. All of us are sinners and will face God’s righteous judgment.

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”  “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.”  “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. ~ Romans 3:10-20

God’s righteous judgment applies to all – whether they believe it or not. There is a price to be paid for sin; justice must be served on the sinner.

Indeed, God’s judgment is perfect, yet His mercy is immeasurable:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” ~ John 3:16-17

You see, the world is already condemned because of sin. Jesus came that those who believe in Him would be redeemed and have eternal life. Only through Jesus can the sinner be saved: Buddha cannot save us; Islam cannot save us; Mother Earth cannot save us; human knowledge and wisdom cannot save us; there is no “universal salvation.” Scripture tells us clearly that salvation comes only through faith in Jesus:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ~ John 14:6

After Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to His disciples and gave them this command:

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ~ Matthew 28:16-20

Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” He is our righteous judge, and in mercy for us sinners, He Himself suffered our punishment on the cross. Through His act of mercy, all who believe in Him have had their sentence served in full!

The commissioning of His disciples recorded in Matthew applies to us believers today. People need to be made aware of their sin and their condition under sin so they recognize the need for a Savior. Once they see their condition and realize the severity of the judgment that awaits them, the good news of the Gospel is ever so sweet.

God called Jeremiah to deliver bad news, and Jeremiah responded to that call in faith and trust in spite of his human limitations. Today we are called to deliver wonderful news, yet we often hesitate to do so. Let us not live our lives in fear of what others might say or think of our faith. Let always remember that God is with us. Let us live out the Great Commission and faithfully share the Gospel with a nation and a world that so desperately needs to hear it!

Ponder this: Am I responding to the Great Commission as God would have me do so? Who within my reach needs to hear the Gospel?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, I come to you today a poor, miserable sinner who takes great comfort in the reality that Jesus paid the price for my sins. Forgive me for my sins, and help me live a life that constantly and consistently reflects Your goodness and mercy. Show me, Lord, how You would have me share my faith with those who need Your Gospel. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Stoning Paula Deen

Paula Deen is a terrible person who doesn’t deserve anything good in life. At least, that is the conclusion one might draw from listening to our national discourse after her confession and subsequent apology for using the offensive “N” word in a conversation that took place some 20-or-so years ago. The fallout for Deen has been significant. Walmart, Target, and other retailers are removing Paula Deen’s products from their inventory. The Food Network will not renew their contract with Deen. And, if that wasn’t enough, a significant number of Americans are having a field day casting stones at this woman and celebrating her professional downfall as if she was the very manifestation of Satan himself.

Those who know me well know that I am no fan of political correctness (PC). PC, in my opinion, is contributing to the ruin of our society. With that said, I find the “N” word horribly offensive. This piece is in no way intended to defend Deen’s use of the word; I find that disturbing and disappointing. However, I am disgusted and angered by the vitriolic reaction of many of my fellow Americans and the business partners that have cast Deen aside as if she were poison. I’m disgusted and angered, but I’m also saddened, for many of my fellow Americans who are dancing in the streets over Deen’s professional downfall profess to be Christians. This piece is for them.

God teaches us through His Word that we are equal with one another in one very important aspect. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23). In the context of the Paula Deen controversy, the Bible tells us that Paula Deen is no better than any of us, and we are no better than Deen, either. The playing field here is completely level; each of us is a sinner and each of us falls short of God’s glory. Was Deen’s use of the “N” word a sin? I believe it was. Because she sinned in this manner is she a lower person in God’s ranking than me? I believe the Bible tells us she is not.

Jesus gave us an example of how we Christians should respond to an individual caught in transgression:

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:3-11)

Look what happens here: A woman, caught in a sin considered particularly egregious, is brought before the Pharisees. The Pharisees, in an attempt to trap Jesus with a trick question, cite Old Testament law as they state their intention to stone her. Instead of answering their question directly, Jesus levels the playing field, “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” One by one, her accusers drop their stones and walk away. Does this mean that Jesus thinks the woman’s sin was “OK”? Of course not! This was a lesson in pride; a lesson in humility. Jesus’ parting words to this woman are also very important, “Go now and leave your life of sin,” (italics added for emphasis).

As Christians, we know that the way we live our lives testifies to who we truly are and what we truly believe. Our life is our witness, and people draw conclusions about us based on what we put on display. More importantly, people draw conclusions about God based on what we who profess Christ display in our daily living. Our response and reaction to Deen’s use of the “N” word is an opportunity for Christian witness. The worldly response is to dog pile; tear her down; rip her to shreds then dance in the streets as she fades into the background. Sadly, many Christians have chosen that response.

I believe that the Bible teaches a different response for the Christian. We acknowledge her sin, just as we acknowledge our own. But then we forgive her sin, just as God forgives her sin and our sins. And, in the words of Jesus, we say, “Go and sin no more.”

Before I pick up a stone to cast at Deen I must look in the mirror and examine myself. I quickly see that I am no better than she is. And, fellow Christian, neither are you.

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