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Do you believe that God is coming in judgment against sin? (Some are contending that Jesus is returning on May 21st of this year. This type of human speculation and false Biblical interpretation is worthless). But the immediate consciousness of God’s judgment is biblical.
I. “If You Will Return” – The O.T. prophet Jeremiah is referred to as the “weeping prophet”. One of his books is named “Lamentations”. His words to Israel were words of sorrow produced by the clear announcement of the coming judgment of God. Israel had abandoned God for the idols of their neighbors, and God was bringing punishment in the form of a Chaldean invasion and captivity for God’s people.
Jeremiah, as all the prophets called Israel to repent and return to God.
- Jer 4:1-2 – If you will return, O Israel,” says the Lord, “Return to Me; And if you will put away your abominations out of My sight, Then you shall not be moved. 2 And you shall swear, ‘The Lord lives,’ In truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; The nations shall bless themselves in Him, And in Him they shall glory.”
A. God’s promise to Israel is impressive. If they would truly repent, He would bless them, and they would become the avenue through which God would bless the Gentiles. This is a revelation of God’s holy intent toward His people. God intended for Israel to be a reflection of His own character in a world of darkness.
1. But the repentance that God sought did not come. God called on the prophet to blow the trumpet because the judgment was coming. Babylon would lay waste the city of Jerusalem.
- Jer 4:5-9 Declare in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say: “Blow the trumpet in the land; Cry, ‘Gather together,’ And say,’ Assemble yourselves, And let us go into the fortified cities.’ 6 Set up the standard toward Zion. Take refuge! Do not delay! For I will bring disaster from the north, And great destruction.” 7 The lion has come up from his thicket, And the destroyer of nations is on his way. He has gone forth from his place To make your land desolate. Your cities will be laid waste, Without inhabitant. 8 For this, clothe yourself with sackcloth, Lament and wail. For the fierce anger of the Lord Has not turned back from us. 9 “And it shall come to pass in that day,” says the Lord, “That the heart of the king shall perish, And the heart of the princes; The priests shall be astonished, And the prophets shall wonder.”
II. “If You Can Find a Man” – In Jeremiah 5 God describes the impenitent heart of Israel. God is looking for one true Israelite.
- Read Jeremiah 5:1-6 – 5 “Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem; See now and know; And seek in her open places If you can find a man, If there is anyone who executes judgment, Who seeks the truth, And I will pardon her. 2 Though they say, ‘As the Lord lives,’ Surely they swear falsely.” 3 O Lord, are not Your eyes on the truth? You have stricken them, But they have not grieved; You have consumed them, But they have refused to receive correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; They have refused to return. 4 Therefore I said, “Surely these are poor. They are foolish; For they do not know the way of the Lord, The judgment of their God. I will go to the great men and speak to them, For they have known the way of the Lord, The judgment of their God.” But these have altogether broken the yoke And burst the bonds. 6 Therefore a lion from the forest shall slay them, A wolf of the deserts shall destroy them; A leopard will watch over their cities. Everyone who goes out from there shall be torn in pieces, Because their transgressions are many; Their backslidings have increased.
A. God’s challenge: Jeremiah goes on to describe the coming judgment of God. But God makes a phenomenal challenge to His people. Show me one who “executes justice and seeks the truth (NKJV), and I will spare the city (much as He did with Abraham over the city of Sodom.) Is it possible that there was no a single honest person in all of Jerusalem?
1. There is no such person found. They all swear falsely (v.2) – even though they claim that God lives in their lives, they are just lying about their commitment to God.
2. They have even been disciplined by God, but still they refuse to yield. God had “consumed” them (vs. 3) but they refused to receive correction. They were as hard as a rock.
3. God’s response to such a finding is maybe these rebellious ones are poor and uneducated. They do not know any better (v. 4). So God searches among the more educated (great) men who “know the way of the Lord” (v. 5). But alas, they also have broken the yoke (agreement) that God had placed them under. So the “lion” of judgment is coming. The problem is more than just knowledge. There is no one who truly seeks the truth.
B. Let me make a few observations here:
1. God does not desire that anyone should perish. He is looking for a just reason to pardon us.
2. Burton Coffman describes these verses as a theodicy – an explanation of why the just and merciful God must, on occasion, severely punish and destroy sinful men. God is not arbitrary or unjust in his punishment of sinners. God has provided men with the means to be spared from punishment.
3. God has always sought for same man in every dispensation and era. What is God looking for in us? He is looking for a man (and woman) who “deals honestly and seeks the truth” (NIV).
4. What does this man look like? Are there any among us?
III. “Truth & Justice” – Isn’t this what Superman believed in? – “truth, justice and the American way” I am not sure that God is so interested in the “American way”, but I know He is very concerned about the other two.
A. justice (mishpat – mish-pawt) – means rendering a fair or just verdict. It implies the consideration of proper evidence (truth) and the willingness to act upon it. The NIV rendering of “deals honestly” is a good translation in this verse. God expected His people to treat one another fairly and not take advantage of each other. Later in this chapter Jeremiah describes the wicked leaders of his time who “lie in wait” for each other and are full of deceit (v. 26-27). They failed to defend the fatherless or help the needy (v. 28) all the time they were getting rich themselves.
1. But these areas of dishonesty were simply symptoms of the greater dishonesty or injustice. They had not dealt honestly with God’s truth. God gave them direction and guidance, and they dismissed it. It provided blessings and they did not reverence Him. (vs. 24) They had a defiant and rebellious heart (v. 23) They had not dealt honestly with God.
B. truth (emunah – em-oo-naw) – literally mean firmness or moral fidelity. It connotes stability, and is translated as faithfulness, truly or verily in the KJV.
1. We understand “truth” in the scriptures to refer to God’s objective revealed message (as we discussed last week in our lesson on the “belt of truth” of Eph. 6:14). Although the Israelites were privileged to receive the truth in the words of the covenant, they did not respect it or seek it.
2. In the meaning of the word, the true person is one who remains firm. He is faithful to his knowledge of what God has told him. He remains in the truth. God seeks a person
- who wants to know what is true
- and who deals honestly with his knowledge of the truth and remains in it.
IV. Am I the Man that God Seeks? Do I seek to know what is true and do I deal honestly with the truth I know? This defines my whole relationship to God. The apostles describe those who belong to God as being “of the truth” (1 John 3:19), and those who reject God as those who “exchanged the truth of God for a lie” (Romans 1:25) and Satan as the Father of lies (John 8).
A. Jesus said “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). Jesus’ words characterize true Christians as those who gladly welcome and accept the words of Jesus. They not only hear the voice of Jesus, but desire to follow Him wherever He leads. (John 10 – Good Shepherd and his sheep)
1. God’s people hunger and thirst for righteousness. They treasure the truth and will pay the price to find it and will not sell it. It is not easy. 2 Timothy 2:15 – 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
2. In his third epistle the apostle John wanted to know that those Christians he had converted and nourished in the faith would continue walking in the truth. “For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. 4I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3 John 3-4) So, the Christian not only wants to know the truth, but seeks to walk, or live consistently, according the truth.
B. The soil must be ready for the seed. Jesus’ most well defined parable is clearly the parable of the soils in Luke 8. Jesus tells what this story means.
- Luke 8:4-8 And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable: 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. 8 But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” 9 Then His disciples asked Him, saying, “What does this parable mean?” 10 And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.’ 11 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. 14 Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.
1. There is so much around us that is explained by this simple story. It truly reveals the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Why will most people be lost? What does God really want? What is the key to spirituality and godliness? Why should I not be discouraged, but continue to teach the lost?
a. The seed is the word, and the word (truth) is the same for everybody. But everybody’s heart is not the same. Most people are not prepared for the truth that God reveals.
- Some reject it outright – It never has a chance (wayside)
- Some are easily convinced, but the truth does not take root. With no or little commitment, they fall away. (stony)
- Some intellectually believe, but they have too much invested in this world, and are unwilling to make the commitment truth demands. (thorny)
- But some have “good and honest” hearts and they remain firm to the end. The two words used here are almost synonyms in the Greek – both translated by the English word “good”.
- Kalee’ (honest) – good by virtue of use
- Agathee (good) – intrinsically good by definition. This is the heart that God seeks. It is a heart that deals honestly with the truth, and remains firm to the end.
Conclusion: Are you seeking the truth? (have you tied it around your waist?) Jesus said. “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”