THE TEMPLE SERMON
INTRODUCTION: Preach the word! Where? Jeremiah leaves the square (5:1) and now goes to the sanctuary (7:1). He exits the courthouse and enters the church house. A background study of this scene reveals two items. One, this was a festival time so there would have been a large crowd on hand. Second, it was a time of crisis. Word was spreading of an uprising in the north. Babylon’s saber-rattling could be heard. There had been the untimely death of good King Josiah. Now an unproven leader named Jehoiakim had come to the throne. It was an unsettling time. People were worried, weeping and wondering. They were searching for security. There were concerns militarily, politically and religiously. With all of that as a backdrop let’s research these chapters and verses and find some message for today.
I. THE PROCLAMATION
In order to understand the sermon one must grasp the scene. Note 7:1. Here is a message
from the Lord through the prophet to those gathering for worship. Large crowds were entering the sacred precincts. It’s as if Jeremiah is standing in the foyer preaching to the masses. Like a prosecuting attorney he hurls several accusations their way. Look at what he charges these people with.
A. The Misplaced Trust (7:2, 4, 8, 14). The leaders were gathering together their sermon notes. The pews were being filled. The choir was rehearsing and sounded in perfect harmony. The ushers were busy escorting people. The sound technicians were testing the acoustics. The lighting people were busy making sure the stage was proper. Yet! Yet! Yet, something was tragically wrong. Observe that three times reference is made to “the temple of the Lord.” The implication here is that they were safe.
Here’s the problem. They had chosen a place over a person. They chose a pattern
over a presence. In today’s vernacular we might describe it like this. “My name is on the church roll.” “I show up – sometimes.” “I give a little to the church.” But the issue is that ones’ life has not been transformed. These people had divorced their morality, ethics and conduct from their religion. The same holds true today. People spend Saturday night at the barroom or the cathouse and then show up Sunday morning as if everything is fine. “Why do people go to church or participate in worship services when it doesn’t make any difference in how they live each day?”
B. The Misguided Theology (7:9-11). Jeremiah mentions specifically six of the Ten Commandments. Obviously, they felt no shame about breaking God’s moral laws and then showing up for worship. For the words “den of robbers” remember Jesus’ words in Matt. 21:13. Research this section and you will find that because of their misguided theology they had no regard for the law (7:28). They had no regard to loyalty (7:16-19, 24-25). “Queen” here is a reference to Ishtar – the goddess of love and fertility. Immorality was rampant. They had no regard for life (7:30-34). The most hideous and deplorable practice of idolatry was child sacrifice. Today’s parallel would be called abortion. You may argue abortion socially or politically but you cannot argue it theologically. A child is a gift of God to be treasured not a fetus to be trashed.