Summary: Jeremiah gives us Hope
We come here today as people having great needs. There are several things that we can’t live without: food, water, air, love -- and hope. We are going to talk about maintaining hope even in the worst of times.
A group of behavioral Scientists once did a study and put some rats in a tank of water. The tank had smooth sides so they could not escape or rest. The scientists observed the rats to see how long they would survive before drowning. The average time was 17 minutes. When they had no hope the rats died quickly.
On May 23, 1939, the S-4 submarine Squalus sank off of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The entire crew was trapped in what appeared to be a prison house of death. Eventually though each of the thirty-three crewmen were rescued. When the rescue squad reached the stricken sub, one of the divers tapped with metal on the hull in an effort to locate the sailors. He then placed his helmet up against the side of the vessel and he heard the familiar tapping – the longs and the shorts – of the Morse Code. What was the message that was being spelled out from within? It was repeating the same question. The question was, "Is... there... any… hope?"
We need hope desperately. Without hope, we are ready to give up and die. We talked a month or two ago about Elijah, without hope, and he was ready for the Lord to let him die.
Some of you here this morning might associate with those rats or with the seamen in the sunken submarine. You look at your life, and you ask that same question, “Is there any hope?” And to find the answers, we need to come to the Word of God. Turn with me this morning to Jeremiah 29. We have come through the OT together this year, seeing God prepare a people to enjoy fellowship and community with. He led them to a land he had for them, gave them a godly king, set them up for success, but as we saw, they turned away from God, turned to following idols and all the sins of the nations around them, and wanted nothing to do with God. God sent them prophets to call the people to repentance. He divided the nation, and finally brought judgment. In 722 BC the Assyrians destroy completely the northern nation of Israel. In 586 BC the Babylonians overthrow the southern nation of Judah, and take the people away into exile.
Today, we want to look at God’s message for these people who have lost their kingdom, their land, their identity, their relationship to their God. This is a people without hope. And we want to see God’s message to them and apply the same lessons to our own lives. As we come to the word of God, let’s PRAY and ask God to speak to our hearts. PRAYER. READ Jeremiah 29:1-9.
Jeremiah writes to those Jews who are in exile. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came down in three waves and took the people captive in three stages. Jeremiah is still in Jerusalem; he leaves after the 3rd wave of exiles. We talked about that last week. But Jeremiah is writing to the exiles from the first and second waves who are already in Babylon. What does he tell them? Continue on with life as normal. Don’t lose hope. So the first lesson we learn this morning is . . .
I. Don’t let life’s situations rob you of hope! Rather, embrace your situation in life. We spend so much of our time wishing our lives were different - wishing we had more money, weighed less, had a different job, a different spouse, lived in a bigger house, drove a faster car, wishing we had what the neighbors have. We spend so many of our days dissatisfied. The situation you are in today may be less than ideal. In fact it may be downright unpleasant. But don’t resent it. Don’t deny it. Rather accept it. You may not want to continue on the same way for the future, but see where you are at and accept it. Jeremiah tells the Jews that they may as well settle down and make the most of things in Babylon, because contrary to what their false prophets were saying, they weren’t going anywhere else soon. Sometimes we think if we just have faith, our situation will change. But it doesn’t always work that way. The “name it/claim it” teaching is heresy. God doesn’t work that way.
Bryce Winteregg, a pastor in IN from the church Glenn & Sharon’s daughter attends, told me a story about his daughter-in-law. She was in the delivery room, pushing, huffing, straining to give birth. Her husband was faithfully by her side, offering her encouragement. But she had had all she could take. She cried out, “Oh God, you’ve got to let that baby come out on the next push!” The nurse who was with her calmly said, “ma’am, I’m sure God hears you, but I assure you the baby is NOT coming out on the next push.