Summary: Sermon on The Word of God
Jeremiah 23:23-29 "Am I only a God nearby," declares the LORD, "and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?" declares the LORD. "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" declares the LORD."I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, ’I had a dream! I had a dream!’ How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? They think the dreams they tell one another will make my people forget my name, just as their fathers forgot my name through Baal worship. Let the prophet who has a dream tell his dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?" declares the LORD. "Is not my word like fire," declares the LORD, "and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?
The Lord Has Given You His Word!
In Christ Jesus, whose name spells salvation, dear fellow redeemed,
Your orthopedic surgeon says, "I think you need back surgery." Your auto mechanic says, "I think you need a new engine". Your financial advisor says, "I think you should invest in technology." Now we may have a great deal of respect for any or all of these advisors, but many of us would seek out a second opinion before acting on any of this advice. That’s just way we are, especially when health or money are on the line. And that’s probably a very good thing. But it’s a very bad thing when our love for second opinions makes its way into our spiritual life.
That’s the very problem that we find the Prophet Jeremiah dealing with in the Scripture before us. He’s working with people who think of the Bible’s message as nothing more than God’s opinion, an opinion they don’t want to hear. But Jeremiah sets the record straight. He tells the people of his day and us, "The Lord hasn’t given you his opinion. THE LORD HAS GIVEN YOU HIS WORD!
You would think that when the creator of heaven and earth has something to say, people would listen. After all God is the maker of us human beings. When he expresses his will for our lives he speaks as the One who owns us and as the One who knows what’s best for us. His commandments are not hoops for us to jump through, but the revelation of his divine plan for our complete happiness.
The first two human beings knew this truth and appreciated it, that is until Satan convinced Adam and Eve that true happiness comes from second guessing God and disobeying his will. They bought into Satan’s lie and their descendants have been doing the same ever since. No one knew this better than the prophet Jeremiah. God had chosen Jeremiah to speak to God’s people, to turn them from their sin back to God and his ways. That meant that Jeremiah had the job of pointing out the people’s sin, telling them that their love for earthly possessions, their hunger for gossip and their constant idolatry were among the many sins that would cause God to disown them and turn them over to their enemies, if they did not soon repent.
Given that these were people whose ancestors had often tasted God’s anger, you might expect that they changed their ways immediately. But they didn’t. Instead they behaved as we so often do when we are confronted with our sin. They sought a second opinion, and in many cases they looked to their own sinful reason to provide it. What did their faulty logic tell them? "God’s bluffing. He doesn’t really care what you do. And so what if he does? What’s he going to do about it-send everyone to hell?"
My friends, that logic has a familiar ring to it, doesn’t it? It’s the generic voice of reason that tries to quiet the conscience plagued by sin. You’ve heard that voice in your head and I in mine. It’s the voice that tries to make sin out to be something wonderful while making God out to be something less than what he really is-holy and just. The pattern is all too familiar. We get caught thinking, or speaking, or doing something that God says is wrong and immediately reason goes to work, putting its own spin on things. Reason tries to convince us that our sin is harmless - it’s just a little white lie, for instance. Or it convinces us that our sin is justified: "God knows what she did to me and won’t blame me if I never speak to them again." And sometimes reason even convinces us that our sin is beneficial: "This live-in relationship, this affair we’re having can’t be sinful because I’ve never been so happy in all my life."