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Summary: PENTECOST 10(B) - The LORD is our righteousness: our Lord who preserves his flock and our Lord who provides righteousness.

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THE LORD (IS) OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS

Jeremiah 23:1-6 - July 24, 2005 - Pentecost 10

Dearest Fellow-Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:

Today, you and I celebrate God’s gift of grace to each one of us. It is by God’s gift of grace that we have come to faith. It is only by God’s gift of grace, which we do not deserve and which we have not earned, that we moves us to gather together today to worship and to sing praises to God. God’s grace is his undeserved love. Grace can also be compared with righteousness. The righteousness of God displays his grace, his undeserved love to us.

The Apostle Paul who once thought it was his mission in life to go out and put to death the fol-lowers of the Way was completely changed by God’s grace. God called Paul from his spiritual darkness into his wonderful light in order to change Paul from a persecutor of the people of the Way; to proclaim Christianity for the rest of his life. Paul realized the importance of God’s grace and God’s righteousness. Paul then spent his entire life dedicated to the Lord. Paul even compared that all things else were rubbish or garbage to the surpassing greatness of knowing God’s riches. Paul spent the rest of his life as he says in Philippians: "And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith" (Philippians 3:9). At the end of our text we heard Jeremiah proclaim: The Lord Our Righteousness. We will use these words as our theme this morning--The Lord is our Righteousness day in and day until we see Him face to face.

THE LORD (IS) OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS

We learn that I. Our Lord preserves his flock, and II. Our Lord provides righteousness.

I. OUR LORD PRESERVES HIS FLOCK

In studying the Scriptures we recognize Jeremiah as a very important prophet of the Old Testa-ment. When Jeremiah lived, the people didn’t think he was much of a prophet. If you noticed in our text, over and over again we hear the words, Declares the Lord. It is in every verse but one. In between he even says, The Lord says. Jeremiah came to say what the Lord had to say to his people. The people were not anxious to hear Jeremiah, because there were lots of prophets that told them what they wanted to hear. In fact Jeremiah was given the title of traitor prophet. We are going to see why. What does the Lord say through Jeremiah to the people of the day? "Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. The rulers were bad, the prophets were bad, and the priests were bad. They told the people not God’s message, but their message.

When you have the opportunity, read the rest of chapter 23. We are going to read two verses where he describes the prophets. Remember, these are to be the prophets of God. What happened? Verses 13 and 14 tell us: Among the prophets of Samaria I saw this repulsive thing: They prophesied by Baal (a false god) and led my people Israel astray. And among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen something horrible. They commit adultery and live a lie. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his wickedness. They are all like Sodom to me; the people of Jerusalem are like Go-morrah (Jeremiah 23). You know what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah. They were so wicked that the Lord destroyed these two cities.

Jeremiah says that is what is happening to the people of Israel since the prophets have done hor-rendous things. They were introducing false worship, the worship of Baal, an idol made by human hands. The result for them, "Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: ’because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,’ declares the LORD." They led them away from the temple of God outside to worship Baal. They led them away not to follow in the footsteps of God’s Word but in the empty promises of Baal. You may recall how Elijah the Prophet challenged the prophets of Baal. One day 400 prophets of Baal were consumed by the Lord’s fire. Yet, they still listened to what Baal had to say. Those that followed Baal were lost.

The Lord was not going to let them be lost. The Lord was going to preserve his flock and protect it. Finally, in verse 3, he says: "I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number." The Lord says he will preserve the flock if the prophets were not going to keep God’s Word true. If the prophets were not going to direct the people towards God, the Lord would show them and re-veal himself to be the God of the heavens and the earth, the true God. It would take a miracle that they would be brought back. That miracle was God’s grace, His righteousness. We may wonder how such a thing could happen. These people, as they wandered in the wilderness, had seen the glory of God, the fire at night and the cloud in the daytime. Still, they had forgotten. When the wandering Israelites got to the Promised Land, they put up their feet and relaxed and forgot God because they had so much of abun-dance. They didn’t want to listen to God’s Law anymore. They didn’t want to hear God’s judgment for justice.

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