Today: [Jeremiah 7] Are You Living in Presumption? In this chapter, Jeremiah reproves the people for presuming they will never be held in account because they are of Jewish lineage. In this chapter, we find the verse that Jesus quoted when He cleansed the temple. That very fact renders this very neglected admonition by Jeremiah extremely relevant to us today as we consider and ask the question are we as Christians presuming upon our inheritance as believers to make excuses for lax or sinful lifestyles?
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[Jer 7:1-34 KJV] 1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 2 Stand in the gate of the LORD’S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all [ye of] Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD. 3 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. 4 Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, [are] these. 5 For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; 6 [If] ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: 7 Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever. 8 Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. 9 Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; 10 And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?
In this chapter Jeremiah speaks against a presumption the people of God make because of their Jewish lineage. The Lord tells Jeremiah to stand in the gate of the temple and to proclaim this word to all that were entering the temple. This is important to note because Jeremiah is not speaking to those that are without but to those who were taking the time and going to the trouble in interrupting their lives to make themselves present at the temple and involve themselves in what took place there. There are times we take the attitude that attending a church service or gathering with other believers is a sacrificial act. I remember the Catholic person who told me that the priest informed him (with a straight face) that the more he hated going to mass the better it was because it would shorten his time in purgatory.
There is inherent in that viewpoint the expectation that we will be commended and not reproved in the act of participating in assembling ourselves together. This results in an inherent resistance to a message that corrects us or reproves us in some way because after all we have gone to the trouble of frequenting “the Lord’s house” and we didn’t come to be beat up or rebuked. Nonetheless the message of Jeremiah to those showing up at the temple was not about how wonderful they are.
Can you imagine hearing word of a pastor across town who met his people not in the pews but spoke to them in the parking lot or as they came in the door and became to remonstrate and rebuke them before they could even take their seat. Jeremiah was not the pastor of this group. He was an outsider, what we would call an uninvited guest speaker. I wonder what the priest’s thought when Jeremiah did this? After all Jeremiah stopped the people before they could put their gifts in the treasury. If this happened at your church do you think the police would be called? Do you think that Jeremiah would be issued an ex parte and told if he came back on church property again he would be arrested?
What was Jeremiah’s message? He spoke to the people – God’s people that God was calling upon them to amend their ways. He was not speaking euphemistically or rhetorically. He was getting down right personal. Now it is one thing to speak over a group that we must live godly lives but Jeremiah then proceeds by God’s instruction to detail what that meant:
1. Trust not in the lying words of the priests and other prophets who claimed that the fact they were of Jewish lineage exempted them from the consequences of their actions.
2. Amend their ways by executing justice and equity with their neighbors and in their communities.
3. Amend their ways by ceasing to oppress or neglect the strangers, the fatherless, and the widow in their midst.
4. Amend their ways be refraining from the shedding of innocent blood or walking after other gods (dependencies).
If the people would heed these instructions then the Father promised that He would be with them and that they would dwell in the land of promise for ever and ever. What about us today? Does any of this apply to us? In reproving the people in this manner we are reminded of the words of Jesus:
[Mat 3:9 KJV] 9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to [our] father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
This is the definition of presumption, when our thinking regarding our faith is that we have a pass, an exemption from consequences for living lives and making decisions and choices contrary to God’s character just because we are Christians. What Jesus said to the Jews that day can be applied to us. “Think not that you have Christ to your Savior (and are therefore exempt from consequences for un-Christlike lifestyles). God is able of mere stones in the field to raise up believers to praise His name…”
Jeremiah continues in verse 9 pressing the point. “Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, and burn incense to Baal … and come and stand in this house … and say ‘we are delivered to do all these things…” This was the presumption of the people. As astonishing as this is there is much teaching today that emphasizes grace and forgiveness to the exclusion of rebuke and reproof for the un-Christlike lifestyles and behaviors that are common in Christian culture. It is one thing to emphasizes the grace, forgiveness and love of God but when we do so to the exclusion of underscoring the expectations of a holy God upon our character and behaviors then we are acting in presumption and being led by presumptuous leaders who are leading us into error.
11 Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen [it], saith the LORD. 12 But go ye now unto my place which [was] in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. 13 And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; 14 Therefore will I do unto [this] house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. 15 And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, [even] the whole seed of Ephraim. 16 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee. 17 Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead [their] dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger. 19 Do they provoke me to anger? saith the LORD: [do they] not [provoke] themselves to the confusion of their own faces? 20 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched.
Can we be sure that any of these words of stricture and warning apply to us? Lest there be any doubt we look at verse 11 and our blood runs cold when we realize that this text was not only one Jesus was evidently familiar with but the one He quotes when He plats cords together and drives the money changers out of the temple in John 2:15. How does what Jeremiah is saying constitute rendering the people as being guilty of thievery and robbery? It has nothing to do with money. It is robbing God of the just due of circumspect worshippers who walk in the fear of the Lord because of the sanctity of the temple. The people were receiving the benefits of their Jewish heritage yet walking away without ever truly rendering up the fruits of repentance to the God they claimed to serve. Is this relevant to us today? Do we rob God of something He is looking to receive from us? We can look at the very architecture of our buildings and the fact that the mourner’s bench or altars where business is done on your knees before God and the congregation have either been taken out altogether or are there merely as a vestigial decoration between the platform and the congregation. The absence and disuse of the altars and the heartfelt transactions of prayer they are intended to facilitate are a deep indictment against Christian culture today.
Jeremiah in reproving the people gives the example of the place that used to house the ark of the covenant before Solomon’s temple, namely Shiloh. Shiloh in Solomon’s time lay in ruins because at the height of its use, the high priest Eli and his sons Hophni and Phineas were corrupt and leading the people into corruption and polluted worship because of their own backslidden condition. As a result the ark of God was taken captive by the Philistines and “Ichabod” was written over the altars which meant “God has Departed from this Place”. Could that ever happen to Christianity as a whole? Paul taught that it could. He taught in Romans 9 that if the natural olive tree was rejected because of its sinful state that we ought not to presume that the church even the church of the 1st century would not be likewise rejected as a wild branch grafted in if we sin after the similitude of those Jeremiah spoke to.
21 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. 22 For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: 23 But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. 24 But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels [and] in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward. 25 Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending [them]: 26 Yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers. 27 Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee. 28 But thou shalt say unto them, This [is] a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the LORD their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth. 29 Cut off thine hair, [O Jerusalem], and cast [it] away, and take up a lamentation on high places; for the LORD hath rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath. 30 For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the LORD: they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it. 31 And they have built the high places of Tophet, which [is] in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded [them] not, neither came it into my heart. 32 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter: for they shall bury in Tophet, till there be no place. 33 And the carcases of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall fray [them] away. 34 Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate.
What is God after in these sayings of Jeremiah. Verses 22-23 make it clear that God is not as much looking for outward profession or religious observance as He is for those who will hear His voice and obey His voice and walk in His ways on a day to day basis. That is what God desires from us. To hear His voice. It is astonishing to ask the question randomly of any believer if they hear the voice of God. Most people, even pastors and leaders will hesitate in answering that question. Jesus said in John 10:3 that His sheep hear His voice. Today the prophetic is largely rejected specifically because they are a ministry wholly based and predicated on hearing and articulating the voice of the Lord. How can a church or a pastor or an individual believer say they hear the voice of God when they reject the very ministry that God has placed in their midst to speak God’s voice to them in an exemplary manner? Whole denominations, conspicuously the Assemblies of God who claim to preach “the full gospel” have taken open and official positions documented in position papers on file in their headquarters that they reject altogether the existence of prophets and apostles in our day. This renders them parallel in their policies with the Babylon system that John speaks against in the book of Revelation.
God wants us to hear His voice and not only that to obey what we hear and walk after what we hear Him say to us in His word and in our hearts and through the prophets. If we hear not His voice or find it a controversial thing to hear His voice then we are not in a sheepfold we are in a herd of goats – we are of the goat nations that are sent away from the reward that God has for us. If we repent and reform our thinking and change our ways in this regard the exact opposite is the promise of God to be bidden to enter into what God has for us both in this life and the life to come.
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