Today: [Jeremiah 5] Seeking Judgment and Truth. In chapter 5 of Jeremiah the Father excoriates the city of Jerusalem because there cannot be found in it one man that executes judgment or seeks the truth. For us seeking the truth means something somewhat different than what it does from a New Testament perspective. It is important for us to understand this because just as Jerusalem was under the shadow of impending destruction for not seeking truth or executing judgment so we ourselves stand in jeopardy if we fail to respond to the heart of God in our own day and our own personal situation.
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[Jer 5:1-31 KJV] 1 Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be [any] that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it. 2 And though they say, The LORD liveth; surely they swear falsely. 3 O LORD, [are] not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, [but] they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return. 4 Therefore I said, Surely these [are] poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the LORD, [nor] the judgment of their God. 5 I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD, [and] the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, [and] burst the bonds. 6 Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, [and] a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, [and] their backslidings are increased. 7 How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by [them that are] no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses. 8 They were [as] fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbour’s wife. 9 Shall I not visit for these [things]? saith the LORD: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? 10 Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy; but make not a full end: take away her battlements; for they [are] not the LORD’S. 11 For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously against me, saith the LORD.
In verse 1 of chapter 5 in Jeremiah God speaks through the prophet negotiating the fate of the city of Jerusalem. If there is one man in the city that exercises righteousness or seeks the truth then He will abundantly pardon it. How do we look at this verse from a New Testament perspective? First of all, we think about the issue of judgment. In this verse, God is seeking someone who exercises judgement yet in Matthew 7:1 Jesus taught that we should not judge lest we should be judged. Jesus did not see Himself as a judge. In the gospel of Luke, He was asked to settle a matter between two brothers:
[Luk 12:13-14 KJV] 13 And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. 14 And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?
It was common in those days for rabbis and teachers to speak into what we would consider matters for the civil courts. The young man was simply asking Jesus to do what the Pharisees were delighted to do on demand to show their justice and wisdom to the world. Why did Jesus refuse to judge or even see Himself as a judge? Because He came not to judge others but to take the judgments already resting upon men because of sin into Himself. As believers, we can never forget the redemptive nature of the God we serve. It is not our place to make people aware of how estranged they are from God. It is our place to point out to them that Jesus is the savior of the world and no man comes to the Father but by Him.
God also says He will spare the city if there is one found in it that seeks the truth. What does it mean for us to seek the truth? In John 14:6 Jesus said He was the way, the truth and the life. For us truth is not a set of doctrines. For us the truth is a person, His name is Jesus. Doctrine can be true but only Jesus is the truth. There is no doctrinal litmus test for being a Christian. Believing in the trinity, in the historicity of Jesus, or in eternal life does not make us believers. We are believers because of who Jesus is to us on a personal, intimate day by day basis as He lives and dwells in our hearts through the Holy Spirit by faith.
12 They have belied the LORD, and said, [It is] not he; neither shall evil come upon us; neither shall we see sword nor famine: 13 And the prophets shall become wind, and the word [is] not in them: thus shall it be done unto them. 14 Wherefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them. 15 Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far, O house of Israel, saith the LORD: it [is] a mighty nation, it [is] an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest what they say. 16 Their quiver [is] as an open sepulchre, they [are] all mighty men. 17 And they shall eat up thine harvest, and thy bread, [which] thy sons and thy daughters should eat: they shall eat up thy flocks and thine herds: they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig trees: they shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst, with the sword. 18 Nevertheless in those days, saith the LORD, I will not make a full end with you. 19 And it shall come to pass, when ye shall say, Wherefore doeth the LORD our God all these [things] unto us? then shalt thou answer them, Like as ye have forsaken me, and served strange gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers in a land [that is] not yours. 20 Declare this in the house of Jacob, and publish it in Judah, saying, 21 Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not: 22 Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand [for] the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?
In verse 14 the Lord declares because the people have turned their backs upon Him and rejected His counsels that He will make His words like fire and the people like wood. Is it any wonder that the world rejects the message of cross? When fire comes, it means only one thing: painful death. Paul speaking of the confrontational nature of the gospel said that it would be to some an aroma of death and to others an aroma of life:
[2Co 2:16 KJV] 16 To the one [we are] the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who [is] sufficient for these things?
We cannot make the gospel palatable by altering the message. The implications are clear: we must bring the “old man” to the death of the cross. To someone who has come to the end of himself this is an aroma of life and deliverance. To someone who isn’t ready it is the most repugnant thing one could suggest. Jesus said take up your cross and follow. Living for Jesus will cost you everything. There is no negotiating the full surrender that coming to Jesus involves. Rom. 12 state unequivocally we are called to be living oblations, continually offered up in service and sacrifice in the interests of the furtherance of the kingdom. The world knows hypocrisy when it sees it. To water down this aspect of the gospel, portray Jesus as merely some spiritual condiment to enhance a life of selfishness and self-interest is an inherent lie and even the sinner realizes this and thus rejects our watered down faith. We want to give Him our all. And in so doing we will become the light of the world and a city that cannot be hid from those who truly are looking for answers.
23 But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone. 24 Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest. 25 Your iniquities have turned away these [things], and your sins have withholden good [things] from you. 26 For among my people are found wicked [men]: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men. 27 As a cage is full of birds, so [are] their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich. 28 They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge. 29 Shall I not visit for these [things]? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? 30 A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; 31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love [to have it] so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
In verse 23 the assessment of the Spirit of God over the nation of Judah and the city of Jerusalem is against their insubordinate and rebellious hearts. The evaluation is they have revolted and are already gone. Their hearts are spiritual wastelands and therefore what is in their heart will determine what takes place in their lives, their city and their nation. V. 24 laments that there is no one that says “let us now fear the Lord” so that the rain of God’s blessing could come. Again in v. 25 as we have seen in previous lessons that the assessment of scripture is that the iniquities of the people, the city and the nation have caused the good things they were seeking to be withheld from them.
We often pray and if answers do not come we cry out and seek and look upon unanswered supplication as though it was some deep theological mystery. Weak leaders refusing to speak the truth suggest that perhaps answers don’t come because God loves you so much or because God is seeking to perfect something of His character in your life. Still others teach that God doesn’t answer because He is teaching us something. Can you imagine the despicable judgments people make upon God? Would you ever deny food or other necessities to your own children because you are teaching them something? Jesus dealt with this:
[Luk 11:11 KJV] 11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if [he ask] a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
Now look closely at this verse – Jesus is saying God will not give you a serpent. Who is the serpent? The serpent is the devil and by implication everything that arises from and originates with the devil. That is a plain statement that puts the lie to the suggestion that unanswered prayer, sickness, sorrow, poverty, downturn, etc., originates with God. This is not what is commonly taught in Christian culture. Yet the Father speaking through Jeremiah tells us that it is iniquity and sin that causes us to live in the no man’s land of unanswered prayer and isolation from the promises of God. You have to be willing, more willing to question yourself than you are to impeach the faithfulness of God or the intent of the scripture if anything is going to change in a life lived in the absence of God’s blessing.
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