Date: 19 March, 2015
Text: Jeremiah 29:1-19
Title: A Letter from God.
Israel was going into a time of captivity. This was a time of Divine chastening.
Proverbs 3:12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
God's love for Israel would not allow Him to let His people continue in their rebellion against Him.
· Jeremiah was the weeping prophet who would plead with people to turn to God and yet they would not. Even when imprisoned and beaten, Jeremiah was a faithful messenger of God.
· Daniel is alive at this time. He is a young man growing up in a generation that is being punished for rejecting God.
· Three other young men, Shadrach, Meshak and Abednego are also young people at this time of rebellion and punishment.
· These young people would be taken by the King of Babylon and raised away from their homeland. But, even in discipline God remembers mercy and sends a letter to encourage them and the rest of those taken captive. It is a letter sent to them through His servant Jeremiah. That letter is what we will look at this morning. It is recorded for us in Jeremiah 29.
We can identify a bit with these young men as we too are growing up in a strange land that is under the judgment of God. (Christians have been called upon to live as if this world is not our home.)
Heb 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
(There is much about this world that should make a Christian realize this is not our home.)
ill. Young lady mocked on facebook for being the ugliest girl alive.
ill. Men and teens who jeered a suicidal man telling him to jump.
ill. Glasgow meeting of those who decide about sexual education wanting to prevent parents from having the right to pull their kids out of classes which teach objectionable material expecially with regard to homosexuality.
ill. A world that rejects the Creator God and gives glory to science falsely so called. A world that kills babies - heard this past week of a 13 year old from midlothian who has already had an abortion.
We are indeed living in a strange land where wrong is called right and right is called wrong.
Isa 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
But, here we are. How can we abide in a STRANGE land where God has placed us. Let us consider this morning this letter from Jeremiah as it applies to God's people in a foreign land.
1 ¶ Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon;
2 (After that Jeconiah the king, and the queen, and the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, and the carpenters, and the smiths, were departed from Jerusalem;)
3 By the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, (whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent unto Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon) saying,
4 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon;
note: This letter was from God. These people were in Babylon by His sovereign choice. What was the way forward in the foreign land?
I. Live right!
A. Prepare for the future.
5 Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them;
6 Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished.
exp. They could think that it would be better not to have children in captivity. In doing so, they would hurt the future strength of their nation. God would instruct them even here to be building up good families. And God would bless them with children.
Genesis 9:7 And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.
Psalm 127:3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
ill. When Israel came out of captivity from Egypt they were reaping God's abundant blessing with children. Exodus 1: 8 ¶ Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. 9 And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: 10 Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land. 11 Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.
app. Just because we are in a foreign land (the world) does not mean that God's people can't flourish. (Even when the world is set on making it even more difficult for Christianity to grow.)
B. Participate in your locality.
7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.
exp. We are the ones who know God. We are the ones who can Get God's best for our community. We ought to be the ones who are diligently interceding for our nation.
I Timothy 2: 1 ¶ I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
app. With the elections taking place we need to pray for God to mercifully give us men who will stand for what is right and good. Why? Because as our land prospers with GOD'S BLESSING so we have peace as well.
II. Love truth!
A. Stay away from deception.
8 ¶ For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed.
exp. If they trusted in their experiences they could be easily misled. They would dream a dream and put trust in it even though it violated God's revelation.
ill. I met a man a few weeks back who had a large feather fall in front of him. He picked it up and put it in his pocket. A few days later he read in the obituarys that his birth mom whom he had never met had died. She had died on the same day that the feather had fallen in front of him. And so, he was convinced that his mom was communicating with him. He is also involved in the occult and contacting spirits.
app. It would be humurous if it wasn't so tragic. Satan has deceived him into believing in experiences instead of trusting in GOD'S REVELATION! Careful friend. Don't let Satan keep you from truth by getting you enamored with experiences that he creates to deceive you.
B. Stay away from False Teachers.
9 For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD.
exp. They were prophesying but not because God had given them any revelation.
ill. I am asked all of the time. Why are there so many religions? How do I know what is right?
ANSWER: WHAT DOES THE BOOK SAY?
ill. Speaking to a Mormon who grew up in a Baptist church. She liked the perceived morality of the person who told her about mormonism. BUT! They say that Jesus is not THE GOD, he is A GOD.
exp. God's Word says he is GOD not A GOD! HE IS WORSHIPPED. The only one mankind can worship is God.
ill. John falling down at the angel's feet.
Re 22:8-9 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
ill. Angels worship Jesus.
Hebrews 1:6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.
app. Careful friends, Satan is a deceiver. Judge by the book or you will get it wrong.
III. Learn promises!
10 For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
exp. 70 years is a long time. Those who went into the captivity as young people would be old by the time they were returned to their home land. But, there was a promise in which they cold hope. Daniel knew this precious promise and would participate in receiving it.
question: How do you view God's promises? How often do you claim them to meet a need?
ill. George Mueller
" The orphan houses exist to display that God can be trusted and to encourage believers to take him at his word. This was a deep sense of calling with Mueller. He said that God had given him the mercy in “being able to take God by His word and to rely upon it.”38 He was grieved that “so many believers . . . were harassed and distressed in mind, or brought guilt on their consciences, on account of not trusting in the Lord.” This grace that he had to trust God's promises, and this grief that so many believers didn't trust his promises, shaped Mueller's entire life. This was his supreme passion: to display with open proofs that God could be trusted with the practical affairs of life. This was the higher aim of building the orphan houses and supporting them by asking God, not people, for money.
It seemed to me best done, by the establishing of an Orphan-House. It needed to be something which could be seen, even by the natural eye. Now, if I, a poor man, simply by prayer and faith, obtained, without asking any individual, the means for establishing and carrying on an Orphan-House: there would be something which, with the Lord's blessing, might be instrumental in strengthening the faith of the children of God besides being a testimony to the consciences of the unconverted, of the reality of the things of God. This, then, was the primary reason, for establishing the Orphan-House. . . The first and primary object of the work was, (and still is) that God might be magnified by the fact, that the orphans under my care are provided, with all they need, only by prayer and faith, without any one being asked by me or my fellow-laborers, whereby it may be seen, that God is FAITHFUL STILL, and HEARS PRAYER STILL."39 - John Piper
app. We need to search for promises in God's Word which speak about that for which we are praying. Do you have a health need? Find promises of healing. Do you have a spiritual need? Find promises of deliverance. Do you need help in your parenting? Find promises of God's assistance in what He has called us to do. THEN CLAIM THE PROMISE IN PRAYER.
This promise to Daniel's generation is key to their deliverance 70 years later. But that promise - without faith would not achieve the answer. Thus, the next point.
IV. Let God!
A. Understand that God has given us those promises by His good character.
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
exp. God wasn't against them. He loved them and knew that the path of bondage, though hard, was a path of restoration for his people.
app. If your pathway is difficult this morning realize that a loving God has given it to you to bring you to Himself.II Corinthians 4: 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; Their bondage was for their restoration.
B. Realize that a promise is to be received from God by PRAYERS OF FAITH.
12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
exp. Wait a second. God said in 70 years they would be released. Yes! And he said they would obtain the promise by praying in faith for God's deliverance when the promise became good.
app. Jesus died for the sins of the world. He paid it in full so that all can be saved. And yet, the majority are on their way to @#!*% , because they have not claimed the promise for themselves by taking God's gift through the prayer of faith. Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. Knowing God can save is nothing. Believing that he will save you and claiming his promise of salvation is everything.
IV. Look ahead!
13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
14 And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.
exp. Don't get so caught up in your captivity that you lose the hope of the future. They would not always be in a foreign land. They would return in God's perfect time to their homeland. That hope would get them through some difficult days of captivity.
app. Believer are you so caught up in life that you have forgotten that these days in the world are temporary. Or are you living for the temporary and forgetting about eternity?
song: "This world is not my home, I'm just a passin' through, my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue, the angels beckon me from Heaven's open door, and I can't feel at home in this world anymore.."
Mt 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
app. Look ahead to the return to our eternal home!
ill. Matt Recker "Living with eternities values in view."
V. Listen up!
exp. The final part of the letter is pronouncing judgment upon those who ignored the message of God.
15 ¶ Because ye have said, The LORD hath raised us up prophets in Babylon;
16 Know that thus saith the LORD of the king that sitteth upon the throne of David, and of all the people that dwelleth in this city, and of your brethren that are not gone forth with you into captivity;
17 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will send upon them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil.
18 And I will persecute them with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and an astonishment, and an hissing, and a reproach, among all the nations whither I have driven them:
19 Because they have not hearkened to my words, saith the LORD, which I sent unto them by my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; but ye would not hear, saith the LORD.
exp. Listen up! Those who have let God's message pass them by and have despised God's Word. God will justly destroy you.
II Thes. 2:12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
app. LISTEN UP! Don't let Satan deceive you. You can't get away with rebelion against God. It is far better to submit.
ill. Speaking with a young lady about how proud people are. "It is better to lose your pride in life and have Jesus than to keep your pride and go to @#!*% ."
app. What will it be friend? Do you want your pride? or Jesus? Do you @#!*% or Heaven? God isn't mean. He is JUST. He's already sacrificed His Son, so that you can have life.
conclusion: Thank you Jeremiah for not quitting in giving God's message. Thank you for a letter to the people in captivity. Daniel would read this letter with great interest. This letter is key to future deliverance. How are you responding to the LETTER FROM GOD THIS MORNING? Are you living right? loving truth? Learning promises? Letting God? Looking ahead? Listening Up?