In our second sermon of “History Lessons,” we focus on a dark time in Judah’s history–the time of their last three evil kings, who reigned just as Babylon was conquering Judah. But there is one bright figure speaking God’s word to the nation during the whole time–Jeremiah. It’s one of the great examples of how God is speaking at all times to His people, and a challenge for us to listen to His words, which sometimes bring warning, but also bring direction and hope.
(Our apologies, the first 5 min of the sermon were not recorded.)
Background: The northern kingdom of Israel had been conquered by the Assyrians. The southern kingdom of Judah thought they would never be conquered, but during the lives of the last three (evil) kings of Judah, the land was invaded and its inhabitants exiled.
The first big question might be “Where was God in all of this?” The answer–everywhere!
God had raised up many prophets to speak His word during this time. The greatest was Jeremiah, whose ministry spanned the last five kings of Judah right through the destruction of the Temple. He interpreted God’s word for the masses, the leaders and the kings, and gave them the words God gave him to speak.
During his ministry, he preached repentance, predicted the death and captivity of the kings, and encouraged the people to not be complacent because they were God’s people.
He kept predicting that Babylon would ultimately conquer Judah and Jerusalem, and that if the people cooperated with the conquering armies, they would be safe. Few listened to him and they suffered the consequences.
Yet he also said that the exiles were the hope of the future, and that God would bring them back to Judah and re-establish the nation. Many of us know Jeremiah 29:11. But most of us aren’t aware of the context–this is what Jeremiah was saying to the exiles in Babylon, to give them direction and hope.
This is the heart of God–Listen to My word and be saved!
So the question is: If God was doing all this speaking, Was anyone paying attention?
In Jeremiah 36, the prophet wrote things on a scroll to try to bring the people to repentance. When King Jehoiakim (first king) heard the words, he cut up the scroll and put the pieces into a fire!
Jeremiah 37:1-2 “Now King Zedekiah (third king).. reigned… whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made king in the land of Judah. But neither he nor his servants nor the people of the land gave heed to the words of the Lord which He spoke by the prophet Jeremiah.”
We can’t stop God’s word from happening, or being true, no matter how we might reject it.
But even in the midst of judgment, God has a plan for us, to save us through it. The prophetic words to Judah said that due to their disobedience the kingdom would be destroyed. But those words gave wisdom in the meantime, and promised hope and restoration.
What’s God saying to you? Are you listening?
If you don’t know, you can find out! John 16:13 My sheep hear my voice.
We are expected to, and we can–that’s the normal Christian life.
What are the ways we can hear His voice?
Get yourself acquainted with God’s written word. It will sink in and put God’s thoughts into your head and make your spirit more sensitive to knowing what’s God’s word and what is our thinking.
Prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit, whom the Lord promised would lead us into all truth.
Proverbs 15:22 and Proverbs 19:20 Take advantage of godly counselors and listen to their correction and instruction. That might be God’s way of preparing you to hear His voice.
Proverbs 3:1-2–God only means our best, even if everything is falling apart around us. He is always speaking to those who want to hear Him. Let’s press in to listen!