Perhaps one of the greatest pitfalls in the Christian life is when we deceive our own selves into thinking everything is ok. It is one thing to be living contrary to our Savior and know it, but it is entirely a different thing to think everything is ok when in fact it is not.
When we come to the book of Jeremiah, we are reminded of the deceitfulness of sin. The book of Jeremiah is perhaps one of the most shocking and sobering books in the Old Testament. Because we have the Word of God and are looking back into history, we can easily see the folly in the decisions that the people of Jerusalem made. We can also see the deception that was believed by the people of Jerusalem. They certainly experienced a bitter end as they were swept off into captivity. As we look at just a few verses our eyes should be enlightened as we discover the truth that they were blinded and deceived thinking there was peace.
Consider the following verses from Jeremiah chapter 6:
"Be thou instructed, O Jerusalem, lest my soul depart from thee; lest I make thee desolate, a land not inhabited. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall throughly glean the remnant of Israel as a vine: turn back thine hand as a grapegatherer into the baskets. To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it. Therefore I am full of the fury of the LORD; I am weary with holding in: I will pour it out upon the children abroad, and upon the assembly of young men together: for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with him that is full of days. And their houses shall be turned unto others, with their fields and wives together: for I will stretch out my hand upon the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD. For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD." (Jeremiah 6: 8-15)
Please make note of the specific phrase in verse number 14, the Bible says that the message of the day was “Peace, Peace.” In the ears of the people they thought, “everything is going to be okay.” “God certainly would not bring destruction upon this place, this is Jerusalem, the privileged city of God.”
At the beginning of these few verses God is calling to His people with this simple thought:
Be thou instructed
We would do well to make note of these three words, “Be thou instructed…” Those words should resound in our hearts every time we pick up the Word of God. When we enter into the church house we should come in with the desire to “Be thou instructed…” When we are around the spiritually mature our motto should be, “Be thou instructed…” When our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ speaks we ought to say within ourselves “Be thou instructed…” Unfortunately, too often in our day we reject being instructed. We reject the Word of God. we reject the preaching and teaching of the Word of God. We reject the counsel of men and women of God, that our Lord has placed in our lives. The truth is we allow everything else to instruct us, rather than the Lord. We look to the television and are instructed of it. We look to google and are instructed of it. We look to Social Media and allow it to instruct us. It is no wonder that our spiritual eyesight is dim.
In our passage Jerusalem, the great city of our great God allowed themselves not to be instructed by God, but rather were deceived by false teachers. They readily received what was palatable to their itching ears. “Peace, peace” is what they heard.
If we are to avoid this pitfall we must not only be prepared to be instructed, but we must then listen to the instruction.
Notice as the passage continues we find these words:
“To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.”
This question should alert us to the truth that our Lord desires us to be warned. Jesus made this statement in Matthew 23:37 as He looked upon His own precious people:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”
Perhaps this same question is being spoken to us today, “To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear?” The indication is by the context of this passage, that nobody was listening. Though God sent Jeremiah to testify, ‘their ears were uncircumcised’ and ‘they could not listen.’
Why could they not hear the pleading of their God? Why were they deceived with the false message of “Peace, Peace!”? The sad comment and answer to the question is given in the latter part of the verse:
“…the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach they have no delight in it.”
A reproach and no delight. When they heard the message, they decided not to yield to the Lord. They heard the message with contempt. They rejected the ‘hard’ sayings. One commentator said this, “they reproached it, and blasphemed it, as a novel and false doctrine, and thought it a dishonour to them to receive and profess it; and just so the Jews vilified the Gospel, in the times of Christ and his apostles; and as many do now, who treat it with contempt, as unworthy of God, as contrary to reason, as opening a door to licentiousness, and think it a scandal to preach or profess it:” (John Gill)
Those two vividly descriptive words ought not to be in our vocabulary when the Lord speaks to us. Rather we should hear and accept what God is teaching us. We should yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit as He makes application of God’s Word in our lives.
So simply put, Hear the warning.
When we refuse to listen we willfully stop our ears and therefore we “cannot hearken.” So often it is that until people are willing to hear, they cannot and will not hearken. All of the wisdom of God spoken with great oratory will do nothing until we ‘hear’ willfully. Such was the case with Jerusalem, they rejected Jeremiah’s delivering of the message of God, and chose rather to be deceived.
The Bible plainly declares the turning point in one word in verse 11, “Therefore…” The next few verses catalogue for us the list of frightening judgments that the Lord would “pour” out upon the people. None were exempt for it states, “from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.” (v.13) Yet they said, “Peace, peace.”
So much could be gleaned from this rich passage in Jeremiah chapter 6, but what application can you and I see from these few verses:
1. Be Thou Instructed – Have a willing heart to be instructed by God. (God has given us His Word, the Holy Spirit, and teachers/preachers for our instruction. We would do wise to have a heart that is willing to be instructed. In the Bible, people were often called, stiff-necked and hard-hearted who were not willing to be instructed.)
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” – Proverbs 1:7
2. Hear The Warning – Perhaps you have received warning from one of the biblical avenues listed above: the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, a teacher/preacher (a spiritually mature man or woman of God). We would do well to hear the warning. This is not just a willingness to be instructed, but the actual reception of instruction. Remember the earlier verse:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” – Matthew 23:37
This verse tells us “prophets” were sent. Not just once, nor twice, but the Word of God is littered with evidence that God repeated over and over again the message of warning. He is doing the same for you and I today in His mercy and grace. If you are being warned of God over and over again concerning the same area of your life, and it lines up with the Word of God, it would be foolish to disregard the warning.
3. True Peace Can Only Come With A Right Relationship and Fellowship with God.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27
Peace with God comes first when we trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Before one can have any peace with God at all, they must repent of their sin and trust in Jesus as their Saviour. Agree with God that you have missed the mark, and ask Jesus to save you. Jesus paid for your sin. He was crucified, He died, and rose from the grave victorious. The Bible plainly declares, “repentance toward God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:21) “….the word of faith, which we preach;…” (Romans 10:8b) is this, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (Romans 10:9-11)That is believing on Jesus Christ for salvation. Until that takes place in your life, you can say “Peace, peace” all you want, and yet there is no peace.
Secondly, for those who have trusted in Jesus as their Saviour ask the Lord is their truly “peace” in terms of your fellowship with Him? Is there something that you are failing to be instructed in? Is there a warning that you are ignoring? Surely, our Lord and Saviour desires us not to be deceived with a false message of “Peace, peace” when there is no peace.
- Pastor James Grandinetti, Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
What is it that allows us to labour with God in ministering to people? What makes the Christians different from the lost world? What evidence is there that God is with us? All of these questions should cause the faithful minister of Christ to contemplate the title of this post, "Having Power with God." In Exodus chapter 33 we are given some insight to this very subject. In this chapter we find this great leader, Moses, who was certainly called by God and is seen here in the most fascinating and enlightening discourse one can find in the Old Testament. This passage gives rise to our understanding as to how we can have power with God to minister to others. Oftentimes it is that we minister to others in the strength of our flesh rather than the strength of the Lord. This is done not purposely or even maliciously, but takes place because we have failed in the first things that Moses exemplifies in this passage.
Take note of the following passage and in particular the phrases that are highlighted.
Exodus 33: 7-17
"And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp. And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle. And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses. And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door. And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle. And Moses said unto the LORD, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name."
Please make note of a few items with me:
1. Moses' entering into the tabernacle.
Verse 8 tells us "the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle." Then in verse 9 the Bible continues "And it came to pass as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended."
There is something very rich and vital we see here in these two verses. Something that is oftentimes overlooked but notice repeatedly it is said 'Moses went and entered into the tabernacle." What was the tabernacle? What was this place? It was the prescribed place where Moses was to meet with God. This tabernacle though temporary and outside the camp because of the people's disobedience was the meeting place with God.
Notice Moses went there. (v7)
Notice it was a place set aside. (v7)
Notice it was separated from everything else. (v7)
Notice that the people saw his actions. (v8)
This is the first great characteristic of someone who has power with God, they go to the place set aside to meet with God. They go to the place set apart from everything else. The quiet place, the place where it is just them and God. They come away with a glow on thier faces because they have seen the glory of God. Moses purposed to go there. the Bible says "everyone which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp."
We are only told in this passage of two particular folks that went out to the tabernacle. No doubt there were many others that went there seeking the LORD. Moses and Joshua are certainly shown to have spent much time there! Do you understand that Moses had to purpose in himself to enter into this place? He had a desire to meet with God and actually set apart to do so! God help us to be with him apart, in the separated place.
Well to have power with God we must 'go to the tabernacle." Secondly please note:
2. Moses' communion with God
We see first of all the interaction that took place.
v9 "And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses."
In verse 9 we are told that God spoke to Moses. "...and the LORD talked with Moses." But then also in verse 12 we are told the Moses spoke to God. "And Moses said unto the LORD..." There was true communion and fellowship taking place. God was speaking to man and man was speaking to God. The passage goes on to explain that this was no cold, empty, heartless time but rather it was a sweet communion that took place. Notice the language of the Bible in verse 11, "And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend...." What a marvelous statement this is! Think about it for a minute, God speaking to Moses in such familiarity. By the way this phrase 'as a man speaketh unto his friend...' in no way is meant to bring down the Holiness of God to the level of man, but rather denotes an intimate fellowship between God and Moses. Oh how God loves us so much to stoop down to converse with us!
How true it is that we must go to the tabernacle to meet with God and also we must commune with God! These things are required to have power with God. There is no way around it, if we are going to minister in the power of the Spirit of God, we must be with Him!
So far we have Moses' entering into the tabernacle, Moses' communion with God, and thirdly we see:
3. Moses' search to know God
Moses' relationship as a child of God is explicit in this passage. As Moses talks with God he mentions a vital phrase that we should take note of, "And Moses said unto the LORD, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight." This particular phrase that Moses repeats as being God's Word concerning him tells us his relationship to God had already been established. In Galatians 4: 8,9 we find these similar words, "Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?" Those Galatian believers could say they were "known of God..." How? They were known as His children. Much the same, Moses could not have power with God without being a child of God, but God knew him by name! Praise the Lord for that! Because of this Moses' response to know God is manifested. In verse 13 we find these words Moses speaking, "Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people." At the top of the list, in this sweet communion time was a desire to know God! Oh how fruitless our time is reading God's Word if we are not endeavoring and desiring to know Him! Paul expressed this similar life goal in Philippians 3:10, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;" In this glorious verse in Philippians Paul emphatically says he desires to intimately know our Lord Jesus Christ is every possible way. Moses requests from God the same, "shew me now thy way, that I may know thee..."
Well lastly we find this great truth concerning having power with God:
4. Moses' labor depended upon God's presence
God's response to Moses' request is very telling. God states, "My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest." Notice particularly the last phrase 'I will give thee rest'. As we think upon what transpired after this moment, it seems there was anything but rest! This really was the beginning of a long journey for the children of Israel. What is meant by rest here was conquering the promised land. As it was then, so it is today, that the victorious Christian life is a life of conquest. But the rest is found in God's abiding presence and power to be victorious. One commentator put it this way, "not ease, and peace and tranquility of mind, or a freedom from the fear of enemies and all dangers by them, much less rest in the grace...but rather the promised land itself..." This speaks to the verse much quoted from the book of Philippians which states, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians4 4:13) The real emphasis of this verse is not on the doing of all things, but rather on the "through Christ which strengthenth me." You cannot have the all things without the victorious Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!
As we close Moses' response should be written on the epitaph of our hearts, "And he [Moses] said unto him, "If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence." What a powerful statement! Moses here is not signaling a lack faith but rather confirming God's promise. He states "its not even worth doing without you!" Oh that we would have such a heart and tell our Lord these very words.
We must be with Him, commune with Him, and be transformed by Him before we can do anything for Him. This is especially true of the greatest labour that God has for us, that of personal evangelism!
- Pastor James Grandinetti, Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
Sharon Baptist church is an independent, fundamental Baptist church located in Hampton, VA.
Showing People the Way to God
- Personal Evangelism
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