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October 13, 2019 7:00 pm
Well, we pick up tonight where we left off a week or two ago and are study of biblical lament.
We are in the middle of the book of Lamentations and in chapter 3. Here Jeremiah is laboring to interpret the events that have transpired in Judah. The devastation that has befallen Jerusalem as the Babylonians of common pillage, the city and destroyed the temple and broken down the walls and killed people and carried them off in captivity and the language in these chapters are for the calamity and the devastation is unimaginable. Jeremiah is again seeking to interpret what is transpired in the providence of God. We have come tonight to this section of Scripture.
And it's the Lord's table service in this preaching portion serves us well in that regard tonight.
I want us to concentrate on five verses the beginning verse 37 and run through verse 41. Let me read those verses and then give you some direction as to how will handle these verses, verse 37. Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord is not commanded. Is it not from the mouth of the most high, that whoa and well-being proceed. Why should a living man complain. A man for the punishment of his sins. Let us search out and examine our ways and turn back to the Lord, let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven, and these five verses I see three instructive questions in verses 3738 and 39 you'll see a?
At the end of verse 37 and at the end of verse 38, and at the end of verse 39, three instructive questions, followed by three challenging exhortations in verses 40 and 41 so that's the roadmap as we consider this portion of God's word tonight.
Listen to these verses in the ESV just a little bit different wording just to bring some clarity to us who is spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord is commanded, it is not from the mouth of the most high.
The good and bad, why should a living man complain. A man about the punishment of his sins.
Let us test and examine our ways and return to the Lord, let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven. The first question there in verse 37. Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded it.
It's a rhetorical question. Think about the question itself who is see who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded. Who is he, he doesn't he doesn't. The backdrop here.
The context is the Babylonians, the Chaldeans, who have come and the seeds to city destroyed the temple and its walls, and they said that they would come and destroy Jerusalem and it came to pass, not because they said it, but because God commanded it, and God commissioned them to do it not the only reason it came to pass, no man thwarts and frustrates the purposes of God. Nobody has an agenda that does not fit into the eternal decrees of God. We must understand that we must see and acknowledge the hand of God in all the calamities that will fall any of us at any time.
Whatever men's actions are. It is God that overrules them men man can do nothing but according to the Council of God. He has no power or success that is not given to him from God and I find it fascinating that a pagan king could say these things. Believers sometimes struggle with these realities.
But listen to what Nebuchadnezzar a pagan king said recorded in Daniel chapter 4, all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed is nothing he does.
According to his will in the Army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth.
No one can restrain his hand or say to him what have you done that's a pagan king speaking that truth in his right.
He's exactly right. God is working in this world after the counsel of his own will and no man will thwart his purposes.
No man will do those things that are contrary to what God has already determined to do nothing comes to pass, unless God wills it, nothing comes to pass, unless God decrees it. Nothing escapes his knowledge nothing escapes his foreknowledge. No one can resist his will. No one can frustrate his councils. That's what this rhetorical question is communicating to us. Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded it so there's something else to that is kind of in the backdrop here part of the context and that is the false prophets who were speaking peace peace when there was no peace and what they prophesied was not consistent with reality.
It was contrary to the will of God, and although they said it got did not agree with that.
He did not do create and therefore did not come to pass. We have these words in Jeremiah chapter 5, an astonishing and horrible thing is been committed in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely and the priest will buy their own power and my people love to have it so but what will you do in the end, what will you do in the end, what will you do when God's will prevails, what will you do and what God is determined and decreed will come to pass.
Contrary to what the false prophets have been say so that's the first question is were considering three instructive questions. Question number two in verse 40 rooms are numbers for you but verse 38 is it not from the mouth of the most high, that whoa and well-being proceed.
Is it not from the mouth of the most high, that whoa and well-being proceed for good number of years of my Christian life I was taught current.
Contrary to what that verse is communicating in an effort to protect the character and reputation of God. I was told all the bad things in this world are due to the devil and anything good comes from God.
That sounds good but is false. Now God is not the author of sin. God doesn't tempt any man to sin, but God is overruling in this world and listen to what Job had to say about that.
We know about Job's calamities.
We know who was the Cayman destroyed his property in all the rest. Listen to what Job says Aziz again trying to assess what is happened doing and his wife is speaking into his ear and his wife said to him, do you still hold fast your integrity curse God and die, but he said to her you speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity.
Job understood that God was the first cause, and all that had transpired in his life. We have this wonderful reminder in all this Job did not sin with his lips. He did not sin with his lips again back to the question, is it not from the mouth of the most high, that whoa and well-being proceed in the answer to that is absolutely it's hard for us to get our minds around that. But there is no other truth consistent with the Scriptures, the Lord forms the light and he creates the darkness.
All the events of divine providence are the product of a divine counsel. Whatever is done. God has the directing of it in the works of his hands agree with the words of his mouth must come to grips with that and when not split speak let's be honest this evening.
It's easy to say that in the hypothetical. It's easy to say that when the sunshine is shining in your life and good providence is your portion. But when dark providence comes difficult. Providence comes, you better believe that, you better believe that, because if you don't believe it. It will, it will trouble you. It will hinder you.
I have a quotation from Jeremiah Burroughs.
I was reading this week in his book the rare jewel of Christian contentment and again this consistent with what this question is raising here when I hear of active and a passive obedience of always related that to Christ, the Christ was passively obedient to God when he yielded himself to the cross to the cruelty of the cross he submitted himself to ungodly men. He was passively obedient. He was actively obedient and that he kept all the demands all the requirements of the righteous law so there's these two aspects of Christ's obedience is active obedience and is passive obedience. But I prior to hearing this from Jeremiah Burroughs. I never thought of it in terms of the Christian listen to what he has to say quote in active obedience. We worship God by doing what pleases God. But by passive obedience.
We worship God by being pleased with what God does. That's profound in active obedience.
We worship God by doing what pleases God, but by passive obedience.
We worship God by being pleased with what God's now he's writing about the rare jewel of Christian contentment. You will not know contentment. If you are upset and dismayed and disgruntled about God's providence in your life, and we obey God. When we submit to God, and we say what air the Lord whatever what air my God ordained is my again. That's a place of maturity that young Christians need to progress to we don't we don't deaden come parcel with justification. We've got to learn that we've got to grow into that. But when you think about Job and the calamities that befell him when Satan came to God's accusation was basically this we could boil it all down to this, he said to God, yes. Job warships you because you you by his obedience. You pay for his worship. Your gut and you put a hedge about him. He blessed his life. Why, what we worship you take the stuff from it is held from an old curse you, that's what the devil basically was wagering with God. Jeremiah Burroughs says in his book this the greatest warship.
Job ever gave God was when after his children had all died in a single day and all his possessions had been stolen from him.
He fell down and worshiped God and said the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Job had been given was given grace to be pleased with what God did in his life.
I'm not saying that's easy but that's what we ought to be aspiring to.
That's away at the gauge of measuring our maturity in our growth in Christ in us what we ought to be longing for Lord help me. Give me grace to be able to say what air you have done is good and it's right is hard as it might be and you'll be tested along those lines, I promise you that was very very helpful to me. Question number three verse 39.
Why should a living man complain. A man for the punishment of his sins. Why should a living man complain. A man for the punishment of his sins. I pondered why the qualifying word living applied to man is in that question why than the just. I why should a man complain. A man for the punishment of his sins.
Why should a living man complain as I thought about that any man or woman. It's on the other side of the grave.
They have no grounds for complaining. They fully understand the justice of God. They fully understand that the punishment for sin is warranted, the justice of God demands it. Why should a living man complain. A man for the punishment of his sentence. What's going on here in Jeremiah's life.
He's eyewitness to the judgment of God upon the people of Judah for their sins and this is a lie lament. It's called the book of Lamentations. Jeremiah is offering complaint about what is transpiring and yet these are the words of Jeremiah. It's as though he's reminding himself.
Why should a living man complain.
A man for the punishment of his sins.
God is a right to punish man for his sins. God's justice demands punishment for our sins. God can do nothing but punish a man for his sins. And we have no ground for complaining it's are just desserts how it ought to cause our hearts to rejoice that in this case, the judgment was a temporal judgment. This was an eternal judgment. They were carried off in the Babylonian captivity, but many returned and again the question, why should a living man complain. A man for the punishment of his sins are sins warrant eternal damnation.
Our sins warrant a barn for us. Death wrath condemnation and is no ground for complaining about that every cause for rejoicing that God sent a substitute to take our place who bore the wrath of God, who stood in a place of condemnation so that we will have to so no place for complaining, in every place for rejoicing and Thanksgiving for the 1 Who Took Our Pl. and stood in our place and it's a fatherly love that punishes us chastises us for our sins if we are his children. In fact, it's evidence of the lack of a father's love. When he doesn't chasten his children.
So if you're under the. The rod of God tonight and you know that you're being chastened, don't complain. Rejoice in that God is lovingly chastening you and he has a good purpose, and that to bring you back to himself. So three questions for consideration here in verses 37 verse 38 first 39. Let's consider three challenging exhortations three challenging exhortations in verses 40 in verse 41 Jeremiah says let us search out and examine our ways and turn back to the Lord, let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven.
Three challenging exhortations in the first is the challenge and exhortation of self-examination. Let us search out and examine our ways. There good number of godly men holy purposes in the Lord's table.
One of them is to give occasion for the people of God to examine themselves to search their hearts.
It's a means of grace for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And here's this challenging exhortation again. Keep in mind the context there is then the judgment of God on a national level. It's more national than it is personal and what are we prone to do what we have to do in times of similar occurrences around us. When we see the judgment of God.
The falling a community nation. It's it's easy for us to reflect upon other people's ways and the blame and lay the blame on other people were not examining ourselves were examining the situation is a will yeah they had a common that should happen. Eicher predicted that or whatever, but this is saying Jeremiah's saying God through the inspiration of Jeremiah saying our business is to search and try our own ways about other people knowing about God's dealings with the nation with government and all the rest. Let us search out and examine our ways and consider that self-examination is only as beneficial as the help we received from God. In doing so because the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked and we can deceive ourselves, the very nature of sin is that is deceitful so unaided by the Holy Spirit, we can look within and make an assessment.
You know what I'm doing pretty well and be totally amiss and having an accurate assessment. We need God to shine the light of his word into our hearts and expose those areas of sin that need acknowledge confessed and repented of so the first challenging exhortation is to self-examination.
Let us search out and examine our ways and I don't know when the last time. Perhaps you've prayed the psalmist prayer. Search me oh God and try me know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting is a good prayer to pray because you're acknowledging that you're not going to truck.
Trust your assessment you're asking God to search your heart and lead you in the right way. That's what we need Celeste the first challenging exhortation. The second is a call to repentance. Why we do search why we examine our ways, says, let us search out and examine our ways and turn back to the Lord. That's the reason judgment fell. That's the reason there is devastation and heartache and sorrow all around Jeremiah's day and that's the reason why that's so much a part of our lives and the lives of people around us. Sin and its consequence and God's judgment of it is a kind mercy of God when he brings pressure to bear and does so for the purpose of bringing us to repentance that we might turn back to the Lord. Let us search out and examine our ways and turn back to the Lord for the devil is a liar as any devil tells young people pursue your own ways, shake off the restraints don't listen to your parents you are you want joy you want, fulfillment you want excitement. Do this in a heart that has not been constrained by the spirit of God believes that listens to that gives acceptance to that and runs off in that direction.
What are they fine, they find joy and happiness and contentment and satisfaction.
No you find heart ache turned back turned back come to the Lord, is the exhortation let us search out and examine our ways and turn back to the Lord and in verse 41 third exhortation.
This is a call I want to say to prayerful submission, let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven let us lift our hearts in our hands son enough for us to live our lift our hands. We can do that when outward show without any hard engagement without any heart for God without any heart of repentance know we want to be in a position where were lifting our hands to God as an acknowledgment of our submission to him as an acknowledgment of his right to be God is our place to submit to him as God and Lord, we lift our hands to him, and as a is a symbolic way of asking for his mercy, we lift our hands to receive the mercy and hope that he'll dispense it to us, but lifting our hands means nothing if our hearts not engage God must do that work in us, let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven, we must look up to God, we must acknowledge his place that is infinitely above us.
He has uncontestable dominion over us. He rules in the heavens above and in the earth the Neath is not to be quarreled with buddies to be submitted to must pray to him with a believing expectation to receive mercy from him and rejoice when he dispenses it to us a try and be briefer in my exposition on those occasions when we gather around the Lord's table. So when we come to that time were not in a rush when looking at our time and so while there's no time to meditate. No time to think no time to pray. No time does seek the Lord. So let me conclude this message tonight with a reminder from John Bunyan's Pilgrim's progress.
Your member Christian Christian is making his way to the Celeste Teal city and he stops at interpreters house and at interpreters house is a place where he often frequents to be trained and prepared for this journey that he's on to the celestial city and interpreter acts out little vignettes to teach many vital spiritual lessons in the fire burning against the wall is one of those vignettes and let me read it to you from Bunyan's one of Bunyan's works.
It's a little bit revised so that we can understand that I saw in my dream that the interpreter took Christian by the hand and led him into a place where was a fire burning against a wall and one standing by it always casting much water upon it to quench it yet. It yet did the fire burn higher and harder then said Christian, what means this interpreter answered this fire is the work of grace that is wrought in the heart.
He that cast water upon it to extinguish and put it out is the devil, but in that thou see the fire notwithstanding burn higher and harder. Thou shalt also see the reason of that. So he had him about to the backside of the wall where he saw a man with a vessel of oil in his hand, of which he did also continually cast, but secretly into the fire, then said Christian, what means this interpreter answered. This is Christ who continually with the oil of his grace maintains the work already begun in the heart by the means of which now was notwithstanding what the devil can do the soles of his people proved gracious steel and in that thou sauce that the man stood behind the wall to maintain the fire that is to teach the that it is hard for the tempted to see how this work of grace is maintained in the soul. We may not see how that work of grace is maintained in the soul but if you are progressing in the grace of God.
God is doing that very thing for you because there is an adversary and he is trying to quench the Spirit.
He's trying to put the fire out in your life, and while he's doing that in his evil scheming in ways God the Holy Spirit is fueling the fire with the oil of the spirit to keep you alive to sustain your life, that the flame of the life of God, and you might grow hi higher and harder.
So what we what we see here we see how totally dependent we are upon Christ for everything, even for believing upon him for one more day left to ourselves, we can sustain what he's begun and that's why he tells us he who has begun a good work in us will continue until the day of Jesus Christ.
He's working in us both to will and to do according to his good pleasure. And thank God he is.
Thank God he is.
Thank God he's sustaining us that God is keeping us so we rejoice tonight as we gather around the table. We rejoice in converting grace, we rejoice in keeping grace, we rejoice in sustaining grace, we rejoice in persevering grace, we rejoice in every grace that God bestows upon us because that's what keeps us in the way and apart from that we would not be in the way we would go our own way. You know there's verses of Scripture we quote we apply them to certain people and a certain periods of the life, but one of those is Romans chapter 3 verse 20 that says we've all fallen short of the glory of God say well yeah that was me before I was saved know that not you tonight that you tonight you're still missing the mark you're still falling short of the glory of God. But despite that God is still keeping you by his grace and God's promise to one day fully glorify you fully redeem you and fully bring you into his presence forever and ever and ever. What a salvation we have, but the writer of Hebrews says, how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation. This is a great salvation, but the benefits do not accrue to you if you're not a partaker, may God by his grace.
Make everyone a partaker of this great and glorious salvation spray father we bow tonight to thank you for your grace Ford were mindful that your holy God because your holy God.
Sin must be judged how fearful. How awful is that judgment Jeremiah gives words to that, and yet it pales in comparison to the eternal wrath and condemnation that awaits every unrepentant sinner, that place where the fire is never quenched where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth where there is eternal torment forever and ever and ever how we thank you for the Lord Jesus Christ who came from heaven's glory and bore the full wrath of God, that those who believe upon him would never have to suffer such torment in wrath because your people to rejoice afresh in the Savior. We pray in the name of him who loved us and gave himself for us