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Babylon, Idolatry And You

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
January 3, 2021 1:00 am

Babylon, Idolatry And You

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer

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January 3, 2021 1:00 am

After a long period of nation-wide disobedience, God judged Israel by allowing Babylon to carry them off into captivity. They became a minority in a pagan land, just as Christians are fast becoming a minority in America today. The parallels are crucial to understand.

 Click here to listen (Duration 54:30)

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After long national disobedience.

God judged Israel by having Babylon cut them off into captivity. They became a minority in a pagan land just as Christians are fast becoming a minority in America. The parallels are crucial to understand, so please stay with us from Chicago.

This is The Moody Church. Our a weekly service of worship and teaching under the ministry of Dr. Erwin lutes on this broadcast.

We begin a 10 part series on the church in Babylon unleashing the power of a spirit filled witness later, Erwin lutes, or we'll talk about Babylon idolatry and you Dr. lutes comes now to open our service. Now this time I'm going to ask that you stand as we pray together you would please and then remain standing as we have the Scripture to be read and continue to stand as we saying Lord that's what we do at this moment, we do invite your presence. We thank you for your congregation for your body. Here at The Moody Church and we ask your blessing old father that together we might be able to worship you and be absolutely confident as we sing together that we belong to you direct our thoughts now to your holy word. We ask in Jesus name, amen. I write to me. Chapter 9 God's holy was sitting near some see name salvation from day glory among the nations, he's my lettuce from day to day glory among the nations. He smile and work among all peoples from he fought after people what I does not make that happen.

I asked right all families of their peoples ask right below it glory and strength. Ask right glory. He's name planning and come into his cause was said among the nations don't know it rains. Yes no copies each town there will be move even a chance for people equity. Thank you today that in your grace. We stand where the wrath of God is already been in that today we are exempt from that wrath because of Jesus, and we stand on. We thank you that his blood can cover all sin. We pray that we might exalt his name today and Jesus blessed name. Amen, amen. What comes to your mind when I mentioned the name Babylon perhaps occultism would come to your mind is certainly immorality, violence, all of those things would be true, but the bottom line is one word and that is idolatry babbling known for idolatry. That name Babylon occurs in the Scripture, about 200 times, mostly about ancient Babylon, but also about the Babylon of the future, perhaps in this series eventually will get to that Jeremiah the prophet was writing during the time when the neo-Babylonian Empire was beginning to see ancient Babylon had passed off the scene as a world power.

But now Babylon was being revived and was actually overtaking Assyria as the world Empire in Jeremiah, God bless and would actually live to see the destruction of the city of Jerusalem. The kingdom of Judah destroyed Solomon's Temple in ruins thoroughly and totally destroyed, and he would have to be a witness to it all.

The reason I'm preaching this series of messages is first of all, that we might renew and have a better understanding of God. If you see God as someone who is tolerant who can put up with any kind of behavior endlessly any kind of behavior on our part. Your concept of God needs adjustment. Were going to see thankfully that he is a God of mercy, but is also a God of great justice. We will be overwhelmed by God's hatred of sin is read the book of Jeremiah and you can't get over it. So one thing is working to expand our knowledge of God. The second thing that we want to do is to ask the question what does faithfulness look like in a nation that is under judgment because we as a nation undoubtedly are under the judgment of God and what is it like for people God's people to live in the midst of that kind of an environment when I began thinking about this project. This series of messages initially I was thinking about the time when the Israelites were carried into Babylon and eventually will get to that.

But before we get to that. I have a number of messages not entirely sure of the number, but a number of messages on this book of Jeremiah. I hope that you bring your Bibles it's so important for you to look at the text can we pray that God by his spirit might use this series of messages to invigorate us because even though the title is the church in babbling. Remember, the subtitle is unleashing the power of the spirit filled witness when we want to do is to be strong and courageous, gracious, but uncompromising witnesses to the gospel of Jesus Christ and a culture that is becoming increasingly hostile to the Christian faith. Let's pray that it will be transforming for all of us. Now open your Bibles.

Jeremiah chapter 1 you'll notice that it begins by talking about Josiah.

The king and then lists other kings in the first opening verses what is most important for us to realize is that Tim Jeremiah had a very long ministry over 40 years. It began during the days of Josiah the king. The young Josiah, who began to rule.

At the age of eight and was a righteous king and then it ended with the destruction of Jerusalem and Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet were going to see him with tears were going to look at the book of Lamentations. Eventually, in this series Jeremiah is just unable to function. He is so, by the tears for his nation.

You know he's going to see he's going to see the people of Judah not only carried off but children starving.

He's going to see destruction.

He's going to see king Zedekiah with his eyes gouged out and you know what Jeremiah never sees the revival for which he prayed and preached, but he was faithful will discover that whether he saw the revival or not. How relevant can you possibly be.

When you open the book of Jeremiah Saul here now you'll notice his call. And here I'm jumping to verse four of chapter 1 the word of the Lord came to me saying before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you and appointed you a prophet to the nations I used to read this this way while you were being formed in the womb I knew you and called you and then I looked at it again this week and I realize God says before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and you know that word no just doesn't mean know ahead of time. It's the word for intimate knowledge, God said, I already had a relationship with you Jeremiah before you work.

See and we know that because God is God that's in eternity past, but you know that that's true of us is well chosen in him from before the foundation of the world. If you are a believer today, God also knew you before you were born and so it's a sovereign call, you know that means that all of the genes. The genetic makeup that DNA that Jeremiah would need already came together in such a way that he'd have the gifting of the prophet. So it was sovereign God says I'm the one that is chosen you and you are choosing me only because I chose you in advance.

It was also a very specific appointed calling.

Notice it says and Jeremiah Jackson says I'm a youth and God says hey when it comes to my calling. Doesn't matter whether you're young or old, I'm calling you and that you're going to command and you're going to speak everything that I tell you to speak and don't be afraid.

Verse eight for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord. Verse nine the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth and the Lord said to me, behold, I put my words in your mouth. See this day I have set you over the nations, and over the kingdoms to pluck up to break down, to destroy to over throw to build and to plant. Notice this God says they're going to be for words of judgment for every two words of mercy and grace. And when you read the book of Jeremiah.

You discovered chapter after chapter on judgment is why were knocking to cover every chapter.

It is heavy, but you should read the book and you'll come across all kinds of figures of speech and references that you might not know a lot about, but so much of it is clear as God now unburdened us his heart for a people that have left him back. You know what I'm going to show you the next message in the series that God actually files for divorce is that I can't take it anymore I married you I been your husband your unfaithful to me. I'm going to divorce court nine nothing to tell you in advance whether or not God actually went through it that divorce that allowed let you know about next time. But the people were so unfaithful I just need to unburden my heart and say to you that if you have come to church this morning because you want to feel good message you want the pastor to say to you, you can do anything that you like as long as you have lots of self-esteem is not the series of messages to check into all right.

You might have to go to another church, at least for a few weeks because this is not Jeremiah but if you want to be here and to deal seriously with sin and repentance and put God on the throne of your life that will permeate all experiences and all of your relationships. If you want that this might be exactly this series of messages that God has for you and for me it's a hard message but it's a true message and God blooms us in order that he might shield us well. What are some of the characteristics of the idolatry. The idolatry that God hates so much. First of all, however I noticed that I have lots of material here today and they have to finish this message. Next time, what about the context in which Jeremiah is ministering. What was that like it was dark was getting darker. It was a time of hopelessness. Let me explain why. Under Josiah, the book of the law was found. Can you imagine there cleaning out the temple. There is so much garbage there is so many other gods that they brought into the temple that in the middle of cleaning it out.

They say here's part of the book of the law and they begin to read it. Then they have a revival problem.

It was too little too late. Just like in our country we see pockets of reform here and we see a revival over here, but we cannot see a reversal of our situation unless there is a massive in breaking God in our country and so Jeremiah had that hope. But now it was all hopeless. Let me say also that it was a day of death years old.

People. Jeremiah is different from all the other prophets. We don't know much about Isaiah except what he preached.

Jeremiah spells out his heart and easily weeping all share that with you. He is sobbing he argues with God. At one point he says God you deceived me is is you deceived me because I thought that you were going to give a word of peace and all that this is is a word of judgment spells out his heart is thrown into a pit, false prophets and by the way, that message is coming up in this series.

False prophets stand against him. They condemn him and he has to stand there alone and nobody wants to hear say, even at the end, the king sends for him, but Jeremiah says I'm not coming because no matter what I say you're going to go do the opposite. Anyway, that's what kind of a life he lived.

People didn't want to hear.

They were death. There's another historical point that I must make when you read Jeremiah as I hope you will we keep in mind the difference between Israel and Judah. You know after the time of Solomon. The kingdom was split and you at the northern kingdom which became known as Israel and a day capital was Samaria. That's where Ahab and others ruled the southern kingdom was Judah and the capital was Jerusalem. Now we use Israel for the whole land. See, that's the confusion. So when you come across Israel.

You know it's the northern kingdom.

You know what happened to the northern kingdom about 130 years before Jeremiah, the northern kingdom is taken and that they went off to Syria. We sometimes call them the lost 10 tribes, though some people think that they aren't lost at all, but the northern kingdom was totally destroyed. The Assyrians took. I think if I remember correctly, I didn't get up about 27,000 people into Assyria, so that kingdom was destroyed. Samaritans Iraq came about because there were some Jews left and they were mixed with Assyrians and they were mixed blood so you would think that they would learn. Jeremiah refers to that and says you know your sister your sister Israel. Look at what happened to her. The people said doesn't matter where joint or idols. We want to hear what you have to say was that Woody Allen said that the history has to repeat itself because we never learn the lessons of history. The first time in history does repeat itself. These people did not learn and they didn't want to join to idols who wants to hear that you know that preacher of judgment. We want the false prophets when I speak about the false prophets will tell you what they were saying. What are some of these characteristics of idolatry. First of all, idolatry is, and it was a day of divine judgment. You know this is so difficult to preach and you realize that there are passages that all point out in the future message where God even says don't pray for the people. He says even if Noel were to pray.

He said I'm not going to relent, because judgment is inevitable, he says, is like a boat caught in a mighty Niagara River in our imagery and you're going over the falls. It's too late now to turn back. I don't think America is at that point I pray for America.

But you realize folks that it considering what is happened in the last months and weeks and years. Who knows whether we can turn it back. So where's the optimism hang in is lots of optimism I just can't say everything in the introduction to the series. All right now what are some of the characteristics of idolatry.

It's an exchange of God's you know it says in chapter 2 verse five what wrong did your fathers find in me the day they went from me and went to after worthless and the things and became worthless of what followed was there in me says in verse 11 of chapter 2 has a nation changed its gods even though they are no gods for my people to change their glory for that which does not profit.

Be appalled all happens at this the shock be utterly desolate, declares the Lord for my people have committed two evils. They forsaken me, the fountain of living water and hewn out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold the water and ever drunk from a fresh fountain that's bubbling up with some good water.

Why would you then build a cistern to catch rainwater your sister and the leaks.

It's got cracks. The water is there for weeks on end and becomes brackish.

I think that's the only time I've ever used this word brackish but it fits here. You begin to drink it and you gag. Why would people do that. I mean, you know you're abandoning the freshwater of God. Why go for a stream that has such a bad aftertaste well were gonna hurry on and go to the second characteristic of idolatry that will answer that question, you must recognize that idolatry basically is to have a vision of God based upon desire specifically sexual desire. Have you ever thought of why this attraction to idols that is relevant. You are always running off with some other God and you know whether or not it's a Hosea in all these prophets are talking about the fact that on the mountains and the hills. They had the shrines. What is attractive about that. May I ask it's because of the pagan gods bail Babel and bail the pagan gods were very tolerant when it came to sexuality you read this, for example, in chapter 2 it says verse 24 long ago I broke your yoke and burst your bonds but you said I will not serve yes on every high hill and under every green tree you bow down like a horror says the very same thing in chapter 3, you can read it there yourself, verse two and following this, it was not only spiritual adultery that the people were committing and turning from the living water to the broken cisterns. The brackish water but they were sexually immoral, and these pagan gods were very tolerant of whatever sexuality you wanted, and the problem with that tolerance which offers so much and which promises freedom. The problem with that tolerances it brought so much baggage and when you drink from that found you gag because of the guilt and because of the broken relationships and because of the emptiness and because of the sense of destruction of who you are and the self respect should have as a person. All of those consequences are huge but the problem is your bonded to these I so you keep drinking from the bitter fountains that can hold no water, but you keep going back again again and again you see that's the problem with different views of God. I have books in my library where people have totally redefined God in accordance with human desire. Whatever it is that there was a book written, it just comes to mind as I'm preaching conversations with God.

By the way, did you know that that book was written by demonic spirit. I read it. Maybe about 10 years ago, but the author said that as he was writing a spirit came along and basically dictated it and basically what God said is I am whoever you want me to be is that you know that it was Huxley who said the reason that we accepted evolution without a lot of proof is because we didn't want to God to interfere with our sexual rate that was Huxley. In other words got off our back so that we can be free when freedom comes with a huge price on ditch and you end up choking on those fountains is a hard lesson to learn, isn't it. Now the thing is that give him remember the story told it maybe 10 years ago, you been here as long as I sometimes lose a little bit of track of time about the man who was driving through a farmyard, and he noticed that on the barn.

There were a bunch of targets and right smack in the middle of each target was an arrow. So we stopped to commend the farmer for being such an expert marksman, the farmer said what you saw there wasn't done by me. It was done by a village boy who is somewhat mentally challenged becomes out here he shoots arrows into my barn and then he paints the targets around them. That's what society does. I want to do what I want to do. I want to live the way in which I want to live and God will come along and make it all right and agreed with me very famous pornographer whose name I will not mention was interviewed and I remember reading the interview in which he says my God doesn't have a problem with see it used to be when I was younger that used in the bumper sticker said if it feels good do it now. The bumper sticker should say if it feels good. Believe it. So what we have is a God who comes along and justifies everything that we want to do third characteristic of idolatry is willful self-deception, willful self-deception now here in the text, they say, for example, in verse 23 as they are trying to justify themselves. By the way.

Notice in verse 22.

You know, of course, that I am in chapter 2 it says no you wash yourself with a lie and he was much soaked the stain of your guilt is still before me how you think there washing themselves there washing themselves with self-justification there talking among their friends and their single everybody does it. How could this be wrong and so they're trying to cleanse their consciences, but is not working very well. How can you say I am not unclean. I not gone after the bales look at your way in the Valley.

I know what you have done restless like a young camel running here and there a wild donkey used in the wilderness inner heat sniffing the wind and you know what the prophet goes on to say you go out looking for sin is not just that sin comes to you, but you go cruising trying to find it running toward the sin and not away from it.

That's where your heart really is. That's what the prophet happens to be saying wow and then he says in verse 26 is a thief ashamed when caught so the house of Israel shall be ashamed.

They their kings and so forth. I'll tell you what he saying there and think about this anything that you and I are doing, which, if it were exposed, would be shameful is something that we already know to actively is wrong and all boy might be sleeping with his girlfriend totally justified.

You know, because two can live more cheaply than Juan and yada yada yada.

Gaddy and on and on it goes. But when he's exposed.

There is embarrassment and there is shame why because intuitively you know that it's wrong, and these people going to the hills into the mountains and saying that we are worshiping these other gods they knew down deep that they were not able to wash their soul's from the stain of guilt where does this leave us a couple of observations quickly. First of all, would you remember that time idolatry that all idols all idols demand worship and allegiance all idols demand these pagan gods demanded worship. They demanded allegiance the people try to get away from just occurs to me now.

Remember that old story about tar baby trying to get away but it always kept sticking and they always kept coming back. They couldn't overcome their addiction. What they ended up doing. They ended up sacrificing their children to the God Malik, that's how bad it became. Because you see, once you say we are free from God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all of his laws and all of this tradition was things and now we're free to be our own gods. You never know where it's going to end up, but every God demands a legion and actually idolatry is not. First of all such things that we normally think of it, certainly not the idols out on the fields because we don't have that today, but we do have sports and we do have business idols and we do have people whose whole identity is wrapped up with relationships. We have women, for example, feel that they are totally worthless unless there is a man on their arm that also can be an idol and as a result of that you see whether or not it's money or fame or adulation or being well thought of Calvin the great theologian said that the human mind is an idol factory. It's always just generating one idol after another. And God has to come along and show those idols to us. I may have idols in my life that I am even unaware of.

But when we are serious with God, he begins to show us because he also demands allegiance and the first commandment is, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart with all thy soul, with all thy mind and thy neighbor as thyself. Anything that we love more than God, anything that satisfies this more than God is an idol that could be our family. It could be something good.

Totally justified, but is God first.

All dogs demand allegiance, and certainly these gods did. Second, the answer, the answer is to return to the Lord. Now I'm going to jump to chapter 3 and obviously in this series we are not going to be going. Verse by verse. But chapter 3 verse 12 for example, return faithless Israel, declares the Lord. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful I will not be angry forever only acknowledge your guilt that you rebelled against the Lord your God and scattered your favors among the foreigners under every green tree and that you've not obeyed my voice.

Return all faithless children, for I am your master God says to you and to me today return return.

Even with your idols because they're too strong for you to deal with but the Bible says in Thessalonians that we turn to God from idols in other words, God doesn't say leave your idols behind and come to me. How do you tell somebody addicted to an idol. Leave it behind, and come to me know you, with your idol but you come to God to know that he's the one to forgive you and to deliver you and bring you and bring you back to the satisfying fountain, but you come to God seriously with your idols know this past Friday night Rebecca and I were at a banquet. Some of you perhaps where there were Dr. Ben Carson spoke.

He is one of the most famous surgeons in America.

Can you imagine at the age of 33.

He actually is head of the Nero surgical hope.

I pronounce that correctly unit at Johns Hopkins University's the first man to take two twins joined at the head and successfully separate them.

What a remarkable man. He actually has the gift of eye hand coordination. That is unusual. He also can think in three dimensions.

I have no idea what that is building you have any idea as to what it is to think in three dimensions. I think for most of us one is about all we can handle. But as a teenager growing up in poverty. He was angry and we actually said.

He took a hammer to get his mother and his brother grabbed the hammer as it was held up at the back of been. And then he was going to take a knife and put it into one of his friends, but the knife hit the friends felt as he began to think about it. He said anger is going to destroy me. He said he went into the bathroom was there for three hours reading the Scripture confessing to God seeking God regarding anger and according to his testimony. And if you were there when he left the bathroom.

That was the end of his anger, God did it up right which is very them neurosurgeon working on somebody for 18 hours as he has. It's also important that because he's getting a lot of criticism now because he said some things that were politically incorrect and one of the things that Saul the Linsky who wrote that book radicals to help people community organizers say that you have to demonize your opposition because then when you demonize them.

They'll say something that looks very stupid and you'll get them and according to Ben Carson and Matt actually is what he was talking about. He referenced solo.

Linsky according to him when all of this criticism comes when the Boston Globe said that he was speaking to a hate. For example, he doesn't even have to reply is totally at peace because anger has been taken away. Anger can become an idol getting even with somebody can mean more to us than God I know somebody who said I'll never get right with God until these Christians make things right with me that is idolatry.

Yes the Christians if they wrong you should make things right. But even if they don't, are you telling me that your justification is more important to you than your relationship with God in your blowing God off until somebody comes and apologizes.

Clearly God has second place. Idolatry is deep. It is binding. It has many many different idols and God says I want in your heart that there be an altar and that you bow before that altar and the only altar before you bow is me. The Lord your God, your Redeemer, that's what God is after in our lives want to conclude with a word of hope here so Pastor Lutzer your painting such a dismal picture. I mean, you know Judah going downhill looks a lot like America that we don't want to overplay the relationship. What about Jeremiah young man called God calls them as an God calls you and me for this moment of history to but now you're back to chapter 1, I want to show you something.

Chapter 1 verse 17 this is what God said to this young prophet who was objecting to his call. Chapter 1 verse 17 and thank you for turning to it. The wrestling of biblical pages makes me very happy appear.

I hope I hear them often. But, you dress yourself for work arise say to them everything that I command you. Don't be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them while you better respond to the call and behold I make you this day, a fortified city and iron pillar of bronze walls against the whole land against the kings of Judah, it's officials that phrased in the people of the land they will fight against you, but they will not prevail against you because I'm with you, declares the Lord. I read and I say oh, when did God make Jeremiah a fortified city and iron pillar and bronze walls. He made him that before he went to work that day. He said get ready put on your close you're going to go to work. You're going to represent me, but I'm not saying I would Jeremiah go out there and be a fortified city be a bronze pillar. Whatever note is me. God says I have already made you that I pre-qualified you to walk in victory.

The God who calls you to this moment of history is the God who supplies what you need at this moment of history that God who calls you for this moment and calls me for this moment gives to us all we need to walk in victory. He doesn't abandon us. He is with us in one of the ways in which he strengthens us is by God's because when Jesus died on the cross. His death was so sufficient he says not only is it proof that I love you but I forgive you. I received you.

You are mine come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest you come to me.

The truth found come to me and drink been done with the bitter streams that make you choke in the end you come to me and I invite you to do that if you never received Christ as your Savior. I invite you to do that if you're a believer and you're not walking with God. Finally, get rid of those idols bow before the sovereign Lord and say I shall serve him only. No matter the cost.

Father, we ask that even as we will be participating in a moment in your table is a reminder that Jesus died for us.

Help us to realize that in light of the fact that he did all that for us, old Lord God, we give ourselves to you today without reservation. Expose the idols that we might with one heart and one mind serve you in Jesus name, amen on today's Moody Church. Our Dr. Erwin lutes or spoke on Babylon idolatry and you the first of 10 messages in a series on the church in Babylon unleashing the power of the spirit filled witness next week. We look to Jeremiah chapter 2 and learn about a time when darkness is called light and light darkness.

The church in Babylon series shows us how to live during times of spiritual darkness. We'd like to put this 10 part series in your hands on CD is our way of saying thanks for your gift of any amount to The Moody Church. Our just call us at 1-800-215-5001. Ask about the church in Babylon when you call 1-800-215-5001 or you can write to us at The Moody Church 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 online go to moodyoffer.com that's moodyoffer.com join us next week for another Moody Church. Our with Dr. Erwin lutes or in the congregation of historic Moody Church in Chicago. This broadcast is a ministry of The Moody Church


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