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February 7, 2021 1:00 am
When the judgment of God comes upon us, things we hold dear can be laid to waste. In the Old Testament, the city of Jerusalem was sacked and looted by invading armies—and this destruction was part of the plan and will of God.Click here to listen (Duration 54:30)
When the judgment of God falls things we hold dear are often laid waste the city of Jerusalem with its temple was sacked and looted by invading armies whose actions came in the plan and will of God from Chicago. We welcome you to The Moody Church. Our weekly service of worship and teaching under the ministry of Dr. Erwin lutes are on this broadcast. We continue a 10 part series on the church in Babylon unleashing the power of the spirit filled witness later Erwin lutes will turn to the book of Lamentations and talk about morning the destruction of a great city. Dr. Luther comes now to open our service were so glad that you are worshiping here at The Moody Church today we want to welcome you.
No matter where you are from your in a congregation that loves the Lord Jesus Christ and cares only about his glory. And that's why we are here today, would you join me as we pray put from your mind all of the thoughts that concern you asked the Lord to give us the kind of concentration that would enable us to worship him acceptably.
Would you join me please.
Now father we ask that these moments shall be especially dedicated to you. We pray Lord that time, you might draw us together as one person, one body, there is one Lord among us and help us to be thankful.
In Jesus name, amen me 10 actions. In some 145. Please read me on the bold print.
This is God's holy word. I will extol you my God and King and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you and praise your name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall command you, and shall the Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love the Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made all the work shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power to make known to the children of man, your mighty deeds and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.
Will will and in a thank you so much will the beautiful orchestra God has blessed The Moody Church in so many different ways and one of the greatest blessing is all the musical talent that he brings to us.
Thank you so very very much for leading us in worship. When I taught preaching to young seminarians.
I used to tell them that a preacher should think clearly feel deeply and cause his hearers to do the same today.
I hope that we do indeed think clearly, but I also hope that we feel deeply if you are not touched emotionally today. It may be because you've really developed a hard heart. Maybe because of some bad experiences because today's message in one respect is very difficult. It is intended to touch the emotions but it's intended to do more than that to show us the grace of God in the midst of the most awful devastation that we could describe. So at the end of the message, you will be given hope, no matter who you are, no matter what your problems are. You may be a drug addict. You may be going through a time of depression. I promise you will. But first of all we have to look at a few texts, you know, there are different reasons why it is that cities can be destroyed. One reason may be because of natural disasters. We think immediately of Katrina we think of New Orleans being destroyed largely we think for example of Tuscaloosa and even Washington in the middle of the state of Illinois where tornado comes in basically destroys the town.
We can also think of times when cities are destroyed because of war when Rebecca and I were in Belarus we took a trip out to what is known as catchy and catchy and I wish I could take all of you to it is a place devoted to the destruction that took place under the Nazis. What happened is the Nazis came in. In retaliation, they decided to destroy 189 villages, and to destroy everyone in those villages.
So it catchy and what they did is they took the townspeople about 145 force them into a barn and then they lit the barn there was hay in the barn and if anyone ran out of the barn. They shot 75 of the 145 were children. Today there is a monument where the barn is there is a monument where the ashes were of all the dead and all of the many of the names of the children are listed. Can you even imagine the devastation but you know there are other times when a city is destroyed because of the direct judgment of God. I think for example of the instances I mentioned natural disasters and war. We could refer to those often as undeserved judgments but when you get to Jerusalem in 586 BC. That is a deserved judgment predict did by God that it wasn't God just acting randomly from our standpoint. God was fulfilling his holy word and if I might say plainly. Jerusalem was getting exact what it deserved.
Now, for example, Jeremiah was preaching things like this. Listen to his words.
Jerusalem wash your heart from evil, that you may be saved.
How long shall your wicked thoughts lodged within you for a voice declares from Dannon proclaims trouble from Mount Hebron warned the nations that he is coming announced to Jerusalem procedures come from a distant land, they shout against the cities of Judah like keepers of appeal they are against her all around because she has rebelled against me, declares the Lord God is speaking your ways and your deeds have brought this upon you. This is your doom and it is better it has reached your very heart deserved judgment and of course you know what happened the last message I mentioned, the Babylonians came destroyed the city burned the city took about 15,000 to Babylon and you have huge starvation along the way. The suffering was unbelievable. All deserved. While which leads me to the book of Lamentations the book of Lamentations and I want you to take your Bibles and turn to it.
When you turn please to the book of Lamentations. It comes after the book of Jeremiah, and it's important for you to have a Bible in your hand. You know there's some Christians who come to church without their Bibles, I have learned to love them because of the fact that many of them are my friends and I learned to love people whom I do not understand alright so I love you and you have to love me even though I'm going to needle you a little bit about not bringing your Bible if you did, but if you bring your Bible regularly you say pastor was I always do.
But today I happen to forget it. Then you can find it there if you can find a pew Bible on page 685 all right because you need the Bible in your hand and the book of Lamentations is the book that we are looking at because Lamentations is by funeral dirge is, it is allergies. That is to say, songs, composed in a graveyard. The book of Lamentations exposes the heart of Jeremiah and the heart of God as he looks at this devastated city, somebody has said that the book of Lamentations is really a cloudburst of it is an ocean of solvents and a river of tears will get to it in a moment. Your Bibles are open. Notice that the chapters some except the middle chapter all of 22 verses chapter 122 verses chapter 222 verses chapter 3 happens at 66 chapter 4 22 x 22 what's going on there in the text in Hebrew. It is actually an acrostic.
There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, and each of these verses in the four of the chapters refers and begins with another letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Now, in the case of the middle chapter. Chapter 3 what you have is I understand that the letters of the alphabet are again used but in each instance, there are three verses connected to one letter, so 3×22 is 66 and that gives you a bit of an outline of the book. What you do understand that because Lamentations wasn't just Jeremiah walking through the city making random comments.
It was really a proem composed of these five different laments it was composed by him very carefully so that it could be used in liturgical worship, so that the Jews were able to use it. They use it today at the Wailing Wall they use it on special occasions when they lament the destruction of Jerusalem and their history. Also, it reminds us that God's destruction is from a to Z as we say from the beginning of the alphabet to the last of the alphabet. I'm only going to introduce you to the first two chapters that were going to make some observations and I'm going to be giving you whole.
But what chapters they are. Let me read a few verses of chapter 1 how lonely since the city. First of all I have to comment before I say that want you to visualize the city visualize the devastation that takes place, not only when there's a tornado but when there's a fire that burns the city so there you can see some of the dolls that the girls played with and you can see the toys that the boys had their all gone there all destroyed their all either dead or with their moms and dads on the way to Babylon.
Visualize your area. Visualize also the devastation that you are going through some of you may say this is the story of my life. If you're saying that.
Remember I am going to give you hope, but I want you to enter into what Jeremiah is saying and seeing he's weeping not only of what happened, but the good that could have been well how lonely since the city that was full of people. How like a widow she has become. She who was great among the nations. Verse two she weeps bitterly in the night with tears on her cheeks among all her lovers.
She has none to comfort her all of her friends and dealt treacherously with her.
They become her enemies. Judah has gone into exile because of affliction and hard servitude. She now dwells among the nations, but finds no resting place. Her pursuers have all overtaken her in the midst of her distress I'm skipping to verse nine. Her uncleanness was in her skirts. That is to say, she was filled with immorality. She took no thought of her future is not America today. She took no thought of her future. Therefore, her fall is terrible. She has no comforter, old Lord, behold, my affliction for the enemy is triumphed.
The enemy has stretched out his hands all over her precious things, for she has seen the nations entered her sanctuary. Those whom you for bed to enter your congregation what's going on. There is real thought to itself. Judah thought to itself. We have Jerusalem and the Temple and this is where the glory of God once came. There's no way that God is going to destroy us. We are his chosen people. We have God bless Jerusalem as stickers on the back of every one of our chariots. There's no way that God is going to destroy us. God says foreigners have entered into your sanctuary, your temple is gone and your temple is destroyed, you're going to have to learn to live without the Temple will find out what that is like in a future message verse 11 older people grown as they search for bread, they made their treasures for food to revive their strength, old Lord look and see I'm advised now that's verses 1 to 11 when you get to verse 12 Jeremiah now personifies the city.
It is as if the city is speaking. Is it nothing to you all those who pass by, look and see if there's any sorrow like my sorrow, which was brought upon me, which the Lord inflicted on the day of his fierce anger and on it goes. Let me read a few other verses. Let's go to verse 16 for these things. I weep my eyes flow with tears for comfort is far from me as no one to revive my spirit. My children are desolate for the enemy prevailed. Verse 19 I called all my lovers but they deceived me my priests and elders perished in the city while they sought food to revive their strength. You'll notice what the priests and the false prophets were doing. If you can glance quickly 2 to 14 your Prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions they have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes, but have seen for you.
Oracles are false and misleading. I preached about false prophets, all kinds of visions you know of happiness and money and wealth, no exposure of sin while when you get to chapter 2 what you find is here that God over and over again takes personal responsibility for what happened, destruction chapter 2 verse one how the Lord in his anger has set the daughter of Zion under a cloud verse two. The Lord has swallowed up without mercy. All the inhabitants of Jacob verse three, she has cut down his fierce anger and in the midst of these verses. It keeps saying he did this he did this, verse four. He has been his bowl like an enemy. Verse five the Lord has become like an enemy has swallowed up Israel. Verse six he laid waste more than 13 times in this chapter, God says I did it while you'll notice what Jeremiah says now in verse 11.
My eyes are spent with weeping. My stomach churns my vial is poured out to the ground because of the destruction of the daughter of my people because infants and babies faint in the streets of the city, they cried to their mothers wears bread and wine. And they think like a wounded man in the streets of the city is there life is poured out on their mother's bosom.
My mom and dad lived through World War I, they were Germans, but they were living in the Ukraine and my mother once turned away with tears in her eyes and told me what it was like to see a baby die because of starvation and hunger and how would they cry and cry and cry, but there was no food, even if the parents were there was nothing to drink and eventually it would be a whimper and then they would cry no more than that of course is happening even around the world today because of starvation and hunger. God says this is what I did because you know what I hate sin and I hate your idolatry.
This takes my breath away.
Now in chapter 3, he goes on to talk about his own sorrow and there is much there also that reiterates it.
But what I want to do is to take and just back off a little bit and ask ourselves the question what does this book mean for us. I mean, where does this take us as a congregation as a church as a nation, so I'd like to leave some lessons with you and then refer to the text again in a few moments.
First of all, it's very clear that God can bless a nation. God can also destroy a nation. God said to Israel in Deuteronomy chapter 11 behold, I put before you both blessings and cursing, follow me, and you get blessing if not and you will be destroyed.
In fact, Deuteronomy 28 talks about all this. Everything that happened is foreshadowed in Deuteronomy 28 there are scholars who have taken Deuteronomy 28 the judgments that God promised and they have put them up against the book of Lamentations and mixing the parallels God says you have a choice. You know after 9/11, God was brought off the reservation and it was okay to say God bless you in the public square.
Even our Congress together jointly. I think if I remember correctly saying God bless America of all things, you know, in the in the public square.
God bless America. Signs were everywhere. In fact, there was a God bless America sign on the porn shop in Nashville.
Everybody will of course were better than they are a God can bless America. Now, after he was used to kind of mop up after 9/11, God was put back on a shelf and said that you can't intrude in the so-called public square. What makes us think that God can only bless America.
God may also judge America in the day may come. I hope I don't see it.
I hope your children don't see it when God can. If he wishes to destroy America because God says if I don't have your heart. God bless America stickers as bumper stickers simply will not work.
I mean I look at this and I'm incredulous. Any these are your people.
You chose that mining this is Jerusalem where you put your glory. I mean, don't you remember the Shekinah glory coming after Solomon built the temple cuts as it doesn't mean a thing to me. If I don't have your heart to God can bless us. I don't pray for justice for America. I do pray for mercy because we have turned away from so much light and we continue to do so very deliberately and I could give you lots of evidence for that, but I assume that you know what is happening in the world and in our government and so forth.
Secondly, God has various forms of judgment. God's various forms of judgment. You think back to Adam and Eve.
They had specific judgments didn't God says you can't go back into paradise.
And so he puts up the cherry of them to make sure that that wouldn't happen and then not long behold sin enters into the world and they have the first very very dysfunctional family and Cain kills Abel so they got a problem with one of their sons, and then the whole history of the human race.
And so there is some immediate judgments and then you think of the way in which the judgments begin to boomerang all throughout history, you know, there's such a thing as sin. Having immediate judgments and some of you know about that, don't you yesterday Rebecca and I were talking about someone who was hooked on drugs and how eventually they were found dead and then you know there are immediate judgments you know and and God's is all rescue you, behold, I put before you as individuals, both blessings and curse things.
Some of you have to choose God and to choose that which is right because you have understood the unintended consequences of sin are very bad and they have a long-term effect immediately and then long-term effects, and sometimes God destroys the civilization or a city like he destroyed Jerusalem and sometimes that destruction is internal as is happening in America today with the destruction of our families and with the rise of hostility toward the Christian message. There is no doubt that we are under some kind of judgment we are to be a people of God in a nation that clearly has lost its way. You know when I read this and I read the book of Lamentations.
A couple of times in the last few weeks.
I think to myself wow if God is willing to do this to Jerusalem, the city that he loved says in the Psalms, you know, Zion is the place where I put my name and I love Zion over really well doesn't seem as if there's a lot of love lost here, but if God is willing to do that temporally in this life. I read this book and I say what must hell be like God has various judgments.
But beware, you as an individual. I taught both as a nation today, but also use individual that sin has immediate judgments always and sometimes they accumulate to something very very catastrophic. There's another lesson and that is this I'm just sharing my heart with you today that we should weep over our nation even as Jeremiah wept over his nation.
I told you last time that there were many prophets in Israel, but there was only one, Jeremiah, and he's known as the weeping at all throughout this book, and throughout his book of Jeremiah. What is he doing he is weeping now he's being thrown into dungeon and the whole bit because the people are saying we don't want to hear you and so he pretty well has to stand for truth alone, but he's a weeping prophet does not remind you of someone else standing on the Mount of olives. Although Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou who killed us the prophets and stoners them, which are sent on to you how often would I have gathered your children together, even as I hand gathers her chickens under her wing, but you wouldn't, behold, your house is left unto you desolate Bible says in the book of Luke that Jesus Christ wept over the city and when he wept over the city.
He predicted its demise and its downfall and this is what he said when they you, even you had known this day that things that make for peace, but now they are hidden from your eyes for the days will come upon you when your enemies will set up a barrier around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground and your children within you and they will not leave one stone upon another, because you did not know the day of your visitation and the same thing that happened in 586 BC, as you well know what happened in 70 A.D. when Titus came after Herod builds that massive temple that all of us wish you were still standing so that we could go see it when we take a trip to Jerusalem six years after it was totally completed completed and 64 A.D. I believe it was destroyed six years later, God says you don't love me you don't accept me. Your heart is not with me. I'll destroy even the very place dedicated to my name. We should weep over the violence of the city. We should weep over divorce.
We should weep over pornography we should weep over child abuse. We should weep over the destruction of the family as we sought hearing in Illinois. Further adding to the destruction of the family just recently through same-sex marriage legislation. We should weep over the growing hostility. You see, we are too self absorbed, sometimes to weep part. You know like Francis Schaeffer used to tell us the average American is content with them, personal peace, and affluence. Just not in my world, not in my neighborhood.
Thank you very much, but it can happen somewhere else. God may in this congregation be looking for a lot of Jeremiah's both men and women to intercede and to weep for a nation that has lost its way and not only weep and pray, but witness and do something wherever God has planted us. May that be true, but number four. We should weep with hope. We should weep with hope. I told you that we were getting to hope. You have to trust me we are getting to hope. Look at in chapter 3, Jeremiah is so overcome by his sorrow that he says in verse 17, my soul is bereft of peace. Maybe that's you today.
Maybe you parked your car in the parking lot of Moody Church and you dried your tears and you came to worship and after the service are going to go back into the car you're going to start crying again. If that's you just know that you are welcome here because we are a place where we are welcoming all sinners and that God knows that that's what we're about, but he says my soul and I'm not saying that that is a sin necessarily to weep, I just mean that we here at the congregation of Moody Church are welcoming to all. I have forgotten what happiness is. Verse 17 so I say my endurance has perished, so is my hope from the Lord.
Maybe you're here today and that you remember my affliction in my wanderings, the warm within the goal.
Verse 20. My soul continues remember it in his bow down within me. Verse 21. Thank you.
Jeremiah I needed this. I remembered something this I call to mind and therefore I have hope the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning great is thy faithfulness.
The Lord is my portion, says my soul.
Therefore, I will open him.
The Lord is good to those who wait for him to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth. In other words, Jeremiah says I was so overcome by grief that for a while.
I forgot that God was there and then he says this, the steadfast love of the Lord is still there. The Hebrew word is tested it means God's covenant loyal love is still in place. Does this mean that the destruction of Jerusalem that God is said is true with the Jews and says enough already know. In fact, later on will discover that it was Jeremiah himself who predicted that they would be in Babylon for 70 years. At the end of 70 years. They returned they would rebuild the temple and God would in effect start over again and eventually of course you know the Jewish people there in the land today and many of them and many of us believe that God still has a great future for remnants of the people of Israel. The Jews and then God says to break my covenant over this not. The Bible says in Timothy it says even when we believe not. He cannot deny himself. God is faithful today. You may be in darkness, but I'm reminded of the disciples out in the boat you member Jesus went into the mountain to pray and the disciples couldn't see Jesus, but Jesus could see them.
He could see the longitude and the latitude of their little boat he could. He knew the strength of the waves. He knew the strength of each board. He knew the depth of the water and today in your distress.
God sees you and I encourage you to take heart in the steadfast love of the Lord which never ceases and why are his mercies are new every morning.
What's because when you wake up in the morning there has to be enough strength to get through the day in your day may be very dark and you may be sorrowful because of your own loss or the country's loss as we been speaking about our country and Deb what we need to do is when we wake up in the morning. We need to say God I need your mercies today.
They have to be new to me because yesterday's mercies don't help me through today. So Jeremiah said no for a few moments. I just forgot that I can still find hope in God, and he uses the word hope now positively two or three times in this passage. Furthermore, he says it is good for people to wait on God the soul. He seeks to seek Sam God is good to that person. He says and so what Jeremiah does is he encourages us in God that in the midst of devastation, no matter what happens to America and I hope that everything that happens to America's good. I'm not a prophet, so I'm not predicting anything except the fact that what I see happening gives me a great deal of consternation, but apart from that time. The Bible says those who seek God. Those who understand his mercies, God will be there for them every single day. Aren't you glad for that. Now before we close this book we have to take one more glance over our shoulder and ask a question if it is true that Jerusalem took a direct hit by that I mean what happened to them was a direct judgment of God.
If that is true, and clearly it seems to me that it is where else do we see anyone or anything or any city or where else do we see a direct hit of the judgment of God like it here.
This book time in chapter 1 verse 12.
Is it nothing to you all you who pass by, look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which was brought upon me, which the Lord inflicted on the day of his fierce anger that remind you of Jesus on the cross and think for example of chapter 2 verse 15 all who pass along the way clap their hands at you they hiss and they wagged their heads that the daughters of Jerusalem. That's an expression used in the book of Mark for all those who looked at the crucifixion of Jesus.
They clapped their hands. They hiss they wagged their heads a city's dying, but he deserves it. For example, of them. Chapter 3 verse 14. Doesn't this sound like what Jesus endured. I have become the laughing stock of all the peoples.
The object of all their tonsil day long. Looks like Jesus endured fact is this, that when Jesus died on the cross. He took a direct God says I'm going to lay upon him the iniquity of all who believe I am going to inflict in and that's why the Bible says it please the Lord to bruise him. I hope that your theology is great enough to accept the fact that God took responsibility for the destruction of Jerusalem and actually got also takes responsibility for the crucifixion of Jesus.
Ultimately though, evil people do it yet because of secondary causality. Ultimately God says, even babbling is my Babylon and the wicked man who crucified Jesus are my wicked man doesn't mean that he condones what they have done, but he uses what they have done to accomplish his work. Now, young people, you'll discover this on the Internet.
There will be things like this and saying you know Christianity is just like all the other religions of the world you know they have this God who needs a sacrifice. And so the bill going to the pagan religions and explain to you how God needs a sacrifice and how pagan religions also needed a sacrifice.
Here's something for you to remember.
While it is true that pagan religions needed a sacrifice. There is no pagan religion and all the world where God demanded a sacrifice and ended up being the sacrifice, God was in Christ reconciling the world unto them. And Jesus said I will take the direct hit of the wrath of God against sin. I will take your hello if you believe on me, there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus in the Old Testament. Jerusalem took a direct hit God's wrath and anger in the New Testament, Jesus takes that direct hit, and he cries out in says my God, my God, why has thou forsaken then for three hours suffers under the hand of God, a kind of suffering that is so severe that even God closed the heavens and darkness was upon the face of the earth, so that people would know that what was happening between him and his father was hidden human I but this is what it means. It means that no matter how great your sin is you believe on Jesus Christ. You are exempt from eternal judgment.
No matter how deep the pit is that you are in God is deeper still. And no matter how much you mourn. There are still mercies for you that are new every morning.
If you come to Jesus Christ and believe on even if we do go through temporal judgment there is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus said, he who believes in me, there is no condemnation as a hymn writer once put it, because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free for God. The justice satisfied to look at him. Part that pardon his offer to you today behold I put before you.
Blessings and curses will you respond to Jesus today and then we can all sing together. The mercies of the Lord never cease. In fact, they are new every morning and I have to find the text to remember the words. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning great is thy faithfulness, Lord is my portion in the midst of devastation. God, it's to bless and encourage his own people, but do you know the Savior. I'm talking to those of you who are here today and and you have huge problems you may be, came to this church, even unintentionally, today, but here you are the midst of your sorrow. God is there. Through Jesus, to pardon you and to set you free. That we join together as we pray and of God is talk to you, even where you are seated or where you're listening to this, you may be listening on the Internet or on the radio.
Whatever way would you just stop announcing Jesus, I thank you today that you absorb the judgment of God so that I could be free and I receive that gift of eternal life. I put my faith and trust in you as my Savior would you tell them that and now father we thank you that your mercies never cease Jesus name just standards because this morning on today's Moody Church over Dr. Erwin Lutzer spoke on morning the destruction of the great city. Another message in a series on the church in Babylon unleashing the power of the spirit filled witness next time on The Moody Church. Our we turned to Jeremiah chapter 29 and learn about living in a pagan city. 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 Lutzer in the congregation of historic Moody Church in Chicago. This broadcast is a ministry of The Moody Church