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Jeremiah’s Temple Speech

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
January 11, 2024 12:01 am

Jeremiah’s Temple Speech

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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January 11, 2024 12:01 am

Just because someone is a dedicated member of a church does not necessarily mean he is truly a Christian. Today, R.C. Sproul cautions against the dangers of faithless religion.

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God is saying centuries before Jesus cleansed the temple that the people had already defiled the temple. They're going through the ritual on the Sabbath day. They're going through all of the machinations of religion, but their lives are pagan during the rest of the week. They are religious, but they are not faithful.

Their religion is phony. In response to the hypocrisy and unfaithfulness of the people of God, the Lord used the prophet Jeremiah to deliver a warning and a message that R.C. Sproul called the hardest message a prophet ever had to give, and it's that message that we'll consider today on Renewing Your Mind.

R.C. Sproul recorded four teaching series surveying many hard sayings that we find in the Bible. The message you'll hear today is from his Hard Sayings of the Prophet series, and until tomorrow you can request access to all four of those series, plus Dr. Sproul's new hardcover book simply titled, Hard Sayings, when you give a gift of any amount at renewingyourmind.org. So what was this hard saying from the prophet Jeremiah, and how can his strong message serve as a warning even for people today?

Here's Dr. Sproul. As we continue now with our study of the hard sayings of the prophets, those sayings that when we read them or hear them, strike us as either being extraordinarily harsh or unusually difficult to understand. We now turn our attention to one of the most famous speeches that was ever given by a prophet in the Old Testament, and I'm thinking of the famous so-called temple speech of the prophet Jeremiah. We have the record of Jeremiah's temple speech in the seventh chapter of his book. Let's look then at Jeremiah chapter 7, beginning at verse 1. The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord saying, stand in the gate of the Lord's house and proclaim there this word and say, hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who enter in at these gates to worship the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Do not trust in these lying words saying, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these.

All right, now what's going on here? Jeremiah is instructed by God to go to the very gates of Jerusalem, there at the entrance to the temple itself in Zion, the holy city of God. God requires Jeremiah to deliver God's message. He tells Jeremiah to preface his sermon or his announcements by saying, thus saith the Lord. Now the way in which Jeremiah begins is to call the people to solemn attention.

Hear, O Israel. That is reminiscent of the Shema in the book of Deuteronomy. When God is calling for the attention of all of the people, He says to them, Hear, O Israel, hear, O inhabitants of Jerusalem. That means that God is about to make a divine pronouncement that is of extreme importance.

Now Jeremiah comes and makes this announcement saying, Hear the word of the Lord, all of you of Judah who enter at these gates to worship the Lord. This is a message that is not given in church. It's a message given at the front of the church, if you will. If you can imagine Sunday morning at your church where all the people are coming from the parking lot and standing outside the front door of the church before the service has begun, and then suddenly this stranger appears and begins to give a sermon on the sidewalk, what would you think?

You may be inclined to call the police or simply to drown out the preacher with your booze and your expressions of derision. But that's what God calls Jeremiah to do, to stand right in front of the gate of Jerusalem and give this message. And he says, Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.

There's something already strange about the message. What do you mean, amend our ways and our doings and you will cause us to dwell in this place? Isn't this the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Is this not His city? Haven't we received the holy city of Jerusalem as the promise of God unto all generations? The Jewish people at this point in their history were utterly convinced that Jerusalem was indestructible.

Other cities may fall. Other cities may be conquered in battle, but never Jerusalem. The walls were 150 feet high, but more importantly than the physical protection of the city of the city was the divine protection because this was God's city.

This was the capital established by David, and it was unthinkable to the Jews that anything could ever happen to disrupt or disturb the peace of Jerusalem. But there's something strange in the opening words of Jeremiah's speech. It says, amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. But you hear the conditional hint of the words, the suggestion that's already being made that if they don't amend their ways and their doings, something dire, something dreadful, something terrible could happen to Jerusalem itself.

And Jeremiah goes on to say, do not trust in these lying words. The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these. Now, some of you recall that in the past we did a study of the holiness of God, and we look closely at the sixth chapter of the book of the prophet Isaiah, where Isaiah had the vision into the heavenly sanctuary, where he saw the seraphim surrounding the throne of God, singing in singing in antiphonal response to the glory of God, singing the tribes Haggai on, the three times holy, saying, holy, holy, holy. And on that occasion, I took the opportunity to mention to you the singular importance of the literary form of the expression of the angelic host by taking the word holy and saying it three times. And I mentioned how extraordinary and how unusual that was, because among the Jews, one of the means, one of the literary devices or techniques of communication that the Jews used to communicate emphasis was repetition. And the normal way of calling attention to something extremely important was to say it twice, just as Jesus prefaces some of His most important teaching to His disciples by saying, truly, truly, I say unto you. But I also mentioned at that time that on a few occasions, extremely rare occasions in Scripture, something is deemed so important that it is elevated to the third degree, the superlative degree, it's repeated twice and therefore said three times. And we looked and we saw the significance of the angels declaring that God is not simply holy or even wholly holy, but that He is holy, holy, holy. In the book of Revelation, when the vials and the bowls of God's wrath are poured out upon the world, we see the announcement of the angelic being flying through the darkness of the night, crying out, woe, woe, woe, the threefold announcement of doom indicated in the book of Revelation indicates an extraordinary measure of divine judgment. Well, here what we find is Jeremiah is saying to the people, you come here to your church, you come here to the temple, and you say, this is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.

Why does he do that? Why does Jeremiah make use of this literary device of repetition to the third degree? What Jeremiah is doing here is emphasizing and underscoring the degree of the hypocrisy of the people, the people who think that by empty repetitions, by saying over and over and over again, this is the temple of the Lord, this is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, that they have done something holy or meritorious or something that now has magical power to sustain them and to protect them forever against the judgment of God. Now, notice that Jeremiah called these words that were recited and repeated by the people who were so caught up in their churchmanship and in their occultic practices. He called them lying words. Strange, because they're not lies.

This was the temple of the Lord. Why does Jeremiah say that these are lying words? Because these words express the truth. But they were not proclaiming the truth truthfully.

Rather, these words had become, even though the words themselves were true descriptions, they became lying words in the mouths of those who were bringing false worship into the presence of God. Just because a church is a church does not mean it's a church. Now, that may sound ridiculous, but what I mean by that, it can be a church outwardly, but if it doesn't obey the Lord of the church, it's no longer really a church, and we can't put our trust in the building in the building or even in the institution.

As important as those things may be, what God is most interested in is our relationship to Him, our faith in Him, and our obedience to Him. And if we are disobedient to God, we cannot take refuge in our church membership or in our church affiliation. That's the warning that Jeremiah gives.

Well, he continues, again speaking for God, for if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place or walk after other gods to your heart, then I will cause you to dwell in this place in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever. Then the next word should also get our attention. Behold.

That's an interesting word. Find that frequently in Scripture, don't you, when the angels come and they make an announcement, Behold. We remember Mary when her response to Gabriel, Behold the handmaiden of the Lord. We remember Pontius Pilate standing on his porch of judgment presenting Christ to the screaming mob saying, Echohomo, behold the man. That word behold means look here.

It's a call to attention. And here Jeremiah says, Behold, you trust in lying words, words that cannot profit. Let me talk about a hard say. To come to the people of Israel in the very front of the temple and say to them, the creeds that you're professing, the liturgy that you're using have become now dishonest expressions and words that are empty, words that are vain, words that are deceitful, words that are hypocritical, and that kind of language. Those words are futile. They are words that cannot profit.

These people were talking the talk, but they were not walking the walk. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to bail, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by name and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? Has this house which is called by My name become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I have seen it, says the Lord." This is anticipating Christ's reaction in the New Testament when He cleansed the temple. And God is saying centuries before Jesus cleansed the temple that the people had already defiled the temple. They're going through the ritual on the Sabbath day. They're going through all of the all of the machinations of religion, but their lives are pagan during the rest of the week. They are religious, but they are not faithful.

Their religion is phony, and that's what Jeremiah is talking about here. And so God says, I know what you people are doing. You have taken My house, the house that is called by My name, and turned it in a place that mocks what it's about. Now what is He going to do about it?

Now we really come to the hard part. Verse 12, But go now to My place, which was in Shiloh, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel. And now, because you have done all these works, says the Lord, and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you, but you did not answer. Therefore, I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to this place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. Do you hear what Jeremiah is saying? He's standing in front of this magnificent temple, and he's saying, you people come here, and you say, this is the temple of the Lord, this is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, and you're trusting in your recitations because you think you're secure because you have the temple here.

Well, here's what God says. Go to Shiloh and look at it, and that's what Jerusalem is going to look like. Well, they knew what Shiloh was. Shiloh was a place which was one of the earliest places of worship in Israel.

It had been the central sanctuary where people came to offer their sacrifices and to give worship before God until Jerusalem became the capital city under David and then became the central sanctuary where the temple was built. And at this point in history, Shiloh is rubble. Shiloh had been utterly devastated and destroyed. Nothing was left but garbage and heaps of stone. And Jeremiah thinks, you think your confidence is in this building, is in the religious trappings here?

Go to Shiloh. That's my Exhibit A. I destroyed it because of the wickedness of the people of Israel, and I'll do it to Jerusalem. This was the hardest message any prophet ever had to give to announce to the people of Israel that Jerusalem was going to be destroyed. And Jeremiah taught it, Isaiah taught it, and all the false prophets denied it until the year 586 B.C. when the Babylonians came in and destroyed the city and carried the people away captive. And after the exile, the city had to be restored, the city had to be rebuilt, the walls had to be rebuilt, the temple had to be rebuilt, and then when Jesus came and in the last days of His life, He came to the temple and He turned to His disciples and He said, not one stone is going to be left upon another of this building. And God did it again.

In 70 A.D. He ripped the city apart because the people put their confidence in the institution. They put their trust and their devotion to the religion rather than to the living God.

Go to Shiloh and look at it. I will cast you out of my sight as I have cast out all your brethren the whole posterity of Ephraim, a hard saying indeed. In every generation, people have put their confidence in their religious connections. The church is indeed a sacred institution. The visible church is not to be despised. Christ established His church, and the church is to be the body of our Lord Himself. But it is so easy for the church as an institution to become, instead of the body of Christ, a substitution for Christ. And in that sense, the institution becomes anti-Christ, insofar as it is a substitute that stands against the living Christ.

Now, for those who put their faith in the institution instead of Christ, they are trusting in a lie. The church cannot save you. The church did not die for you. The church cannot redeem you. The church did not purchase you. The church is not your Savior. The church is the body of the Savior. It is the house of the Savior.

But we need to understand the difference. A hard saying from the prophet Jeremiah and a warning for us today. That was R.C. Sproul on this Thursday edition of Renewing Your Mind. I'm your host, Nathan W. Bingham. To help Christians better understand God's Word, I want to thank you for joining us today.

I'm Nathan W. Bingham, that was R.C. Sproul on this Thursday edition of Renewing Your Mind. I'm your host, Nathan W. Bingham. Plus, we'll send you Dr. Sproul's hardcover book, Hard Sayings, Understanding Difficult Passages of Scripture. So call us today at 800 435 4343 or give your gifts securely online at renewingyourmind.org. Not only will you gain access to four teaching series and be sent a copy of Dr. Sproul's Hard Sayings book, your generosity is helping more people in more places and languages gain a better understanding of God's Word. Give your gift today at renewingyourmind.org.

Thank you. Have you tried our Daily Bible Study magazine? It's called Table Talk and it's read by over 250,000 people around the world every month. There are daily Bible studies to aid you in your devotional reading and every month gifted teachers write on a specific topic or theme to help your Christian growth.

You can try it risk free for three months when you visit tritabletalk.com or read it online and learn more at tabletalkmagazine.com. Tomorrow we move from the prophets and the Old Testament to a very hard saying found in the New Testament writings of the Apostle Paul. That'll be tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind. you
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-11 02:41:14 / 2024-01-11 02:48:56 / 8

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