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February 22, 2021 3:00 am
Were honest sometimes the experience of life can leave us feeling hopeless, but that doesn't mean we should just give in to despair today on Truth for Life.
Alistair Begg teaches us how to rely on God's faithfulness when were completely overwhelmed connotation.
See verse one Jeremiah speaking essentially as the representative of the people. He says I am the man who is seen affliction under the rod of his Roth. He has driven and brought me into darkness without any light. Surely against me, turns his hand again and again the whole day long. He's made my flesh and my skin waste away. He has broken my bones. He has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation. He has made me dwell in darkness, like the dad of long ago. He has walled me about so that I cannot escape. He has made my chains having though I call and cry for help. He shuts out my prayer he has blocked my ways with blocks of stones. He has made my pants crooked. He is a bear lying in wait for me a lion and hiding. He turned aside my steps and tore me to pieces. He has made me desolate. He bent his bowl and set me as a target for his idle. He drove into my kidneys. The arrows of his quiver. I have become the laughing stock of all peoples. The object of their taunts all day long. He has filled me with bitterness. He has stated me with wormwood. He has made my teeth grind on gravel and made me color and ashes. My soul is bereft of peace I have forgotten what happiness is. So I say my endurance has perished, so has my hope from the Lord. Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall. My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.
But 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 your faithfulness.
The Lord is my portion, says my soul. Therefore I will hope in him Amen but our task now, this morning is the whole notion of the faithfulness of God.
I wonder, would you agree that the most common way in which the word faithfulness is routinely Herod today and every day conversation is when it is prefaced with the negative prefix on so you hear faithfulness most often addressed in terms of unfaithfulness.
The world of business practice at all kinds of levels not only nationally but internationally is marked by all kinds of ethical unfaithfulness and as if that were not bad enough when we turn to the affairs of church life, we discover that in our own generation and the generations that have preceded us. Unfortunately, on so many occasions at the biggest news has been news of an unfaithfulness in relationship to the sufficiency and the authority of Scripture. So it is against. If you like that background, not exclusively soul, but I think you would agree that that is a measure of accuracy and what were saying and it is against that background and in striking contrast to the Bible and speaks consistently and superlatives lay off the faithfulness of God, and let me just give you one or two references, you can make a note of them. If you choose and you needn't turn them up about in that Deuteronomy and in chapter 7 and nine know therefore that the Lord your God is God faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations and repays to their face. Those who hate him by destroying them. In other words, God is absolutely faithful in relationship to his character faithful and following through on his threats and faithful in fulfilling his promises. The Psalms are filaments on 36 five your steadfast love the Lord writes the psalmist extends to the heavens. Your faithfulness to the clouds. This the idea of looking up into the heavens is a how how faithful is gone and the sentences he so faithful that even the very heavens that are so vast above me here could never encompass the extent of his faithfulness to build up this wonderful picture of God as he makes himself known the extent of his faithfulness, encompassing all of the heavens and beyond his faithfulness surrounding him as an expression of his being and his faithfulness then being conveyed from one generation to another generation in the vast disparity which exists between the unreliability of man and the absolute trustworthiness of God is classically stated in numbers when Baylon addresses like if you remember Numbers 2319 and he says the ballet God is not a man that he should lie, or a Son of Man that he should change his mind.
Has he said and will he not do it or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it. I would be too tedious to continue beyond this, you only need a concordance and you can do all this work for yourself or your on your laptop.
You plug in the faithfulness of God you be able to do a great panoramic survey of these things, and as you take them all and you put them down and you reflect upon the what we are being told from the Bible is that God is 100% reliable 100% of the time hundred percent reliable and 100% of the time. As James says he doesn't change like shifting shadows.
You don't find in one way, one morning another way, the next morning, he is absolutely consistent in himself and with himself abiding by all of his promises and holding true to every warning that he sounds God is utterly reliable oxalate, reliable there is nowhere that we can go from his presence.
If we make our bed in the depths of the RFP is there if we access and into the extent of the universe there is there.
He knows when we sit down. He knows when we arrived. He knows the words of our mods before we even speak and this is the God that we meet in the Bible so we could as I say continue to move around through Scripture dealing with the matter topically, but I decided that it would perhaps be more beneficial to us to anchor ourselves just in the passage of Scripture and there is no surprise. I think for on your part that we would turn to what is maybe the classic passage on the faithfulness of God.
Classic at least for those of us who been brought up, singing hymns and the him great is thy faithfulness, which is found grounded in the verses that we just read as really anchored these verses in the minds of generations and probably if we didn't know any other place in the Bible, we would know this place if someone asked us to speak concerning the faithfulness of God is. I'm going to point out to you. I think that many of us have got no notion of place in which these verses are said and as we look at that this morning I think were going to find it to be quite startling and I hope quite helpful that many of the sections of the Old Testament are written in an acrostic form so that letters of the Hebrew alphabet, either at the beginning of a section for example in Psalm 119 is written in an acrostic form in every eight verses begin with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet here in Lamentations.
That is true in the surrounding chapters. It is different in chapter 3 in that the acrostic it sets up with clusters of three verses of the time, so that every time there is a change. Every time he comes service in 147 and so on, and that then sets out the way in which Jeremiah appends these things and what I want us to notice. First of all, and importantly, is the context in which these verses, when you call in Christian bookstores. Every so often they actually have books in them that are worth reading. But a lot of the time they just have a bunch of tchotchke in their diet is just ahead is of no use of tall unless you know you want to buy someone for for a maiden aunt who lives in Minneapolis that you don't really like and I so you can give her one of these little things there and they have all kinds of beautifully created verses and don't misunderstand me, especially if you're a proprietor of a Christian bookstore but at I called him shaving shaving mirror versus Oregon old bedroom versus and great is thy faithfulness is going to be in the top 10% top five and if you ever said to somebody, you know, what about great is thy faithfulness where where where does that come from is say well you comes from a him and then they might know that it comes from the Bible.
He might build to trace it to the Old Testament, we might be able to get it to Lamentations, but the chances are nobody really actually knows where this little verse comes from and I want you to notice it and notice it carefully, because this statement of the faithfulness of God is said in a context that is as startling as it is unpredictable. It is said in a context that is phenomenally dark and horribly bleak.
If we were deciding to have this Scripture read and we wanted to put a soundtrack underneath it ought to be probably alone bagpipe or As far away as you can possibly keep them in the desk playing, not I. J but I laments, playing a lament. Some others would be hard-pressed even to define the word lament is so little part of our vocabulary. So little part of Christian vocabulary because Christian vocabulary tends to all be very cheery. All very smiley verging on the superficial and hearing Lamentations in the entire book, but certainly in chapter 3 any of that kind of superficial small triumphalism which we may be tempted to espouse and perhaps even to embrace is very quickly washed away. If we prepared to pay attention to it. What he is saying here is akin to what the psalmist says in Psalm 88 verse six, you have put me in the depths of the pit in the regions dark and D as we say I am in the pit. I find myself in the darkness, I find myself in the bleakness of these things and it is in this context that we discover the expression of God's faithfulness. Jeremiah is reflecting on the events.
Presumably, that it taken place in 586 BC when Nebuchadnezzar had come and done is bad work and his cruel passion crushed in many ways the life out of the people of God here is reflecting if you like. Then on the Old Testament equivalent of 9/11 if you if you imagine the scenes there in New York City. In the aftermath of 9/11 and then you multiply it significantly when you begin to get a picture of the context in which Jeremiah is addressing these issues. Look, for example, in chapter 2, just for a moment, we will go all the way through the chapter, at least not to chapter 2, I look at what it what he's describing here, everyone started verse eight the Lord determined notices, the Lord determined to lay in ruins, the wall of the daughter of Zion. He stretched out the measuring line. He did not restrain his hand from destroying because Rampart and Walter lament languished together notice notice was responsible for this. This is what God has done physical. God is not in the context of his people, but I thought Nebuchadnezzar did.
Nebuchadnezzar did is my God yes he did but Nebuchadnezzar did was Nebuchadnezzar upon did what he wanted to do actually fulfill the eternal counsels of God as mysterious as bike to the question and answer time again.
Nebuchadnezzar was responsible.
God was ultimately in charge verse nine look at the city gates have sunk into the ground. He has ruined and broken her bars kings and princes are among the nations. The law is no more and the prophets find no vision from the Lord.
Gates, walls came law all God and if you think that is badly down to verse 20 of chapter 2 and you discover that the community is now been reduced to cannibalism. Luke all Lord and see with whom have you dealt us should women eat the fruit of their womb. The children of their tender care should priest and prophet be killed in the sanctuary of the Lord again if I was thinking terms of pictures and and little video clips never then I don't make any I can make any I don't know what I'm talking about, but it doesn't stop me imagining and I look at the scene here in chapter 2 and I'm playing a Paul Simon soundtrack underneath just quietly could you have to listen. And in the naked light I saw 10,000 people maybe more people talking without speaking people here and without list should women be reduced to eating their children. Should the priest be slaughtered in the sanctuary of look at how the book begins verse one of chapter 1 how lonely since the city that was full of people. How like a window. Has she become. She was great among the nations, she who was a princess among the provinces has become a slave. She weeps bitterly in the night with tears on her cheeks. This is the personification of the city itself and dramatically if you pages open in chapter 1 dramatically look at what he tells us in verse 12 of one is nothing to you all you who pass by, look and see. Is there any sorrel like my sorrow, which was brought upon me, which the Lord inflicted on the day of his fierce anger know you said yourself that when a minute I thought this was a talk on the faithfulness of God.
I thought it was going to be all cheery will hold on Jeremiah is suffering here as a representative of the whole nation. He says he says I am the man who scene afflicted, it doesn't mean I'm the only medicine is I am every man if you like I am the representative of all those who have endured all these things under the rod of God's affliction and he is a foreshadowing of another prophet is going to come and who also is going to suffer now would be a long morning if we worked away consistently through these verses, but let's just allow RI to scan them. Look in verses one and two and three. Valley begins with these bold bold complaints he's driven, and brought me into darkness without light turned his hand against me all day long. I've seen affliction under the rod of his Roth verse four he says my life is ebbing away my skin wastes away my bones are broken. What's happening here.
He's besieged he's enveloped me bitterness and tribulation made me dwell in darkness. Verse seven is wall me and so I can't escape one of the things the history records is that the Assyrians were responsible for the devastation of the people in the city Assyrians had come up with a particular way of torturing people and they put them in very very enclosed spaces where the walls were so close to one another, that you had just a slight amount of lateral movement. You can either go forward nor could you go back nor could you go down could you go up and eventually you suffocated to death in the middle of all that, presumably, that picture is in mind. Then in verse 10, the metaphor changes suddenly now the figure of speech is of a bear lying in wait for me a lion in high eating, tearing me then it changes again verse 12 is like an archer who is his ball. He's made me a target of his arrow and he hasn't just hit me on the right shoulder. He's driven into my kidneys. The arrows of his quiver and all the people look on now and they taunt me and I'm a laughingstock of all the people's I'm filled with bitterness.
I'm filled up with wormwood.
Instead of eating the bread God have been eating the gravel of bail my teeth grind on the gravel.
Nothing tastes and as a result, I cower in ashes. In verses 17 and 18 have any kind of ringing to the my soul is bereft of peace I have forgotten what happiness is my endurance has perished and so has my whole from the Lord.
PS have a nice day doesn't work doesn't it doesn't fit how you going to get from this to.
Why don't you have Jesus as your life coach how you want to get from this to that he takes away, and it ended in your presence.
All my fears are washed away what were you from was one of my good friends I wrote that song I like the song but is the best in approximation to truth is not really true in your presence. All my fears are washed away by loving God's presence. Have you ever been fearful. So what happened was it we are doing something wrong that your fears were mostly when you got a cancer diagnosis did you do say cancer really all my fears are washed away washed away for me the receipt. What I'm trying to get you guys to face up to is this that the kind of message that usually goes along with the faithfulness of God is a message that is not really true to the Bible and is definitely not true to human life and it doesn't actually work well with people who are able to identify with language that says I am bereft of peace and I have forgotten what happiness is and I don't think I'm going to really make it through another day.
They don't need a message about Jesus puts a smile on your face that even a dentist can erase the need to find out if there is reality in this theology. If there is substance in this thing. Is there anybody you understand. I was too big with the message title God's listing to Truth for Life. Alastair returns in just a minute with the special invitation. Today's program was made possible by listeners who support Truth for Life by praying for this ministry and by giving regularly.
If you are one of those listers thank you so much and appreciation for your financial support. Today we want to budget request a copy of a book called with all your heart, you'll find details about the book firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call 888-588-7884.
Now, here is Alastair with a special invitation. I think one of the great benefits actually have going on a cruise ship. Bob is that you unpack ones and then essentially you wake up in a new destination every morning and if people have done this then they know that to be the case, and if they haven't, then we left for them to join us. The Alaskan coastline is beautiful ship is terrific. The musicians Laura story and Michael O'Brien are wonderfully sincere and gifted folks and hopefully the fellow that teaches the Bible will do a good job. So let me urge you to consider coming along with us and on that occasion I'll have the opportunity to prove many faces with names that I already know and hopefully will have a wonderful time together well and you can learn more about how to make your reservation by visiting deeper faith cruise.com or you can call the cruise line directly at 855-565-5519 Bob Lapine join us tomorrow as we conclude our message God's faithfulness Bible teaching about your bag is furnished by Truth for Life learning is