Yesterday we saw that Yahweh saw the rebellion in His people and finally said, “Okay, it is time for judgment!” Now wait a minute. If you read that as is Yahweh was actually saying, “Look I have had it! I cannot stand this anymore! By golly, I’m going to get rid of these people. I’m going to smash them and destroy them. I’m through with them!” Ah, well then you have missed what this is all about.
The first thing our loving Father does when we first begin to drift is to warn us what the consequences are going to be. In fact, throughout Scriptures, you find that before any judgment is brought on a nation, our God will send warnings. There were many times when He even allowed Israel’s enemies to breach the borders in devastating strikes that would traumatize the nation. It was intended as “wake-up calls,” calls to return to Him. But the nation responded with defiance. He is always faithful to tell you that if you “sow to the flesh you will of the flesh reap corruption.” There is no way to escape it. Even forgiveness for it does not always remove the judgment! If you sow to the flesh, you will of the flesh reap corruption. Sin will leave its scars even though the wound is healed. God warns that there is going to be hurt in your life, hurt in your heart, hurt in the hearts of our loved ones. There is no way to escape it. And, as our rebellion is upgraded to gross purblind ignorance He will say:
“. . . When I called you, you did not answer . . .” (Jeremiah 7:13)
Our Father’s call is a picture of love seeking a response, reminding you who he is, and how much he loves you, trying in many different ways in hopes of awakening a response of love and gratitude, to call for you to return. He is like the father in the story of the prodigal son, continually watching the horizon for that son to return, longing for him to come back. This is the picture of our Father. He is continually looking after men and women, continually being faithful to them, longing to have them back, calling them again and again. This is a picture of the patience of God. Granted, it may go on for years for some to respond. And the whole time He is asking us to pray for those who are like this, to hold them up, to reach out to them with the power of prayer.
However, when that doesn’t work, he has one step left in the program: judgment. You see, judgment is not God’s way of saying, “I’m through with you.” It doesn’t signify your Father abandoning you; it is His last loving act to bring you back. It is the last resort of love. C. S. Lewis put it very beautifully when he said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures; he speaks to us in our work; he shouts at us in our pain.” Every one of us knows that there have been times when we would not listen to God, times when we would not pay any attention to what his Word was saying until one day, He put us flat on our backs or allowed us to be hurt badly. Then we began to listen.
Many times I have reminded you of Ecclesiastes 7:3 where it says, “sorrow is better than laughter, for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better and gains gladness,” that “sadness has a refining influence on us” (Living Bible). “For God sometimes uses sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek eternal life. We should never regret His sending it” (II Corinthians 7:10).
And it is unfortunate that this “refining influence” can’t be found in our times of peace and prosperity. However, the realities of God’s Kingdom will only be unveiled to us when the love of everything this world has to offer has been stripped from our grasp.
That is what Jeremiah had to learn. He did not understand that his nation had reached the place where the only thing that would heal it, the only chance it had left, was the judgment of God — the hurt and the pain of invasion, and the loss of its national place.
Now you can see why he commanded Jeremiah to quit praying for them. But amazingly, the preaching was to continue. If you read through the Scriptures you see that prayer delays judgment and preaching hastens it. And what this nation needed to restore it and heal it was judgment. So God said, “Don’t delay the judgment; don’t hold me back. This is what will do the work. Radical surgery is all that is left, so stop praying.”
Hey! Do you doubt me? Abraham was able to hold off judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham was able to reduce the minimum number of righteous men required before judgment came to that region, and he almost saved the whole area from the destruction. But I said that preaching hastens judgment. When truth is revealed, and Yahweh calls things what they really are, as he does here — adultery, stealing, murdering, lying — instead of the polite, P/C names people prefer to use, then judgment is hastened. Jesus was talking about the Pharisees when he said, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:22).
It was at this point that Jeremiah broke down and wept before his God. There is no way you can read these passages that express the anguish of Jeremiah’s heart without seeing your Father weeping. I was able to witness this many years ago. I had a personal “crisis” and it caused me become very bitter and angry with the Lord. As I saw it, He had become an angry SOB, and I could not, I would not cry out to Him!
I went to see my dearest friend, my pastor, and he was about to pray for me and grabbed my hands when he suddenly began to weep. Uncontrollably. I instantly recognized that it wasn’t my pastor crying, it was my Father. My pastor friend told me later that he had never experienced such deep emotions before.
(now, before you become too romantic about that time. While he was crying I just looked around the room. I didn’t cry, I didn’t repent and call out to my Father to forgive me. In fact, I left my pastor’s office unmoved and unchanged). However, a few months later, I was able to sing as Keith Green used to sing:
Like waking up from the longest dream, how real it seemed
Until your love broke through
I’ve been lost in a fantasy, that blinded me
Until your love broke through
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you—a to the list: Mail List)
I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.