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singing in church July 30 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Jeremiah 7:1–9:15; 9:22–10:16; 26

Sunday Christians

We are glad when people come to church on Sundays. We think they are moral, perhaps even spiritual, but we would be surprised at how many are not committed believers. Jesus said “small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13, NIV). We hope that the people in our congregation have found the narrow road, which leads to eternal life through Jesus (John 14:6) and that they seek a deeper relationship with Him. There are people who come to church for other reasons, however, some of which are self-serving. Going to church, giving money to religious institutions or other philanthropic organizations, and wearing crosses are like good luck charms to them. They believe if they do these things, they will not be harmed—God is obligated to protect them. They are like Israel and Judah—people with stubborn hearts and deceptive minds. Furthermore, they are delusional.

Again and again before their exile, God sent prophets to the people of Israel and Judah. They would not and will not listen. Now Judah is in peril. Babylon will soon conquer and take her away from her land as Assyria did to Israel.

This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!’ [In other words, the people are saying that God will not destroy Jerusalem because His temple is residing there]

If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers forever and ever.

Even now if you will turn away from your idols and worship me only and obey my words I will let you stay in your inherited land forever.

But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, ‘We are safe’-- safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 7:3-11, NIV).

Despite the prophet's warnings, Judah will not listen. They are stubborn-hearted. They deceive themselves into believing that if they just come to the temple and offer burnt sacrifices in ceremonial obedience to the Law of God, they are entitled to His blessings. But God says, “Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you” (Jeremiah 7:23, NIV).

Like Judah, have we deceived ourselves into thinking that giving token allegiance to God is enough and that He does not see what we are doing in our private lives? God sees what we do all the time. A personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ is required for favor with Him. He offers us forgiveness, peace, spiritual life and blessings (more...). Our works will show whether we know Him or not (Matthew 25:31-46).

It is not only the common people who are deceiving themselves; false prophets, priests and scribes also join in the deception and delusion. Jeremiah speaks for God,

“How can you say, ‘We are wise, for we have the law of the LORD,’ when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely?

…Prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the [spiritual] wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.

Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when they are punished, says the LORD” (Jeremiah 8:8, 10b-12, NIV).

Because of Judah’s unrepentant heart, the LORD will punish her as He did Israel. In the days of Eli and the prophet Samuel, God's earthly dwelling place (the tabernacle) was at the city of Shiloh. Israel felt secure because of the ark. Because of her wickedness, however, God abandoned his presence there. The Philistines captured the ark and destroyed the city (1Samuel 4; Psalm 78:56-64). The same fate will happen to the temple in Jerusalem. Jeremiah's prophecy makes the people angry.

Not only do the people of Judah deceive themselves into believing God will protect them; they also delude themselves into believing that other man-made gods can save them from Babylonian destruction. They probably think: “Why put all our eggs into one basket? We need all the help we can get!” When Babylon comes, however, they will destroy the idols and the temple. Then the people and leaders will cry, “Where is our God?” (Jeremiah 8:19a, 20).

This is what many people still do today. When in trouble they will seek deliverance from any source. When God does not deliver, however, they, too, cry, “Where is God?” Like Judah, it is often because of our sins that judgment comes upon us. We must respond to God’s gracious appeals while we still have time. “… the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath” (Jeremiah 10:10, NIV). Why not commit ourselves to the only true God who can save? (more...)

After his prophecy, Jeremiah weeps, for Babylon will destroy the temple and take his people from their land. This should be the reaction of anyone who tells others about any judgment to come; he should do it with tears and pleadings.

The reaction of the people to Jeremiah’s message, however, is not repentance but wrath. “…The priests, the prophets and all the people seized him and said, ‘You must die!’” (Jeremiah 26:8, NIV).

As then, most people do not like messages of judgment; they only want messages of peace and prosperity. These kind of messages, however, are deceptive. Whether preachers or not, we should all share the truth: God loves us and is kind, but He is also just and righteousness. We should fear and please Him so we can continue to experience His joy and favor.

God protects Jeremiah. When given a chance to give his defense, Jeremiah explains,

The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the things you have heard. Now reform your ways and your actions and obey the LORD your God. Then the LORD will relent and not bring the disaster he has pronounced against you (Jeremiah 26:12b-13, NIV).

With judgment, there is mercy, if we will only listen and obey.

Lessons to Live By

  • Spiritual Life is a relationship with Jesus Christ, not a religion (more...).
  • Let's not delude ourselves into thinking that because we go to church on Sunday and give religious service or offerings that God is obligated to protect and bless us.
  • People with stubborn hearts and deceptive minds are not only deceived, but they are also delusional—God sees what we do all the time.
  • We shouldn't believe lies and delude ourselves; we should believe the truth.
  • God gets no pleasure from punishing His people, those who have a relationship with Him, whether Jewish or non-Jewish. With judgment, there is mercy if we will only listen and obey.
  • Let’s not seek idols and lucky charms for salvation. Let’s commit ourselves to the only true God who can save.
  • Let's be truly spiritual by worshipping the LORD with a fully committed heart.

Focus Verses

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NIV)

“This is what the LORD says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the LORD.”

praying hands Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

Please send your comments to mtbiblestudies@gmail.com

A Look Ahead: How can we be Useful or Useless vessels of God?

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