Jer 17:1 The Sin of Judah 11/16/2014
· The Sin of Judah (Jer 17:1-4)
#1. Judah (Jer 16:8-13, 14-21)
· The Double Payment (Jer 16:18)
#2 Where is the Church Going? (Rev 20:7-9, 22:18-19, Mat 24:37, 2Thes 1:6-10,)
· A Flood of Fire (2Thes 1:6-10)
#3. Do We Have A Love for Christ? ()
· The Sin of Judah (John 14:15, 15:10, Gal 2:16, Eph 2:8)
Please open your Bibles to the Prophecy of Jeremiah, Jer 17:1(2X). Today we will begin right smack in the middle of the Prophecy of Jeremiah, and we shall see if the situation there in the land of Judah was any different from the situation right now in our own land. We read here in Jer 17:1-4 (2X),
Jer 17:1, The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars, 2 Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills. 3 O my mountain in the field, I will give thy substance and all thy treasures to the spoil, and thy high places for sin, throughout all thy borders. 4 And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn forever.
· The Sin of Judah (Jer 17:1-4)
God began this passage with a focus on the sin of Judah. Why Judah? What was the situation at that time in the nation of Judah? The kingdom of David and Solomon was split into a Northern kingdom, named Israel, and a Southern kingdom named Judah. But the Northern kingdom Israel was a very wicked kingdom, and God sent the nation of Assyria to fight against it and they destroyed the kingdom of Israel. Many of the Israelites fled to the south into the kingdom of Judah and stayed there, for the kingdom of Judah continued to exist for another 100 years. And thus when read in the Bible about the nation of Judah during this 100 year time period it is sometimes called Judah, and at other times it is called Israel, depending on the context. When God speaks about “The Sin of Judah” He is speaking about the sinful people who inhabited the land of Judah to the South, but in fact He is speaking about the descendants of Judah, as well as the descendants of the other ten tribes whose land was now occupied by the Assyrians. Now, how does that apply to us here in the United States of America? We need to realize that God wrote the Bible not only for a small nation there east of the Mediterranean, but God wrote the Bible for the whole world. And God wrote the Bible not just for the tribe that descended from Jacob, but God wrote the Bible for all the people of the world. It means that we should find how all these historical events that are recorded in the Bible fit together and apply to us. This is what we are obligated to do. Harmonize, harmonize and again harmonize. The Bible must be one coherent story of how people are being saved from the wrath of God.
At that time in the land of Palestine the land of Judah was the only place where the true Gospel could be found. 2000 years later, at our time in the 21st century, where can the true Gospel be found? It can only be found in a church where the true Gospel is preached. Not everyone in the church is a saved individual, but if it is a church where true saints of God congregate, where some saints are faithful to the Bible, then we can say that it is a church of Christ. He is still the Shepherd of that church. He continues to watch over that church, for one of His beloved ones is there. The examples we draw from are the seven churches of Asia Minor to whom the Lord has sent messages in Rev 2 and 3. And even though there were many people in those churches that have gone apostate, those congregations were still called the church of Christ because there were saved people there who needed a shepherd. God will not abandon His church. Let us review again: We need to distinguish between the outwardly visible church, and the inwardly invisible worldwide church of Christ. The outwardly visible church can go apostate, but the inwardly invisible worldwide church of Christ will remain, because it is the church that is identified as the Bride of Christ. It shall never disappear in apostacy, for Christ shall protect it and defend it, and prevent that it will fall in the hands of the Devil who will bring the false gospels.
Today people who are faithful to the Word of God try to gather together in a faithful church. Some will succeed to find such a church, others will not be successful. But all who remain faithful to the words God has spoken in the Bible are spiritually members of the eternal church, outwardly invisible, but inwardly united in the faith. Inwardly they are members of the church of Christ who suffered and died for these people. And so we can see that Judah, at the time this Prophecy was written, corresponds to the church of our days. It was and is partially sinful, because it was occupied by people who were saved but who were also basically sinful, and it was also occupied by people who were not saved, but it was the only place where the Gospel could be found. There are no sinless people in the world.
And so, this is the reason why God focusses on the sin of Judah. Not everything in today’s churches is nice and perfect; there is sin also. And particularly what kind of sin is God very concerned about? It is the sin of worshipping other gods. It is the sin of idolatry. It means we have to understand idolatry.
#1. Judah (Jer 16:8-13, 14-21)
Who do the people of Judah represent in today’s world? The name Judah means “praise.” And who is destined to be to the praise of God? Those in the church who are of the elect of God shall eventually be to the praise of God. And even though at the present time they are grievous sinners, in the end they shall be saved and be to the glory of God. To this end God shall send them a Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Triune God. This is how the scenario should unfold.
When we read about “the sin of Judah” in the Bible, we do not find much of it in Jeremiah chapter 17. Instead “the sin of Judah” refers much to their sins written in the previous chapter. Let us consider:
Jer 16:8 (2X) “Thou shalt not also go into the house of feasting, to sit with them to eat and to drink. 9 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will cause to cease out of this place in your eyes, and in your days, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride. 10 ¶ And it shall come to pass, when thou shalt shew this people all these words, and they shall say unto thee, Wherefore hath the LORD pronounced all this great evil against us? or what is our iniquity? or what is our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God? 11 Then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the LORD, and have walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law; 12 And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me: 13 Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods day and night; where I will not shew you favor.”
Let us review again: God is not the Author of sin. Apostacy is sin. He Devil is the author of sin. When people follow others into apostacy it means that they are deceived, and are still unsaved, because the saints cannot be deceived. When God brings calamity upon a church, it means that He is chastening the saints in that church to draw them back into the truth of the Gospel. It should not be called “judgment”, because God’s judgment is only applied to the unsaved on the Last Day.
Does God know who the saved and the unsaved are? Of course! He knew them from before the foundation of the world. Even though God knew what sins the unsaved are going to commit, He does not hinder them from committing those sins. They will be judged for they sin voluntarily (2X). But when those who are God’s elect commit sin, their sin will be paid by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. They will receive the grace of God unto repentance, for repentance is a gift from God. Men will not repent out of their own volition. God is not the Author of sin, but God is the Author of repentance. As long as you serve other gods day and night, I will not show you favor. But there will come a time, afterwards, that I will pour my grace upon you, and have pity upon you. We read in Jer 16:14-21,
Jer 16:14, “Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; 15 But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers. 16 Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. 17 For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes. 18 And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcases of their detestable and abominable things. 19 O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit. 20 Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods? 21 Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is Jehovah.”
When God says in verse 18, “And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double” it means that God has sent the Lord Jesus Christ to atone on the cross for those whom He wants to save. At first we recoil at the idea, for God does not require a double payment for sins. They have defiled the land, but Christ has paid in full for their sins. And Christ has recompensed mercy and grace to all those whom He wanted to save. How is this his is His double payment?
· The Double Payment (Jer 16:18,6:21, Isa 13:17)
The double payment of Christ reminds us of the double inheritance He is giving to His elect. Christ is called the Firstborn of all creation. Therefore all those who are in Christ are also called “firstborn.” God determined that all the firstborn should receive a double inheritance. What is our inheritance? First of all, our inheritance is to be with Christ in the New Heaven and the New Earth. But how do we get there? We get there by the way of Mercy and Grace. The payment Christ made on the cross was the atonement for our sins. What does it mean that our sins were atoned for? It means that the payment for our sins has been made in full. Before our salvation our sins were accumulating a debt which became greater and greater, and which caused our debt to become a deeper and deeper pit in Hell. Then Christ’s payment eliminated our deep pit in Hell. He made the payment. We do not have to pay our debt. That is Mercy, which is unmerited pardon. That is an immensely great gift. But look at our status now. Mercy takes us from minus infinity to zero; we do not havt5e hell to pay, but it leaves us at level zero, which is not the life eternal we have anticipated. But now God gives us the second half of our inheritance, and that is Grace, God’s unmerited favor. This is a gift which takes us from ground zero to plus infinity where God is. Now that is grace. That is a gift from God which we did not deserve, and which we did not expect. It is a totally free gift. And so here is our double inheritance. It is Mercy and Grace. Let us now continue in the Prophecy of Jeremiah and let us first look at these verses from the historical perspective. In Jer 6:21 the verse ends with “and they shall know that My Name is The Lord,” should actually be stated as “and they shall know that My Name is Jehovah”. The King James Bible follows the Hebrew tradition by calling the Name of God “The LORD”, which actually in the Hebrew text is Jehovah. The name Jehovah means “the God who saves.” It is a name which carries many promises. When God says in verse 13, “Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not” He is referring to the dispersion of the nation of Israel by the Assyrians. Their land was destroyed, and the inhabitants of Israel were scattered to the four winds of heaven. Then the people of Babylon came and they finished the job that the Assyrians started, until all the land was empty. It was only then that the Medes and the Persians under the leadership of Cyrus came to deliver the people from Babylon, and to command the rebuilding of the Temple of God. This restoration pictures the rapture of the church at the end of time and the rebuilding of it in the New Heaven and the New Earth. The Medes are a fitting picture of the angels who do not delight in silver or gold. (Isa 13:17)
#2 Where is the Church Going? (Rev 20:7-9, 22:18-19, Mat 24:37, 2Thes 1:6-10,)
Please turn to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 20:7 (2X). How does all that apply to us in the spiritual dimension? Does this tell us where the church is going? O Yes, it tells us that the church is almost completely going apostate during the Final Tribulation Period, until the Rapture at the end of time. We read in Rev 20:7-9,
Rev 20:7, “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. 9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” This represents the end of the Rapture. The camp of the saints is the camp of Christ which has remained faithful to all the doctrines of faith, including election and reprobation and the sovereignty of God, because these are essential doctrines and these are written in the Bible. Those who have taken these things out of the Bible are not saved because they have violated Rev 22:19. And so, what is the sin of Judah? The sin of Judah is that part of Judah that has not believed the Gospel of grace. They do not believe that they are sinful from birth, and so they have no need for a Savior. People who do not believe in our total depravity from birth fall in the same category. They are not saved because they have violated Rev 22:19. And so we see that God gave us in Rev 22:18-19 a powerful tool of discernment by which we can understand why there are so many unsaved people in the church. This helps us to understand the words of the Lord Jesus when He said in Matt 24:37, “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” In the days of Noah only 8 people out of perhaps 2 million were called righteous by God. Everyone else was considered unrighteous, and perished in the flood. But on the last day it will not be a flood of water on all the unrighteous, but a flood of fire. Please turn to 2Thes 1:6 (2X). Christ is our Defender and our Avenger. He will not stand idly by when His children are hurt. He will avenge them with a flood of fire that will not be quenched. We read that in 2Thes 1:6-10,
2Thes 1:6, “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.”
· A Flood of Fire (2Thes 1:6-10)
Some of us might think that this is an unreasonable vengeance by God; that this is a penalty which is way more than the criminal deserves. But God says that He is a righteous Judge, who will not apply a penalty much heavier than they deserve which He should impose on the criminal. Let God declare what a righteous recompense is for the crimes committed. We must believe that God is righteous in all that He does. One part of Judah will be condemned with all the unrighteous people of the world, and the other part will be saved from the wrath of God. Unfortunately, the part that will be saved will be very, very small. It means that one small part of the church will be saved from the wrath of God and the other part will be condemned with the rest of the world who has declared God a liar (Rev 22:19).
And so, we see that the sin of Judah has far ranging implications. First of all Hell does exist. We may not eliminate the words from God by our clever human reasoning. We must trust that God does not lie. If He said that people will be cast into Hell, then we must believe that this will indeed come to pass on the Last Day. Secondly, Hell has already been created, but presently Hell is still empty (Mat 25:41). No one who has been cast into Hell will be dragged out to stand before the Judgment throne and be sentenced to Hell again. That is not a righteous thing to do. It is empty because no one has yet been arraigned and sentenced. The Judgment of the Last Day has not yet taken place. Thirdly, the New Heaven and the New Earth has also been created, but presently that place is also empty (Mat 25:34). It is empty because no one has been raptured yet. The rapture of the Last Day has not yet occurred because there are no sinless bodies to be raptured. Everyone sins, but the sins of those who are of the elect of God have been erased from their souls; they have been paid by Christ on the cross in AD33, but their sinful bodies still remain on the earth.
And so, when Christ comes again He will declare all His saints righteous in body and soul, meaning “Not Guilty”, and He will rapture them up to be with Christ forever; eternal life is a free gift from God, and it will be given to old, and young, and babies, to all on whom the favor of the Lord fell from before the foundation of the world. That will be truly a demonstration of salvation by grace, and not by the works of man. But the penalty for works done by men in this life will not be the same for all men. Those who deserve a deeper hole in Hell will receive a deeper hole in Hell. Our God is righteous. And herein is also the comfort of the saints, that those who deserve a light sentence, like little children, will also receive a light sentence, for God’s sentences are righteous, and those who deserve a severe sentence will receive a severe sentence. Our God is righteous. Then He will declare all the unsaved “Guilty”, for their sins have not been atoned for, and He will cast them into Hell according to their works. The end of time will really be a time of revelation: Who will be righteous and who will be wicked, and to what degree of wickedness are they guilty? Do not think that they will get off lightly, for they have sinned not just once or twice, but they have sinned all their life. God says in Ecc 7:20, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” It means we sin all the time. We do not live without sinning. Therefore, let us have pity on the sinners, for we were like that in the past. And if we have pity on sinners we shall declare unto them the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.
#3. Do We Have A Love for Christ?
The sin of Judah is the sin committed by most who are in the churches today. Have you not noticed how they live their lives as if there is no God? They say their morning prayers; but this must be enough. No more worship, or kindness of speech, or thoughts of God, or thoughts of Final Judgment. You would not be able to distinguish a child of God from a child of the world. The sin of Judah is the life of doing what they believe they are obligated to do, and that is it. Nothing extra. And what is it that they are obligated to do? They believe they have to obey the commandments from God, especially the Ten Commandments. And if they fail to do them perfectly, like stealing a pencil from their employer, or stealing time from their employer, they will excuse themselves with the words: Nobody is able to keep the Ten Commandments perfectly anyway. And so, they come to church on Sundays, believing that this is their obligation, and that is it. Nothing extra. While all that is true, it is not true that we have legitimate excuses for doing something extra. It is actually in the extra things we do that our allegiance is shown. God has created us with a purpose, and the purpose for which God created us is to glorify Him. Anytime that we do not glorify Him we sin, and those sins have to be taken care of. God will punish sins, big sins as well as small sins. And the penalty for each one of these is an eternity in Hell. We must confess to Him that we are sinners, and that we need a Savior to save us from the sins that we commit so glibly. That is why God has sent the Lord Jesus Christ to this earth. Christ is not just somebody. Christ has to do a job that no one else in the universe can do. Christ is not only the Son of God who came into being about 2000 years ago, but Christ is also the Second Person of the Triune Godhead, who is fully God, and who is equal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, and who always is in the Father and in the Holy Spirit. Therefore Christ is fully God, and He needs no one to make Him more holy than God Himself. He is perfectly holy. This is the Person God has appointed to be our Redeemer. What does that mean? It means that He has to take care of our sins so that we can come clean into God’s holy heaven, washed from our sins. And what does that mean to wash us from our sins? It means to take the penalty that God determined we would have to pay, and pay this to God on our behalf so that we do not have to pay this huge penalty. This is God’s Mercy. And Mercy is unconditional pardon; pardon from all our sins unconditionally, because Christ has already paid for them. You see, the righteousness of God as the Judge demands a payment by Christ which is equal to, or equivalent to the payment we would have to make if we would have to pay the penalty for our own sins. And what is that penalty? It is the penalty of an eternity in Hell, or something equivalent to that. And so, when Christ suffered for our sins from Thursday night until Friday, about 3 O’clock in the afternoon, He finished paying the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. How intense is that? We will never know, for God is the Judge. He will know when the sufferings of Christ have reached the equivalence of an eternity in Hell, for only God can work with the number infinite. The righteousness of God demands that. We must believe that Christ paid the Full Price, and He finished that payment on the cross of Calvary. I have recently written a book on that topic, titled: “Seven Land Purchases in the Bible,” also titled, “The Full Price.” He gave all that He had, even His life, and then He gave this payment to the Judge. How grateful are we for that great gift? Let us think about what we have done recently to show our gratitude for what He did. He gave His life. Is there something extra we can do to show our gratitude whereby we can glorify God? Remember, we have been created to glorify God. Are we pleased to turn to Him in prayer? Are we pleased to open our Bibles to begin a Bible study? Are we pleased to listen to hymns that glorify God, or do we consider those hymns a drag? These are all things with which we can glorify God, but at the same time these are things by which we can know if we are saved. Do we really want to know if we are saved? How urgently do we want to know it? And so you see that the sin of Judah was and is that they are not interested to know if they have been saved. Why are they not interested? They do not believe the whole Bible. People say that they believe, but the reality is that they do not believe all that God has said. They have no gratitude for what Christ has done, and they have no love for God or for Christ.
· The Sin of Judah (John 14:15, 15:10, Gal 2:16, Eph 2:8)
Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel According to John, John 14:15 (2X). In today’s churches God’s salvation program is taken from a wrong combination of verses, but it is a combination that churches love most because it supports their salvation program. There are many combinations of verses to choose from, but they all have the same pattern. Let us start with John 14:15,
John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” And so, here is the starting point from which they do derive that we must obey the law. Next we go to a verse which reinforces this like John 15:10,
John 15:10, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” To abide in the love of Christ means that we have become saved, for only those who are saved can abide in the love of Christ until the Last Day. What is wrong with this salvation program? It is a salvation by our own free will. We must do something: keep His commandments and you will be saved. And you do not even have to do it perfectly, for God is merciful. But God commanded us to keep all the laws of the Bible, and therefore we need to harmonize all that the Bible has to say about this point. For example, please turn to the Epistle to the Galatians, Gal 2:16 (2X). God says in Gal 2:16 that “by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified”, which is exactly contrary to what the church told us we must DO. How do we wiggle ourselves out of this problem?
The sin of Judah in today’s churches is that they have replaced the God whom we should serve with a god of obligations, a god whom we serve by our obedience to the law. They imagine that our god is a god who gave us the law and that is all that we must believe and adhere to. O yes, we must love Him also, and our love for Him is shown by our faith and our obedience to the law. And this is all that we owe Him. Is this true? Is our faith or our love really manifested by our obedience to the law? What does God say about this matter? We read in Gal 2:16,
Gal 2:16, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”
What did God say? “By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Any obedience to the law will not help us to become justified (or saved) in the eyes of God. The only way we can become saved is by Christ alone, literally by the faith of Christ. What is that faith? It is the faith that all the elect of God receive as a gift from God. We read in Eph 2:8, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” What is it that we receive as a gift from God? It is the faith of Christ. Everyone who is saved receives the faith of Christ. It is complete and fully secure. It was His faith that His Father would not leave His soul in Hell, but would revive it when the atonement was complete. It was the faith of Christ that His atonement for our sins would last only as long as was required to complete the equivalence of an eternity in Hell. This was the gift that was given to us in place of our faith, for our faith is weak and not dependable. The faith of Christ appears in the Bible at least 14 times. How could people have missed it? But they did, because they did not understand the atonement. The sin of Judah was that they have replaced the God of Mercy and Grace who died on the cross at Calvary, with a god of obligations who says: “Do this and you will be saved, or go get yourself baptized in water, or accept the well-meant offer from the pulpit, or join the church, or join the choir, or do something where you can get the confidence that you have done something that pleases God.” But in fact, none of these things will be pleasing to God. They are all abominations giving glory to a freewill-god out there. Only Christ can give us salvation. If our righteousness does not come from Christ then it is no righteousness at all. Only His atonement on the cross will satisfy God. And so, this is the God whom we must worship. He completed it all. “IT IS FINISHED.” All other things we will do, do not contribute to our righteousness but can be things that glorify God. And in this He delights.
AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.