ONLY IF—ONLY THEN

God is perfect.  God’s Son, Jesus is perfect.  God’s Holy Spirit is perfect.  Only if we obey God and turn to Him, offering our very lives as a living sacrifice to Him will He abide in us.  Only then can we grow in God’s character and be all He created us to be.  “I formed you…”, says God, “I have a plan, not to hurt you but to prosper you.”

But the nation of God’s people refused to listen to Him.  They refused to love Him back as He loved them.

Because the people believed the lies of the false prophets, the people thought they could live in sin and still go to the temple and worship a holy God. They were guilty of breaking at least five of the Ten Commandments, but the false prophets assured them that the presence of God’s temple in Jerusalem guaranteed the nation God’s blessing and protection from every enemy.

As long as the people had a Temple building, they thought they were “safe” to do what they pleased in all kinds of perverted ways…even murdering their own children to please the gods of their making.

God will not reside where sin lives and thrives.  Only if we repent of our sins, in Jesus Name, can we see God and hear His voice guiding us.  Only then can we be saved from our sins, redeemed (bought back) for eternity. 

Jeremiah 7, The Message

The Nation That Wouldn’t Obey God

1-2 The Message from God to Jeremiah: “Stand in the gate of God’s Temple and preach this Message.

2-3 “Say, ‘Listen, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship God. God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel’s God, has this to say to you:

3-7 “‘Clean up your act—the way you live, the things you do—so I can make my home with you in this place. Don’t for a minute believe the lies being spoken here—“This is God’s Temple, God’s Temple, God’s Temple!” Total nonsense! Only if you clean up your act (the way you live, the things you do), only if you do a total spring cleaning on the way you live and treat your neighbors, only if you quit exploiting the street people and orphans and widows, no longer taking advantage of innocent people on this very site and no longer destroying your souls by using this Temple as a front for other gods—only then will I move into your neighborhood. Only then will this country I gave your ancestors be my permanent home, my Temple.

8-11 “‘Get smart! Your leaders are handing you a pack of lies, and you’re swallowing them! Use your heads! Do you think you can rob and murder, have sex with the neighborhood wives, tell lies nonstop, worship the local gods, and buy every novel religious commodity on the market—and then march into this Temple, set apart for my worship, and say, “We’re safe!” thinking that the place itself gives you a license to go on with all this outrageous sacrilege? A cave full of criminals! Do you think you can turn this Temple, set apart for my worship, into something like that? Well, think again. I’ve got eyes in my head. I can see what’s going on.’” God’s Decree!

12 “‘Take a trip down to the place that was once in Shiloh, where I met my people in the early days. Take a look at those ruins, what I did to it because of the evil ways of my people Israel.

13-15 “‘So now, because of the way you have lived and failed to listen, even though time and again I took you aside and talked seriously with you, and because you refused to change when I called you to repent, I’m going to do to this Temple, set aside for my worship, this place you think is going to keep you safe no matter what, this place I gave as a gift to your ancestors and you, the same as I did to Shiloh. And as for you, I’m going to get rid of you, the same as I got rid of those old relatives of yours around Shiloh, your fellow Israelites in that former kingdom to the north.’

16-18 And you, Jeremiah, don’t waste your time praying for this people. Don’t offer to make petitions or intercessions. Don’t bother me with them. I’m not listening. Can’t you see what they’re doing in all the villages of Judah and in the Jerusalem streets? Why, they’ve got the children gathering wood while the fathers build fires and the mothers make bread to be offered to ‘the Queen of Heaven’! And as if that weren’t bad enough, they go around pouring out libations to any other gods they come across, just to hurt me.

19 “But is it me they’re hurting?” God’s Decree! “Aren’t they just hurting themselves? Exposing themselves shamefully? Making themselves ridiculous?

20 “Here’s what the Master God has to say: ‘My white-hot anger is about to descend on this country and everything in it—people and animals, trees in the field and vegetables in the garden—a raging wildfire that no one can put out.’

21-23 “The Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel’s God: ‘Go ahead! Put your burnt offerings with all your other sacrificial offerings and make a good meal for yourselves. I sure don’t want them! When I delivered your ancestors out of Egypt, I never said anything to them about wanting burnt offerings and sacrifices as such. But I did say this, commanded this: “Obey me. Do what I say and I will be your God and you will be my people. Live the way I tell you. Do what I command so that your lives will go well.”

24-26 “‘But do you think they listened? Not a word of it. They did just what they wanted to do, indulged any and every evil whim and got worse day by day. From the time your ancestors left the land of Egypt until now, I’ve supplied a steady stream of my servants the prophets, but do you think the people listened? Not once. Stubborn as mules and worse than their ancestors!’

27-28 “Tell them all this, but don’t expect them to listen. Call out to them, but don’t expect an answer. Tell them, ‘You are the nation that wouldn’t obey God, that refused all discipline. Truth has disappeared. There’s not a trace of it left in your mouths.

29 “‘So shave your heads.
    Go bald to the hills and lament,
For God has rejected and left
    this generation that has made him so angry.’

30-31 The people of Judah have lived evil lives while I’ve stood by and watched.” God’s Decree. “In deliberate insult to me, they’ve set up their obscene god-images in the very Temple that was built to honor me. They’ve constructed Topheth altars for burning babies in prominent places all through the valley of Ben-hinnom, altars for burning their sons and daughters alive in the fire—a shocking perversion of all that I am and all I command.

32-34 “But soon, very soon”—God’s Decree!—“the names Topheth and Ben-hinnom will no longer be used. They’ll call the place what it is: Murder Meadow. Corpses will be stacked up in Topheth because there’s no room left to bury them! Corpses abandoned in the open air, fed on by crows and coyotes, who have the run of the place. And I’ll empty both smiles and laughter from the villages of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. No wedding songs, no holiday sounds. Dead silence.”

WHAT WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND

“A cave full of criminals…”  Jesus referred to this verse after He cleansed the temple (Matthew 21:13). A “den of thieves”, according to Jesus, is the place where thieves go to hide after they’ve committed their crimes. Jeremiah was declaring that the Jews were using the temple ceremonies to cover up their secret sins. Instead of being made holy in the temple, the people were making the temple unholy!

This begs the question from us today:  Do we, as a church, the bride of Christ, think the building is our safe place, our cover, our place to look good in front of others as well as a place to hide who we really are the other six days of the week?  There is a deeper question to consider:  Does today’s church affect society with all that is God, or has society affected the church.  Which is more? This was the heart cry of Jeremiah directed by God.  Only if…only then.

What are some only if’s we need to “clean up” and repent of so God can come near with His only then’s?

That’s what I am pondering this morning.  Do we really believe what God says is really real?  Our behaviors will reflect what we believe.

Lord,

I repent of going about life thinking I can handle the small stuff.  All the stuff of life belongs to you and your care.  I give myself to you again today, offering my very life as a living sacrifice.  Use my life for your glory.  May others see your glory at work in me.

In Jesus Name, Amen

About randscallawayffm

Randy and Susan co founded Finding Focus Ministries in 2006. Their goal as former full time pastors, is to serve and provide spiritual encouragement and focus to those on the "front lines" of ministry. Extensive experience being on both sides of ministry, paid and volunteer, on the mission fields of other countries as well as the United States, helps them bring a different perspective to those who need it most. Need a lift? Call us 260 229 2276.
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