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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Spiritual Disconnect (Jeremiah 26:2-3, 8)

 "This is what the LORD says: Stand in the courtyard of the LORD's house and speak to all the people of the towns of Judah who come to worship in the house of the LORD. Tell them everything I command you, do not omit a word. Perhaps they will listen and each will turn from his evil way. Then I will relent and not bring on them the disaster I was planning because of the evil they have done. But as soon as Jeremiah finished telling the people everything the LORD had commanded him to say, the priests, the prophets and all the people seized him and said, "You must die!"

Jeremiah speaks to a packed house of worshippers (which demonstrates that filling the building with worshippers doesn't necessarily mean it is a place of acceptable worship). Israel is just years away from going into captivity because of their sin and here they are worshipping! This same crowd rejects Jeremiah's message, seizes him and demands that he die. This reminds me of Jesus' feeding the very multitude who later turned on Him and demanded that a criminal go free while He is crucified.

A few elders made an appeal on Jeremiah's behalf by bringing up a prophet from the past. Micah prophesied during Hezekiah's reign and Hezekiah repented when he heard Micah's message. King Jehoiakim had already killed Uriah, a previous prophet who spoke against him. God, however, uses the words of these elders to protect Jeremiah from harm.

This story teaches a number of truths about worship and worship services:
  1. God doesn't accept the worship of those who don't listen to and obey His Word. In other words, people living in known sin can sing enthusiastically to the LORD and their praises will not get past the ceiling. Worship is more about them having a good time and feeling better about themselves than adoring the Lord of heaven.
  2. It is quite possible to have a packed worship service while under the judgment of God. Worship, however, flows out of hearts that are repentant toward God.
  3. False prophets and priests have always existed and they often lead large congregations of people. They act indignantly when their message is questioned.
  4. God often plants his wise men in the crowd to speak on behalf of his prophets and prevent their harm.
Lively worship and packed buildings are not reliable gauges of spiritually healthy congregations. Spiritual health is measured by brokenness over sin, repentance and obedience; anything less is spiritual disconnect.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Jeremiah 8:4-9:15; 9:22-10:16
  • What is God's goal in asking man questions? (See Genesis 3:9, 11, 4:6) What kind of questions is the LORD asking in Jeremiah 8:4-5, 8, 9, 12, 10; 9:9, 12?
  • How are those who reject the Word of the Lord described?
  • How are those who follow the words of false prophets described?
  • How does God's prophet respond to Judah's worship of foreign idols? (It is important to note that God's prophets have a heightened sense of spiritual awareness.)
  • Why does the LORD urge His people to resist fearing the gods of foreign nations?
Jeremiah 26:1-24
  • Describe Judah's response to Jeremiah's message.
  • Who defends Jeremiah and what is the basis of their defense?
  • What does this teach you about God?
Turning truth into prayer
Pray for your church. Pray that you and your church will worship the LORD in spirit and in truth.