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The chaos we make when God is not first

Jeremiah 2, 1-37
 
Three different stories are taking place throughout the book of Jeremiah.

The first story involves a young man named Jeremiah. Jeremiah was God’s chosen man for a very difficult job.

The second story involves God’s chosen people Israel. After many years of ungodly leadership and idol worship, God has had enough. He gave Jeremiah the job of prophesying bad news that they will be overrun by the Babylonians.

The third story involves God Himself. A heartbroken father who has watched his children backslide into rebellion.

When God is not the first priority in our lives, we are going to find ourselves in a very difficult situation. The chaos you make when God is not first.

This is what happened to God’s chosen people, the Israelites. They began integrating with other nations and their false gods. They began intermarrying with other people outside the Jewish faith. What at first they thought they could control, took control.

Warning 1 - When you pursue something other than God’s standard, you are on a slippery slope to disaster.

Jeremiah summed up Israel’s crisis very powerfully:

’Indeed, on every high hill and under every spreading tree you lay down as a prostitute.’ (Jeremiah 2, 20b).

For Israel, the grass looked greener on the other side. Before long, they were on the other side, worshipping idols and the false god Baal. They burned their children as a sacrifice to the false god Molech. Verse 28 says they had as many gods as they had towns. They were immoral in their sexual practices, they were dishonest in their business practices. God was saying:  “Enough is enough.” At first it seemed harmless. So does a baby rattlesnake. Before long, it will bite. Before long, it will take over and you will find yourself in a big mess. Pursuing something other than God’s standard can be a slippery slope to disaster.

Warning  2 - Following ungodly leaders will lead to ungodly living.
 
This is exactly what Israel did. They tolerated ungodly leaders in positions that demand godliness. ‘The priests did not ask, ’Where is the Lord?’ Those who deal with the law did not know me; the leaders rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols.’ (Jeremiah 2, 8).

Israel was a nation where religious leaders did not seek God. Judges did not know God or His moral base. Kings rebelled against God and built their kingdoms rather than God’s kingdom.
Preachers preached from Baal’s theology rather than God’s Word. When we begin to follow ungodly leaders, it will not be long before we are sucked into their lifestyle.

Warning 3 - Positioning yourself before God will be positioning yourself for failure.
 
Israel decided that their ways were better than God’s ways:

’My people have committed two sins;
they have forsaken me, the spring of
living water, and have dug their own
cisterns that cannot hold water.’
(Jeremiah 2, 13).


Israel could have had a cool flowing fresh spring of water, or they could settle for stagnant, stale water from a leaky cistern. Israel wanted to go their own way and do their own thing.

Positioning yourself before God will be positioning yourself for failure.

Warning 4 - Ignoring repentance will lead to a hard heart.


Israel refused to admit they were wrong and repent of their evil. As a result, their heart were hardened and they continued to live in disobedience. Eventually God would wipe the nation away because they refused to come to him.

‘They have turned their backs to me and not their faces.’
(Jeremiah 2, 27b).


What was the result of their evil? Chapter 37 tells us that God allowed rulers from the nation of Babylon to come against Jerusalem. They surrounded the city in siege, eventually breaking through. For his disobedience, the king of Judah was captured. He was made to witness the execution of his children. His eyes were plucked out and he was chained in a dungeon for the rest of his life. In Jerusalem, the palace was burned to the ground; crops were destroyed and entire families were destroyed. Most people were taken into exile to Babylon and were made slaves.

Warning 5 - Sin has consequences.

It may not be now, or even next week, but sin has its consequences.

‘Consider how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the Lord your God.’
(Jeremiah 2:19b).


We may be tempted to think that because none of us is perfect and we are all to some degree suffering from this moral disease the Bible calls ‘sin’ and because God is a loving God, then it does not matter too much. He will overlook our little faults. Unfortunately, the situation is somewhat more serious than that. Though God loves us passionately, His holiness and justice are such that He cannot live with evil. As the prophets Habakkuk and Isaiah put it, ‘Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong’ (Habakkuk 1, 13), ‘Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you’ (Isaiah 59, 2).

James N. Spurgeon wrote:

'A job is at your choice; a ministry is at Christ's call. In a job you expect to receive; in a ministry you expect to give. In a job you give something to get something; in a ministry you return something that has already been given to you. A job depends on your abilities; a ministry depends on your availability to God. A job done well brings you praise; a ministry done well brings honour to Christ.'

This ministry is to bring honour to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

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