Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Jeremiah 13:1-23 What The Lord Thinks Of Your Pride
Well the first time I came across this passage, I was startled. A young man, 17 strugling with whether Christianity was all true or not.
I prayed that the Lord would show me that He was true. I opened my Bible using the anywhere system, and read this passage.
And thought ummm.. yeah… well…
I turned the radio on and heard John Edmondson do a Bible reading on 2 CH.
He opened it turned out at the wrong passage and read Jer 13… well he said something like.. mmm now that was edifying,
I really wondered how it could be edifying. Someone going and hiding a pair of underpants.
An unusual event a word displayed in action, delivered visibly!
Now please don’t be fearful, I didn’t bring in an old pair of underpants to show you.
Now if I had prepared a little better I could have brought you in a pair!
Well I turned then over to HCJB.. and would you believe it, they read immediately from Jer 13!!
Well the Lord had my attention. Again ti came up the following Sunday morning. Paul De Plater preached on it.
And then, that Sunday night, a fellow from Grafton Baptist down for the BUNSW assembly stood to preach. He said, “I only came with one sermon, and I knew your pastor would never have preached on this passage. NO ONE had ever preached on this passage! And he read from jer 13!..
All up it was 9 times that the passage came up in one week.
Well I understand God’s Sovereignty in this.
This time I hope we can understand the message of this!
Its hard to understand.
Sometimes because of the context. Sometimes because of the foreignness of the place and customs.
Sometimes the words are clear but what does it mean?
Sometimes the prophets just do some weird things. Odd before God.
We learn some important principles in it.
Jeremiah is a book full of illustrations. Sometimes the illustrations are spoken. Sometimes they are performed. God uses many illustrations to make His word go deep into us, to affect us. There is Symbolism here. There are three potent illustrations used in this chapter. 1. The Illustration of The loin cloth.
2. The Illustration of The Wineskins
3. The Illustration of The leopard changing its spots.
These three pictures all trace the same theme. They trace the problem of pride.
1. PRIDE IS A TERRIBLE PROBLEM
The first illustration deals with the nature of the problem of pride.
Jeremiah gets a new loin cloth.
Jeremiah 13 :1 This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and buy yourself linen underwear and put it on, but don’t get it wet.” 2 So I bought underwear as the Lord instructed me and put it on. 3 Then the word of the Lord came to me a second time: 4 “Take the underwear that you bought and are wearing, and go at once to the Euphrates River and hide it in a rocky crevice.” 5 So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the Lord commanded me.
6 A long time later the Lord said to me, “Go at once to the Euphrates and get the underwear that I commanded you to hide there.” 7 So I went to the Euphrates and dug up the underwear and got it from the place where I had hidden it, but it was ruined—of no use whatsoever.
After Jeremiah bought the new linen underwear “Jeremiah was then told to take the garment to the Perath, also translated "Euphrates" (KJV, NRSV, NJB),17 Perath was a spring in cAin Farah, about four miles northeast of Anathoth. The Euphrates River was more than 350 miles from Jerusalem. Two trips would have required more than fifteen hundred miles of travel by foot for Jeremiah. Because of what appears to be an unreasonable distance required to perform the symbolic act, some scholars have interpreted the entire narrative as a vision (Maimonides, Calvin, Rudolph). Others have called it a spoken parable (Volz, Cornill). It took Ezra four months to travel from Babylon to Jerusalem (Ezra 7:8-9). It is true that a nearby spring of water would have accomplished the purpose of the symbolic act adequately, but there is no valid reason for denying the Euphrates as the actual destination. Travelling to that river to bury the garment and then returning to recover it would have made a stronger impression on Jeremiah's audiences. Whatever the location, the Lord told Jeremiah to hide the garment in a crevice in the rocks. Later the Lord instructed him to retrieve it. By then, of course, it was rotted and totally unfit to wear.
Jeremiah 13 : 8 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 9 “This is what the Lord says: Just like this I will ruin the great pride of both Judah and Jerusalem. 10 These evil people, who refuse to listen to Me, who walk in the stubbornness of their own hearts, and who have followed other gods to serve and worship—they will be like this underwear, of no use whatsoever. 11 Just as underwear clings to one’s waist, so I fastened the whole house of Israel and of Judah to Me”—[this is the Lord’s declaration]—“so that they might be My people for My fame, praise, and glory, but they would not obey.
13:8·11 As in the other symbolic acts, the Lord then gave the interpretation. The linen undergarment represented Judah. Like a garment worn next to the body, it symbolized God clothing himself with Judah. He intended for them to cling to him as his people, but instead they clung to Baal. Because of their idolatry, they now were as useless to God as the rotted garment. Therefore God determined to spoil the pride (the temple?) of Judah and Jerusalem.” Huey. The New American Commentary.
If you are a child of God you will be clinging to God.
PRIDE DEFILES OUR PURPOSES
We were made to cling to God in an intimate relationship.
So what on earth has this got to do with us? What I want us to notice is why God did it to them. Why would God ruin his people like that? Verse 11
“For as a belt is bound around the waist, so I bound the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to me” declares the LORD, to be my people for my renown and praise and honour. But they have not listened.”
God bound Israel and Judah to him to be his single people for his renown and praise and honour. But they didn't listen. They followed their own heart and ran after other gods.
You know what? The best part of 3000 years later, and I think that all too often God's people still aren't listening much.
God has bound us to himself, to be his people, for his renown and praise and honour.
God has bound us to himself. He has taken us, stupid, sinful, pitiful, lost, dead people who deserve his wrath, who aren't any better than that ruined soiled loincloth, and he has bound us intimately to himself, to the perfectly wise and living God who does whatever he wants to do.
And yet we forget that. We start going off and thinking that we're worth something independently of God or that we can somehow get to God by what we do or we look at other people who seem so sorted and we think that we're somehow worthless. But God has taken us and God has attached us to him. It's not to do with our effort. It's not to do with how good we are or aren't.
And you know what? God didn't do it so that we could be our own, empowered people. He did it so that we would be his people. Not our own. His.
Jer 13:11 Just as underwear clings to one’s waist, so I fastened the whole house of Israel and of Judah to Me”—[this is the Lord’s declaration]—“so that they might be My people for My fame, praise, and glory, but they would not obey.
We’re not made to be individualistic.. that’s pride. I don’t need anything or anyone.
He built us for dependency on Him’
Without a dependency on God there are problems.
Our hearts are restless until it finds its rest in thee.
Modernism says we can manage it all ourselves and solve every problem.
Postmodernism says there is a lot of mystery around us.
We believe God speaks truth in His Word.
Our subjective experience must come under the direction of the objective word of God.
You were created to Enjoy a relationship with God.
Reinhold Niebuhr, who has been referred to as the twentieth-century theologian of sin, summed up humanity’s basic sin — our unwillingness to acknowledge our creatureliness, our self-elevation — in one word, PRIDE. Niebuhr described the four types of pride:
1. The pride of power wants power to gain security for self or to maintain a power position considered to be secure.
2. Intellectual pride rises from human knowledge that pretends to be ultimate knowledge. It presumes to be final truth.
3. Moral pride claims that its standards for virtue test and measure all righteousness. Niebuhr observed that most evil is done by “good” people who do not know that they are not good.
4. Spiritual pride is self-glorification. It claims that “self’s righteousness” conforms to God’s righteousness.
James 4: 1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? 6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
Do you remember the Civil War movie Shenandoah? Or the father played by Jimmy Stewart. His wife has died and, before her death, he promises to give their children a proper Christian upbringing. He tries but you can tell that his heart's not really in it.
His prayer at the dinner table is illustrative. "God, we have plenty of food on this table. We plowed the fields, we planted the grain, we took out the weeds, we harvested the grain, and now we have prepared the food. We have done all the work but we thank you for this food anyway. Amen."
PRIDE DEFILES OUR USEFULNESS
John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
We have been dealing with the effects of pride, sin ever since Adam and eve went independent.
Pride results in a refusal and stubbornness and uselessness.
God intended Judah to be a people for his renown, praise, and honor; but they did not listen. Punishment was inevitable for the rebellious people. The spiritual life is like the loin cloth; left unattended it "rots." Huey.
Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, "Young man, the secret of my success is that at an early age I discovered I was not God." It may seem an Obvious truth, but one of the great human problems is that we get ourselves confused with God.
2. PRIDE IS A TERMINAL PROBLEM
12 “Say this to them: This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Every jar should be filled with wine. Then they will respond to you: Don’t we know that every jar should be filled with wine? 13 And you will say to them, This is what the Lord says: I am about to fill all who live in this land—the kings who reign for David on his throne, the priests, the prophets and all the residents of Jerusalem—with drunkenness.
14 I will smash them against each other, fathers and sons alike”—the Lord’s declaration. “I will allow no mercy, pity, or compassion [to keep Me]from destroying them.”
15 Listen and pay attention. Do not be proud, for the Lord has spoken.
16 Give glory to the Lord your God before He brings darkness, before your feet stumble on the mountains at dusk. You wait for light, but He brings darkest gloom and makes thick darkness.
17 But if you will not listen, my innermost being will weep in secret because of your pride. My eyes will overflow with tears, for the Lord’s flock has been taken captive.
He quotes to them from a popular drinking song.
“13:12-14 The Lord ordered Jeremiah to speak a popular proverb to the people: "Every wineskin18 should be filled with wine." See 17:11; 31:29; and Ezek 18:2, where other popular proverbs were used by the prophets. Jeremiah may have spoken the proverb to arouse the attention of his audience. Instead of proclaiming a dire warning of punishment, which they had come to expect of him, he used words so familiar and trite that they began to ridicule him for his banality. They would say: "What is so startling about that information? Don't we know what wine jars are for?"
The meaning of the proverb requires examination. It is unlikely that Jeremiah was quoting the proverb only to get attention. The saying may have originated as a raucous cry at a drunken feast, but it probably had become a confident expression that God would continue to prosper the people. If so, Jeremiah turned it into a promise of certain judgment, perhaps with the figure of the cup of wrath in mind (see 25: 15-29).19
Like a person filling jars with wine, God was going to fill the people with drunkenness, including their leaders-kings, priests, and false prophets. "Drunkenness" here is a figure to describe the helplessness of the people to defend themselves from the enemy's attack (cf. Ps 60:3; Isa 51 :21-22; Jer 25: 16). God would smash them against one another. In their confusion and panic they would fight among themselves and destroy one another. Women would boil their own children for food (Lam 4: 10). Children would eat their fathers; and fathers, their children (Ezek 5: 10). God was going to smash them like the clay jars they joked about, without pity or compassion. These wards of judgment are a reminder of the conditional nature of the covenant God made with Israel. His blessings were conditioned on obedience.” Huey.
Pride and drunkenness go hand in hand together. People who are proud can get drunk on their own pride. Drunkenness makes us not to see things as they really are.
Pride makes us not to see things as they truly are.
Pride Makes Us Do Stupid Things.
And they’d sing along with him. A picture of joy and fulfiillment. While laughing at him, he slapped down their cups and said God would bring down drunkenness on them. Like in Australia.
It’s a dangerous thing to say no to God.
Pride Brings Its own Consequences. Often its drunkenness! How many times have I heard young people say that they could handle the issue of drinking. I wish I could number it up. And how many times have I warned them that they may think they can, but they can’t! And how many times have I had to talk them through going to court or jail after doing something stupid in a drunken state?
And it isn’t just young people. Let me tell you. Drinking booze is just plain stupid for a Christian.
You may say, its ok, it’s a liberty that I can enjoy as a Christian. Yes you may well say t hat. But can you allow your liberty to become a stumbling block to the many, many, many infantile Christians that can’t handle it, and WILL wind up in jail because they followed your liberty? Do I think drinking is sinful? If you don’t love your brother or sister enough to keep them away from booze, yes your liberty, while not sinful in itself, can be VERY, VERY sinful. No man is an island. No one lives to himself alone. And your destructive patterns of life can be terribly destructive to others. Often the Lord allows it to be destructive to ourselves first to stop us destroying others lives.
Getting picked up by the breathalyser maybe the warning you need to help your friends or your family not to wind up with a worser situation.
It is wrong to think that our strength is sufficient. At such times we are like General Custer at Little Bighorn. One of Custer's scouts warned him they were in for a fight. He estimated there were enough Sioux to keep them busy for 2 or 3 days. General Custer replied rather smugly, "I guess we'll get through with them in one day." He even declined help from the 7th Calvary or the aid of Gatling guns. Well, Custer was right about one thing. One day was all it took.
You Cannot Escape The Consequences.
Pali, this bull has killed me." So said Jose Cubero, one of Spain's most brilliant matadors, before he lost consciousness and died. Only 21 years old, he had been enjoying a spectacular career. However, in this 1985 bullfight, Jose made a tragic mistake. He thrust his sword a final time into a bleeding, delirious bull, which then collapsed. Considering the struggle finished, Jose turned to the crowd to acknowledge the applause. The bull, however, was not dead. It rose and lunged at the unsuspecting matador, its horn piercing his back and puncturing his heart. Just when we think we've finished off pride, just when we turn to accept the congratulations of the crowd, pride stabs us in the back. We should never consider pride dead before we are.
3. PRIDE IS A TYRANNICAL PROBLEM
23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil. 24 Therefore will I scatter them as the stubble that passeth away by the wind of the wilderness.
The fellow who blows his horn the loudest is usually in the biggest fog.
Nature never intended for us to pat ourselves on the back. If she had, our hinges would be different.
When a man brags that he wears the pants at home, the chances are his wife tells him which pants to put on.
"Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she had laid an asteroid."
-- Mark Twain
"Get someone else to blow your horn and the sound will carry twice as far." -- Will Rogers
The fellow who brags about how smart he is wouldn't if he was.
The only time you should blow your horn is when you're in the band.
YOU CANNOT CHANGE YOUR HABITS
Malcolm Muggeridge expressed the danger this way: "It is precisely when you consider the BEST in man that you see there is in each of us a hard core of pride or self-centeredness which corrupts our BEST achievements and blights our BEST experiences. It comes out in all sorts of ways - in the jealousy which spoils our friendships, in the vanity we feel when we have done something pretty good, in the easy conversion of love into lust, in the meanness which makes us depreciate the efforts of other people, in the distortion of our own judgment by our own self-interest, in our fondness for flattery and our resentment of blame, in our self-assertive profession of fine ideals which we never begin to practise."
YOU CANNOT CHANGE YOUR HEART
Just before take-off on an airplane, the stewardess reminded Muhammud Ali to fasten his seat-belt.
"Superman don't need no seatbelt," replied Ali.
"Superman don't need no plane, either," said the stewardess. Ali fastened his belt.
"Homiletics" (Jan-Mar/96) told of a turtle who wanted to spend the winter in Florida, but he knew he could never walk that far. He convinced a couple of geese to help him, each taking one end of a piece of rope, while he clamped his vice-like jaws in the centre. The flight went fine until someone on the ground looked up in admiration and asked, "Who in the world thought of that?"
Unable to resist the chance to take credit, the turtle opened his mouth to shout, "I did -- "
Isaac Watts "When I survey the wondrous cross, On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride.
Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.