Read This Page in My Language
Sermon: Jeremiah 26:8-15
Lent 2 – March 17, 2019 – Rev. Steven J. Radunzel
If you pay attention to the news you know that there are politicians in Washington, D.C. who are offering what they call the Green New Deal. To summarize it this deal is intended to entirely eliminate the use of fossil fuels over the next ten or fifteen years. That means that all our forms of transportation like planes, cars, trucks, ships, buses will be replaced with transportation forms that only use electricity or wind or solar energy. All buildings that now use gas or oil for heat or air conditioning will have to be redone to accommodate some form of wind or solar energy. All this is to counter the current effects of climate change which one politician says will destroy our planet in twelve years if we don’t do something about it now.
Those who are promoting the Green New Deal have a lot of emotion and enthusiasm in their hearts and minds and words, and they get a lot of people to be excited and emotional along with them. But their words, their Green New Deal, are real short on the facts, real short on reality. To convert all our transportation and buildings to non-fossil fuels even in fifty years is beyond possibility if not entirely impossible.
In our text today the opponents of the prophet Jeremiah were filled with emotion and passion. They refused to listen to Jeremiah who was telling them that judgment was going to come down on Jerusalem. They so passionately opposed Jeremiah that they wanted to kill him. The problem was that no matter how emotional or passionate they were they weren’t dealing with the facts. Jeremiah had the facts right. Judgment was going to come down on Jerusalem.
Today we’re going to consider that when it comes to God’s word
THE FACTS MATTER
It was around 590 B.C. All that remained of the great Old Testament nation of Israel was the little Southern Kingdom of Judah with its capital Jerusalem. And the people of Jerusalem were just barely hanging on. The Babylonians were threatening to conquer them and destroy their city.
This threat had been going on for a number of years, and matters only became worse for Judah. The LORD God had actually sent this Babylonian threat against Judah and Jerusalem because of the people’s idolatry and unfaithfulness. God sent the prophet Jeremiah to preach to the people and encourage them to repent of their sins. If they repented God would hold the Babylonians back. If they didn’t repent and return to the LORD then the Babylonians would come, conquer Judah, destroy Jerusalem, including the temple, and carry the people away into captivity.
Once more Jeremiah repeated the LORD’s threat: Repent or face destruction. No matter how obvious it was that the Babylonians were at their doorstep with a much stronger army, the people kept insisting that this judgment would never come down on them. And this is how passionate they were about their opposition to the LORD’s warning: “As soon as Jeremiah finished telling all 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! Why do you prophesy in the LORD’s name that this house will be like Shiloh and this city will be desolate and deserted?’”
Shiloh was a city in the northern part of Israel where that temporary worship center, the tabernacle, had been housed. It had long ago been destroyed by the Assyrians. The people were saying to Jeremiah, “That’s never going to happen to our temple or to our city. The LORD would never let that happen. You should die for saying such a thing.”
When the proponents of the Green New Deal talk I just roll my eyes and think, “How can anybody be so stupid?” But what’s astonishing is that there are literally thousands and probably millions who actually support this Green New Deal and think it can actually be accomplished. They’re motivated by feelings and hopes and fears and wishful thinking rather than reality and the facts.
But this kind of foolish thinking doesn’t just take place in politics. It takes place in the spiritual and religious realm as well. Most people don’t like to hear God’s word today either. They don’t want to follow God’s commandments or laws. And they don’t think that there’s any judgment coming on them or on the world. Or they don’t think God’s judgment will be all that bad.
They’re exactly like the people who opposed Jeremiah. Jeremiah’s message could not have been any clearer. The Babylonians could not have been closer or more obvious. But emotions and sinful desires took over and ignored the obvious facts.
Think about our world today. The commandments of God could not be any clearer in the Bible. Right and wrong are written on the human heart. The gospel message of God’s mercy and forgiveness in Jesus Christ is the entire focus of the Bible. And if there’s any message of scripture that is just as obvious as the message of Jesus it’s that there’s a final judgment coming on this world. But sinful hearts, wishful thinking, misguided emotions counter the clear facts of God’s word. And our unbelieving world goes on ignoring God, ignoring his warnings to repent, imagining that there will be no judgment, or that they’ll escape that judgment. Just like the men of Jeremiah’s day said that the LORD would never destroy Jerusalem or the temple, so they still say today, or they imagine, God will never judge this world, God won’t send anyone to hell.
The people who support the Green New Deal and other extreme and unrealistic progressive ideas also have a mob mentality that likes to surround and viciously attack those who oppose them. They call people names, accuse them falsely, and try to silence them.
Listen to what the mob did to Jeremiah: “And all the people crowded around Jeremiah in the house of the LORD. . . . Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and all the people, ‘This man should be sentenced to death because he has prophesied against this city. You have heard it with your own ears!’” Notice that Jeremiah’s opponents were not just some mob of ordinary, uneducated people. The mob was made up of the priests and the prophets – people who should have known better. But their emotions, their hatred, their anger, their wishful thinking overshadowed the facts of God’s word and warning and they demanded Jeremiah’s death.
Listen to what Jeremiah said to the mob: “The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the things you have heard. Now reform your ways and your actions and obey the LORD your God.” The forces of evil didn’t deter Jeremiah at all. He repeated once again the same message that God told him to preach. He repeated the facts of God’s word and not what itching ears and wishful hearts and foolish minds wanted to hear.
When God first called Jeremiah to be his prophet he was very young and very reluctant. But God trained Jeremiah to be very faithful and very courageous. Look at him now. In the face of this mob that was threatening to kill him he stood his ground. I should say he stood up for what God said. And then he added this warning: “As for me, I am in your hands; do with me whatever you think is good and right. Be assured, however, that if you put me to death, you will bring the guilt of innocent blood on yourselves and on this city and on those who live in it, for in truth the LORD has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing.”
The LORD didn’t allow the mob to kill Jeremiah, and it wasn’t too long after this incident that the Babylonians came, destroyed the city walls, leveled Jerusalem, burned the temple, and the people they didn’t kill they sent into slavery or took away into captivity. No matter how much the mob said this wouldn’t happen, it did. Feelings and hopes didn’t matter. The facts mattered. The facts of God’s word.
There’s a lot of conservative politicians and conservative minded people who like to deal with reality and facts who are saying it’s about time we start to stand up to the mob who want to fundamentally transform our nation. That’s probably wise.
But something I know for sure is that faithful people of God, real believers in Jesus Christ, need to stand up to the mob of unbelievers who would rob us of God’s word and our freedom to worship as we desire. Like Jeremiah we need to stand up with the facts, the truth of God’s word, and proclaim it faithfully.
You can believe whatever you want about the Green New Deal, and climate change, and politics. But you and I don’t have the option of believing anything contrary to God’s word. The facts matter. Our will and emotions must submit to the facts of God’s word.
Your sinful nature and your human reason may tell you that it doesn’t make any difference what God you worship. But the facts matter. God says, “You shall have no other gods.” Your sinful nature and human reason and emotions and feelings may say I don’t want to go to church. But the facts matter. Worshiping God is not an option. He says, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” Your sinful nature and human reason and feelings may tell you that you can choose to live however you desire. But the facts matter. God says, “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false testimony, you shall not covet.”
Your sinful nature and your human reason and your wishful thinking may tell you that God will not bring any judgment on you or this nation or this world. But the facts matter. God could not make it any clearer in his word. Woeful judgment is coming on this world. Worldwide judgment once came in the form of a flood. It’s going to come again when Jesus returns. Jesus said, “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.”
The facts matter. These are the facts: Judgment is coming on sinners and a sinful world. Turn now and always to Jesus who died on a cross to atone for all our sins. Those are the facts, and the facts matter. Amen.