Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Jeremiah's Temple Sermon

"Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!” (Jeremiah 7:4).

Early in his sad career, Jeremiah was told by God to go to the gate of the temple and denounce the people. Imagine the scene. The temple liturgy has begun, rich with God-ordained pageantry and music. As part of the liturgy, the people sang three times, “This is Yahweh’s temple.” But their worship was hollow because the people were really looking to Egyptian gods and ways. Suddenly, the young prophet Jeremiah cried out a series of judgments against the people and the temple.

Jeremiah told them that their worship was worthless because they dealt unjustly with each other and oppressed foreigners, widows, and orphans. They sacrificed blood to strange gods, they stole, murdered, committed adultery, perjured themselves, and burned incense to Baal (Jeremiah 7:6–9).

They thought they could do all of this, and then show up at church and say, “We are safe” (7:10). They commited these abominations right in God’s face and expected Him to accept them anyway. They had a new, perverse hymn: “Free from the law! Oh blessed condition! We can sin as we please and still have remission!”

“That is not how it is going to be,” said Jeremiah. “Remember Shiloh?” he asked. Surely they did. The story is found in 1 Samuel 1–4. The people lived in sin, and only a few came to the feasts. The godly high priest Eli did not restrain his sons from fornication and blasphemy. God, therefore, brought in the Philistines to destroy the defiled tabernacle and it was never rebuilt. A century later the temple was built, but the tabernacle was never set back into operation.

“This is how it is going to be,” said Jeremiah. “God is going to bring in new Philistines, in this case the Babylonians. They will destroy this defiled temple because you have made an idol of it.”

The people did not like this message. The priests knew he was attacking them and so did many of the nobility. They began to conspire against Jeremiah and sought to have him put to death. Later on Jesus came with the same message, quoting Jeremiah 7:11 against the temple of His day. The priests put Him to death for it, too.

Jeremiah’s task was extremely unpleasant. When your preacher speaks against sin, are you critical or supportive? Does your preacher speak against sin? Any true preacher of the gospel has to preach this way occasionally. Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and help you confront and confess the sin to which you may be blind.