Big Idea: How crucial it is for the Word of God to be read, taught, proclaimed and obeyed.

"As God can send a nation or people no greater blessing, than to give them faithful, sincere, and upright ministers; so the greatest curse that God can possibly send upon a people in this world, is to give them over to blind, unregenerate, carnal, lukewarm, and unskillful guides. And yet, in all ages, we find that there have been many wolves in sheep's clothing, many that ... prophesied smoother things than God did allow. As it was formerly, so it is now, there are many that corrupt the word of God, and deal deceitfully with it." George Whitfield, On the Method of Grace.

After being called by God (ch.1) Jeremiah charges Judah of spiritual adultery (ch.2) and calls her to repentance (ch.3). When she refuses, disaster is inevitable and comes through the mighty Babylonians (ch.4-6). Then Jeremiah denounces his people for deceiving themselves and belonging to a sick, toxic religion (ch.7-10). A sick, toxic church is where people prefer:

  1. Rituals instead of a relationship (ch.7). Don't go to church to deceive yourself.
  2. Lies instead of the truth of God (ch.8-9). You will listen either to God's word or to wailing.
  3. Idols instead of the Living God (ch.10). Fear God and live without fear.

roseLet's look at verse 1, "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ". James was not always a servant of God. James was the half-brother of Jesus, born to Mary and Joseph. If your brother was the son of God, you would think James would have deep reverence for him and worship the ground he walked. However, John 7:5 says "For even his own brothers did not believe in him." James wanted Jesus to 'show himself' to the world. He encouraged him to be a public figure. He wanted to ride the coat tails of Jesus' popularity. Essentially, he wanted Jesus to be his servant.  What makes us blind to see Jesus? 2 Corinthians 4:3-4,”…The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." Our pride, lust of the world blinds us from seeing Jesus. Jesus could be right in front of us waving; still we would not recognize or believe him. The Pharisees saw him yet, did not believe him. In fact, they hated him without reason (John 15:25). His disciples saw him, yet did not believe him. We can go to church or attend Bible study, yet not know who Jesus is.

Big Idea: (1) Those who reject a relationship with God and refuse to repent will experience the terrible wrath and judgment of God.

(2) The visions of judgment are so horrific that Jeremiah can hardly bear them. Once judgment comes, there is no escape.

(3) Refusing to obey God is indeed very foolish, for even the sea obeys God.

In the church we often focus on the positive side of the gospel, stressing eternal life and forgiveness of sins. However, Jeremiah (particularly 4:5-31) forces us to see that unrepentant sin, open defiance of God, and refusal to listen to him will result in experiencing the terrible wrath of God. Jeremiah also emphasizes that God continues to plead for repentance, even as the judgment unfolds.

  • Ch. 3: The calls for repentance, but there is none.
  • Ch. 4-6: The consequent and inevitable judgment. The Babylonian invasion is the means that God will use to pour out his wrath.

Book Outline: