Children Are Precious To God By Grant Phillips “At that time the disciples came to…
By Dr. Mike Murphy
Of all the heroes of the Bible, one seems to intrigue me the most. Each time I find myself reading the words of Jeremiah, I always seem to take pause, reading over each of the words again and again. And with each read, the Lord always teaches me more. Always showing me something I had not seen before.
Jeremiah found himself in the midst of difficult times. After the death of King Josiah, the nation of Judah had lost its’ compass, wandering aimlessly away from the direction of God. Jeremiah referred to Judah as a prostitute (Jeremiah 2:20, 3:1-3), willing to sell itself for a moment of pleasure. A nation far more interested in following their own ways, than in turning to God’s proven wisdom. So often, Jeremiah warned the people that God’s judgement was at hand. But because God had so often delivered Israel from the hand of destruction, they took for granted that God would just save them again. Each warning of Jeremiah was ignored, because Jeremiah did not speak the words the people wanted to hear.
Jeremiah watched as the people followed a worship ritual, but still lived a sinful lifestyle each day. The words they heard at the Temple had become nothing more than ceremony. Words spoke on the Sabbath, that were forgotten by the following day. The people did not make God a part of their daily lives, and His laws and ways were not a part of their daily decisions. The image of the Temple had become more important to the people than the substance of their faith in God. And when the people looked at the Temple, they did not see an image of their relationship with the Father, they saw a status symbol. The Temple was seen as a protector, a sanctuary that placed them above the evil of the world around them.
As Jeremiah watched the people each day, the message that Jeremiah was called on to deliver to the people became a difficult one. Jeremiah had an unquestioned love for his land of Judah, and for its’ people. But the love that Jeremiah had for the Lord was even stronger. This left Jeremiah to speak words that had to trouble him, that had to bring him great pain as the words passed from his lips. Each time the Lord told Jeremiah to warn the people of Judah’s coming destruction, you can hear Jeremiah pleading with the Lord to give him other words to speak. Jeremiah prayed, begged, petitioned, and beseeched the Lord to give him a different message to deliver to the people.
After hearing Jeremiah’s heartfelt pleas, the Lord again spoke to Jeremiah. And the words that Jeremiah heard the Lord speak to him, must have been just as hard for him to hear. The Lord told Jeremiah, “As for you, do not pray for these people, and do not lift up cry nor prayer for them, and do not intercede with Me; for I do not hear you.” (Jeremiah 7:16) More than once, Jeremiah heard the Lord repeat these words (Jeremiah 11:14, Jeremiah 15:1). Through all of Jeremiah’s pleas, the word of the Lord became very clear. Because the people were unrepentant of their sins, the Lord was lifting His hand from covering them, and would watch as a pagan king would take them into captivity.
Many read these words and ask, why would the Lord does this? Why would He not send Jeremiah to call on the people to repent? It all comes down to one word, truth. The truth is, God’s blessings flow to us when we are committed to God. The truth is, there are consequences to a hardened, unrepentant heart. And the truth is, sin had so incorporated and numbed the hearts and minds of the people, that Judah no longer feared or respected God. Although God would have loved nothing more than to see His people fall to their knees before Him, He knew that in reality, they had turned their backs on Him. He knew that no matter how long and hard Jeremiah prayed, Judah would not seek His face. God knew that as He lifted His hand of protection from Judah, a hand they did not want covering them, that a terrible fate awaited them. And out of His love, He called on Jeremiah to warn the people of what was to come. The bottom line is, God did not reject the people of Israel, the people of Israel had rejected God.
As I read the words God gave to Jeremiah, my thoughts turn to this day, and to this country. I watch as our country grows more each day to look and sound like the people of Judah. We find ourselves going through the motions without even realizing what those motions are, or where those motions will lead us. We speak of God, but never find the time or desire to speak to God. And we quote the Word of God, without even knowing what those words say.
William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, once warned of the days we find ourselves living in, “I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost; Christianity without Christ; forgiveness without repentance; salvation without regeneration; politics without God; and Heaven without Hell.” Like the words that Jeremiah spoke to Judah, the words and warnings of Booth and others fall on the same deaf ears today.
Paul tells us that a time will come when people will not tolerate the truth, and will twist the Word of God to fit their own desires (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Just as Judah did with Jeremiah, many will ignore the warnings and the pleads that will come from men of God on that day. Warnings that are not to be given because these men seek destruction. But because they know that the truth must persevere in order to reach as many with that truth as possible, and as a warning of coming judgement to those who refuse to listen to that truth. As I look at the world today, I hear Paul’s words, and I hear the voices of many Godly men beginning to speak those warnings. I hear the prayers and pleas of those men falling on deaf ears. And I wonder how long it will be until these men hear the Lord speak to them the words they never want to hear. Words that tell them to pray for America no more.
God’s Word tells us, “For the word of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18). It breaks my heart to have to say, but we live in a country that now finds more foolishness in the Cross than it does truth. And if breaks my heart even more, as I listen to many who claim to speak for God, making more excuses for the Word of God, than speaking words to explain the truth of God’s Word. We are a nation that spends far more time on our backside than we do on our knees. More concerned with meaningless political promises and Hollywood gossip, than we are concerned with the rising chaos that is coming at us. We are a people that thinks we have the power to define evil, believing that following the lesser of two evils is a path that God would lead us on. Not even realizing that by following any degree of evil, we are doing nothing more than trying to justify the following of our own path, completely ignoring the path God is pointing us toward. I defy anyone to show me a single verse in the Bible that makes even the slightest suggestion that through our affirmation of evil. good is produced. Can you show me just one verse? But in our attempt to do so, we are making Christianity a sub-culture, not the counterculture that the Lord called us to be.
We cannot look to God seeking to repent, because we no longer know how to repent, and what the word means. We think that repentance is nothing more than casually saying to God today we are sorry, and believing that we can just repeat those words again tomorrow. We so easily forget, repentance is not just heard in our words, but seen in our actions. Repentance is a three part process, in which we seek forgiveness of our sins, turn away from those sins, and turn to God so we will sin no more. We cannot find our knees to repent, because we do not think we need to seek forgiveness. Finding it easier to justify and redefine our sins, than to turn to God and turn away from those sins.
America, I pray for you, and I beg of you, find your knees. I plead with you to hear these words I speak to you. You can mock me, make fun of me, ridicule me, and even hate me, but please do not ignore these words. Words that not just I alone am speaking to you. Please, please, do not let this opportunity pass. Hear the calls to return to God while those words are still just calls. Let the words of David be your rallying cry. “Teach me Your way, O Lord: I will walk in Your truth. Unite my heart to fear Your name.” (Psalm 86:11). Place those words in your heart, and hold them tight. Do not take God’s blessings and His mercy for granted. I cry out to you America, do not let the words of this call turn into the words of a warning. Do not let those who call out to you hear the words the Lord spoke to Jeremiah. Numbing words, that bring their greatest fears for this nation into a reality.
To those who take these words to heart, who call on the name of God. Make these words, your words. Do not let a few speak these words alone. Now is not the time for silence, but a last call to action. Do not just support those who speak, find your own voice, and speak loudly. The future holds plenty of time for a hoarse voice to heal, so speak loudly and boldly each of your words today. Do not let fear or crowds stop you, let the Holy Spirit guide you. Never forget, many, if not most, will not like what you have to say, but they need to hear every word the Lord is calling on you to speak. Let the words of Paul drive you, “I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed” (2 Timothy 1:12). Those who will try to silence you will also look to shame you. But find no shame in each of the words God calls on you to speak. Even though they may not yet realize it, their only hope lies in each of your faithful words.
Never forget, this nation is worth fighting for! God has used this nation in amazing ways, and can still use this country in amazing ways again. This country has given us opportunities like none this world has ever know. Liberties and freedom that history could not have even imagined. God has used this country to take His Word to places that most thought could never be reached. Created technological advancement through this nation that brought His name to people most never knew existed. I beg you, do not make that our past, make that again our future. Before the words of these calls turn to warnings, again make His future, our future. Make His purpose, our purpose. And make His hopes, our hopes Do not let history repeat itself. Let us learn from the words of Jeremiah, not have the Lord call on men of God today to repeat those words.
I beg of you America, find your knees. While there is still time left before nothing is able to be found of us at all.
Praying the words Jeremiah once heard, are not spoken by God about this nation again today.