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Lenten Journey Day 20: “Rejecting God’s Word”March 13, 2023
This week we are going to be looking what happens when we reject God’s word and go our own way. The church wrongly seems to think that they can go their own way and God doesn’t seem to mind because God is a God of love, yet that is not the complete picture that scripture gives us. Israel rejected God and were punished for it and we were warned to pay attention to their rebellion and not rebel ourselves. 1 Corinthians 10:6 “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” As we saw the other day, many have fallen for other gospels. 2 Peter 3:17Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.” They were warned over and over to turn from their wicked ways, but refused to listen and repent. 2 Chronicles 36:15 “The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. 17 He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians, who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and did not spare young men or young women, the elderly or the infirm. God gave them all into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar.” The church was also warned and also did not pay attention and the abomination that causes desolation decimated the church.
Even though God gives us a choice as to whether or not we will follow Him, it really isn’t a choice like choosing whether you take the car, walk or bike, this decision is life and death. Moses describes the seriousness of the choice. Deuteronomy 30:11 “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. 15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” We are commanded to obey but not forced like a robot. The choice comes with present blessings and eternal rewards or present curses and eternal damnation. Worshipping other gospels as we talked about the other day, is worshipping other gods and has the same repercussions. As we also talked about the other day, hell is real and everlasting, “tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Don’t believe those who do not speak for God, listen to His word.
The curses and blessing are laid out for us in Deuteronomy 28:1 “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God. 15 However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you,” and then lists them Leviticus 26:3 “‘If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands” “14 But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, 15 and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, 16 then I will do this to you,” and then lists them. The church will give you the impression that everyone is serving God, just with differing beliefs but this is not what the bible says. Jesus said, John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Ephesians 4:4 “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” The church has rebelled against the word of God, yet expects to be blessed and receive eternal life. Many have confused worldly success with the power of the Kingdom of God. Worldly success builds things with their own hands, kingdom power destroys the work of the devil.
There is an example from Jeremiah that gives a good picture of the church. The church wants God to bless them but at the same time refuses to obey His word. This skips ahead to when all the warnings that were ignored from Jeremiah and other prophets, came to fruition. Everything that God said, happened to them. Jeremiah 39:1 “In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army and laid siege to it. 2 And on the ninth day of the fourth month of Zedekiah’s eleventh year, the city wall was broken through.” Zedekiah had already been warned by Jeremiah and he did not listen. Jeremiah said Jeremiah 38:20 “Obey the Lord by doing what I tell you. Then it will go well with you, and your life will be spared.” Instead of listening, he ran but was captured and his sons were killed before his eyes, of which were then put out and he was taken to Babylon.
Then, there was this group that had survived and not taken to Babylon who were fleeing and on their way to take refuge in Egypt to escape the Babylonians. They approached Jeremiah 42:2 “Jeremiah the prophet and said to him, “Please hear our petition and pray to the Lord your God for this entire remnant. For as you now see, though we were once many, now only a few are left. 3 Pray that the Lord your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do.” Jeremiah said he would do as they asked, and he would tell them what God said. 5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with everything the Lord your God sends you to tell us. 6 Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the Lord our God, to whom we are sending you, so that it will go well with us, for we will obey the Lord our God.” That is the appropriate response. Ten days later Jeremiah responded to them, 9 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your petition, says: 10 ‘If you stay in this land, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you, for I have relented concerning the disaster I have inflicted on you. 11 Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you now fear. Do not be afraid of him, declares the Lord, for I am with you and will save you and deliver you from his hands. 12 I will show you compassion so that he will have compassion on you and restore you to your land.’ 13 “However, if you say, ‘We will not stay in this land,’ and so disobey the Lord your God, 14 and if you say, ‘No, we will go and live in Egypt, where we will not see war or hear the trumpet or be hungry for bread,’ 15 then hear the word of the Lord, you remnant of Judah. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you are determined to go to Egypt and you do go to settle there, 16 then the sword you fear will overtake you there, and the famine you dread will follow you into Egypt, and there you will die.”
He also said Jeremiah 42:19 “Remnant of Judah, the Lord has told you, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ Be sure of this: I warn you today 20 that you made a fatal mistake when you sent me to the Lord your God and said, ‘Pray to the Lord our God for us; tell us everything he says and we will do it.’ 21 I have told you today, but you still have not obeyed the Lord your God in all he sent me to tell you. 22 So now, be sure of this: You will die by the sword, famine and plague in the place where you want to go to settle.” Now this next part shows how stubborn the people were, even after all that Jeremiah had prophesied happened right before their eyes. They even said they were now few in number. You would think they would have obeyed, but this was their response because they did not like God’s answer. Jeremiah 43:2 “all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, “You are lying! The Lord our God has not sent you to say, ‘You must not go to Egypt to settle there.” 7 So they entered Egypt in disobedience to the Lord.” Then God said to Jeremiah, 10 Then say to them, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I will send for my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and I will set his throne over these stones I have buried here; he will spread his royal canopy above them. 11 He will come and attack Egypt.” Jeremiah then said to the people Jeremiah 44:2 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You saw the great disaster I brought on Jerusalem and on all the towns of Judah. Today they lie deserted and in ruins 3 because of the evil they have done. They aroused my anger by burning incense to and worshiping other gods that neither they nor you nor your ancestors ever knew. 4 Again and again I sent my servants the prophets, who said, ‘Do not do this detestable thing that I hate!’ 5 But they did not listen or pay attention; they did not turn from their wickedness or stop burning incense to other gods. 6 Therefore, my fierce anger was poured out; it raged against the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem and made them the desolate ruins they are today.” People in the church today have been deceived and do not fear God as they should.
Then God tells them what is going to happen to them. Jeremiah 44:11 “Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I am determined to bring disaster on you and to destroy all Judah. 12 I will take away the remnant of Judah who were determined to go to Egypt to settle there. They will all perish in Egypt; they will fall by the sword or die from famine. From the least to the greatest, they will die by sword or famine. They will become a curse and an object of horror, a curse and an object of reproach. 13 I will punish those who live in Egypt with the sword, famine and plague, as I punished Jerusalem. 14 None of the remnant of Judah who have gone to live in Egypt will escape or survive to return to the land of Judah, to which they long to return and live; none will return except a few fugitives.” This next part is complete ignorance when they said, to Jeremiah, 16 “We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord! 17 We will certainly do everything we said we would: We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and will pour out drink offerings to her just as we and our ancestors, our kings and our officials did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. (like following other gospels) At that time we had plenty of food and were well off and suffered no harm. 18 But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine.” This is like when the people told Moses they were better off in Egypt as slaves because they did not trust God even after all the signs and wonders. Exodus 14:12 “Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” Numbers 11:4 “The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”
Then God states this. Jeremiah 44:24 “Jeremiah said to all the people, including the women, “Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah in Egypt. 25 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You and your wives have done what you said you would do when you promised, ‘We will certainly carry out the vows we made to burn incense and pour out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven.’ “Go ahead then, do what you promised! Keep your vows! 26 But hear the word of the Lord, all you Jews living in Egypt: ‘I swear by my great name,’ says the Lord, ‘that no one from Judah living anywhere in Egypt will ever again invoke my name or swear, “As surely as the Sovereign Lord lives.” 27 For I am watching over them for harm, not for good; the Jews in Egypt will perish by sword and famine until they are all destroyed. 28 Those who escape the sword and return to the land of Judah from Egypt will be very few. Then the whole remnant of Judah who came to live in Egypt will know whose word will stand—mine or theirs.” God’s word will always be proven true. We saw this with Joseph. Psalm 105:16 “He called down famine on the land and destroyed all their supplies of food; 17 and he sent a man before them— Joseph, sold as a slave. 18 They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, 19 till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved him true. 20 The king sent and released him, the ruler of peoples set him free. 21 He made him master of his household, ruler over all he possessed, 22 to instruct his princes as he pleased and teach his elders wisdom.”
God gave David a promise that the remnant would always survive and continue until the final day when the sun and moon stop doing as they were commanded to do at the beginning of time. We see in 2 Chronicles 36:20 that “He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his successors until the kingdom of Persia came to power. 21 The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah.” We saw Daniel say and then pray Daniel 9:2 “2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. 3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed. 17 “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name.” We also saw the remnant saved in Esther when they were supposed to all be killed. Esther 9:1 “On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them.” We saw the people finally return to the land. 2 Chronicles 36:22 “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing: 23 “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up, and may the Lord their God be with them.’” Then we saw the people return and rebuild the walls. Nehemiah 2:7 “Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” And in Ezra we see the temple rebuilt Ezra 6:14 “So the elders of the Jews continued to build and prosper under the preaching of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah, a descendant of Iddo. They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia.”
Yes, the remnant will survive but those in the remnant must still obey God’s word. Those not in the remnant did not obey His word. His word tells us that His word will always stand as we saw with the remnant destroyed in Egypt. Like those who disobeyed and went to Egypt, many people think they are better off living in disobedience than obeying God. They think following other gospels is better that the gospel. Today the church is living in the same kind of destruction as the Jews were when the Babylonians attacked them and still refuse to obey. We have scripture set before us to show us what happens when we disobey, and we also have false teachers teaching God would never do such a thing and let people off the hook for their sin of rebellion against God. Most people will not look back to the Old Testament and be fearful as to where they will be for eternity. Most people do not look back to the Gospels and say this is how it was supposed to be. Psalm 77:7 “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? 8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? 9 Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” 10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. 11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. 12 I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” All people know today is what they have been raised with and they have been taught that what they read in the bible are stories from long ago and not possible for today but as we see in Psalm 55:16 “As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. 17 Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. 18 He rescues me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me. 19 God, who is enthroned from of old, who does not change—he will hear them and humble them, because they have no fear of God.” God said Malachi 3:6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.” There is hope, but we must repent, return and obey God’s word as His word is truth. Malachi 3:7 “Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.” Are you really prepared to meet your God?