Friday, March 4, 2016
God Warns of His Judgment and Offers His Sacrifice
This was written by Thirza Peevey and posted on Facebook. When I asked her if I could post it at God Inspires, she gave her permission saying, "All credit belongs to God, to use as He wills." So, with that, here is a message from God through Thirza Peevey!
Come, Holy Spirit. Lord, give us an overwhelming desire to be obedient, to do exactly what you said, to have circumcised ears and a circumcised heart, and to do it joyfully because we love you.
1 Flee for safety, O people of Benjamin, from the midst of Jerusalem! Blow the trumpet in Tekoa, and raise a signal on Beth-haccherem, for disaster looms out of the north, and great destruction.
2 The lovely and delicately bred I will destroy, the daughter of Zion.[a]
3 Shepherds with their flocks shall come against her; they shall pitch their tents around her; they shall pasture, each in his place.
4 “Prepare war against her; arise, and let us attack at noon! Woe to us, for the day declines, for the shadows of evening lengthen!
5 Arise, and let us attack by night and destroy her palaces!”
6 For thus says the Lord of hosts: “Cut down her trees; cast up a siege mound against Jerusalem. This is the city that must be punished; there is nothing but oppression within her.
7 As a well keeps its water fresh, so she keeps fresh her evil; violence and destruction are heard within her; sickness and wounds are ever before me.
8 Be warned, O Jerusalem, lest I turn from you in disgust, lest I make you a desolation, an uninhabited land.”
9 Thus says the Lord of hosts: “They shall glean thoroughly as a vine the remnant of Israel; like a grape gatherer pass your hand again over its branches.”
10 To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ears are uncircumcised, they cannot listen; behold, the word of the Lord is to them an object of scorn; they take no pleasure in it.
11 Therefore I am full of the wrath of the Lord; I am weary of holding it in. “Pour it out upon the children in the street, and upon the gatherings of young men, also; both husband and wife shall be taken, the elderly and the very aged.
12 Their houses shall be turned over to others, their fields and wives together, for I will stretch out my hand against the inhabitants of the land,” declares the Lord.
13 “For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely.
14 They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.
15 Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all shamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,” says the Lord.
16 Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
17 I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not pay attention.’
18 Therefore hear, O nations, and know, O congregation, what will happen to them.
19 Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster upon this people, the fruit of their devices, because they have not paid attention to my words; and as for my law, they have rejected it.
20 What use to me is frankincense that comes from Sheba, or sweet cane from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices pleasing to me.
21 Therefore thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will lay before this people stumbling blocks against which they shall stumble; fathers and sons together, neighbor and friend shall perish.’”
22 Thus says the Lord: “Behold, a people is coming from the north country, a great nation is stirring from the farthest parts of the earth.
23 They lay hold on bow and javelin; they are cruel and have no mercy; the sound of them is like the roaring sea; they ride on horses, set in array as a man for battle, against you, O daughter of Zion!”
24 We have heard the report of it; our hands fall helpless; anguish has taken hold of us, pain as of a woman in labor.
25 Go not out into the field, nor walk on the road, for the enemy has a sword; terror is on every side.
26 O daughter of my people, put on sackcloth, and roll in ashes; make mourning as for an only son, most bitter lamentation, for suddenly the destroyer will come upon us.
27 “I have made you a tester of metals among my people, that you may know and test their days.
28 They are all stubbornly rebellious, going about with slanders; they are bronze and iron; all of them act corruptly.
29 The bellows blow fiercely; the lead is consumed by the fire; in vain the refining goes on, for the wicked are not removed.
30 Rejected silver they are called, for the Lord has rejected them.”
I'm seeing my way into this passage from the last verses first. It seems that God is explicitly saying here what I've been getting from the Old Testament for the last couple of years: he is demonstrating the need for Jesus by showing what doesn't work. In vain the refining continues, but the wicked are not removed because ALL are wicked. It isn't possible to get rid of wickedness by killing the wicked. You execute the murderers, and new murderers crop up. You execute the rapists, and the good guys start raping people. Short of simply crumpling up the universe and tossing it in the bin, there is no way to fix the evil of the world, save by the death of Christ. Every single person that has ever lived is hell-bound, and all deserve to go there. Only through Christ can any be rescued.
This passage is talking, not about the Moabites or the Philistines, but about God's hand-picked chosen people who spent forty years in boot camp in the desert with him being carefully trained. They have been in the refiner's fire, and the bellows have blown hotly on them. The dross was skimmed off over and over. Some were bitten by serpents and died, some were struck down, some the earth even opened up and swallowed them. Only the best were left each time.
Only a few centuries later, they have fallen into idolatry as bad as the people they were sent to punish. God gave them a system of laws, sacrifices and festivals designed to teach them about sin, justice and substitutionary grace, and they turned it into propitiation of gods. It doesn't take much to understand the difference. Only a little logic will reveal the truth of it. If God is a real God, what can you offer him that he didn't make? What can you offer that isn't already his? If you go to the furthest corners of the world to bring back the rarest and most precious thing, is it not already his because he made it? Where can you go that God is not already there? If you travel hundreds of miles by camel to bring back the rarest spices to burn on the altar, was God not already in the place where those spices were? And was he not in every place you passed through on the way there? What does your "better" sacrifice mean in that context?
God doesn't ask us to sacrifice our first born son in the fire as a better sacrifice. Your first born son is already his. You are not showing higher devotion or gaining any better standing by burning your child to him. Your child is his, and he made him. He was there with you when you conceived that child (sobering thought, huh?). He knitted that child together in the womb and brought him to birth. That child is already supposed to be set aside for his use. In fact, if you burn your child on the altar, what you are doing is stealing the child who is set aside for God's use, and rendering him unable to be used. If you take great pains to go get the best spices in the world to burn on the altar, all you have done is moved God's spices from one place to the other. It is, as Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, vanity, useless, futile (depending on the translation). You cannot buy God's favor by offering him what is his already.
What God desires from us is obedience. That's all. He simply wants us to follow directions. If you are a parent, you know the feeling. If you call your child for supper, and tell that child to wash his hands, will you be pleased if twenty minutes later, supper is congealed and cold on the table and everyone is short tempered because that child decided it was better to take a bath, wash his hair, blow dry his hair and put on a suit instead? God simply wants us to do what he said. He does not want children burned in the fire. He is ANGRY about such things. His sacrifices are not about propitiation and manipulation, and there is no better sacrifice that will more completely curry his favor. That isn't what his sacrifices are about. His sacrifices are about understanding that sin requires the death penalty, but that he is going to send a perfect sacrifice which will pay the death penalty for all people.
His sacrifices (are) about seeing your best lamb die for your crimes, and knowing, as any farmer knows, that the very best lamb in your flock is not perfect and without blemish. Every animal has some blemish. After you have searched through your flock for the perfect lamb and not found it, and had to simply bring your best, which wasn't good enough, you should be looking for God to provide a perfect sacrifice. You should be thinking this way because you know the story of Abraham offering Isaac, in perfect obedience, and God staying his hand and providing a substitute. God was telling the Jews, once and for all time, that he does not desire the sacrifice of children. He does not desire human sacrifice. He does not desire the death of any person. He will provide a substitute. And that "sacrifice" of Isaac took place on the temple mount, in the very spot where the temple stood. Those sacrifices were intended to train the Jews to look for God's substitute on that place, and until the time when he did, they were acting it out on that same spot.
By deviating from God's instructions, the Jews had removed all meaning from the sacrifice. This is precisely how the devil ALWAYS works. If you start studying the paganism of the region, you'll find that the pagan gods of the various countries are more alike than different. We state it up front that the Roman gods and Greek gods are the same gods. The Romans appropriated the Greek gods and gave them new names. However, when you look at all the other gods of the region, it is pretty obvious that the Romans were just the last in a long list of peoples doing just exactly that. If you look at Herodatus, he tells you that Mylitta is the Assyrian name for Aphrodite/Ishtar/Astarte. They are all the same gods/demons and they all require the same foul crimes against everything that is good and just. The devil is pretty much a one-trick pony, and whatever path he gets you on, they all lead to the same place through the same pitfalls of pride, lust and human sacrifice.
God has sent his people a warning through Jeremiah, but even as Jeremiah is faithfully proclaiming truth, imposters are proclaiming peace to the people of Israel. They are saying that happy days are here again when God is warning them that they are about to be punished severely. Those imposters are taking from Israel any hope of healing. They are not turning from their sins because they are being lied to. I can see that happening here now. It is the pinnacle of arrogance to think that we are going to "make America great again." We didn't make America great in the first place, God did it. D' Tocqueville told us that America was great because America was good, with a church on every corner. We weren't good because we built the buildings, but because we filled them, listened to faithful preachers and did what we heard. God blessed us because we had circumcised ears and hearts. Now we are worshiping sex and sacrificing babies, and we think that we will become great again by electing a "fighter?" Hitler was a fighter. Mussolini was a fighter. Stalin was a fighter. Did they make their nations great?
God is telling Israel that his hand is poised to go through them as a gleaner goes through grapes or grain. He's about ready to refine them again, and he's going to refine them hard. His hand is on the bellows to put them to the fire. He doesn't desire that any should perish, and sometimes that means he has to winnow through the wicked that babies might live to grow up without fear of being murdered by their own parents. That applies as much to this nation that was called by the name of Christ as it did to Israel, called by the name of El. It is past time for us to be putting on sackcloth and ashes, and lamenting our manifold and grievous sins. It is past time for those of us who stood by and held the coats of those sacrificing their children to admit that we are the worst of sinners. It is past time for us to heed the trumpets, and do what God says. We have committed all the same sins that God is calling Israel to task for in this passage. Do we think that destruction is far from us? By what right do we expect to be great again, unless we are good again? By what right do we ask God to bless us, when our necks are stiff, our hearts are hard, and we have our fist raised to God?
Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.