Jeremiah chapter number 1 verse number 1. The Bible reads, "The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. To whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month." Now, tonight as we start a brand new book, Jeremiah, and our Bible study and we go through this whole entire book verse by verse, let's start out just by noticing that in the first three verses here, God explains to us the time frame that Jeremiah is preaching. This is always very important when you're understanding these books. God didn't just put this at the beginning just to fill up a couple of verses. He's actually telling us important information about the context here.
Now, the last bunch of Wednesday nights we've been going through Zechariah. That was at the end of the Babylonian captivity. The 70 year captivity of the children of Judah had ended and in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah when they're coming back to Israel, that's when Zechariah was preaching. Well, Jeremiah, on the other hand, is on the other side of that. Jeremiah is preaching in the days leading up to the captivity, in the days of Josiah, Johoiakim, and Zedekiah. These are the final kings of Judah before they go captive into Babylon.
This is a time when the children of Judah are in a lot of disobedience against the Lord. God's very angry with them to the point where he's going to destroy their entire nation, he's going to allow the temple to be destroyed, and he's going to cause them to be carried away captive into Bablyon. Because of this, Jeremiah's preaching is very negative. It's a very negative book of the bible because he's talking to a rebellious house of Israel that's going to be punished severely and he's warning of that punishment. He's trying to preach to them that they need to repent and turn back to God and so forth. That's why that information is important there in verses 1 through 3.
Now, in verse number 4, the Bible reads, "Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 'Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.'" Notice here when God talks about choosing Jeremiah before he was even born to perform this function where he's going to be a prophet to the nation and where he's going to bring a lot of negative preaching to the children of Judah, to the Jews at that time, notice that he says, "I knew thee and I ordained thee." The reason that's important is because God often chooses people to do certain things or to perform great tasks. Obviously, a man like Jeremiah had a very important role because not only is he a prophet to the nations for that generation, but also his words were going to be recorded in the book of Jeremiah and he was going to be one of the holy men of God who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost and he's going to be writing a book of the Bible. I mean, we have this book of Jeremiah today and it's based around the life and preaching of this man, Jeremiah.
This is an extremely important man, especially in light of the fact that the book of Jeremiah is pretty much the longest book of the Bible. With Psalms, they're right about the same length when you look at how many words are in them because even though Jeremiah only has 52 chapters, those chapters are very long chapters. This is a very serious biblical book. God is telling Jeremiah, "I already ordained you to be a prophet. I already had this path for you chosen before you were even formed in the belly, before you even were conceived in your mother's womb." He says to that in verse 6, "Then said I, 'Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak for I am a child.' But the Lord said unto me, 'Say not I am a child for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.'"
Now, if you would, flip over to 1 Peter chapter 1 in the New Testament. Go to the very end of the Bible and just a few books before Revelation, you'll find 1 Peter chapter number 1. The reason I bring this up is because the Bible talks a lot about God foreordaining things and God choosing people before they're even born or making plans about what people are going to do before they're born. There's a word that the Bible uses. That's predestination.
There's a lot of controversy around the word predestination because there's a false doctrine that has sprung up around this word that basically teaches that God chooses who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell. God would basically just choose a person for absolutely no reason and just say, "This person's going to Hell because it's my will and there's nothing they or anybody else can do about it. Then, this person over here, I've chosen to go to Heaven." This doctrine's known as Calvinism, but some people will just call it predestination. They mean basically that God is the one that already decided who's going to be saved.
A lot of times these people will laugh at or scoff at you when you go out and you try to really make a difference and you try to go out and reach people with the gospel and save them with fear and pulling them out of the fire. They'll say, "Well, you know, God's got to draw them. It's God that's going to do it because he's already chosen. He's already foreordained it." They'll make a lot of statements like, "Well, you know, if you don't do it, somebody else will do it. Somebody else will do it if you don't do it. If it's God's will, it's going to happen," type of thing. Even people who haven't gone all the way into this doctrine, sometimes they have a tendency toward this doctrine, this attitude of, "Well, if you don't do it, someone else will." I don't believe that for one second. The Bible teaches that if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost. They're the ones who suffer. To whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not.
When the Bible talks about God predestinating us or God electing us or choosing us, I want to show you that when you look up these scriptures, it's not what this false doctrine of Calvinism teaches that God is choosing which ones go to Heaven and which ones go to Hell. See, that election, according to the Bible, is based upon the foreknowledge of God. What does election mean? Election just simply means choosing. For example, this is an election year. What does that mean? People are going to be choosing a president. They're going to be choosing senators and congressmen. Election means choosing. God's choosing is based upon his foreknowledge. It's not based upon just the mysteries of his will and randomness. No, actually, there is a method to it. See, he chose Jeremiah because he foreknew Jeremiah. It's not that God just picked a random guy and just said, "Well, I'm just going to make you a prophet to the nations." If he would have picked a lot of people, they would have screwed up that job. I mean, Jeremiah had to do a a lot of really hard things and preach a lot of really hard sermons. A lot of people would have failed, but he picked a guy that he foreknew would do the job the way that he wanted it to do. He said, "I knew you before you were born and I ordained you."
Now, look at 1 Peter chapter 1 verse 2. We can even just start in verse 1. "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 'Elect ..." What's elect mean? Chosen. "'Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.'"
Flip over to Romans chapter 8. Romans chapter 8 is probably the most famous scripture that mentions predestination or election according to the foreknowledge of God. It's not that God chooses who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell. Actually, if that were the case, God would choose for everybody to go to Heaven because the bible says that God's not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. The Bible says that he will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. He gave himself a ransom for all.
John 3:16 is not just a cruel joke when he said, "That God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. That whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life." Just kidding. It was only for certain people. No, it said he gave himself for the whole world but the whole world's not saved. It's whosoever believeth that shall be saved but he gave himself for the whole world. The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men, the Bible says. Salvation is available to all. Jesus Christ died for all. The Bible says, "Whosoever will." Whosoever will, in our modern vernacular, means whosoever wants to. Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Jesus said to the pharisees, "But you will not come to me that you not come to me that you might have life. You say you don't want to. You don't want to come to me," because it's man who has to make the decision to accept the offer of eternal salvation, the free gift of eternal life.
Look what the Bible says in Romans chapter 8 verse 28. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." Now, the Bible's telling us here that the people that are predestinated are those which he foreknew, meaning that God knows the end from the beginning and before this world was ever even created, he already knew who would be saved and who would not be saved. He already knew that there would be people that would believe on Jesus Christ and people who would not believe on Jesus Christ. He knew that there would be people like Jeremiah that he could use greatly to do powerful works for God and then he knew that there were other people that would be losers, that he wouldn't pick people like that for such an important job, as to be a prophet to the nations. He knows all these things. It's all part of his foreknowledge.
The Bible says here, if you look carefully in verse 29, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son." What this verse is actually saying is that God foreknew which people would be saved, which people would believe on Christ, and those people, he predestinated them that they would be conformed to the image of his son. He looks into the future and he says, "Okay. Steven Anderson is going to believe on Jesus Christ as a six-year-old boy. I foreknow that he's going to be a believer. His destiny is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ." He looked and saw you, the same thing. He said, "I know this person's going to be saved." He predestined all those that believe that they would be conformed to the image of his son. That's their destiny, to be conformed to the image of Christ. In the resurrection, we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is.
The Bible says here that, "He might be the first born among many brethren." Verse 30, "Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called and whom he called, them he also justified, and whom he justified, them he also glorified." What does this all go back to though? God's foreknowledge. It's whosoever believeth in him that has access to these blessings and these promises and being conformed to the image of his son, being glorified. The Bible says that it's by faith, it's by grace, that we have access. By faith, we have access to this grace wherein we stand, the Bible says.
Go over if you would to Ephesians chapter 1. This is also a scripture that people will turn to, talking about this subject of predestination or election, God's choosing. Whether we're talking about God choosing people to do works for him, like he chose twelve disciples, for example or he chose Jeremiah to be a prophet. By the way, God doesn't always just choose people just ... Let me start over. When it says that God chose someone, it's not always talking about the fact that they're saved. For example, he said of the disciples, "Have not I chosen you twelve and one of you is a devil." He chose them for a job. He chose them for that specific task according to his foreknowledge. It was his will that there would be one who was a devil because he would be betrayed by him, that the scriptures might be fulfilled. That's all part of his will to make that choice. God does not choose people to go to Heaven and choose people to go to Hell and then create this illusion that we have the ability to just believe on him and be saved. That would be ridiculous. It doesn't make any sense and it's contrary to the Bible.
It says here in Ephesians chapter 1 verse 3, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love." Now, read that verse very carefully. This verse does not say, "God has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world and nuts to everybody else. He chose that we would be in the group and others wouldn't." No, he's saying he chose us that we should be holy and without blame before. God chose, he looked forward in the future and said, "I'm going to take a people that believe on me and I'm going to purify unto myself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. I'm going to take people that believe in me and I'm going to save them and I'm going to predestinate them." Look at verse 5, "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved, in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace."
Let's go back to Jeremiah 1. I just wanted to show you that God's choice is based on his foreknowledge. In Ephesians chapter 1, he's not choosing which people will be saved and which people will not be saved, he's choosing that the people which are saved will walk blameless before him. He's choosing that they'll be conformed to the image of his son. He's choosing that they'll be adopted. He's choosing that they'll be glorified. he's choosing that someday, they'll inherit all things. That's the choice that he made. He chose that all believers would have these blessings.
You can see how people twist scripture though and say, "Oh, God chooses which one will be saved and which one will not be saved." Again, one of the biggest problems with that doctrine, despite what people will say is that it leads to people being lackadaisical or apathetic and not really feeling like what they do matters. They feel, "It's all foreordained." They don't have the urgency of, "Wow. People are going to Hell and we need to go out and get them saved. We need to go out and preach the gospel. We need pull these people out of the fire. If our gospel be hid, it's hid to them that are lost." It's more like, "No, no. God's got it all under control. Just sit back, relax, and if people really want to be saved, they'll be saved. If you don't do it, somebody else will do it." It's nonsense.
Here's what they'll say, "Well, what about these great soul-winners and evangelists of the past that were Calvinists?" Here's what's funny about that. The exception proves the rule. They pointed me, they said, "Well, here's two people in Phoenix, Arizona who are zealous soul-winners and they're Calvinists." Somebody pointed this out to me. I'm thinking to myself, "Okay. You're pointing me to two people, right?" I will say this. There are a whole bunch of Presbyterian churches all over this city and a whole bunch of Calvinist Baptist churches a bunch of reformed Baptists, right? Then there are a bunch of independent Fundamental Baptist churches that are not Calvinist. Let me ask you something. Who's knocking the doors in this city? Is it the Presbyterians? When was the last time the Presbyterians came to your door? When was the last time the reformed Baptists came to your door? When was the last time somebody from James White's church came to your door? It's not going to happen.
They can point out, "This guy 200 years ago, he was real zealous about souls." Okay. What about your average independent Fundamental Baptist church sends out scores of people every week knocking doors? By the way, our church is not the only soul-winning church. Thank God we do a lot of soul-winning here. You know what, there are a lot of other independent Baptist churches all over America that knock thousands and thousands and thousands of doors and they're not Calvinists. The churches I've been that were Calvinist were dead as a door nail. The exception proves the rule but the vast majority of anybody who gives a rip about where people go when they die, it happens to be people that aren't Calvinists. Most of the Calvinists are these go down deep, stay down long, come up dry, sit in their ivory tower with their commentaries and their church fathers and all their theological mumbo-jumbo and you know that's the truth and it's the ones who say, "Whosoever will may come," that are actually doing the real soul-winning and that's a fact. That's what we see. Be that as it may, it's what the Bible teaches anyway.
We see this about Jeremiah. He's chosen to be a prophet unto the nations. Another thing I want to point out about that verse in verse 5 is that Jeremiah was not called to only preach unto the children of Judah. That was not his only ministry. Sometimes people get a very strange view that God only cared about the chosen nation of Israel in the Old Testament and it was sort of just to hell with everybody else. That's pretty much what they think. Then, they think, "Oh, but in the New Testament, he opened it up beyond that."
If you stop and think about it, obviously in the Old Testament, the nation of Israel were a chosen people, a chosen nation. They were set apart and holy unto God, but they were actually designed to be a light unto the Gentiles. They weren't designed to just be this isolated group of people that God would love them and deal with them and save them and just not care about anyone else. No, God actually loved people in the Old Testament too that were not of the chosen ones. He still loved the world at that time as well.
When we see here that Jeremiah's called to be a prophet unto the nations, as we read the book of Jeremiah, you're going to see various instances where he preaches to foreign countries, where God sends him on tour, literally around the world, where God sends him to all nations. Where the Bible literally lists nation after nation after nation where Jeremiah traveled and preached the word of God. You go to the book of Isaiah, you're going to find the same thing. You're going to find God sending Isaiah to all nations of the Earth, all of them.
Then, through the ministry of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we see God's word going out to all tongues, all kindreds, all nations. In the book of Ester, we see the word of God going out to a 127 provinces, all the way from Ethiopia to India. God's plan has always included all men upon the Earth. He's the God of the whole Earth. Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes of the Gentiles also. Even in the Old Testament, God had a plan and cared about all the people of the world. Did the nation of Israel have a special purpose in the Old Testament? Were they a chosen people? Did they bring forth the Lord Jesus Christ? Were the oracles of God committed unto them? Of course, but God also wanted other people to hear the preaching too. Think about all the great stories in the Old Testament about non-Jews receiving salvation from the Lord. Think about people like Naaman the Syrian.
By the way, Jesus talked about this when he was in his ministry. He said in Matthew chapter 8, you don't have to turn there, but when a man came to him with great faith, he said unto this man, this man was not a Jew. He said, "Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith. No, not in Israel. I say unto that many shall come from the East and West and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven but the children of the kingdom," meaning the kingdom of Israel, "shall be cast out into outer darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
When Jesus was almost pushed off a cliff ... You remember when they tried to push Jesus off a cliff? In Luke chapter 4, he goes and preaches at his hometown. In fact, let's quickly turn there. Luke chapter number 4. It's a great story. Jesus goes back to preach to his hometown. Of course, the Bible says a prophet is not without honor, save in his own country and in his own house. Jesus actually points back to Old Testament stories showing that even in the Old Testament, God cared about people of other nations. He wasn't just specific to the Jews only. Look what it says in verse number 24 of chapter 4, "And he said, 'Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land, but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath."
Even this preaching today could create wrath in people. When you start saying, "Hey, guess what. God loves people that aren't just the Jews but also the Gentiles only and there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek. God has salvation for all and he's the God of the whole Earth and his house is a house of prayer for all nations." They get angry about that. Here, the Bible says that they were angry at Jesus for pointing out some of the greatest works in the Old Testament were done toward foreigners. He said there were a lot of other widows that he could have helped out but he helped out a foreigner. A lot of guys could have been healed of leprosy, but it was a foreigner that was helped out.
By the way, we need to get past this attitude that a lot of people have today that's an anti-foreigner attitude. It's not biblical. "What? Is he some kind of a liberal? What are you, a hippy?" Hold on a second. I thought the Bible's our final authority here, not talk radio. What does the Bible say about the stranger? It says, "Treat the stranger well. Treat him as one born in the land." It doesn't say to hate foreigners and to get this tribalistic where, "Hey, white people ..."
Look, there are people out there today that are white supremacists. There are people out there that are black supremacists. What about these black Hebrew Israelites? They talk about how blacks are the chosen people and everything. It's a huge moment. Then, there are all kinds of white people that are the same way. There are Hispanics and Indians and everybody else that feels the same way. Wait a minute. God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. We're not supposed to glory in being white or brown or black or yellow. It doesn't matter. It's meaningless in the eyes of God. Avoid genealogies, he said. Avoid genealogies. Who cares?
Yet, people today get this attitude that one nation is better than another when really God has made all kindreds of the Earth of one blood and he's not a respecter of persons. It's to the Jew first and then also to the Greek. There's no difference between the two. He's made us both one in Christ Jesus. In Christ, there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, Sithian, Parthian, it doesn't matter.
We need to understand that Jeremiah was ordained prophet to the nations. Let's look at this in Jeremiah chapter 1 verse 6. "Then said I, 'Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak for I am a child.' But the Lord said unto me, 'Say not I am a child for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.'" This is a great scripture for children right here. I hope every child who's here today would listen to what this scripture is saying. Don't say, "I can not speak for I am a child." You know, children can be used by God to win souls unto Jesus Christ. They can be used to preach God's word.
I remember the story of my grandpa who got saved because of a testimony of a five-year-old boy. Literally, God used a five-year-old boy to win my grandfather to the Lord. You know what, what Baptist pastors have failed to do in the past, this five-year-old boy accomplished. There was a kid who lived on his street and this five-year-old boy came to him and quoted the Romans road to him and preached the gospel and he didn't get saved right then and there, but he said, "Wow. I got to go to the church that this kid is from. I'm going to check that church out."
He was so impressed that this five-year-old boy came up and started witnessing to him and preaching the word. Five. Five years old. Preached to him the Romans road, he went to church that Sunday and then the Tuesday night thereafter, the pastor and a deacon, Dr. Roland Rasmussen and one of the deacons there from Faith Baptist Church in Canoga Park came to his house and won him and my dad to the Lord the same day, my grandfather and my dad in the same day. Why? Because of a five-year-old boy.
You know, God can use children to preach the word of God. I thank God for the fact that my children in the neighborhood have won some kids unto the Lord in the neighborhood when they run into kids in the street or at the park. If you're a child here listening to me, don't say, "I'm a child. I can't speak. I'm a child." You know what, if you have friends in the neighborhood that you play with, maybe you go to school or maybe you're part of a home school group, why don't you open your mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel?
You know, I've often thought about all the kids that I knew when I was in elementary school, junior high, and high school. I've often thought about the fact that I bet you I could have won some of them to the Lord if I would have tried. You ever think about that? I think about kids that I knew and I think about, "Wow. I bet you I could have won them unto the Lord but I just didn't do it." Nobody taught me to do soul-winning. I didn't learn soul-winning until I was like seventeen years old.
God wants to use children. He wants to use man, woman, boy, and girl to win people to Christ and to preach the gospel. Don't say, "I'm a child," because if you start when you're a child ... Be like Timothy, who from a child, knew the holy scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. You can be used by God even as a child.
The Bible says, "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise. Suffer the children to come unto me for such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you whosoever shall not be converted and become as a little child, he said, shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven." You have to become as a little child and have the faith of a child. That's why children are easy to win to the Lord. You know who's good at winning children to the Lord? Other children. Children winning children to the Lord. Otherwise, what are you even doing playing with all these neighborhood kids and everything if you're not going to win them to Christ? That's why we're all on this Earth, to preach the gospel. The younger you start doing that, the better. I wish I would have started younger. I wish I would have used all those opportunities I had when I was a kid. I really wanted to but I just didn't know what I was doing. If you grow up in this church, you have no excuse because there's an abundance of opportunity to learn.
"Then said I, 'Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak for I am a child.' But the Lord said unto me, 'Say not I am a child for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.'" The verse that comes to mind is when Paul tells Timothy, "Let no man despise thy youth but be thou an example of the believers in word and conversation and charity, in spirit and faith and purity." The Bible says in verse 8, "'Be not afraid of their faces for I am with thee to deliver thee,' saith the Lord. Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, 'Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.'"
Here, Jeremiah is being commissioned to go out and preach a hard message. He's told, "Don't be afraid of their faces." He's saying, "People are going to give you dirty looks. People are going to confront you and be an enemy unto you and you can't be afraid of them. I'm going to deliver you because I'm sending you to root out. I'm sending you to pull down, to destroy." Now, most people don't think of a preacher as a destroyer, do they? You know, nobody prays before the sermon, "Lord, I pray that you would just help Pastor Anderson just destroy what he needs to destroy tonight. Lord, just help him to destroy it." "What do you think about that pastor?" "He's destructive. I mean that in the best possible way." I mean, this is part of the ministry, some things that need to be destroyed. Notice, when you look at his ministry, he says, "Root out, pull down, destroy, and throw down," those are four negatives. Then, he says to build and to plant. That's two positives. It's a two-thirds negative message and one-third positive that Jeremiah is going to be preaching.
So many preachers today are 100% positive and 0% negative or 99% positive and 1% negative. You know, some people are too negative. I agree, but we need a balance. We need a tearing down type of a sermon. You say, "Well, I want to be built up." Yeah, but sometimes you need to be torn down. Sometimes you need a swift kick in the pants more than you need a pat on the back.
The Bible says in verse number 11, "Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 'Jeremiah, what seest thou?' And I said, 'I see a rod of an almond tree.' Then said the Lord unto me, 'Thou hast well seen for I will hasten my word to perform it.' And the word of the Lord came unto me the second time, saying, 'What seest thou?' And I said, 'I see a seething pot and the face thereof is toward the north.' Then the Lord said unto me, 'Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north,' saith the Lord, 'and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah. And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.'"
God is pronouncing judgement upon the children of Judah for being wicked and worshiping other Gods. He says, "I'm going bring evil upon them. I'm going to bring these nations against them to destroy them and to fight against them." Now, this is not a very positive message when you preach to your country, "Oh, by the way, there's an enemy coming and you're going to lose and they're going to win." It's like, "Whoa. You're not patriotic." Even later in the book of Jeremiah, he's going to be accused of treason. "You've fallen under the Chaldeans. You're being paid by the Chaldeans." He says, "It's a lie," but he's still thrown in prison. Why? Because he was accused of being in the payment of the Chaldeans because he's ruining their morale by saying that they're going to lose. He's saying, "Just surrender to the Chaldeans. You're going to lose anyway." It's like, "Whoa. What are you doing buddy? We're at war." All the talk radio is saying, "This guy's a traitor. We're at war. This hippy, anti-war," or whatever. But he was preaching the word of God. He had to preach what God said.
Now, the first thing he shows them is the rod of an almond tree. You know, I believe he's probably just showing them there a rod that he's going to whoop them with. The rod's like spare the rod, spoil the child. A rod is something that you beat somebody with to discipline them. He's bringing discipline and punishment on the children of Judah. He says there's a seething pot like a boiling pot that represents the enemy that's going to come and destroy them.
He says in verse 17, "Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee. Be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them." Now, God is not only commanding him not to be dismayed at their faces, not only to fear them, but he's actually telling him that he's going to punish him if he is dismayed at their faces. "If you're dismayed at their faces, I'll confound you before them. I will cause you to fail. You will look as a fool before them if you are dismayed at them." He's basically telling him, "If you do what's right, if you preach what's right, I'll defend you." He said in verse 18, "'For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee but they shall not prevail against thee for I am with thee,' saith the Lord, 'to deliver thee.'"
Now, let me submit to you this. There's nothing new under the sun. If we were to take an honest look at the United States of America today, it is similar to the land of Judah at this time in the sense that we've committed great wickedness and abominations and we know that God's anger is like a seething pot ready to boil over and we know that God's got the rod of the almond tree ready. We know that bad things are going to happen to us as a result of our wickedness. We're in the same boat here. Preachers today, if they preach the truth, if they cry aloud and spare not and show God's people their sins, if they get up and preach the word in season, out of season, and they reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all long suffering and indoctrine, they will end up being against the kings of the land and against the princes of the land, against the priests of the land, and against the people of the land. Look, there are people that we need to preach against. There are priests and preachers that need to be preached against. There are rulers and leaders that need to be preached against. It's no different today than it was then.
God says if you will not fear, if you will be a fearless preacher, he says, "I'll make you like a defenced city. I'll make you like an iron pillar and brazen walls against the whole land and against et cetera, et cetra, against the kings of Judah." See, the word that keeps coming up in this passage is "against". There are times when we preach about something and then there are times when we need to preach against something. There are times we need to stand for something and times when we need to stand against something. That's what the bible's teaching here.
Let me just point out the obvious truth of this chapter that a lot of people don't want to face. That is this. When the children of Judah disobeyed the Lord and forsook him and worshiped other gods, the Bible says that God was against them. The Bible says that God gathered nations against them and that he brought enemies against them and that he set preachers against them. Did he say to Jeremiah, "You're going to be for the kings of Judah because they're the chosen people. You got to be for them. If don't bless them, God won't bless you. Whoa, buddy, you better bless the king of Judah." He said, "No, you're against the cities of Judah." Does everybody have a Bible here tonight? Is everybody looking at the same chapter I'm looking at? Does it say, "You're against the cities of Judah. You're against the kings of Judah. You're against Jerusalem. I'm bringing armies against Jerusalem."
Yet, today, the preachers just want to be for Jerusalem and for Judah, no matter what false god they worship. Let me tell you something, there's only one God. He has a name. Jesus. It's the name that's above any other name, neither is there salvation in any other for there is none other name under Heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. The Bible says that if you don't have the son, you don't have the Father. "Whosoever denieth the son, the same hath not the Father. But he that acknowledgeth the son, hath the Father also." Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ. He's anti-Christ that denieth the Father and the son. The bible says, "Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ hath not God." Let that sink in. "Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ hath not God. Whosoever abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the son." Hold on a second, why is it that there is a doctrine today that says, "These people who do not believe in Christ have God." Is that biblical? How can you say you have God?
Here we go again, "Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ hath not God. Whosoever denieth the son, the same hath not the Father." But people say, "In Israel, they have the same God that we have." Really, how does that work? Because the Bible says that no man cometh under the Father but by Jesus. Therefore, they don't have the same God. Do they have a god? I mean, talk about God. I mean, they're praying to somebody at that wall. They're praying to somebody. You say, "Oh, they're praying to the Father." That's not what the Bible says. The Bible says they don't have God. The Bible says that by Christ, we have access to the Father. By Christ, we may come boldly before the throne of grace. Jesus, the son of God, is our priest. We have one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. It's important to keep that in mind.
As we continue on in the book of Jeremiah, we need to realize what's going on in the book. We got to get the context. What's going on in the book? We've got a wicked nation, which is similar to where we find ourselves in the United States, a nation that in time past was righteous, just as the United States in time past has been a godly, God-fearing nation. That's how Judah was. In the past, yeah, they had been a godly nation. Really, in recent history with Josiah, they had been. Then, they went off into wickedness once again. We're in the same boat today. They had judgement coming. We have judgement coming.
They had a preacher that was sent unto them. We have lots of preachers that God has sent unto us in America. There are lots of preachers that God has ordained and God will continue to ordain many more preachers in the next several years and God willing, there will be a whole army of Jeremiah-type preachers that would start churches all over America and that would be like an iron pillar, that would be like a brazen wall, that would be like a defenced city, that would not be afraid of the faces of man, but that God's word would be in their mouth and they would stand up and boldly preach the word of God. Yes, they would build and plant, but they wouldn't be afraid to tear down, to destroy that which impedes God's work. You can't build something until you first clear the ground and demolish that which was there beforehand.
As we read the book of Jeremiah, there's a lot that we could apply unto ourselves. All the scriptures that God gave in the Old Testament are written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come and all scriptures given by inspiration of God and his profitable foredoctrine. As we go through Jeremiah, there will be many lessons for preacher and parishioner alike, and there will be many lessons for our nation and there will be many lessons about what God wants us to do in the year 2016.
Let's bow our heads and have a word of prayer.
Father, we thank you so much, Lord, for this powerful book of Jeremiah. It's really a giant book, Lord, and it's one that has a lot of difficult things, Lord. I pray that through the power of the Holy Spirit as our teacher, we would understand this book over the next 51 weeks that we study the rest of this book, Lord. Open our eyes and let us behold wondrous things out of your law. Lord, please just give us an understanding heart. Give us wisdom and skill as you gave to Daniel. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.