3/09/2017

Don't Go To Church To Deceive Yourself (Jeremiah 7)

Big Idea: Why go to church if you won't repent?

"This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, 'This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!' But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless" (Jer 7:3-4, 8). "But am I the one they are provoking? declares the Lord. Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame?" (Jer 7:19) "I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. 24 But they did not listen or pay attentioninstead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward" (Jer 7:23-24).

An outline:
  • 1 The call of Jeremiah.
  • 2 The charge against Judah.
  • 3 The call to repentance.
  • 4-6 The coming Babylonian invasion.
  • 7-10 False religion and its punishment.
  • 11-29 The prophet in conflict.
  • 30-33 The book of restoration.
  • 34-35 Covenant faithfulness.
  • 36-45 The fall of Jerusalem and the aftermath.
  • 46-51 Judgment on the nations.
  • 52 Recapping the fall of Jerusalem.
Jeremiah 7 is typically called the "Temple Sermon." (False Religion Worthless - NIV.) It has 6 parts:
  1. 7:1-8 Change your ways and I will let you live in Jerusalem.
  2. 7:9-11 Will you break the Ten Commandments and think you're OK?
  3. 7:12-15 Sin will bring destruction to Jerusalem, even though the presence of God dwells there.
  4. 7:16-29 God tells Jeremiah to stop praying for the people.
  5. 7:30-34 If you sin and go to church terrible judgment will come.
  6. 8:1-3 Judgment will come to the leaders who worship idols.
7:1-10:25 is loosely connected around the theme of false, perverted religion and its consequent, just punishment. This section opens with a "sermon" delivered by Jeremiah at the temple gates as people were going to the temple. In contemporary terms he was saying to them, "Don't go to church." The hostile reaction to this sermon is in Jeremiah 26.

What infuriates God is that while people continue to live in sin, they still went to church (the temple). What audacity! God is the very one whom they should fear most, and their total lack of reverence and respect for his righteous presence angers him immensely. This same anger is seen in Jesus when he encounters the corrupt money changers right in the temple courtyard. He lashes out at them, connecting them with Jeremiah 7 by accusing them of making the temple a "den of robbers" (Mt 21:13; Mk 11:17; Lk 19:46), implying a coming judgment on Jerusalem similar to that which Jeremiah proclaimed. God is particularly offended when people treat him as if he is not really concerned with sin, or as if he has no power to punish those who disrespect and defy him. But if we come into God's presence to worship with repentant hearts and with an awareness of our sin and his righteous power to judge us, he forgives us and accepts us into his presence.