Jeremiah 16:19a (NLT)
19LORD, you are my strength and fortress, my refuge in the day of trouble!
Jeremiah 17:1 (NLT)
1The LORD says, “My people act as though their evil ways are laws to be obeyed, inscribed with a diamond point on their stony hearts, or with an iron chisel on the corners of their altars.
Jeremiah 17:14 (NLT)
14O LORD, you alone can heal me; you alone can save. My praises are for you alone!
Jeremiah 17:21-25a (NLT)
21This is what the LORD says: Listen to my warning and live! Stop carrying on your trade at Jerusalem’s gates on the Sabbath day. 22Do not do your work on the Sabbath, but make it a holy day. I gave this command to your ancestors, 23but they did not listen or obey. They stubbornly refused to pay attention and would not respond to discipline.
24“‘But if you obey me, says the LORD, and do not carry on your trade or work on the Sabbath day, and if you keep it holy, 25then this nation will continue forever.
Jeremiah 17:27 (NLT)
27But if you do not listen to me and refuse to keep the Sabbath holy, and if on the Sabbath day you bring loads of merchandise through the gates of Jerusalem just as on other days, then I will set fire to these gates. The fire will spread to the palaces, and no one will be able to put out the roaring flames.
John 16:1 (NLT)
1“I have told you these things so that you won’t fall away.
John 16:2b-3 (NLT)
2…the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing God a service. 3This is because they have never known the Father or me.
John 16:12 (NLT)
12“Oh, there is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now.
The stuff God is telling Jeremiah is horrendous. How can he handle it. And then, he must tell it to the people — what an awesome burden and responsibility. Even now, just asking people to make slight adjustments in their life is hard. It is difficult to tell people where they are weak, sinful, or dysfunctional. They don’t want to hear it and their aim is usually to kill the messenger. That makes the messenger role a hard place to be.
That’s why in John, Jesus tells His disciples that people will attack and kill them and think they are doing God a good service. But, He says, it is because they don’t know the Father. The same has been true throughout the Bible, since Jesus’ time, and even now.
I watched people attack people at the Central church fiasco, and it was obvious they thought they knew God’s will and that they believed they were doing a good service for Him. Instead, it was clear that they don’t know God that well.
Jeremiah is told to correct people on their Sabbath observance. This is a huge, unspoken issue in the church today. So many think it is OK to treat Sabbath like any other day. Sure, they go to church, but for the most part they have ceased to do their own work. Of course, they don’t “go to work.” But they don’t trust God enough to avoid working on the Sabbath — whether it be in the yard, doing laundry, washing the car, paying bills, or eating out.
What is it about Sabbath that makes people want to treat it like another day. Is it boredom? Is it fear or ignorance?
I have a lot of thoughts on this:
- First, I don’t know if people really understand the significance of Sabbath. For some reason they were never fully discipled into a cool and resourceful Sabbath experience. They were taught the legalistic viewpoint, but not the experiential Sabbath relationship.
- Second, people don’t understand how God can bless their time and trust in Him. If people understood that they don’t have to work on this day, they would receive blessings that would far compensate for their time. They don’t believe God can multiply their time and efficiency. They think that if they don’t do it, it won’t get done.
- Third, they don’t understand how their realtionship with God would bloom and flourish. They would begin to experience Him in ways that would asstound even them. God would be so real that they truly would begin to experience the abundant life Jesus talked about. But, they really don’t expect this to happen and they don’t trust God to be that real in their lives. So they keep doing what they’ve always done and they keep getting what they’ve always gotten.
- Fourth, they view Sabbathkeeping as a religious experience with no value. This will never motivate anyone into a better experience.
- Fifth, they don’t understand that the Sabbath is a date with God — not an obligation. If a 16 year old viewed dating as an obligation, their would be a lot less passion in this world. Instead, dating is viewed as an opportunity to be persued unrelentlessly. If marriage was view as an obligation, very few people would get married and the marriages that existed would be lifeless and purposeless. Instead, we pursue a mate with every fiber of our being. If we view a relationship with God with this same passion, we would crave our Sabbath hours and mourn their passing. We don’t see God for who He really is and therefore we miss a tremendous weekly opportunity.
- Sixth, Sabbath is a time for physical and emotional rest. It is a time to rejuvinate our social connections — but this is only half of the story. More than anything it is an opportunity to connect with a supernatural God and celebrate our relationship with Him. We worship and bring Him glory — in return we are recharged spiritually. The relationship is rejuvinated and we get a glimpse of who God really is. For me, obedience is not enough of a motivator. What motivates me is my love for God — and that only comes when I realize how much He loves me. When I see how gloriful God is, and How much He cares for me — then I can’t help but connect with Him. I can’t wait!
- Finally, we too often rely on others — our peers — to lead us into the social norms of Sabbath observance. We take the wide, comfortable road. Maybe we need to realize that much of our relationship with Christ is personal.
God alone is my strength and salvation. I so much want to be with Him and Him alone.
There is no one like God. He alone can save me. I have to concentrate on His strength and His leadings. When people persecute me (either directly or indirectly by ignoring me), I have to continually go back to Him. Much of the blame for faulty religion rests on my shoulders. God has called me to be a leader and I have failed Him in too many areas. I have to step up to the plate and pesue God with all of my heart — this is the only way to be a leader.
Once I do this, others will follow in suit.
God, heal me of my wandering. Take me into your Holy presence and teach me to walk like You walk. Teach me Your ways and support me in Your strength. I am Yours and and Yours alone. Make me into the man You created me to be.
Thank you for teaching me to listen to you.
Ecclesiastes 5:2 (NIV)
2 Do not be quick with your mouth,
do not be hasty in your heart
to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven
and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.