Jeremiah 27-29, 37

What Needs  to Change is Us!

Zedekiah is the new King of Judah and five of the surrounding nations have sent envoys to greet him. The discussion will be centered on the current threat to the area. Nebuchadnezzar is threatening to overrun these nations and they need to decide what to do about it. He has already invaded Jerusalem twice and the last time he took the artisans and craftsmen along with articles used in the temple worship to Babylon. He also took the former king and made Zedekiah the new king. Clearly they are losing what they once had.

As this group of leaders meet to decide what to do God sends His own envoy, Jeremiah. Jeremiah has a message from God and is told to illustrate it by putting a yoke on his neck like an oxen would wear to pull a plow. God’s message is simple. God has sent Nebuchadnezzar to take control of these nations. If the nations surrender to Nebuchadnezzar they will be able to stay in the land. The two invasions of Judah illustrate that he is willing to allow this. However, if they resist the nations will be destroyed and the surviving people will be taken captive to Babylon.

Sounds simple but there are other prophets who are saying just the opposite. They are saying that in two years Nebuchadnezzar will be defeated and that which was taken from Jerusalem, including the former king, will be returned.

Jeremiah declared God’s word to the leaders. The false prophets have declared their own prophesy and the leaders decided to go with what the false prophets were saying. They believed Egypt would march out against Babylon and Babylon would be defeated. They put their faith in Egypt.

When we resist God it does no harm to Him, but our resistance does harm to us. If we resist God’s Word He will stand back and allow the consequences of our choices to speak and enslave causing pain. Jeremiah walks away from the envoy and turns his attention to the exiles already in Babylon and sends them a letter which is recorded in Jeremiah 29. They too have false prophets telling them they will return to the land soon. Jeremiah tells them just the opposite. He tells them they are going to be there for 70 years and describes how they are to live in the land and pray for the welfare of the land. Verses 5-7

They have to change and follow His instructions.

God has a plan for the people. God has them in this place in order to build their faith. They want an instant out from their troubles. Troubles they brought on themselves by the choices they made in the past. God is not going to give them an instant out. They need to develop faith in Him. Faith is developed by listening to Him, trusting in what He says, doing what He says, and by seeking Him in prayer on an ongoing basis. All too often we get ourselves backed into a corner and then pray for God to miraculously remove years of dysfunction in an instant. We promise Him that if He will fix our marriage or take away our addiction etc. that we will be in church every Sunday and so on. Sadly, when it comes to breaking habits and dysfunctional behavior, the process is not instantaneous but ongoing. We call this discipline. Just as a house is built one brick or one board at a time, so is our relationship with the Lord. What is instantaneous is the moment we make a decision to seek God, listen, and obey.

God has a plan for the exiles in Babylon. He also has a plan for us. If you feel trapped and without hope, God has not rejected you, God is calling out to you in your pain. Again, too often we ask God to change our situation when in reality it is we who need to change. We have gone the way of the false prophets, the culture, the media, or whatever source we have believed, that resulted in the pattern of life we have followed; only to find it is a destructive dead end.

We want the pain to stop so we try to change the things around us. We move, we change spouses, we get a new job, we try whatever is the latest “discovery”, the list is endless and always disappoints. What needs to change is us! Pain is saying to us that we need to change something. When we realize that we are the problem and allow God to tear down the old house (thinking, habits, behaviors, etc.) we have built and start building a new house based on our faith in God’s Word, then we will see the miracle happen.

Paul writes in Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” NASB

There is an old story of a man who asked a guy coming out of church if he really believed that Jesus changed water into wine. The man replied that he didn’t know but that in his life, Jesus changed alcohol into a home, food, furniture, and a family that could trust him.

If you want freedom seek God and let Him transform you. Stop blaming, stop rationalizing, stop denying, and stop justifying your words and actions. These aren’t working. They never really have worked. Instead, start trusting God. Seek, listen, and obey. Then repeat. See Matthew 7:7-12.

Pastor Dave