“Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these” (Jer. 7:4, KJV). The NET records this passage as, “Stop putting your confidence in the false belief that says, “We are safe! The temple of the LORD is here! The temple of the LORD is here! The temple of the LORD is here!” What was going on with these people in Jeremiah’s day?
In context, notice that God has sent Jeremiah to warn this sinful nation of their sin. He went to the gate of the Temple and cried out, “amend your ways and your doings” (Jer. 7:2-3). They responded, “The Temple of the Lord,” as if God would spare them from destruction because the Temple was in Jerusalem. They were reminded twice in this chapter not to trust in those lying words. The mere fact the Temple was in Jerusalem would not save them when the Babylonian army swept over them.
What would save them? God said salvation would come when they “amend” or change their ways (Jer. 7:5). In other words, repent, and they would be allowed to dwell in the land (v. 7). Notice that the key to their salvation was not in having the Temple in Jerusalem but living as God told them to live (v. 5-7). Even though many years had passed, the words of Joshua 24:14 were still true, and they needed to worship God “in sincerity and in truth”! They could not “ride the fence” by practicing their abominations and then turn around, beaming about having the Temple there (Jer.7:9-15). That Temple was made of physical material and could be destroyed (and was, II Kings 25)!
Friend, beware that you don’t have the same attitude as the Israelites of old did. It is easy to slip into the mindset that I am bound for Heaven so long as I am a member or have my name on the “roll” of a sound church. This is not always the case! Don’t misunderstand; we know that salvation comes through Christ (Lk. 19:10), and all those who are saved are added to His church (Acts 2:38-47). My point is that we must examine ourselves (II Cor. 13:5) and make sure our actions match our words (Rev. 22:14; Lk. 6:46)! The people in Jeremiah’s day had to “amend” or change their ways because their actions did not match their words (Jer. 7:9-11). It takes more than merely having our names written on a piece of paper to be saved. We must be active in the Lord’s work (I Cor. 15:58; Rev. 2:10; Jas. 1:22-25; Heb. 5:9)!
It pains me to say this, but there will be people condemned to an eternity in Hell because their actions, speech, and thoughts were not in line with the Scriptures (II Cor. 5:10; Matt. 25:31-46). Yes, some of these will be people who claim to be members of the Lord’s church. Why will this happen? It will happen because they weren’t slaves to God (Rom. 12:1-2) but obeyed only when they felt like it. When they were confronted with their sin, they said, “I’m a member of the Lord’s body!” Just like those folks said, “The Temple of the Lord!” As if that were all that was required! Sadly, Christ will say, “I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23). Let’s learn a lesson from this text and not act like those in Jeremiah 7!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Yesterday’s study focused on Jeremiah 6:14. This article continues the thought and theme by looking into verse 15. After condemning those who cried, “Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14), God’s words continue. “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? Nay, they were not at all ashamed; neither could they blush. Therefore, they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord” (Jer. 6:15).
God’s words were quite powerful in this verse. Those who preached falsely about peace were so arrogant they were not ashamed when confronted with their error. God said they could not even “blush”! The word “blush” in this verse means the same as we use it today. It has to do with one being hurt or ashamed of what one has done. Godly sorrow will produce “blushing” when we are genuinely hurt and ashamed of the sins we have committed before God. One who “blushes” over his sin will make a genuine effort to repent and leave that action in the past (II Cor. 7:10). In the context of Jeremiah 6, the people had preached falsely, and they didn’t care about that. They were confronted with the truth, and they did not allow it to affect them. They weren’t embarrassed at all! The apostle Paul said he knew some whose “end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. ” (Phil. 3:19, ESV). That kind of sounds like the people Jeremiah faced. Can you blush?
Have you ever been told that you ought to be ashamed of yourself because of something you have done or said? If not, then this is part of the problem we face today - just like Jeremiah’s generation faced! Friend, there are actions we do and words we speak that should cause shame in our lives. The apostle Paul said that after folks had become Christians, they then looked back on their former lives with shame (Rom. 6:20-23). This is normal and right to be embarrassed over sins we have committed. Now, is this us? Can you blush?
Just like in Jeremiah’s time, we have raised a generation of people who do not blush over sin and wrongdoing. There is an older generation telling the younger ones to “accept your truth,” whatever that means. There is an older generation telling our young ones not to worry about sin because “no one has the right to judge you” and “do what you feel is right.” Since people listen to this, then they have no concept of what is right or wrong. When the truth is preached, they do not blush. They are not ashamed. They simply parrot their mentors and ask, “Who are you to judge me?” Or they tell the one who loves them and exposes the truth (Eph. 4:15, 5:11) that he needs to “clean up your own yard and stay out of mine.” Can you blush?
If we can’t blush, if we do not feel shame and hurt over our sins, how will we ever repent of our sins before Christ (Lk. 13:3; Acts 2:38)? Truly, those folks in Jeremiah’s time stood in rebellion against God (Jer. 6:14-15), as do we if we will not stop and consider the seriousness of our sins before a sinless God (Rom. 3:23)! Can you blush?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Reading the first chapter of Micah is enlightening as well as challenging. This is one of those occasions where some might become intimidated when they see some city names that are hard to pronounce. Yet, when we compare those towns to a map of Old Testament times, we find these cities scattered in the northern and southern areas. That is significant. What purpose then does it serve to read those names, and how am I helped in the 21st century when I read Micah chapter one?
Let me suggest a few applications to our reading. First, it is interesting to note that it is actually a play on words in the chapter’s context when we read those city names. For example, the city name of Gath means “Tell Town.” Therefore, to “tell it not in Gath” (Mic. 1:10) is like saying, “Don’t tell it in Tell Town!” It is a subtle thing, but one that the people would have understood. God inspires Micah to write to those in Aphrah and say they should roll themselves in the dust. This carries a deeper meaning when we learn that “Aphrah” means “house of dust”! Therefore, those who lived in the “house of dust” needed to roll themselves in the dust (an act of lament and sorrow)! As we continue reading Micah 1:10-15, we see this play on words continue with the rest of the cities.
I call this God’s “Hall of Shame” because Micah speaks to the inhabitants of those cities, as well as those in Samaria and Jerusalem (Mic. 1:5, 9), and condemns them for their sin. No inhabitant of these cities could read the first chapter of Micah and feel good about themselves or their history before God! In fact, the promise made before this was that God was coming in judgment against these people because of their sin (v. 3-9). Let this then be a reminder that God has a standard for right and wrong, and He follows it! Unfortunately, we live in a society that has removed itself from such standards, and we are suffering for it. It is past time to be reminded that there are things that are right and wrong in this world, and we need to stand for what is right! This is because we will suffer if we do the wrong things. Over a dozen cities in Judah and Israel were made to understand this, and we need to understand it as well!
Another application I make from this reading is the very pointed and powerful preaching done by Micah. In the spirit of Acts 2, when Peter condemned “all the house of Israel” for killing Jesus (Acts 2:36), so also Micah, 700 years before Christ, condemns folks for sins. I appreciate Micah because after he wrote, the people knew what they had done and why God cursed them. In my mind’s eye, I imagine the people reading Micah’s words for the first time, and when he started mentioning their hometowns, they might have smiled. Their smile didn’t last long, though! In a moment, they were made to face their sins and see themselves as God saw them! God was coming in judgment against people who had wasted their lives on vain things, on the lusts of the flesh and eyes, and the pride of life (I Jn. 2:15-17)!
In light of these truths, let us hear and fear! We need to listen to what God says now while we still have the opportunity to repent (II Cor. 6:2). The people in Micah’s day were told essentially to “brace themselves” because God was about to bring judgment against them (Mic. 1:3-4). In like manner, we are told that the Lord is coming “in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and those who obey not the gospel” (II Thess. 1:7-9)! This is not an empty threat. God’s longsuffering grants us time to repent (Rom. 2:4), but the longsuffering will not continue indefinitely!
One final application I see is the bravery of Micah! I am impressed that when given the responsibility to bring a very unpopular message to both the northern and southern kingdoms, Micah accepted the challenge! This same bravery characterized preachers of the first century, and it needs to describe God’s people today (I Cor. 16:13-14; Prov. 28:1; I Thess. 2:2; Eph. 3:12; I Jn. 4:17)! Paul encouraged Timothy (and us by inference) to preach the word “in season and out of season” (II Tim. 4:2). This means when people like it and when they don’t like it! It means preaching the word without compromise or changing the message because of who is listening. Notice how brave Micah was in chapter one. He will have more to say later, but think about how Micah was taking his life into his hands. Yet, he would write what God wanted to be written, and he was willing to face the consequences. Are we ready to say the same (Rom. 15:4)?
What a dubious honor it was to be listed in such a place as Micah one. If we had been living in that time, what decisions might we have made after hearing this read? Would we repent? Would we get mad at Micah? Would we be angry at ourselves? God’s blessing is seen in the fact that we can change! We can repent and do things His way (Acts 2:38, 17:30). Are you willing to leave the shame of sin behind (Rom. 6:21)? Don’t get mad at the messenger for saying you are in sin (Rom. 3:23). Be thankful someone cares enough and loves you enough to tell you (Eph. 4:15). Now, let’s do something about it (Heb. 5:9; II Cor. 6:2)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Where did the people come from that brought God’s word in Bible days? Did they come from Jerusalem? Did they come from Samaria? How about Dan or Beersheba? In truth, they come from those places and many more. Some came from small villages on the edge of Philistia (Micah 1:1, 14)! Some came from obscure places like Tishbe (I Kings 17:1), while still others come from far-flung villages like Nazareth (Matt. 2:23)! It may surprise you where the men come from who preach the gospel of Christ today! Some come from large cities or even foreign countries, while still others were born and raised in small communities you might never see or visit in your life. A dear friend of mine told me he grew up in a town that does not exist! I have been to the area where he grew up and can attest that his words were true. The town does not exist!
Why say these things? I write as a reminder that the power of the gospel does not rest with men. It does not rest in the towns where men live, nor does it rest in the things that provide “comfort” or “familiarity” to us. Instead, the gospel has its own power. The gospel saves us (Rom. 1:16-17) and does so by its own intrinsic power. When someone is saved from his sin through faith, repentance, and baptism (Acts 2:38; Mk. 16:16), it is the result of that person hearing, believing, and obeying the gospel (Rom. 10:13-16; Heb. 5:9, 11:6). It is not because of the eloquence of a man’s voice (I Cor. 2:1-5), nor is it because the one teaching came from the “right area,” the “well-known” part of the world, he attended the “right college,” or was raised in the “right” family according to men’s standards.
God “hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence” (I Cor. 1:27-29). When we read in the Bible about Morasheth, Tishbe, Dan, Gilead, Beersheba, Jerusalem, Samaria, and even Nazareth, let us not be distracted by those places (or even their pronunciation in some cases!). Instead, let us focus on the fact that a messenger of God came from there, and it is the message of God to which we need to give heed (Micah 1:1)! Had folks done this in Micah’s day, perhaps even more would have been saved. If people focused on the message from the Man from Nazareth instead of worrying about His pedigree (Jn. 1:46, 7:41-42; Lk. 4:22), perhaps even more could have been saved! Today it is no different. We need to listen to the message rather than focusing on the outward appearance of the messenger (Rom. 1:16; II Tim. 4:2)! Is his message from God’s word (I Pet. 4:11)? Then accept and obey it, not because a certain man said it but because the message is from God! If it is not from God, reject the message and rebuke the messenger (Eph. 5:11; II Jn. 9-11)! Not because the man was from the “wrong place,” but because the message is false (II Pet. 2:1-3)!
It is fun to know people’s origins or “backstories,” isn’t it? Likewise, it is exciting to think of a person’s life in a remote or “exotic” location. However, let us not become so distracted by things like these that we do not focus on what is important. Micah the Morasthite spoke a message from the Lord, and people needed to listen (then and today, Rom. 15:4)! Likewise, Jesus of Nazareth has a message for us (Heb. 1:2), and we need to listen so that we will save ourselves and save those we teach as we strive toward Heaven (I Tim. 4:16)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
The book of Mark is the shortest book of those comprising the “gospel records.” It shouldn’t surprise us, then, that Mark doesn’t wait long before showing us the opposition Jesus faced in His preaching. In Mark 2, we see scribes and Pharisees opposing Him and His work. Among their common complaints was that Jesus associated with sinners. Mark 2:15-17 says, “And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his (Matthew’s, JMJ) house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Seeing as Jesus just invited a publican (Matthew) to follow Him (Mk. 2:14), it shouldn’t be a surprise that when Jesus went to Matthew’s house, publican friends would be invited to listen to Jesus! Jesus treated this man just as He had earlier treated four fishermen (Mk. 1:16-20). He simply requested that they “follow Him.” This would change their lives far beyond anything we could describe on this page.
The point being that Jesus looked at five sinners (Rom. 3:23) and saw not what they were, but what they could become! He saw people who’d do much good for the Lord’s cause and kingdom, but they had to be taught! Jesus was willing to teach. In fact, Jesus was willing to teach all that would listen to Him. This is why we see multitudes coming to Him and listening (Mk. 1:28, 33, 37, 45, 2:1-2, 13, etc.).
In contrast, the scribes and Pharisees had no time, no compassion, and gave no thought to the lives and concerns of the sinners around them. I’m reminded of Christ’s parable in Luke 18:11-12. Therefore, when they saw Jesus spending time with publicans, sinners, and the like, this was scandalous to them! If He claims to be God’s prophet, and people claim He is the Messiah, surely even He would know the kind of people He is around! (For more study, please read Luke 7:36-50 and see the attitude of Simon toward Christ.)
In Mark’s short book, we see Christ’s attitude toward sinners as one of respect, one of compassion, and one of love. He never berated them for their bad decisions or sins. He never acted as if they were beneath Him (though they were -- all of us are!). He did, however, tell the truth and told it unapologetically. He told the truth in a manner that they (and all) could understand. Please read Mark 2:15-17 and see that when Jesus was criticized for even associating with publicans, sinners, and others, His answer was not a defense of their sin. He didn’t say, “At least they’re not hypocrites!” as some might’ve been tempted to say. His answer was straight-forward: “they need Me!”.
Notice Jesus called them sick. He called them sinners and said they needed to repent (Mk. 2:17)! Can you imagine such language coming from the lips of the Lord? Yet, there it is. What impresses me is that these people seemed to follow Him in greater numbers the longer He was on earth. What had Jesus done? As we observe Jesus in Mark 2 and the rest of the book, we see Someone who showed compassion (Mk. 1:41, 5:19, 6:34, 8:2). He saw people who needed direction (Mk. 6:34) and saw sinners who needed salvation. The people responded to this genuine action and listened intently. What Jesus said in Mark 2:17 was not “new news” to them. They knew they were in sin, and now they knew that they had come to the right Person who could bring them salvation!
What can I learn from this short reading? I can learn first to not be like the scribes and Pharisees. No one is “beneath” you. All of us have sinned (Rom. 3:23). If you’ve been saved from your sins, then thank God for the salvation (Lk. 19:10; Mk. 16:16)! When you see people who aren’t saved, realize that you were in their shoes not that long ago. Someone loved you enough to tell you the truth. Now, love them enough to do the same (II Tim. 2:2; Eph. 4:15)!
The second lesson I learn in Mark 2:15-17 is to be like Jesus in my speech! Folks who are in sin need to know it! Friend, “no greater injustice can be done to a person than to leave them with the impression they are saved, when in fact, they aren’t!” Jesus called the people sick, sinners, and in need of salvation. This is precisely what they needed to hear. If they hadn’t been told this, they might’ve left the presence of Jesus thinking that they were just fine. Dear one, when you talk to someone about their soul, remember that this part needs to be said. You can talk about the weather, crops, children, the government, and 1000 other things, but if you miss the chance to talk to someone about his soul, you’ve missed it! There’s nothing more important than the condition of one’s soul (Matt. 16:26)! Pleasant smiles, hugs, and being neighborly will mean little when on Judgment, they look at you and say in so many words, “You met me day by day and knew I was astray, yet you never mentioned Him to me!” I would much rather thousands of people on Judgment Day cry that I told them about Jesus and warned them about sin but hurt their feelings than to have one person say, “You never mentioned Him to me!” What about you?
A third thing I learn from Jesus was even when He spoke of people being sick and sinners, He didn’t seem happy about it! May we never take a condescending view of others in sin (Matt. 7:12, 22:39; Gal. 6:1; Jas. 5:19-20; etc.). As we noted earlier, it wasn’t that long ago that we were in their position as well.
Lastly, I have to note that the message of Christ was a message for all. While it would’ve been easy for the Pharisees, scribes, and others to listen to Mark 2:17 and then think, “OK, this is why Jesus is with them.” If we listen closely to the response, it was actually a rebuke to those people as well. Think about it! Jesus said He came to call the sinners to repentance. Amen. Was He not also preaching to the Pharisees, scribes, and others when He was preaching those three years? Was there ever a time from Matthew-John where Jesus stopped His preaching to say, “Scribes and Pharisees, what I’m about to say doesn’t apply to you”? Jesus’ attitude was that those self-righteous people were as guilty of sin as the rest (Mk. 7:6-9)! They needed the same message because they needed the same Savior! Jesus suffered as a sacrifice for all men, not just for the ones on the “wrong side of the tracks”! They would’ve understood Jesus’ message here if they’d cared to listen, instead of wasting time pointing their fingers at others!
Much more could be said, but take what we’ve learned here and think seriously about our attitude. What kind of attitude are we displaying? Who’ve we told about Jesus this week? What efforts do we make to bring others to the Lord, beginning with those under our own roof (Eph. 6:4; Titus 2:3-5)? Think seriously about this, my friend, because the souls of those we love as well as our own souls hang in the balance (Ezek. 33:7-9)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs