Advent 1018 (PR Advent 1) – “Secure in the Sure Word of God”- Jeremiah 33:14-16
Advent 1018 (PR Advent 1) – “Secure in the Sure Word of God”- Jeremiah 33:14-16
Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen. The text for our sermon meditation is taken from the book of the Prophet Jeremiah, the 33rd Chapter:
14“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Judah and the house of Judah. 15In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
16In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’”
So far the reading.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The children of Judah were facing momentous times. Two hundred odd years prior to Jeremiah’s words here read, the ten tribes of the northern kingdom were carried off into captivity and deportation by the Assyrians. Those tribes had abandoned their God for the gods of the surrounding nations.
God granted these intervening years for the southern tribe of Judah to continue as a nation. Yet, they too had turned from the true God and followed the same path as their northern brothers. Now Jeremiah brings warning of impending captivity for Judah. They are one year away from God sending the Babylonian Kingdom as the sword of His judgment. They are facing uncertainty, slavery and oppression in a land far from the land promised to the descendants of Abraham.
In preparing His people for this time of trial and trouble, the Lord speaks through Jeremiah to give a word of encouragement and hope. Such encouragement and hope is needed when lives are shaken to their core.
Jeremiah’s words begin with a call to lift up our eyes from the events of life which we face. There is much encouragement packed in to these words. “Behold, the days are coming declares the Lord ….” The days are coming, what days are coming? They are dark days. Jeremiah is familiar with dark days.
Jeremiah, the prophet of God, was called to speak to a rebellious nation. The children of Judah refused to hear and even resented and persecuted Jeremiah because he refused to tell their king what he wanted to hear. Jeremiah spoke only the word of God. Jeremiah’s life was threatened for being faithful to the Lord in the face of opposition. His life was shaken at times and vented his frustration to the Lord.
“O Lord you deceived me and I was deceived … I have become the laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me. For whenever I speak, I cry out “Violence and destruction!” For the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more his name,” there is in my heart as it were a fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in.”
While Jeremiah’s life is shaken by his enemies in Judah, the enemies of Judah will bring dark days on the people of God. Jeremiah consistently and faithfully proclaims this message the God’s people would repent. But Nebuchadnezzar came to conquer Jerusalem and raze, destroy the Temple of God build by King Solomon so many years before. There is a certainty of destruction which Jeremiah proclaims in his words of warning. Jerusalem will be shaken and all who live within its walls.
What walls of security do you build in your life? We only just completed mid-term elections for our nation’s Senate, Congress and other government leaders for the next few years. How many people are secure in the choices we made as a nation? Whom we elect sets the course we will travel and the relative prosperity or poverty we will encounter on that journey. There is talk of fiscal cliffs, congressional grid-lock, bi-partisan stubbornness and a host of other issues to address. If we as a nation think we have solved poverty issues and the class struggle with the touch of a finger on the screen of a voting machine we are misled. More and more politicians are being shown they have not the needs of their constituents in mind but their own selfish needs.
It seems to be the norm that those elected to office have to face an inquisition after elections. Charges of collusion, foreign influence and other charges of impropriety arise and face investigation. Special counsel sets out to prove or disprove the charges. Enormous amounts of money are spent and many times there is nothing to show. At other times some charges are substantiated and people suffer the consequences of their actions.
What does God’s special counsel see in your life? What collusion would be supported by the Holy Spirit’s investigation? To think we are without guilt before God is a denial of the truth. We earlier spoke the words “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Yet, like polished politicians we tend to deflect responsibility, minimize error and sins, and look to see who can be accused of greater wrong than are we.
As little as Judah could avoid the effects of their sinfulness so we also are unable to avoid the effects of our sinfulness. Luke reminds us of the nature of our sinfulness and the struggle we have with the world. In Luke gospel account, Jesus mentions dissipation, drunkenness and the cares of this life as being the only thing to live for. He calls them weights that affect the heart. We may think of them as the temptations that will destroy faith and hope in the grace of God.
Jeremiah grabs our attention back from the abyss and the edge of the cliff. “The days are coming declares the Lord when I will fulfill the promise I made with the house of Judah. In those days I will cause a righteous branch to spring up for David, he will execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: the Lord is our righteousness.”
It is certain that we are to experience these difficulties in life. It is even more certain for us that the Lord provides a means for us to remain confident and at peace when these things come to our doorstep. We seek righteousness and right judgment on earth but cannot find it. For such things there must be divine intervention. We can legislate anything we want to legislate. But we cannot legislate true righteousness and right judgment. Therefore God sends us the One who alone is able to bring us what we seek.
We know who this righteous branch is, it is Jesus Christ. He is the promised son of David who would reign on David’s eternal throne and execute divine righteousness and judgment. Consider what security Jesus gave to those who received his healing touch, heard his divine teaching, and ate from his gracious hands. Jesus executed righteousness through his teaching proclaiming fulfillment of God’s eternal covenant to redeem the nations from Satan, sin and death. Jesus executed righteousness in his atoning crucifixion and death.
Moreover, Jesus continues to execute righteousness and judgment through water, bread and wine. In the water of Holy Baptism Jesus reaches out to sinners and washes them of all unrighteousness. Jesus removes the guilt and condemnation earned because of sins. He replaces guilt with a settled conscience at peace with God. In bread and wine we sit in full communion with the Son of David long ago promised by God. Sitting at this divine feast of salvation we eat and drink the very body and blood of the New Testament for eternal life and salvation.
In this divine feast we taste the righteousness for which we hunger and thirst. We long to be freed from the terrors and trials and uncertainties of this world. Here in Christ’s body and blood received in bread and wine we taste the freedom from guilt and the release from the bondage and accusation of our sin. It is the beatitudes of Jesus Christ being fulfilled before our eyes. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled. They shall be satisfied. They shall be fully comforted here in time and hereafter in eternity.
The Children of Judah were never left without hope, even when they were led to captivity in Babylon. God never abandons His people but walks always with them. In their darkest hour the Children of Judah were never without the light of God’s grace. He promised deliverance after a period of 70 years. He fulfilled that promise and restored Jerusalem, the city that bore his name, and its temple and brought His people back home.
You, the children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, have this same promise and presence of God. Our captivity is in the Babylon of the world, which lives in constant rebellion against the Word and will of God. States are enacting laws which conflict with God’s desire for life, marriage and addressing the spiritual needs of all people. Yet while our nation abandons the God who blesses it, God will never abandon His people who continue faithful. Jeremiah lived among the rebellious people of his time and was promised peace restored and Jerusalem resting securely.
Jeremiah rejoiced to have this assurance of God peace and restoration. He looked forward in faith secure in the promise and covenant of God. So too we can rejoice in God’s peace and restoration in Jesus Christ, the New and eternal Covenant of God. In this Jesus we have God’s sure and certain promise of grace and the sure and certain hope of renewal on the Day of Jesus Return. God promises His divine protection and presence throughout our lives and will bring us to the Kingdom yet to come.
God confirm in your heart His promise and strengthen your faith in His Son Jesus Christ until He comes again.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.