Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Church who did not obey God's voice?

How will we be remembered? What would God say about us, his church? As Jeremiah preached to God's people these were some of his words...
For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this command I gave them: 'Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.' ...you shall say to them, 'This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the LORD their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips.
Jeremiah 7:21-28:
The simplest thing seems the hardest. God asked one thing of his people. Obedience. Sacrifices were part of the package but only necessary because they wouldn't obey - a gracious advance provision. Five hundred years after they'd been rescued the lamenting prophet has to label this people as 'the nation that did not obey the voice of the LORD their God'.

We see this on the ground in 2 Chronicles 35-36. Josiah's ministry has discovered the lost books of God and read them to the people yet he dies because he wont obey God. His sons equally fail to obey God. They have the voice of God through Neco and Nebuchadnezzar and Jeremiah yet they cover their ears and refuse to hear.

The story of God is all about the voice of God. The first recorded event in all history is God speaking and obedience happening. Let there be light. And there was. It's no coincidence. Light happened because God spoke. And if God's people had stuck to obeying everything would have remained 'very good'. Sadly man is (falsely) creative and imagines to know better.

Why? Jeremiah identifies a false trust. They trusted in heritage. They said - 'We have the temple of God... We are delivered!' They presumed to have an existing relationship with God by putting their confidence in the trappings and priviledges of their life. For all the patterns and traditions they persisted in not listening to God. The decor was right but they were walking the wrong way.

When Jesus gives his disciples their final comissioning they are to teach all nations to 'obey' everything Jesus has taught. Not just to know it. But to live it. Jesus carries the full authority of God in his words, words with the universe-creating power. The impact of teaching his words should be vast, and the evil of disobeying them all the greater. God's people in Jeremiah were so wrapped up in their disobedience that they weren't fussed about it. But, how tragic it would be for the church in our day to be labelled the same way: 'The Church who did not obey God's voice'
Grace teaches 'no' to ungodliness... and 'yes' to godliness.
Grace that is manifest in the life and death of Jesus.
Grace that required the death of Jesus to rescue me from my sin.
God's grace, my teacher.
What is God saying to me about Himself and about living in His world? What must I then change?

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