The Calamity of Judgment

Bible Book: Jeremiah  8 : 1-12
Subject: God and Country; Judgment, National; Call of God
Series: God's Call To A Collapsing Country

As I shared in my first two messages in this series, the nation of Israel had enjoyed God's blessings in an unprecedented way. God had personally chosen them to be His people from among all the peoples of the earth. According to the Scriptures, this was not due to any special attractiveness or merit on their part. God, in His infinite wisdom, chose this insignificant people as the vehicle through whom He would show His love, mercy and grace, and fulfill His eternal purposes. Deuteronomy 7: 6 and 7 says of Israel, "...The Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people."

Yet in spite of the fact that God chose, cared for, and cherished Israel, they betrayed Him over and over again, by turning to false gods. God Himself referred to the children of Israel as a "stiffnecked people" (Deut.9: 13b). That simply meant that they were rebellious and stubborn. The accuracy of God's evaluation of Israel has been verified numerous times throughout their history. However, in spite of Israel's failures and foibles, God remained faithful.

Please note with me the THE CALAMITY OF GOD'S JUDGMENT upon an unrepentant people.

I. God's Judgment Was Required.

A. Judgment was to be Expected

The Lord indicates that, due to Israel's refusal to repent, judgment could be expected.

Jeremiah 7:28, "But thou shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the Lord their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth."

Jeremiah 9:7-8, "Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, I will melt them, and try them; for how shall I do ("what could be more fitting or proper") for the daughter of my people? Their tongue is as an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit: one speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait."

God never rushes to judgment. Ps.103: 8 says, "The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy." Likewise, II Pet.3: 9 says that God " longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." God had patiently tried to correct His people, but they rebelliously refused correction (Jeremiah 7: 28).

God's patience having worn thin, He proclaims in Jeremiah 9: 7 that judgment will now commence. The NIV translates this verse, "See, I will refine and test them, for what else can I do because of the sin of my people?" (Frank E. Gaebelein, General Editor, The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, pg. 440). When correction fails, calamity follows. Count on it.

B. Judgment was to be Extensive

God then explains that His judgment upon His people would be extensive.

Jeremiah 9:9-11, "Shall I not visit them for these things? saith the Lord: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? For the mountains will I take up a weeping and wailing, and for the habitations of the wilderness a lamentation, because they are burned up, so that none can pass through them; neither can men hear the voice of the cattle; both the fowl of the heavens and the beast are fled; they are gone. And I will make Jerusalem heaps, and a den of dragons (jackals); and I will make the cities of Judah desolate, without an inhabitant."

II. God's Judgment Was For A Reason.

Jeremiah 9:12-14, "Who is the wise man, that may understand this? and who is he to whom the mouth of the Lord hath spoken, that he may declare it, for what the land perisheth and is burned up like a wilderness, that none passeth through? And the Lord saith, Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein; But have walked after the imagination of their own heart, and after Baalim, which their fathers taught them:"

God's general indictment against His people was simply that they had turned away from His Word ("my law") in disobedience, and "instead, they...followed the stubbornness of their hearts..." (Ibid, pg. 442).

When one examines the following facts from Salt & Light, a newsletter of the Mississippi Baptist Christian Action Commission, it becomes obvious that America is living according to her own stubborn will: Profanity used during prime-time television has increased dramatically from 1989 to 1999. In terms of the number of incidents per hour, in 1999 there were three times more sexual references than in 1989. Foul language occurred 5.5 times more often. Genitalia were mentioned seven times more frequently and homosexuality 24 times more often than 10 years ago. (Compiled by Rita Wood, Salt & Light: September/October 2000, Vol.13, No.5).

Teens in America have a serious alcohol problem. Pacific Institute, a non-profit health research center, discovered that adolescent deaths due to underage drinking outnumbered deaths from illicit drug use 6 to 1. These disturbing stats are not commonly recognized as a major public health hazard although a study has estimated that the overall costs to society of teenage drinking are $58 billion dollars. (Ibid.)

Check out these stats on the A.I.D.S. epidemic: We read that 5.6 million new cases in 1999; 2.6 million deaths in 1999; 16 million have died since 1981; 33.6 million currently have AIDS. (Ibid.)

Teen gambling is at epidemic proportions in our nation. Between 76 percent and 91 percent of all teens will have gambled by the time they are seniors in high school, according to a study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics on Pediatrics electronic pages, researchers from Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston...Of nearly 17,000 8th-12th grade students, 53 percent reported gambling in the last 12 months and 7 percent reported that gambling caused problems with their families and friends." (Ibid.)

According to a survey conducted by the University of Chicago: Only 56 percent of adults were married in 1998. Because of higher divorce rates and more single-parent homes, it is estimated that just a little over half of America's children will live in two-parent homes. Compare this to the 75 percent of adults who were married in 1972, back when three-fourths of America's children were part of a traditional two-parent household. (Ibid.)

Earlier I mentioned teen drinking, but are you aware that, "...the average amount of beer consumed per person per year in the U.S. is 22 gallons or 235 bottles," according to USA TODAY for July 12, 2000 (Ibid).

III. God's Judgment Was For Results

Jeremiah 9:15-16, "Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink. I will scatter them also among the heathen, whom neither they nor their fathers have known: and I will send a sword after them, till I have consumed them."

The devastating judgment was to bring about change - to result in a people who would listen to the Lord instead of destroying themselves and the generation coming behind them.

What kind of results was God expecting?

A. A Change in Confidence

They Needed To Put Away Fleshly Confidence

Jeremiah 9:23, "Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:"

B. A Change of Faith in God's Character And Compassion.

Jeremiah 9:24, "But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord."

Jeremiah 10:10, "But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation."