When Obedience Seems Foolish

JeremiahAn exposition of Jeremiah 32:1-27. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, October 19, 2008.

It was not the first time he’d been put into an awkward situation. In fact you might think he’d be use to it by now. But the truth is one never gets “use” to it. After awhile people begin to wonder if there is something seriously wrong with you. Yes he felt really silly making that long trip the Euphrates to bury his new belt. But what was worse was making the same trip months later to dig it up! And he was still catching grief over the garbage dump sermon. That’s the one where he gathered the city leaders and took them on a field trip. They went by the potter’s shop so he could buy a nice decorative bottle. Then they went down to the local dump and he started preaching about the judgment of God. In the middle of the sermon he smashed his new bottle and said, “that’s what God is about to do to this nation.” And do you remember when he made that yoke and wore it around town? Now when a guy walks around town wearing farm implements, people tend to talk. Just when you think it can’t get any weirder – Jeremiah is in jail and his long-lost cousin shows up with a “deal of a lifetime.” Our text this evening is found in Jeremiah chapter 32.

Text: Jeremiah 32:1-27
Do you ever find obedience to be difficult? Do you ever find yourself wondering why God wants you to do something that causes you to stand out from the crowd? Do you ever find yourself just wanting to “fit in” and be part of the gang rather than the odd man out? You can be honest. It is just us. We’re family. The path of discipleship is often narrow and difficult. We are regularly called outside of our comfort zone. We are called to do things that seem foolish to others and, to be honest, foolish to us. How do you obey when obedience seems unreasonable? How do you remain faithful when your faithfulness seems counter productive? As we walk through our text together we are going to find that…

Thesis: Obedience is ultimately a simple matter of trust.
Granted circumstances are often complex. There may be multiple issues involved. There may be a myriad of perspectives that give insight or nuance our decisions but at the end of the day it comes down to trust. Do we trust God or not? Are we willing to submit our judgment to His?

Let me point out two things as we work our way through this text.

  1. Believers, by the grace of God, find the courage to obey even if the command appears to be utterly foolish and wasteful. (32:1-15)
    Now think for a minute. Was this a time for buying real estate? Was this a buyer’s market? Was this a wise investment for Jeremiah? He is in jail by order of the king. He could be executed any day should the king command it. It is a time of war. The enemy occupies the property in question! Can you imagine going to the bank to get a loan under those conditions? Further, Jeremiah knows what is going to happen and knows that the exile will last 70 years. He’ll never live to see the land or enjoy it. Every thing says, “Don’t do this.”
    —Jeremiah may “buy the farm” before he can buy the farm!
    —He is purchasing land that is now occupied by the enemy.
    —Property values are about to plummet.
    There was only one reason to purchase the property – God told him to do it. And that was enough of a reason for the prophet. He took God’s judgment over his own. The people of God regularly do things the world thinks are foolish.
    —Christians marry in spite of divorce rates.
    —Christians raise families while the world considers children a nuisance.
    — Christians leave home and family to sever as missionaries in distant lands. And they do it for one reason – because God commands it.
    At the first opportunity Jeremiah obeyed the call of God. But after the decision he began to wonder. He was haunted by the question of whether or not he had done the right thing. Have you ever been there? Have you ever struggled? Ever doubted? Ever been confused? Do you lie about other things too? That brings us to the second thing I want you to note from this text.
  2. Believers, when overwhelmed by doubt and bewilderment brought on by their obedience find peace at the feet of their Sovereign. (32:16-27)
    What did Jeremiah do with his doubt? How did he respond to his questioning heart? He fled to God in prayer – 32:16. Phillip Ryken gives a helpful outline dealing with Jeremiah’s prayer. He points out four parts to Jeremiah’s prayer.
    —First, Jeremiah’s prayer began with a groan – “Ah, Lord God…”
    Whenever Jeremiah was in crisis his soul cried out to God. This is an example of Romans 8:26-27 – Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
    —Second, Jeremiah praises God for mighty acts. 32:17-19 He praises God as the creator (17-19) This places God in his rightful place as sovereign of the universe. The problem with naturalism/evolution it says man is an accident and God is the creation of man’s feeble imagination. Then he praises God as the redeemer (20-22)
    —Third, Jeremiah worships God for his glorious attributes.
    God is omnipotent – 32:17
    He is the God of covenant love – 32:18
    He is the God of justice – 32:18
    God is omniscient – 32:19
    —Finally, Jeremiah presents his problem. 32:25
    Did you notice this is not really a request? It is not a question. It is not always easy to follow the Lord. The path of discipleship is narrow, rocky and steep. It is not for the faint of heart. But it is well worth the climb. In the end it comes down to one simple thing. It is a matter of trust.
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