An exposition of Jeremiah 33:17-26. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, November 23, 2008.
Do you remember when you were a kid how hard it was to wait for something you really wanted? I remember going on vacation and we would be driving to Arizona or Florida and I’m sure it was before we even got out of town I began to ask, “Are we almost there?” Zac used to ask, as we would be on the way home from a trip, “’most home yet?” Children can be impatient. And some of us never grow out of it! Have you ever promised someone you would do something and then they hound you about when you’re going to get it done? You keep reassuring them and they keep asking. You find yourself getting a little irritated and you want to say, “Did I say I would do it? Then I’m going to do it – now back off!” But when the shoe is on the other foot and you are the one awaiting the promise you are just as impatient. And it gets much worse if you are waiting for something that is critical to you. Have you noticed doctors and hospitals have a completely different system for telling time? They are never in a hurry and it always, “This is something we really need to take care of so I’m scheduling you for next October.” If it is critical to my well being I don’t want to wait. I want to see some action now.
The army of Babylon had surrounded Jerusalem for 3 years. Things were desperate. They were dismantling their homes in order to reinforce the walls of the city. Even the palace of the king was being ransacked in the effort. The nation has turned a deaf ear to the warnings of God through the prophet Jeremiah and now when defeat and destruction are imminent they suddenly become “Bible scholars.” “God how can you let this happen? You’ve made promises are you going to fail us now?” I would laugh if it were not so tragic. I would launch into a scathing rebuke of the citizens of Judah were it not for the fact their attitude strikes too close to home. Have you ever felt that God has failed you? Do the troubles of life ever seem to cast shadows of doubt on God’s promises? Do you ever struggle with whether or not God is doing all He said He would do? If you say, “No” we need to talk because you are living in denial! When times are difficult and you are hard-pressed on every side you are going to falter. It is part of the “struggle of faith.” It comes with living in a fallen world and the fact that you are in the process of being made holy. God speaks to the prophet Jeremiah about His promise and His faithfulness. As we listen in we learn some valuable truths related to living by faith in less than favorable circumstances. Our text is found in Jeremiah chapter 33 beginning with verse 17.
Text: Jeremiah 33:17-26
Make sure you set this in context. Jeremiah had said this day was coming.
He told them Babylon would take the city. He also said that the king would be taken in exile and would die in Babylon. You are watching all of this come into reality. What’s going to happen to the kingdom once the king is gone? That was a very real worry.
Sometimes we worry about things not worth worrying about – but that is not the case here. This was a justifiable worry. You see God made a promise to David. Now the word on the street was that God had failed. David’s dynasty was coming to an end. So God called Jeremiah in for a little conference. And from this encounter we discover that…
Thesis: God responds to the troubled, questioning heart with a firm yet reaffirming reminder of His grace and faithfulness.
I want to just point out three things quickly.
I. God’s promise questioned. (33:23-26)
God says to His prophet – “Have you heard what the people are saying?” Do you understand what their questioning implies? They are saying that I have rejected the two clans I have chosen. The word “rejected” = cast off, scorned or treated with contempt. How could they accuse God of that? God says they have “despised” my people. The word means = to provoke or blaspheme (to speak evil of).
Are they thinking clearly? First you have to look at what God promised – that the Lord may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’ 1 King 2:4
Do you remember what God had said earlier in Jeremiah 22:29-30:
O land, land, land,
hear the word of the LORD!
Thus says the LORD:
Write this man down as childless,
a man who shall not succeed in his days,
for none of his offspring shall succeed
in sitting on the throne of David
and ruling again in Judah.
Our problem is that we have a selective memory. We remember promises while forgetting obligations. We cling to privileges while ignoring responsibility. God is not obligated to do anything for them. They have repeatedly and flagrantly violated the covenant. Yet God is gracious even with these harden rebels. Keep in mind this is before there is any repentance!
There are times when we fail to recognize God’s grace towards us. Times when we feel slighted, overlooked or wronged. But the truth is we have it far better than we deserve and it is all by the grace of God.
Let’s back up and look at God’s response to this questioning attitude.
II. God’s promise restated. (33:17-18)
Context! He is still discussing “the branch” (33:14-16). Note – “a man” to sit on the throne…a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings…” The Branch will fulfill God’s promise to David of an eternal kingdom. Messiah’s coming will also mean the covenant with Levi will be kept. The Lord Jesus serves as both priest and king. He is the son of David; He is a priest in the order of Melchizedek.
But do you sometimes wonder? Do you sometimes struggle with whether or not God has failed you? Are there times when the cares and sorrows of life are overwhelming? Times when your grief clouds your vision and faith is stretched to its limits? He is faithful to His word. Just how faithful is He? Look at this next section.
III. God’s promise assured. (33:19-22)
How certain is God’s promise? About as certain as the sun coming up in the morning! It He isn’t faithful – it won’t matter the world will come to an end. It you (sinful, fallen, rebellious man) can stop the sun from shining then I guess I could break my word. Translation – it isn’t going to happen.
Did the message take with Jeremiah? Well listen to his testimony from Lamentations 3:22-23:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
The next time your heart is burdened or your faith is stretched beyond measure tune your ear to His voice and hear His firm yet reaffirming reminder of His grace and faithfulness.