[V Spacer Running on Empty Jeremiah 2 - 4. Part One

I was amazed and dismayed recently when I saw on television the terrible devastation along the coasts of our country that have been marred by the oil spills from the Valdez tanker. Animals and birds hobbling along, crippled because of the muck. Beautiful white beach sand would never be the same. All because of one man's irresponsible compromise with the rules.

For a long time men have compromised with the rules. Not those set by any nautical bureaucracy, but those set by the creator of heaven and earth. The results are far more devastating. Human beings are crippled. Purity is blackened . The tide is apparently changing however. There is a great opportunity to move forward as a mighty army. Not an army mighty in numbers, because it is identified as a remnant. But an army mighty in power. God is intervening in the affairs of men and governments to prepare the way for Christians to make a stand against all that is evil in this nation. To take a stand and reverse the tide of immorality that has blackened the beaches of human history. I believe that God is sounding out a cry across this nation for the church to come to terms with reality of the day and heed His call at this time

There was a time in history when God's people were at a similar place. Someone said that history repeats itself. I think that it is not so much that history repeats itself, but rather that man repeats history. We never seem to learn by our mistakes. We tend to make the same ones over and over again. So it is possible that we can look at a passage of scripture which applied once to a group of people many thousand of years ago, and because of the dynamic nature of prophecy, we can apply the same principles to the church today.

We begin In Jeremiah 2:1-3 The word of the LORD came to me: [2] "Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem: " 'I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown. [3] Israel was holy to the LORD, the first fruits of his harvest; all who devoured her were held guilty, and disaster overtook them,' " declares the LORD.

We observe firstly:

I. God Remembers with Fondness Our Early Relationship

The word of the Lord comes to Jeremiah concerning His chosen people Israel and their relationship with Him. We look for a moment at:

A. The Prophecy

God instruct Jeremiah to prophesy to His people concerning their godly heritage. He uses several images of remembrance that speak of a fond endearment. There is in the first place their:

1. Youthful Enthusiasm vs. 2
God remembers Israel as a young nation being delivered from the bondage of Egypt. Those first steps of faith. You never heard a murmur from them. He can remember the excitement that followed the night that Pharaoh to let them go as they marched out into the wilderness hot for God. Ready to take on the world. The word used here for devotion is the word hesed which is the Same word used for "faithfulness" and God's love. It is power packed with commitment It describes a love that does not count the cost nor measure the distance. God remembered with fondness that courtship kind of devotion. It follows then that He would remember how that devotion grew into a covenant commitment. So He describes the second image of

2. Honeymoon Faithfulness. vs. 2

He is not saying that they were perfect. He is saying that all along the way there were landmarks of honor towards God. Just as even the most blessed marriage is not perfect. There are arguments and disagreements on the way, but there is a perfect covenant relationship which is ongoing and alters are erected to signify high points and special moments. And there is still loyalty to the marriage bed. So it was with the Israelites. Although they were angered at God on occasion and threats were made, they never defiled the marriage covenant. From the outside it was obvious that they were Gods people.

When the two spies went into Jericho, Joshua 2:8-11 "Before the spies lay down for the night, she (Rahab) went up on the roof 9] and said to them, "I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. [10] We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. 11]When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone's courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. Everyone knew that Israel was God's Bride. So God remembers with fondness this image of their honeymoon. The third image that He fondly remembers is the one of:

3. Holy Devotion. vs 3.

The true power of this simile may be found in the metaphor of Hosea 9:10

"When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert;

It was a miraculous thing. It is here in the desert of Sinai that they truly come to know God. Cut off from secondary securities and dependence upon the familiar. Entirely trusting upon God. Nothing but flight and wanderings, the encounter with God is deep and real. And so we come to the end of the first part of the prophecy. But the question is why? Why did God draw back this curtain of memory? Lets look for a while at:

B. The Purpose

Jeremiah will use each of these images to draw a stark contrast between the past and the present. It is quite possible even at this point as the people of God are reminded of those fond memories that they begin to feel more than a little uncomfortable Through this process, God will open their hearts and prepare them for what follows. That is the historical purpose, and we will see later how God is able to deal with them as a result.

But there is a present purpose. There is a point in biblical History where the wasness of God's dealing with His people in history becomes the isness of God dealing with His people today. And the parallels are striking.

As we see this image, we could very easily remove the name Israel from the table of events and insert the name America. The similarity is almost uncanny. There was a day when America could have been called a Christian nation in the true sense of the Word. The rest of the world knew of her greatness. In South Africa, which in spite of the many grave human rights atrocities was predominantly a God fearing nation, it was the dream of every boy and girl to go to America. I remember as a teenager watching the movie Pollyanna with little Haley Mills. They came to the part where she sang America the Beautiful.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness! America! America! God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness, And every gain divine!

America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea!

I cried that day and I fell in love. With Haley Mills and America. I

knew one day I would be here. I didn't know then that it would be a different America.
Americans themselves may have forgotten the words of some of our founding fathers. I quote Patrick Henry "it cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!" I quote John Quinsy James in his Independence Day speech of July 4, 1837. He ~S7i~S-fl;Ft~question, "Why is it that next to the birthday of the Savior of the world, your most joyful and most venerated festival returns on this day, the 4th July?" He answers, " Is it not that, in the chain of events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the gospel dispensation? Is it not that the declaration of independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the redeemers mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity?"

In the light of recent events in our nations capitol, I quote our first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court - and one of the three men most responsible for the Constitution: "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty - as well as the privilege and interest - of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.

Hush, Professors of American history in our universities. You don't know what you're talking about. O yes, there are moments of fond remembrance. There was the youthful love and devotion. There was a bride and groom relationship between God and His people in history. There was a time when the term Holy nation could have been ascribed to America. But times have changed.

As the black tar of the Valdez begins to recede and the beaches begin to be washed by the salt waters of the ocean, I see this happening in America. The tide begins to turn, and the question is, where do we fit into the picture.

When God has had enough, He will break the heart of His people once again. Not for our sakes, but for His name as in Ezekial 36.

One can hardly conclude the first part of this message without reading these words from Rev. 2:1-5 "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: [2] I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. [3] You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. [4] Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. [5] Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. May we be sensitive to what He reveals to us. May we begin to pray with earnestness that our hearts would be open to His healing restorative power. That we will strive to be Holy men and Holy women for God.