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Jeremiah's Temple Sermon Jer 7:1-8:22
Written by John Tsang   
Monday, 26 January 2015 14:32

Question, what does Jeremiah 7 have to do withJesus’ Cleansing of the Temple?  In Matt 21, Mark 11, and Luke 19, we have the story of the Cleansing of the Temple and in all three accounts, Jesus used the phrase, ‘den of robbers’ from Jer 7:11.  It would appear that Jesus was very familiar with Jeremiah’s Temple Sermon and He was essentially saying that the religious devotion and practice of His day have reached a level similar to the fake religious practice of those living in Jeremiah’s day.  A ‘den of robbers’ is a safe haven or a place to retreat, where one can go after doing all kinds of unethical things like robbing and stealing from others.  It reminds me of the game of tag that I played as a child; there was a designated spot where players could run to and you were deemed safe, you cannot be caught there.  The people thought that the temple was that safe haven.

 

Before we become too critical of those described in Jeremiah, we need to realize that if it can happen in Jeremiah’s day and Jesus day (and we can add to it other historical moments like the time of the Reformation), then it can and probably does happen today.   This is one area that we need to pause and take stock of ourselves.

 

I find it very important that Jeremiah (as with other OT Prophets like Micah) drew a connection between the personal worship life and the public ethical life.  Jeremiah charged the people of oppressing the foreigner, the widow, and the weak, treating others unjustly, and shedding innocent blood, and spiritual idolatry (7:5-6).  I’m reminded that a personal spiritual life goes hand in hand with an ethical life of justice and concern for the vulnerable of our society (James 1:27).

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 January 2015 17:08
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When Enough is Enough Jer 5:1-6:30
Written by John Tsang   
Monday, 19 January 2015 15:59

Having contemplated on the love of God in the previous section, we now need to ask the difficult question, “How did God’s people end up this way?” How did evil and sin become so widespread that God could not even find one who sought after the truth (5:1)?  Jeremiah used terms that seemed to suggest that the poor (common person 5:4) and the leaders (5:5) had some sort of agreement (accord) in which authority was rejected and accountability shirked, they passed the blame onto the other.  Judah was given ample opportunities to change (5:3) but they outright refused.  So God pronounced judgment using the images of a lion, wolf, and leopard (5:6).  If the people were going to act like unbridled animals (5:8), and less and less like humans made in the image of God, then God would let them face the savageness of animals.  The apostle Paul summed it up in a similar way in Romans 1:21-25, “they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.  Therefore, God gave them over to the sinful desire of their hearts …”

 

So with a painstaking heart, God will remove His hand of protection and they will face the consequences of their actions.  They will need to learn the hard way, through pain, suffering, exile, dislocation, loss of identity, and loss of their nation.  But once again, God offered them good news and hope, for they will not be completely destroyed (5:18), there will be a new covenant community.  But in order to build and plant this new covenant community, they will have to first go through the process of being uprooted, torn down, destroyed (not completely), and overthrown.

Last Updated on Saturday, 24 January 2015 07:39
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Broken Hearted God Jer 2:1-4:31
Written by John Tsang   
Monday, 12 January 2015 20:27

Where does loving God with all of our hearts begin? If it starts with our own efforts to love God ‘better’, then our religion is simply another that is based on works and performance. No, learning to love God begins with knowing and experiencing the love of the Father who first loved us.

 

The power of poets and prophets is in their use of words that paint vivid pictures resulting in emotions, passions, and affections of the heart. So in Jeremiah 2, God retells His story with Israel through the risqué metaphor of a loving husband and an unfaithful wife. The Lord asked, “What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me?” (2:5) The people forgot the goodness of God (2:6) and the spiritual leaders neglected their responsibilities to remind the people of the presence of God (2:8). The people exchanged the love they once had for Yahweh and voluntarily gave it to objects that they made with their hands. Yet God is no ordinary husband, He is no ordinary God, He invites Israel to return. All He asks is for them to acknowledge their guilt. “Return faithless people, for I am your husband (3:14), I will give you shepherds after my own heart (3:15), I will cure you of your backsliding" (3:22). This is the Old Testament version of the Prodigal Son story. Here in Jeremiah is the silhouette of the Gospel, this is grace, this is our God, the same God of the Old and New Testament.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 09:16
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