Jeremiah 20:7-13 – A Dread Warrior

Listen here.

Jeremiah 20:7–13

7   O Lord, you have deceived me,
and I was deceived;

you are stronger than I,
and you have prevailed.

I have become a laughingstock all the day;
everyone mocks me.

8   For whenever I speak, I cry out,
I shout, “Violence and destruction!”

For the word of the Lord has become for me
a reproach and derision all day long.

9   If I say, “I will not mention him,
or speak any more in his name,”

there is in my heart as it were a burning fire
shut up in my bones,

and I am weary with holding it in,
and I cannot.

10 For I hear many whispering.
Terror is on every side!

“Denounce him! Let us denounce him!”
say all my close friends,
watching for my fall.

“Perhaps he will be deceived;
then we can overcome him
and take our revenge on him.”

11 But the Lord is with me as a dread warrior;
therefore my persecutors will stumble;
they will not overcome me.

They will be greatly shamed,
for they will not succeed.

Their eternal dishonor
will never be forgotten.

12 O Lord of hosts, who tests the righteous,
who sees the heart and the mind,

let me see your vengeance upon them,
for to you have I committed my cause.

13 Sing to the Lord;
praise the Lord!

For he has delivered the life of the needy
from the hand of evildoers.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

In case you didn’t notice, Jeremiah isn’t too happy with the God who called him to be a prophet. And he’s plenty honest about it.

Jeremiah feels like Yahweh has deceived and tricked him. Jeremiah seems to be in a submission hold, and God isn’t letting him tap out. He is a laughingstock, and everyone is mocking him. God’s Word has become for him a source of anguish because Jeremiah continually has to preach the Law and announce the judgment and destruction that is coming upon God’s people.

If you want to know what life is like for a preacher, these verses let you inside. Jeremiah is ready to hang it up. He wants to be done preaching God’s Word. But if Jeremiah doesn’t preach, God’s Word becomes a burning fire in his heart and bones. He wants to quit, but he can’t. Here, Jeremiah unloads his frustration and despair.

Why? Why is Jeremiah fed up with being God’s prophet? Well, God called Jeremiah at a time when people were hardened against God’s Word, so God didn’t give Jeremiah a happy sermon to preach. The context of this text gives us a glimpse of this.

Back in Jeremiah 19:14-15, God sent Jeremiah to the courtyard of the Temple to preach, “Thus says Yahweh of hosts, the God of Israel, behold, I am bringing upon this city and upon all the towns all the disaster that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their neck, refusing to hear My words.”

Did the people listen and repent? Nope. They didn’t like the sermon, so they just figured they’d get rid of the preacher. Pashhur, the priest, heard Jeremiah’s sermon and beat him. He put Jeremiah in stocks in the Temple.

The next morning, Pashhur came and let Jeremiah out of the stocks, but Jeremiah didn’t retract his sermon. He doubled-down. He preached right to Pashhur, “God doesn’t call you ‘Pashhur’ (which means ‘freedom’), but ‘Terror on Every Side.’ You will be a terror to yourself and to all your friends. You will watch as they are killed. You will see the city be destroyed and plundered. You and your friends will go captive into Babylon, and there you will die” (Jer. 20:1-6).

Jeremiah started with a bold sermon, and the persecution only made him more sassy – at least in public. But the first four verses of this text show how Jeremiah was on the inside. He wants out of the preaching business.

To my great shame, I must admit that I can sympathize with Jeremiah here as he cries out to God. There are times when, like Jeremiah, I say, “I am not going to mention God or speak in His name anymore,” because I get tired of people not listening. Forgive me.

And even though you (most of you, anyway) aren’t preachers, maybe you can empathize with Jeremiah too.

How often do you get mocked, ridiculed, and become a laughingstock to those around you for standing on the truths of God’s Word? It wears you out. How often are you timid to take a stand against the lies of the devil that have become so prominent in our culture and society? Too often, it is much easier to remain silent than to be called racist, bigoted, old-fashioned, and close-minded.

But, too often, because fear rejection, we end up fearing those who can kill the body more than the God who can destroy both the soul and body in hell (Mt. 10:28).

Repent. All of us need to repent.

In our Gospel lesson (Mt. 10:5a, 24-33), Jesus told us to expect persecution. The world called Jesus Beelezebul, the prince of demons, you can expect the same.

But always remember – in spite of whatever rebukes, chastisements, and rejection you may face – God is with you as a dread warrior. He has delivered your soul from death and your feet from falling.

Jesus, the dread warrior, has already faced your most dreaded foe. On the cross, Jesus went to battle with all the forces of evil. He defeated sin, death, and the devil. On that cross, Jesus was dreadful to look at. He was one from whom men hide their faces (Is. 53:3). Yet, Jesus has carried your griefs and sorrows. Upon Jesus, God laid all your iniquity and sin.

Because of Jesus’ crucifixion, you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God (Ro. 6:22).

Go boldly from here, ready to face whatever the devil and the world may throw at you. You have Jesus, the dread warrior, at your side. In God you trust. What can man do to you? Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Advertisements

Genesis 1:1 – 2:4 – In the Beginning, Trinity

Listen here.

Genesis 1:1-2:4

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

4   These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

If you held a grasshopper in your fist, what could the grasshopper know about you and your nature? Maybe two things. First the grasshopper would realize that you are big and powerful enough to hold him. And, second, the grasshopper would know that you are worth fearing because you could crush him in an instant.

The grasshopper would know more about itself as well – how small, weak, and helpless it is. And it might try to do different things to keep from being crushed – like wriggling around to creep you out so you drop it.

The same is true of us and knowing God. Left to our sinful selves, all we can know about God is that He is bigger and more powerful than us, and that He should be feared because He can destroy us. And you see people do all sorts of silly things they think will keep God from crushing them.

The ancient Greeks would do all sorts of things to appease the gods they thought were in control of the various parts of the universe. The Muslims do everything in submission to Allah to show their obedience. Today, atheists try wriggle their way out of God’s hand by lying to themselves that they aren’t in His palm. And, sadly, even us Christians try to do things that we think will make God more pleased with us. But all of that is based only on false perceptions of who God really is.

So, go back to thinking about a grasshopper in your hand. How could that grasshopper know more about you and your nature? For that to happen, you would have to become a grasshopper and talk to it in grasshopper terms and interact with it as a grasshopper.

This is what God has done for us in Jesus. Jesus, the eternal Son of God, came down in our likeness and our nature. If you want to know what God is like, the answer is found only in Jesus of Nazareth.

Apart from Jesus, all we can know about God is that He is big and powerful, but once Jesus enters the equation, we see that God truly is merciful and gracious just as He says He is. With Jesus in the picture, everything that God does becomes the story of how God loves us, creates and cares for us, redeems us, and sanctifies us.

As you heard the account of creation, I hope you had the opening verses of John’s Gospel running in the background of your mind informing what you were hearing. If not, here you go:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, He has made Him known” (Jn. 1:1-3, 14, 16-18).

So, sinners, hear of God and how He is. Though you are a sinner, deserving nothing good and having nothing loveable about you, God died so that your sin could be set aside, answered for, and forgiven.

Because of this, you no longer need to be afraid of the God who, in the beginning created you. He is your Father because of Christ’s atonement on the cross.

Now, when you look at the Scriptures and see all of God’s actions, look at them through the lens of what Jesus has done for you on the cross. See how in the beginning, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was there creating all things good. See how even now, God is sustaining all creation even though we have sinned against Him.

See how God moved the course of history so that at the fullness of time He sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law to redeem us who were under the Law (Gal. 4:4).

See how God the Holy Spirit uses the Scriptures to convict you concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment (Jn. 16:8).

When you are convicted of sin don’t flee from God. Flee to God because He has died for you. Be convicted of your righteousness recognizing that your righteousness does not come from what you have done, but what God has done for you in Christ. Be convicted of judgment knowing that when you appear before God with hands that are empty of good works, God sees all the works of Christ and His blood which covers you.

And know, that according to Jesus’ command, you have been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Mt. 28:19). God has placed His name on you and will not ever forsake you.

The infinite, unfathomable, and incomprehensible God, in His boundless mercy, has created you. Though you sinned against Him, He has come and redeemed you. And He is pleased to lead and guide you through His Word.

Today, rejoice and sing, “Glory be to God the Father. Glory be to God the Son. Glory be to God the Holy Spirit. Glory be to the One, true God, now and forever because He has shown mercy to us.” Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Acts 2:1-21 – Fireworks

Due to technical difficulties, no audio available.

Acts 2:1-21

1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;

18 even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;

20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.

21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’”

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

It’s June 4, 2017. Here you are at church, and everything is much the same as it was last week. Some Scripture readings, confession of sins, absolution, little prayers here and there. Just another normal, predictable Sunday morning at Christ the King.

Well not, entirely ‘normal.’ Today is Pentecost. So, you hear about the giving of the Holy Spirit, and it is impressive, full of fireworks. A mighty rushing wind. People are filled with the Holy Spirit. Tongues of fire rest on those gathered together. Those 120 believers go out and preach the Gospel in the various languages of the world. Then, after this text, 3,000 new believers are added to the number of Jesus’ disciples.

All of this certainly is impressive, and we look at our little congregation gathered in the flatlands of northern Minnesota and wonder, “Where are all those signs today? Why aren’t we seeing the fireworks? Why aren’t thousands being added to our numbers?”

Remember when Elijah hid from Queen Jezebel after defeating the priests of Baal? Elijah fled to Mount Horeb and sat in a cave. A strong wind comes that tears the mountains and breaks the rocks, but the Lord was not in the wind. Then, there is an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. Then, there is a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. Finally there is a low whisper, and that is where the Lord is. From that thin sound, God speaks to Elijah (1 Kgs. 19:9-13).

The day of Pentecost is similar. All the fireworks of Pentecost are impressive, but those outward things confuse the people. Some even mock those who were preaching saying that they are crazy drunkards.

But it is when Peter preaches that things happen. Peter, who had been the Jesus-denying coward, is now preaching boldly. He tells the people how the prophecy from Joel – the signs in the sky and on the earth – is all fulfilled in Jesus. And Peter hammers the Law. This Jesus, the Son of God in the flesh, you crucified, but God has raised Him from the dead (Act 2:36).

And the people who had been mocking and ridiculing the disciples are cut to the heart and will ask when Peter’s sermon is done, “What shall we do?”

And Peter says, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself” (Act. 2:38-39).

The fireworks of Pentecost are impressive, but Pentecost isn’t impressive because of them. Earthquakes, winds, and fires happen even when the Holy Spirit isn’t there.

What really makes Pentecost impressive is what cannot happen without the Holy Spirit working through the Word proclaimed – repentance and faith.

Only by the Holy Spirit can you be called by the Gospel. Only the Holy Spirit can enlighten the darkness of your hearts through His gifts of Word and Sacrament. Only by the Holy Spirit working through these means are you kept in the true faith day after day.

It doesn’t matter if the Holy Spirit adds 3,000 people to the number of Christians in one day or if people are added one by one. The Spirit creating faith is always a miracle more impressive than strong, rushing wind or tongues of fire.

Even if the Word and Sacraments seem boring, they are the Gospel and the power of God unto salvation. Wherever believers are gathered together to receive these gifts and to confess their faith in Christ, there the Holy Spirit is working because no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” apart from the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3).

The fireworks don’t prove that the Holy Spirit is at work. So what sign should look for if we want to gauge if the Holy Spirit is at work? Listen to Jesus, “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about Me” (Jn. 15:26).

Whenever you hear about Jesus’ finished work for you, when you hear about Christ crucified, risen, and ascended for you, there the Holy Spirit is working to bring you to repentance and faith. May God grant this to us and kindle in our hearts the fire of His love. Amen.[1]

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

[1] I am thankful for a sermon by Rev. Timothy Winterstein as inspiration for portions of this sermon.