Jeremiah 40-44, Psalm 24
The word sincere comes from the two words, sin (without) and cere (wax). It comes from a word used in the world of sculpture. When the sculptor accidentally knocked off a nose or an ear, they would apply wax to the severed structure and sell it off as whole. Only for the statue to be placed in the buyers yard and after a few hot sunny days, the wax would melt and the part held on by the wax would fall off. When the remnant of Judah approached the prophet, Jeremiah, with a request to approach God for them as to where they should dwell, there request was insincere (once tested it would be shown to be false). In Jer 42:6, after their request, they tell Jeremiah, “Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we send you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.”
How often do we pray to God in insincerity, rather than wanting to truly hear from God, we want God to rubber stamp our thoughts and our plans. Once the word of God came through Jeremiah that they were to remain, God knew that their intent was to disobey. God’s response to this insincerity is in Jer. 42:19-22. In verse 20, he says, “For you were hypocrites in your hearts when you sent me to the Lord your God, saying, ‘Pray for us to the Lord our God, and according to all that the Lord your God says, so declare to us and we will do it.” The response was swift by the leaders of the remnant, in Jer 43:2, they claimed that Jeremiah spoke falsely, and in verse 4 they chose to not obey and instead take their chances in Egypt. In chapter 44, the people brazenly burn incense to the queen of heaven (Asherah) and give their offerings to her, for they claimed that she provided better than God. So often, when things go badly in our lives, we cry out, we blame God and ask Him why He is doing this or that to us. God sets the record straight in Jer. 44:23, “Because you have burned incense and because you have sinned against the Lord, and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord or walked in His law, in His statutes or in His testimonies, therefore this calamity has happened to you, as at this day.”
In Matthew 21:28-32, Jesus gives the Parable of the two sons. In the parable one son initially rejects the Father’s command, but later reverses and follows Him, the other falsely tells the Father that he would obey, but chooses not to. The second one answered insincerely. In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus concludes His Sermon on the Mount by saying in verse 26-27, “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was it’s fall.” Along this same line James in his letter, in 1:22, says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” We can look at the story of the remnant in Judah and shake our heads at their insincerity. But we must take a look at our own lives an make sure that we don’t approach God in a similar fashion. Egypt is always a picture of the world. How often do we approach God in His Word and in prayer, and pledge our obedience to Him, only to be pulled away by the world and act in disobedience. God desires good for us and He never stops loving us. In fact, there is nothing that we can do which could make Him love us any more than He already does. But like the remnant in today’s readings, often we choose to approach Him and ignore His instruction, to our own peril. Clarity comes from approaching Him in His Word, then being doers of His Word.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: