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King of the Nations, Lord of All (Part 2) Jeremiah 25:15-38

The kings of the earth are no match for the King of all the earth

Jeremiah 25:15-38; 1 Peter 4:17; Matthew 24:3-31; Revelation 5:13;

Apr 07, 2013 12:00 PM

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North Korea has been in the news a lot in recent days.  Kim Jong Un, the 30 year old supreme leader of that Communist nation is carrying on the tradition of his father and his grandfather by making military might the first priority of his regime.  Now North Korea’s army is the fourth largest in the world.  And with a young and inexperienced, and apparently power-hungry and narcissistic dictator at the helm who has acquired a nearly god-like status in the eyes of multitudes of his own people, this all makes for a very uncomfortable situation.

Technically, North Korea has been at war with South Korea and the US ever since active hostilities ceased in the 50s.  Much of the rest of the world has placed extremely burdensome sanctions upon North Korea in order to keep them in check.  But now, having presumably produced nuclear weapons, and with this long-standing ideology that superior military might is the ultimate goal of their society, there is no reason to think they will not eventually declare war on pretty much all the rest of us.  They have Russia and China as potential allies.  We have South Korea and Japan.  And that’s about the size of it.

"North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un released a statement to his people, saying that 'If war breaks out because of the actions of the U.S. and puppet South Korean's unpardonable behavior, they will end up with a disgraceful downfall, and our people will greet a brilliant new day of reunification.  The day has come to show off the power of Military First and our great nation to the whole world.'"

At the extreme opposite end of the political spectrum, a Christian leader in North Korea said this:

"We know that our journey will not be an easy one, but we are sure that our faith, desperate hope and passionate desire will someday bear many fruit.  No matter how difficult life is for us, we never blame or complain about our circumstances.  God has promised us in the Bible that if we seek His Kingdom first, all other things will be given to us as well.  Please pray for us."

That is a powerful reminder to us, and to anyone else who may be listening, of this one fact:

Man is not in charge of the world.

Ultimately, men do not rule the world or nations or even local communities.  Even Pilate was reminded by Jesus that he had no authority to do anything apart from God (John 19:10).  Paul reminds us that all governing authorities are of God (Romans 13).  Kim Jong Un, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Xi (she) Jin-ping, Mohamed Morsi, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and all other world leaders--every single one, whether they acknowledge it or not--is entirely subject to the plans and purposes and the will of God.  Dianne Feinstein, Harry Reid, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, the NRA, Rand Paul, Paul Ryan, the Supreme Court, and even Joe Biden--all (believe it or not) are under the absolute rule and direct supervision of God Himself.

In other words, God is in charge of the world.  We know that.  But we forget.  We get distracted by an unbelieving world that has no concept of the sovereign rule of an almighty God, and we begin to think things are spinning out of control.  We’re on the brink of nuclear war with North Korea!  What are we going to do?  Well, according to our brothers in North Korea, the Bible says “. . .that if we seek His Kingdom first, all other things will be given to us as well.”  And that is true.  If there is a nuclear war, it will be God’s nuclear war.  So come what may, we seek God and His kingdom first, and it will be well with us.

Look with me at Jeremiah 25 please.

15 Thus the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: "Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. 16 They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them."

17 So I took the cup from the LORD's hand, and made all the nations to whom the LORD sent me drink it: 18 Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and officials, to make them a desolation and a waste, a hissing and a curse, as at this day; 19 Pharaoh king of Egypt, his servants, his officials, all his people, 20 and all the mixed tribes among them; all the kings of the land of Uz and all the kings of the land of the Philistines (Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod); 21 Edom, Moab, and the sons of Ammon; 22 all the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the coastland across the sea; 23 Dedan, Tema, Buz, and all who cut the corners of their hair; 24 all the kings of Arabia and all the kings of the mixed tribes who dwell in the desert; 25 all the kings of Zimri, all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of Media; 26 all the kings of the north, far and near, one after another, and all the kingdoms of the world that are on the face of the earth. And after them the king of Babylon shall drink.

27 "Then you shall say to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Drink, be drunk and vomit, fall and rise no more, because of the sword that I am sending among you.'

28 "And if they refuse to accept the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: You must drink! 29 For behold, I begin to work disaster at the city that is called by my name, and shall you go unpunished?  You shall not go unpunished, for I am summoning a sword against all the inhabitants of the earth, declares the LORD of hosts.'

30 "You, therefore, shall prophesy against them all these words, and say to them:

"'The LORD will roar from on high, and from his holy habitation utter his voice; he will roar mightily against his fold, and shout, like those who tread grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. 31 The clamor will resound to the ends of the earth, for the LORD has an indictment against the nations; he is entering into judgment with all flesh, and the wicked he will put to the sword, declares the LORD.'

32 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: Behold, disaster is going forth from nation to nation, and a great tempest is stirring from the farthest parts of the earth!

33 "And those pierced by the LORD on that day shall extend from one end of the earth to the other.  They shall not be lamented, or gathered, or buried; they shall be dung on the surface of the ground.

34 "Wail, you shepherds, and cry out, and roll in ashes, you lords of the flock, for the days of your slaughter and dispersion have come, and you shall fall like a choice vessel. 35 No refuge will remain for the shepherds, nor escape for the lords of the flock. 36 A voice--the cry of the shepherds, and the wail of the lords of the flock!  For the LORD is laying waste their pasture, 37 and the peaceful folds are devastated because of the fierce anger of the LORD. 38 Like a lion he has left his lair, for their land has become a waste because of the sword of the oppressor, and because of his fierce anger." (Jeremiah 25:15-38 ESV)

We read passages like this one and we’re not tempted to think of 1 John 4:8 - “God is love”.  But we do see that God is the ruler over the nations and all men everywhere finally answer to Him.  And it does remind us of 1 Peter 4:17 - For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17 ESV)

Here, God reveals to Jeremiah that he is going to bring the sword to Jerusalem.  He begins there.  This may be the passage that prompted Peter to say what he said.  When God tells Jeremiah in verse 18 that He will begin His judgment on the nations with Judah, there is a principle being taught that we should not miss and it is this: Those who claim to be God’s people have a higher obligation and a greater responsibility to live like they belong to a holy God.  If they are God’s representatives in the world, they are also the first in line to receive His correction.

The children of God receive chastening and correction before anyone else.  That was certainly true of the nation of Israel, whom God chose as His own people, and upon whom He placed His own name.  These are the people to whom He gave His Law, so it is not difficult to understand that they bear the greater burden of compliance to it.

Then Jeremiah starts to go through the list of other nations who will also feel God’s wrath: Egypt, the land of the Philistines, Moab, Edom, Ammon, and so on.  And they are made to drink the cup of the wine of His wrath.  Forced to drink it.  God uses Babylon to bring about His wrath against all these kings and kingdoms surrounding Judah.  It is the sword of Nebuchadnezzar that will accomplish God’s punishment of Judah and her neighbors.  But finally, after all the kings of the north, far and near, one after another, and all the kingdoms of the world that are on the face of the earth have drunk from that cup, then the king of Babylon shall drink. (V 26).

  • God brought judgment to bear upon Adam for his sin by driving him out of Eden and cursing the land so he would have to work by the sweat of his brow to produce food to eat.
  • God brought judgment upon the entire world through the flood because the thoughts and intents of men’s hearts were only evil continually.
  • God brought judgment to bear upon Sodom and Gomorrah because He saw that their sin was very grievous. (Genesis 18:20)
  • God brought judgment upon Egypt with the ten plagues because of their oppression and enslavement and murder of the children of Israel.
  • God brought judgment against the people of Israel in the wilderness because they repeatedly rebelled against Him and an entire generation died there.
  • God brought judgment upon David because he sinned with Bathsheba and murdered her husband, Uriah.
  • God brought judgment upon Jerusalem by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar because they forgot God and worshipped other gods.
  • God brought judgment upon Ananias and Sapphira because they lied to the Holy Spirit.
  • God brought judgment upon King Herod because he accepted worship as God.
  • God will bring judgment upon all the nations of the earth because they refuse to worship Jesus Christ.

And the reason all men everywhere should worship Jesus Christ is because God brought judgment to bear upon Him, the spotless Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, the sin of all who believe.

God has been judging the world ever since Adam ate the fruit. And the Lord Jesus will judge the world when He finally returns in glory to sit upon His throne.  The threat and the reality of the judgment of God has always been over the heads of sinful men, and those who are first in line are those who claim to belong to Him.  It was true of Judah in Jeremiah’s day, and Peter said that is the case now: For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God . . . . (1 Peter 4:17a ESV)

But, . . . In every one of those cases, we also see the love and grace of God.  In every instance of the wrath and judgment of God, there is also the salvation of God.  God’s wrath and God’s love co-exist and work in parallel constantly.  We never see one without the other:

  • Regarding Adam - 22 Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever--" 23 therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22-24 ESV)  Driving him out prevented him from an eternal condemnation!  That is God’s love.
  • Regarding the Flood - God destroyed the world, but through Noah, God also prepared an ark for the salvation of the entire human race.  That is God’s grace.
  • Regarding Sodom and Gomorrah - God destroyed those cities, but God also sent angels to take Lot by his hand and deliver him from destruction.  That is God’s mercy.
  • Regarding Egypt - God brought severe judgment upon Egypt, but some of the Egyptians saw the mighty works of God and left Egypt with the children of Israel in order to worship the God of Israel.  That is God’s love for the nations.
  • Regarding Israel in the wilderness - Even though the people wandered for 40 years in the desert, their clothes did not wear out, their feet did not swell, and manna fell from the sky to sustain them.  That is God’s kind providence.
  • Regarding David - God punished David for his adultery and murder, but God sent Nathan to confront him about his sin and He forgave David.  That is the grace of God.
  • Regarding Jerusalem - God destroyed the city and the temple and scattered the people everywhere, but He also preserved a remnant in Babylon for 70 years whose hearts He turned back to Himself.
  • Regarding Ananias and Sapphira - God’s dealings with them caused the church to be serious: And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. (Acts 5:11 ESV)  That is the discipline of a loving Father towards His children.
  • Regarding King Herod - God’s destruction of the one who persecuted His people caused the Gospel to increase and multiply.  That is God’s kindness towards His own and His proliferation of the Gospel to His elect.

 

And regarding the final judgment of the world by the Lord Jesus - Sin, and death, and Hell will all be thrown into the lake of fire, and God’s people will be ushered into heaven, never to experience any of the effects of sin again for eternity.  That, beloved, is the culmination of God’s gracious and merciful eternal plan for His chosen people.

In every instance where we see the wrath of God, we also see the mercy of God.  Just as God brought Nebuchadnezzar against ALL the nations of the known world at that time, He was also preserving for Himself a remnant of His own people--godly men like Daniel and Ezra and Nehemiah--and godly women like Esther--for the furtherance of His own purposes, namely, the bringing of the Messiah to the people of Israel and the world.

And it isn’t over yet!  What did Jesus say?

3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?" 4 And Jesus answered them, "See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. 9 "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

15 "So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved.  But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There he is!' do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, 'Look, he is in the wilderness,' do not go out.  If they say, 'Look, he is in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

29 "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:3-31 ESV)

Beloved, we have no idea how the events that are taking place in the world will turn out.  But we do know that God reigns over it all.  We should not be worried by the things we see taking place.  God has used men and nations and armies to perform His bidding ever since creation and He continues to do so today.  And eventually, ultimately, His plans prevail, His purposes stand, and His Son will reign over all.  We, as His redeemed people can rest confident in these truths and trust that whatever happens, regardless of what nation rises against some other nation, regardless of any persecution we as the followers of the Lord Jesus may suffer, Christ is still King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!" (Revelation 5:13 ESV)

“God has promised us in the Bible that if we seek His Kingdom first, all other things will be given to us as well.”

And all God’s people said, “Amen!”


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