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God Is Not An American - Jeremiah 39

Is God Jewish? Is God pro-Israel? Is God pro-America? Or is God pro-God?

Jeremiah 38:18, 39:1-18; 2 Kings 19:20-28; Galatians 6:7; Isaiah 66:1-2

Sep 01, 2013 12:00 PM

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It’s quiz time once again!  You’ve been listening to sermons from the book of Jeremiah for some time now, and I just want to be sure you understand what we’ve been reading thus far.  So let me ask what may seem to be an easy question.  Is God Jewish?  Think about that for a moment before you answer.  Is God Jewish?  Yes or no?

Let’s ask a couple more questions for the sake of clarification:  Is Jesus God?  Yes.  Is Jesus Jewish?  Yes, technically speaking.  At least half Jewish, right?  So if Jesus is God, and Jesus is Jewish, then God is Jewish.  Right?  The Trinity is Jewish?

Just a few more questions:  Is God pro-Israel?  It depends upon the meaning of the word “Israel”.  If God is Jewish, then it would seem to follow that He would be pro-Israel, right?

A couple more questions and then the quiz is over.  More or less.  Was God pro-Israel in the days of Jeremiah?  Was God pro-King Zedekiah?  Was God for Jerusalem or against Jerusalem during Jeremiah’s ministry?  And if God was pro-Jerusalem, why was it burnt to the ground?  If God is for you, who can stand against you?  If God was for Jerusalem and the people of Judah, how did a pagan, idolatrous, murderous Gentile king overthrow them?

How can such relatively simple questions have such protracted answers?  

Last question: Who does God love more than anyone else?  I think there are at least three acceptable answers but only one correct answer.  Who does God love more than anyone else?  Every genuine Christian should be quick to answer that question with one word: Me.  “Surely God must love me more than anyone else!  Look at what He sent the Lord Jesus to do for MY sake!  To take ALL MY sin!  How is it possible that He could love anyone more than He has loved me??”  And if that was the first thing that came into your mind, I understand completely.  We all understand that.  But that’s not the right answer.

Then you say, “Well, God loves Jesus, His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased!  That’s what the Bible says!  Surely the Father loves the Son more than anyone else!  And all kidding aside, what’s not to love in Jesus?  He’s the easiest Person for God to love, the most deserving person of God’s love, and in fact, the only Person who has ever deserved the love of God!  God loves Jesus more than anyone else.”  And if that was your answer, I’d say you are very close to the truth, but not quite there yet.

Who does God love more than anyone else?  If it’s not us, either individually or collectively as the Bride of Christ, . . . And if it isn’t Jesus, His own Son . . . Then who could it be?  Israel?  One of the heroes of the faith?  Mary?  Mother Theresa?  Who?  

More than anyone else, God most assuredly loves Himself.  Within the Godhead, within the Triune God, there is absolutely nothing to hate and absolutely everything possible to love.  God loves Himself because within Himself resides every positive and beautiful characteristic, and they all reside there to an infinite degree.  In essence, God worships Himself because He is worthy of it.  Every good and perfect thing imaginable and unimaginable is found within God Himself.  He is infinitely worthy of the love of every creature in all the universe, and for Him to love Himself is not hard to grasp.

So when we ask, “Is God pro-Israel”, or “Is God pro-America?”, or “Is God pro-anything else?”--The first thing we must understand is God is infinitely pro-God.  He is concerned with doing all that He does primarily for the sake of His own magnificent glory.  When we look in the mirror, we see things that desperately need attention.  When God looks in the mirror He sees infinite perfection and beauty.

So we come to this section of the book of Jeremiah and we wonder how it is that the destruction of Jerusalem, the capture of the king of Judah, and the deportation of the people of God to Babylon, and the end of the nation of Israel could possibly be for the glory of God?  It seems from a superficial look at this situation that the score is King Nebuchadnezzar and the pagans - 1, and God and the children of Israel - 0.

Let’s read 38:1-10.
We learn from this brief passage that from God’s perspective, there is something more important than the nation of Israel.  Israel is gone.  Temporarily.  There will be 70 years of rest for the land of Judah before God moves the heart of a future king of Babylon to allow the refugees and exiles to return and rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple.  

But it should be clear that Jerusalem and the nation of Israel are expendable.  The king is hauled away in chains, his sons are put to death before his eyes, and then his eyes are put out by his enemies.  Judah’s King Zedekiah is humiliated and forced into complete submission to Nebuchadnezzar.  So is God for Israel or against Israel?  God is for Israel, . . . but not at the cost of His own glory.

These are THE people who call themselves by God’s name.  They are the ones who are known among the nations to be the sole worshippers of Jehovah.  No other nation has a temple to Jehovah.  No other nation has adopted the worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as their own.  Only the Jews worship this God, and this God claims to be the God of Israel exclusively.  

But because they have turned their back on Him, refusing to worship Him exclusively, but insisting upon the worship of every despicable idol and engaging in every foul idolatrous practice imaginable, God has in effect said to them, “I will no longer be associated with you.  I will not let you drag My Name through the mud.”  And so, He puts a stop to it.  After many long years of calling His people to repentance, He finally says, “I’m finished.  You will no longer sully My great Name with your whoredoms.”  God’s Name is more important than the preservation of the nation of Israel because first and foremost, God intends to glorify Himself.  He is jealous for His own honor and praise and glory.

In Galatians 6:7 we read these words of Paul: Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. I think I know where Paul got that idea.   

20 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Your prayer to me about Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard. 21 This is the word that the Lord has spoken concerning him: “She despises you, she scorns you—the virgin daughter of Zion; she wags her head behind you—the daughter of Jerusalem.

22 “Whom have you mocked and reviled? Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes to the heights?  Against the Holy One of Israel!
23 By your messengers you have mocked the Lord, and you have said, ‘With my many chariots I have gone up the heights of the mountains, to the far recesses of Lebanon; I felled its tallest cedars, its choicest cypresses; I entered its farthest lodging place, its most fruitful forest.
24 I dug wells and drank foreign waters, and I dried up with the sole of my foot all the streams of Egypt.’

25 “Have you not heard that I determined it long ago?  I planned from days of old what now I bring to pass, that you should turn fortified cities into heaps of ruins,
26 while their inhabitants, shorn of strength, are dismayed and confounded, and have become like plants of the field and like tender grass, like grass on the housetops, blighted before it is grown.
27 “But I know your sitting down and your going out and coming in, and your raging against me.
28 Because you have raged against me and your complacency has come into my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will turn you back on the way by which you came.
(2 Kings 19:20-28 ESV)

What did Sennacherib get for mocking God?  His entire army destroyed in one night.  And when he returned home to Assyria he was murdered by his own sons as he worshiped in the temple of his idol.  God is not mocked.  What did the super-soldier Goliath get for mocking the armies of the living God?  He got his head lopped off with his own sword by a teenaged shepherd boy!

The people of Judah and Jerusalem mocked God by their treachery and idolatry and rampant wickedness.  They brought the good name of Jehovah into disrepute because of their perpetual rebellion against everything God commanded them to do.  Therefore, God, who was for Israel and Judah, who sent prophets to her continually to call her back to Himself, turned against her, and punished her for her mockery.

There is something more important than the nation of Israel.  God’s name is more important.  God loves Himself more than He loves the people of Israel.  God loves Himself more than anyone else.  Thus the destruction of the nation and the city of Jerusalem and their king.

Beloved, God is not more concerned with America or any nation or any individual, more than He is concerned with His own glory.  Men and nations are expendable.  This nation is expendable.  And I know how that sounds.  It sounds unpatriotic.  It sounds un-American.  But it is not that I am against America.  I love this country.  This is the greatest country the word has ever seen.  I count it a privilege and a blessing from God to have been born in this place.

But if Old Testament Israel was not exempt from the wrath of God--the only nation God has ever chosen and called to be a special people unto Himself alone--if they were expendable as a result of their constant stench in God’s nostrils--we as a nation are expendable too.  God will not be mocked.

Jeremiah spoke against the evils of His day and he counseled the kings of Judah to submit to the King of Babylon.  The Zedekiah’s officials saw him as a traitor.  They said he was discouraging the men of war from fighting against this huge enemy Babylon.  But it wasn’t that Jeremiah was against Judah or the king or the people or the army.  Jeremiah was first and foremost for God.  They interpreted that as treason.  And if you ever have to take a similar stand--if you ever have to choose between God and country, and you choose God over country--you also will be accused of treason and declared an enemy of the state.  That is precisely what happened to Jeremiah.

But my friends, it is far better to be an enemy of the state than to be an enemy of God.  Far better to be obedient to God and hated by men, than to have the entire world as your friend and God as your enemy.  Look what happens to those who love God more than country and countrymen: (Read 39:11-18 ESV)

It doesn’t always happen this way.  But the point of this passage is to inform us that faithfulness to God in the face of serious persecution does not go unrewarded.  Eventually.  If not in this life, certainly in the next, there are rewards to be had for obedience to God for His name’s sake, in the face of persecution.  Both Jeremiah and Ebed-Melech are protected by God in the midst of the political takeover of their own country.  They see God being true to His word.  They witness God making good on His promises to destroy the city if the king and the people of Jerusalem do not repent.  These men believed God when no one else did.  And God spared their lives.

On the one hand, God is not mocked.  On the other hand, faithfulness does not go unrewarded.  Zedekiah’s unbelief and his unwillingness to repent and obey God’s voice brought disaster.  But Jeremiah’s steadfastness and Ebed-Melech’s demonstration of faith brought blessing and deliverance.  Judah and Jerusalem are razed by Nebuchadnezzar’s army.  But Nebuchadnezzar gives orders concerning Jeremiah, “Take him, look after him well, and do him no harm, but deal with him as he tells you.” An entire nation fell AROUND Jeremiah and Ebed-Melech. But they were safe.  God says to Ebed-Melech:

“‘I will surely save you, and you shall not fall by the sword, but you shall have your life as a prize of war, because you have put your trust in me, declares the Lord.’” (Jeremiah 38:18 ESV)

Who is God for?  Who does God love more than anyone else?  Is God Jewish?  Is He for the nation of Israel?  Is He for America?  Once again, Isaiah 66 is apropos:

Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest?  All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord.  But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. (Isaiah 66:1-2 ESV)


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