Monday, November 1, 2004

The following are excerpts of a sermon given yesterday by the Rev. Kyle Austin at Occoquan Bible Church in Woodbridge.

Verse 11 of Jeremiah 30 shows us God’s good and just discipline. The passage focuses on correction and not retribution.

Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” And Hebrews 12:10 says, “God disciplines us for our good that we may share in His holiness.” When the Messiah comes He will set everything right. Destroyers will be destroyed, the devourer will be devoured, exilers will be exiled, plunderers will be plundered and spoilers will be spoiled. Messiah will expose every sin, tear down every tyrant and bring every criminal to justice.

We have an incurable wound according to Jeremiah 30:12-15.

“For thus saith the Lord, Thy bruise is incurable, and thy wound is grievous.” It is a terminal spiritual condition. Compare that to Jeremiah 8:22 and also Jeremiah 15:18.

So much for the prognosis. What about the diagnosis? What mortal wound, what infectious disease laid the people of God on their deathbed? Spiritual sickness unto death is a result of a flagrant disregard for God or a polite neglect of His claims on our lives. The truth is, we have an acute case of sin, where we will not forsake, nor can we recover on our own.

It takes more than a cup of soup or a few days in bed to get us on our spiritual feet. Apart from the grace of God, sin is an incurable disease. Like a vicious bacteria that has grown resistant to even the most powerful antibiotic, it spreads throughout the soul until it carries the sinner to the grave.

The universalist says, “I can’t see any place for evil in human nature. If I believe part of me is evil, how will I ever overcome evil?” Now read Verse 14: “All thy lovers have forgotten thee; they seek thee not; for I have wounded thee with the wound of an enemy, with the chastisement of a cruel one, for the multitude of thine iniquity; because thy sins were increased.” The ultimate cure is beyond us. Justice is coming. But God can give us victory over sin because He is the great physician. Read Verse 17: “For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee for wounds, saith the Lord; because they called thee an outcast, saying, this is Zion, whom no man seeketh after.” Wait, I thought this wound was incurable and now God is healing it? In Jeremiah 30 God is promising to do the impossible out of grace and He does it through loving and just discipline.

Let’s look into the human soul. What does sin look like when it goes unchecked and allowed to fester? … Imagine idolatry mixed with immorality, compounded by selfishness and ungodliness — a malignant evil — only God could heal such a spiritual cancer.

There is only one cure, one remedy for this sin, one atonement the blood of Jesus on the cross. Jesus’ death and resurrection is the only solution for our incurable wound.

The exiles in Babylon believed in the one messianic cure and they were waiting for it. Are we? Are we hoping, longing and praying for Messiah? Have we given up on Jesus, blamed Him, abandoned Him, become angry with Jesus? The majestic one will heal, according to Jeremiah 30:18-24: “Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob’s tents, and have mercy on his dwelling places; and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the places shall remain after the manner thereof. And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry.” These terms show God’s love and desire to restore community … and the general population — rich and the poor, educated or not, political shakers and movers or the dregs of society. All would be restored from the slums to the mansions.

Imagine living in a city where all great civic events centered on the worship of Almighty God. A city where all memorials, monuments, fairs, parades, parties, concerts and fireworks were directed to the glory of God. A city is not safe until the children are safe. …

The Messiah would identify with His people —a Hebrew among Hebrews, man among men, human body, grew tired, hungry, perishable, born to a poor family, worked like others, worshipped in synagogue every week, attended great religious festivals. …

The Messiah, the majestic ruler is one of our own and we are His. He is not ashamed to call us his brothers.

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