Friday, August 7, 2015

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday August 9, 2015

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OUR EVIL ACTIONS WILL BRING CONSEQUENCES
(GOD has before, and will again destroy the Church for its sinful behavior)
(Jeremiah 7:1-15)

The passage of scripture contained in Jeremiah 7, verses 1-15 is known as “The Temple Address”. The LORD gave this message to Jeremiah only about twenty years before the first invasion of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 B.C. The Temple at that time had become a place of superstitious religion, where false prophets tried to assure the people of Judah that they were safe there, and, that the LORD would never destroy the place of HIS residence here on earth.
These false prophets steadfastly preached against Jeremiah’s warnings from GOD regarding the coming exile of the nation into Babylon. They believed that, not only was the Temple safe, but the entire land of Judah was safe from GOD’s judgment as well. Here, Jeremiah’s sermon served to do away with this popular, but superstitious belief that had been held by most of Judah’s faithful in those days.
This sermon, which is said to be Jeremiah’s first, roused much hostility within the Church community, however, GOD sought to warn the people of Judah, through HIS prophet, that, their safety did not lie within the confines of a defiled temple, but rather, it depended on their, putting into place, moral, social, and religious reforms, and turning from their evil ways (Vs.6-10). 
In verses 11-17 GOD refers to the Temple as “a den of robbers”, a place where thieves came to hide out in search of their next victim (v.11). It is a disturbing analogy, but it most accurately described the activity in and around this, once sacred edifice at Jerusalem.
In verse 12 GOD invites Judah to take a look back at Shiloh, the former worship center which HE had destroyed during the latter days of the Judges, who ruled over Israel. Its demise is chronicled in the pages of 1 Samuel 4 with the death of Eli and his family, and the capture of the “Ark of the Covenant” by the Philistines. It symbolized that GOD’s glory had left the place of HIS worship, and it served as a reminder to Judah that their confidence in the safety of the Temple was sadly misplaced, and that GOD can and will destroy the Temple at Jerusalem if they didn’t get their act together soon.
All during the time that the Israelites were committing all kinds of atrocious and evil deeds against the LORD in the Church, HE had repeatedly spoken to them through various prophets, however, those warnings had largely gone unheeded. Now, the LORD was promising to send the other half of HIS once-beloved nation (northern Israel had already been conquered by Assyria in 722 B.C.) into exile, where they would remain for 70 years, which was one year for every “Sabbath year rest” (70 in a 490 year period) that they had violated (see “Sabbath year rest” – Leviticus 25:1-7). As all of biblical history proves, GOD always gives us numerous warnings before HE exacts punishment on us, and now, here in this first sermon of the great prophet Jeremiah, we see that it will be no different. GOD does not change, but rather, we must change.
Most of the events that are chronicled here in the life of the prophet Jeremiah take place during the reign of Israel’s last king, Jehoiachin (aka. “Eliakim”), who was one of the sons of King Josiah. He ascended to the throne of Judah after Pharaoh Neco of Egypt had imprisoned his brother, Jehoahaz, who had reigned only three months (2 Kings 23:36-37). He, like his brother before him, did much evil in the sight of the LORD, despite the fact that he had ample opportunities to hear the LORD, and had the wonderful example that had been set by his father, Josiah (the last GODly king of Judah), to influence him. And being the last king of Judah also afforded him with a long history of failures and successes that he could draw upon and use for guidance.  
Sadly, Jehoiachin chose to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, Manasseh, who was, arguably, the most wicked of all the Davidic kings in Judah’s history. He went on to reverse every religious reform that his father, Josiah, had ever put into place, and he was eventually captured and led away into Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, being pulled by a ring in his nose, according to Jewish tradition.
And so we eventually see GOD’s messages being fulfilled, as they always are, whenever HE tries to speak to us through HIS various prophets, channels, and methods. GOD said then, and HE still says now, that our evil actions will always bring consequences. Disobedience to GOD always results in separation from GOD. And just as it has been said through all of the Old Testament prophets, and New Testament writers and thinkers who remind us of GOD’s undeniable truths, while we can always be saved from hell’s damnation, we cannot ever be saved from the consequences of our sins. And so the “right time” to come to GOD remains to be, “right now”. And the “right way” to come to GOD will always be “just as we are”.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
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