Lessons from Jeremiah

Scripture: Jeremiah 23:5, Jeremiah 2:13, Matthew 9:12
Date: 12/26/2015 
Lesson: 13
"At the center of the great controversy exists a crucial issue: What is the character of God? What is God really like? Is He the arbitrary tyrant that Satan makes Him out to be, or is He a loving and caring Father who wants only the best for us?"
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Good morning, friends and welcome again to Sabbath School Study Hour. A very special warm welcome to our friends joining us across the country and around the world - an extension of our Sabbath school class. Also, I'd like to welcome the members, here, of the Granite Bay church. Good to see you again this morning. And we're going to be studying lesson #13 in this series dealing with the book of Jeremiah.

So lesson #13 entitled lessons from Jeremiah and for our friends who are watching, if you don't have the study guide, you can go to the amazing facts website - just amazingfacts.org - and you can click on the link that says Sabbath school study hour and you can download today's lesson. Well, before we get to the lesson, I'd like to tell you about a free offer that we have. It's a book entitled faith reclaimed and we'll be happy to send this to anybody in North America who gives us a call. The number at our resource line is 866-788-3966. That number again is -788-3966 and you can ask for offer #788.

We'll be happy to send that to anybody who calls and asks. And for those outside of North America, you can also take a look at our website at amazingfacts.org and you can find out how you can also obtain the book called faith reclaimed. Well, before we get to our study, I would like to invite our song leaders to come and join us here and we'll sing together as we prepare our hearts for our study for today. Happy Sabbath church family, as well as our extended family around the world. This is the time of year when we like to reflect upon and rejoice over the birth of our Savior.

And as the angels continually sing him praises, we will turn to our hymnals and sing together hymn #142 - angels we have heard on high - please join us in singing. Angels we have heard on high, singing sweetly through the night, and the mountains, in reply, echoing their brave delight. Gloria, in excelsis deo, gloria in excelsis deo. Shepherds, why this jubilee? Why these songs of happy cheer? What great brightness did you see? What glad tidings did you hear? Gloria, in excelsis deo, gloria in excelsis deo. Come to Bethlehem and see him whose birth the angels sing; come adore, on bended knee, Christ the Lord, the newborn king.

Gloria, in excelsis deo, gloria in excelsis deo. See him in a manger laid who the angels praise above; mary, Joseph, lend your aid, while we raise our hearts in love. Gloria, in excelsis deo, gloria in excelsis deo. Our next song is going to be joy to the world the Lord has come, what joy it brings us to know that Jesus left the glories of heaven to come down to this sinful earth to show us what real love and sacrifice is and to save us from our sins. As we give our lives to him and make him the Lord of our lives, may his loving character shine through us.

Joy to the world. Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her king; let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven, and heaven and nature sing. Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns! Let men their songs employ; while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains, repeat the sounding joy, repeat the sounding joy, repeat, repeat the sounding joy. No more let sin and sorrow grow, nor thorns infest the ground; he comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found, far as, far as the curse is found. He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness, and wonders of his love, and wonders of his love, and wonders, and wonders of his love.

Thank you for singing with us this morning. I'd like to invite you to bow your heads as we open with prayer. Dear Father in Heaven, once again we are grateful to be able to gather together to study the Bible together. And it's been a rich study for us looking at the book of Jeremiah. And as we finish up our lesson quarterly today, we just ask once again that the Holy Spirit would speak to us, guide us through Your Word; for we ask this in Jesus' Name, amen.

Now this morning, just before I invite pastor doug to come forward and lead us in our study together, we're going to be having what we call here a little mission emphasis or mission focus segment. From time to time here at the Granite Bay church, we like to highlight some of the various mission activities that members are involved in or maybe Amazing Facts has been involved in. Well, today, we're going to invite one of our afcoe graduates to come and share with us about some of the mission evangelism outreach that they're doing in thailand. So I'd like to invite brian atwell to come and join me here on stage. Brian went through the afcoe program in spring 2011.

Now afcoe is the Amazing Facts center of evangelism and we train individuals for Bible work, for mission activity, for evangelism, and just leadership in their local church or in their own ministry. So brian, the Lord has called you and your family, jessica and your little son asher - asher. Two years of age - and you folks are doing missionary work over in thailand. Now, why did you choose thailand to be the place to go? Well, you know, we felt God's call to foreign mission service and we didn't know where to go and so we began praying and we were asking, specifically, where God felt his greatest need was. And as we researched some of the Numbers there, we found that in the country of 67 million, there was less than one percent that were Christian there.

Okay, so what have you been doing over there in thailand? So we didn't know exactly what he wanted us to do, but we knew the call was there and so, through some counsel we received, we took time to just study the language and the culture and get a better understanding of the people that we were going to try and be serving. Alright, so is the country of thailand open to the work that you're doing - are they open to Christianity? You know, as a country they've been very open to all religions. They are buddhists, predominantly, and so to be a buddhist means you just need to be a better person and they felt that all religions help you to be a better person. But through a series of events recently, the country has now declared in their constitution that, in order to do mission work, you need to have a permit or a license from the government. So the doors that once were very wide open, are now, we can see, closing up.

Now you're situated in bangkok, the capital there in thailand? Correct. And what type of ministry are you doing there in that massive city? So, yeah, the city itself has 12 million people on the books and so - or on the census - and so we - we, obviously, couldn't reach all of them and so we felt that setting up, what we call a 'center of influence' or a small café with a fitness center, where the people can come and we can build relationships and help guide them to Christ, was the way to go. You know, most of the people have never heard of the Bible, have never heard of Jesus, and so just going in with a Bible study outright was not a method that seemed to be working and so we felt building those relationships - helping them to see Christianity lived out in our lives - and then leading that into a Bible study was the way to go. Amen. Now what are some of the greatest needs that you see over there in thailand - in the work that you're doing? You know, the greatest need that we have is people.

You know, as I mentioned, there are 12 million people just in the city of bangkok alone and there are very few missionaries that are serving there. And so, the greatest need - you know, many people say, 'we need money' and 'we need this' - but the greatest need we have is for people to be there building and nurturing those relationships. You know, all of the money in the world would not help if there weren't people there to serve. Jesus said the field is ripe but the laborers are few and we have definitely seen that is true. Okay, so there's a great call for workers to be out there working in thailand.

Now if somebody wants to find out more about the work that you're doing and the ministry that you're involved in, how do they get that information? So they can go to Jesusforasia.org and under the projects page or on the country page they can click on thailand and then bangkok outreach. They can go to atthewellministries - all one word - .wordpress.com or they can simply send us an e-mail at newstartfoods@gmail.com alright, well thank you so much, brian, for sharing a little bit of the work that you're doing in thailand. Incidentally, we have our afcoe program that's just finished up - our last session that we had - they're doing some evangelism in thailand right now. There's a team over there and they're doing some health outreach, some evangelism, some training - so an important work to do while we have the opportunity - ministering to the many people out there in thailand. Well, at this time, I'd like to invite Pastor Doug to come forward and he'll lead us in our lesson study for today.

Thank you, Pastor Ross. And brian, that's exciting. I'm looking forward to hearing from the new crop of afcoe students when they come back - the ones who are in thailand right now - maybe give us another mission report. Boy, imagine that, only one percent Christian in the country. Plenty of opportunity there for doing Gospel work.

Welcome, friends, to our Sabbath School Study Hour. We're glad that you've joined us. We not only want to welcome our friends that are some of our class from around the world, but we know that we also have some who are Granite Bay members - some of our online members - there are people who are in different parts of the country or even in the world and for some reason there's no local church they can attend, but through the internet or satellite they're able to participate in this study and we want to welcome you. There might be some of you who are in that category - you're thinking, 'i'd like to be connected with a church. How do I do that?' You can simply go to the Granite Bay website, which is granitebaysda.

org and let us know and we'll see if we can get you connected somehow. We are going to be getting into our lesson in Jeremiah in just a moment, but today we're in lesson #13, which is the last lesson in the quarter, which means we're getting ready, starting next week, to enter a new quarter's study and our new quarter's lesson is going to be called rebellion and redemption - rebellion and redemption - it's going to be dealing with the theme of the Great Controversy and, you know, the fall of lucifer and how sin entered the world - and these are some very important themes. Immediately following our class here we'll have some available to give out to those who are regular attenders of the class. And you can also find these study materials online. You can either go to the Granite Bay website, Amazing Facts, Sabbath school websites - and you'll find that the new study materials and the lesson also are available on the internet.

With that, we're going to get into Jeremiah, our last lesson in this book of 52 chapters that we've been studying. Obviously, we've not been able to study it all. The title for the lesson today is lessons from Jeremiah - lesson #13 - and the memory verse comes to us from Jeremiah 23, verse 5 - if you'd like to say that with me here in the lesson, it's from the new king James version - Jeremiah 23, verse 5 - will you help me? You ready? "'Behold, the days are coming,' says the Lord, 'that I will raise to David a branch of righteousness; a king shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.'" You know, as I was thinking about Jeremiah, it's, you know, the book is - parts of it can be, let's just face it, difficult. I mean, even after the book of Jeremiah - Jeremiah wrote another book called Lamentations because he spent - you know, he starts out a young man. He receives his call - he spent a lot of his time in ministry talking about impending judgment because of the disobedience and rebellion of the people.

But there are a number of bright spots in the book of Jeremiah. There are some great promises there. Jeremiah is a frequently cited Bible book in spite of the fact that it does have a fair share of sighing and crying and whining and pining because of all the sins of God's people. Why do you think Jeremiah is an important book for us to study today? Doesn't it deal with old Israel history? Why would it be relevant today? Does history tend to repeat itself? The things that happened before the judgment of Babylon came down on God's people in the old testament, will some of that history be repeated? Did Jeremiah struggle with the people forgetting God and apostasy in the camp and going through the forms of religion without the power? And idolatry? And all the things you'll find that he's dealing with in his book are issues that you still run into in the church today. And so I think it's been a very productive study.

Alright, well we're going to get into the lesson. Oh, by the way, our memory verse that said ''the days are coming,' says the Lord, 'I will raise up a branch - to David a branch' - what does that branch to David? Jesus. Isaiah 11:1, "there shall come forth a rod from the stem of jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him," - who is that branch? Jesus. It's talking about Christ.

That's a messianic prophecy, isn't it? And so Jeremiah is among the prophets in the old testament that foretold the coming of the Messiah. Now there's - the first section here under Sunday saying Jeremiah's Lord and a picture of God is given in the book of Jeremiah. I'm - someone here is going to read Jeremiah 31:3. Do we have someone? You'll - alright, just a moment. We'll get to you.

But there are different verses here that give us different pictures. All these different verses of Jeremiah are kind of like walking around a jewel and you have different facets that reflect different characteristics or attributes of God. For instance, Jeremiah 2:13, "for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns-broken cisterns that can hold no water." Well, right away you say, 'what does this tell us about God and the church? Well, for one thing, it says that - what would you rather have, a fountain or a pot? A fountain. If you have a fountain you have a continual, unending - you know, Jesus said to the woman at the well, 'you're going to get a pot of water, but he that drinks of the water that I'm offering, he will have an artesian well within them springing up.' And I wonder if Jesus was drawing on - or referring to Jeremiah when he said this. 'You have rejected me, the fountain of water, and you've got yourselves cisterns - pots - that are cracked - that hold no water.

And, you know, if you're going to buy a house with a swimming pool, make sure the swimming pool doesn't leak, because if it leaks you better find a cheaper house. And back then, if you had a cistern and you put all your water - that's supposed to get you through the summer in a cistern and then you find out that it leaks and you go for the water and it's gone, you've got a big problem. And he said, 'you've rejected me, a living fountain, and you're getting cracked pots instead.' But, you know, in this verse, what it really tells us? It says - and this is Jeremiah 2:13 - "for my people" - who does he call them? Even though they're doing something as foolish as that, he says they're 'my people.' What does God say to the people in Babylon? 'Babylon is fallen. Come out of her - my people. My people.

You mean God has his people in Babylon? Alright, another one. Jeremiah 5:22, "'do you not fear me?' Says the Lord. 'Will you not tremble at my presence, who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass beyond it? And though its waves toss to and fro, yet they cannot prevail; though they roar, yet they cannot pass over it.'" Now this verse comes to remind them - they were so afraid of the assyrians and then later the Babylonians - that they were going to come washing over their land and that they were going to conquer them. And God said, 'look, I can take care of them if you trust me. If I can stop the ocean with the sands of the sea, I can stop these enemy aliens from coming in and taking over your country, but you need to trust me.

' And he says, 'don't be afraid of them. Be afraid of me.' And so he said, 'I'm a God to be feared. If you put me first - you've heard it said before that if you fear God you fear nothing else, if you don't fear God you fear everything.' But if you really fear God, you're not afraid of anything else. Alright, you're going to read for us Jeremiah 31:3, please. Jeremiah 31:3, "the Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: 'yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.

'" Now it says 'the Lord has appeared of old to me.' How long ago did God say he loved his people with an everlasting love? It goes all the way back. What does Paul tell us about the love of God in Romans? Can anything separate us? Height or depth or breadth or principalities or things above or things below? Nothing can separate us from the love of God and he's emphasizing this - 'I've drawn you with everlasting love - with lovingkindness I've drawn you.' God is always trying to draw us in. You know, the key to a successful and victorious Christian life is love for God. Love for God needs to be the main thing. Then you look and all of these different verses - and we're jumping around through the book here - are telling us things about the facets of God's character.

Jeremiah 11 is another one given in the lesson - Jeremiah 11:22, "therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: 'behold, I will punish them. The young men shall die by the sword, their sons and daughters shall die by famine;" now he just said he loves them and then he says he'll punish them. Is that inconsistent? Does the book of Jeremiah warn of coming judgment? Why? What does this tell us about God? If God wants to punish them, why tell them in advance? Doesn't he want to warn them so they'll repent? He doesn't want to punish them. And, because you punish someone, does that mean that you don't love them? Or does it say in Hebrews, 'every son who The Father loves he will chasten'? How many of you are parents? Do you punish your children because you don't love them or because you do love them? Some parents abuse their children either because they don't love them or they've got problems - other issues - but when you love your children there is appropriate punishment to be redemptive, right? That's the idea. So it tells us that God is a loving father, but he's also a just king and he will punish transgression.

Jeremiah 3, verse 7, "and I said, after she had done all these things, 'return to me.' But she did not return. And her treacherous sister judah saw it." Here God is talking about, you know, a love relationship like a husband for a wife and he's referring to judah and Israel as his betrothed and they left him and he said, 'I'll take you back.' Now how often, you know, when there's infidelity in the marriage the husband or wife says, 'that's enough of that. You don't get a second chance. That was the unpardonable sin.' And even in the Bible it says there is grounds for divorce - what is grounds for divorce? Unfaithfulness - fornication. But God is saying, 'even though you've been treacherous, I will take you back.

' And that's - that's a lot of love. And how many times have we flirted with the devil and God is still willing to take us back because he loves us? So all through the kaleidoscope of verses in the book of Jeremiah, we're getting pictures of God. Jeremiah's a great book. You walk around it and you look at it and you will see just the character of God reflected in different ways, but it really gives us the picture of God as a king, as a loving father, as a husband, as a Savior, creator - alright, let's go to the next section that deals with the subject of ritual and sin. Jeremiah 6:20 - we're going to start with, "for what purpose to me comes frankincense from sheba, and sweet cane from a far country? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet to me.

" Now Isaiah says something similar to that. He says, 'away with your sacrifices and your new moons and your Sabbaths.' When we go through the external forms of worship and our hearts aren't in the right place, then God says that's not real worship. So one of the things he was trying to say is that having rituals does not compensate for wickedness. Jeremiah chapter 7, verses 8 and 9 - or 8 through 10, rather - "behold you trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to baal, and walk after other Gods whom you do not know, and then come and stand before me in this house which is called by my name, and say, 'we are delivered to do all these abominations'?" Now this is a very important verse.

'We are delivered to do these abominations.' Does God save us to sin or save us from sin? From. But, you know, a lot of churches think that he just gives us grace so that we can have peace of mind while we continue in wilful sin. That's not the purpose of the Gospel and this is what the Lord is saying - that the people in the old testament make the same mistake they're making today. They went and they committed all these things - he said, 'you steal, you murder, you commit adultery, you swear falsely' - some of it may have been stealing in their hearts, committing adultery in their hearts - 'you burn incense to false Gods, you walk after other Gods and then you come to the church and you say, 'we are delivered to do all these abominations. We've got the house of the Lord here.

We've got this heritage. And so, God's going to have to watch over us because we're his chosen people. Do we ever have that mindset? Have you met people before that will say, 'why we've been in the church for three generations. We've got - we built the school. We built the church.

We've got this long history and' - you know, it's nice to have a heritage, but is there any redemptive value in that? No. What does God look at? Are you surrendered to me? Do you obey me? I know I was talking to one lady one time and I mentioned I was a Christian. I was talking to her about the Lord and she was saying, 'oh, you don't need to waste your time talking to me about the Lord. My father was a pastor.' And I thought, 'what does that have to do with anything? Does that make you a Christian? Do Christians biologically reproduce Christians? It doesn't work that way. Someone said, 'God has no grandchildren.

' Everybody needs to be born again, right? Everyone needs to have an individual experience. And so here they were thinking that was somehow giving them credit. Go ahead, read for us acts 10:34 and 35, please. "Then Peter opened his mouth and said: 'in truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears him and works righteousness is accepted by him.

" In every nation, whoever it is, whether you're a jew or a gentile but, yet, they really struggled believing that because they had been chosen by God, that somehow they had special rights to salvation. But didn't the Lord tell the children of Israel, 'do not think that I have chosen you because you're better than other nations, indeed, you are a stubborn and a stiff-necked people. I chose you, in part, because you are stubborn and stiff-necked, to show that if I could even reach you, I could reach anybody.' So instead of it being a cause for bragging, 'God chose us because we're better than other people,' God was saying, 'no, it's actually the opposite. I chose you because you were the least of the least. You were a nation of slaves and I wanted to show that my word and my truth - what it could do with slaves - how it could set them free and transform them.

So don't brag and say, 'we are chosen. We're better than you.' Now we can be at risk of that same attitude. When God, providentially reveals the truth to you, whether you're born into the knowledge or whether you discover it, you could subtly say to yourself, 'there was something good about me and so God chose me.' But you really can't think that because the ones that God says know the truth - that are chosen - but if we have pride and we think we're better, we're missing the whole point. Galatians 3:29, "and if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." And yet, there's a danger that we'll make the same mistakes some of the jews made in Jesus' day, thinking that because they were physical jews, that somehow they had a special right to eternal life, by virtue of their blood type or dna or genetics. God doesn't save people based on genetics.

It says, 'God has made of one blood all nations.' And Peter just said, 'I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation, whoever fears him,' as he did when he decided to heal naaman the leper. While there were still plenty of lepers in Israel, he healed the assyrian. And he went to the canaanite woman with Elijah and performed miracles for her and raised her son. And so, whoever fears him - John 8 - now here's a discourse. I'm going to read verses 39 through 44.

Jesus is having a discourse with the jews of his day: they said, "'Abraham is our father.' Jesus said to them, 'if you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham.'" - Alright, so what makes you Abraham's child, according to Jesus? If you do the work. Do what Abraham did. What did Abraham do? Abraham had faith. Abraham had enough faith to obey. The Bible says, 'Abraham kept my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

' So Abraham put it all on the line. He put his very son on the altar for God. He was going to lay it all down for God. "'If you were Abraham's children you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill me,'" - he didn't - they didn't think he knew what they were thinking, but he exposed it - "'now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God.

Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father.' Then they said to him, 'we were not born of fornication; we have one father'" - now you know why they said 'we're not born of fornication'? Because even that late in Jesus' life, they knew there was something suspicious about his birth. That mary seemed to come up pregnant long - too short a time after the wedding, you know what I mean? And they were always questioning his lineage and so that was actually a slap. They said, "'we were not born of fornication; we have one father-God.' Jesus said to them, "if God were your father, you would love me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of myself, but he sent me. Why do you not understand my speech? Because you are not able to listen to my word.

'" - You know, Jesus said spiritual things are spiritually discerned - "'you are of your father the devil,'" - now, would you say that's rude? Would you say that to anybody? Probably not. I don't think I've ever said that to anybody. I've thought it. (Laughter) but I didn't say it. He said, "'you are of your'" - and he said this to the religious leaders.

He knew he was finished when he said that. "'You are of your father the devil.'" - They said, 'God's our father.' He said, 'no, you've got a different father.' Now does that mean that they were like little rosemary's baby children of the devil? You know, some people think that the antiChrist is going to be the result of the devil having intimate relations with a human and give birth to this half devil/half human - no, angels and humans don't procreate. So when Jesus said, 'you're of your father the devil', he didn't mean that the devil will literally beget them. It means you end up behaving like whoever your father is. If you're created in the image of God, you will bear the image of Jesus.

If you're following the deeds of the devil, you'll bear his image. He said, "'you are of your father the devil and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning,'" - way back with cain - "'he was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and The Father of it.'" He is the one who uttered the first lie. Now that makes it pretty clear that God does not save people based on their heritage.

He said, 'are you children of faith?' - Children of Abraham. Matthew 9:12, "when Jesus heard that, he said to them, 'those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.'" So who is qualified to be healed by the great physician? What makes you qualified to come to Jesus? Knowing you're sick. He said, 'I didn't come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. And so this idea that you've got the rituals and that you're automatically to be saved is not what the Bible teaches. Alright, next section: religion of the heart.

Jeremiah has a lot to say about going to the heart of the matter - heart religion - and someone's going to read for me Jeremiah 17:10 in just a moment. Alright, Romans 14:12, "so then each of us shall give an account of himself to God." Everybody is involved. Every knee will bow. Every tongue will confess. We will all give an account to God.

Jesus said everyone of us will give an account for every idle word that is spoken - 'for by your words you'll be justified and by Your Words you'll be condemned. You can read in Deuteronomy 6:4 - the great - this great shema, "hear, o Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." - So what does the Lord want? He wants our heart. Do you know, the most important thing in obeying God is to be in love. You know how easy it is to serve God when you love him? It's so much easier. Amen.

When there's love. Love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength. And Jeremiah bears this out. You look, for instance, in Jeremiah 9:23, "thus says the Lord, 'let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,' says the Lord.

" the Lord delights in lovingkindness. And, go ahead, read for us, please Jeremiah 17:10. "I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings." So is it just what you do? Or does the Lord look on the heart to find out why you're doing what you do? Did Jesus, when he was teaching, he said, 'there are people who pray but they're not really talking to me in their heart, they're praying to be seen.' It's a spectacle. And he said there are people who give and they may give large amounts, but they're giving to have, you know, some library named after them and it's really because they're giving for their own glory, not for love for their fellow man. And Jesus points out a poor widow who puts in her last two cents - very small, very insignificant - and Jesus said, 'wow, they're really playing the band right now in heaven for what this widow gave, because she gave more than anybody.

' How did God know? God looks on the heart. And so, God not only looks at what you're doing, though he sees that, he looks at why you're doing what you're doing. There was a stingy man in scotland named o'neill and he would go to church every week and he was very faithful to give his one dollar every week. And one week, when he was thumbing through his wallet and the deacon came by, he tossed in the dollar, but just as the plate was going by he realized he had accidentally dropped in a ten. And he went to get the deacon further down the line - he said, 'oh, I made a mistake.

I meant to put a one in and I put a ten.' He said, 'look,' - he said, 'you've got freedom to choose before you put it in, but once it's in, it doesn't come back out.' He said, 'but, but, but' - he said, 'no, that's the way it is. You put it in, it stays.' Amen. He said, 'well, I'll get credit for ten.' And the deacon said, 'no, you're going to get credit for one dollar because that's all you meant to put in.' It's saying God looks on the heart. He didn't - he was not a cheerful giver. Alright, Jeremiah 12:7 - still talking about religion of the heart, "I have forsaken my house, I have left my heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies.

My heritage is to me like a lion in the forests; it cries out against me; therefore I have hated it." You notice, twice he says, 'my heritage - my heritage' - these are my people. And you can tell that God is - does God have feelings? Oh, he's big and strong. You can't hurt God. How can you hurt God? He's a hundred times stronger than any superman. But why do you have feelings? You have feelings because God has feelings and you're made in his image.

And so, instead of wondering if God thinks like you, you better maybe reverse that and realize that you think and have emotions because you get those from God. I'm not talking about the evil ones because you know, God is not tempted with evil, but if you are sad because you lose someone you love or are betrayed by someone you love, did it hurt Jesus when Judas betrayed him? It deeply hurt him. Did it hurt Jesus when Peter denied him? Did it hurt the Lord when the whole nation, after all he had done to protect and preserve them when they turned from him to other Gods? And so that's why Jeremiah is sometimes called the weeping prophet is because he had the heart of God and he saw how much the sins of the people were hurting God. And then you've got Jeremiah 17:7, "blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord." And so God is a God who wants us to have that inner hope. We're talking about the inner motives.

And then Jeremiah - we read this twice now - Jeremiah 29:13, "and you will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart." So when it says 'you'll search for me with all your heart', does that mean you search for me with more sophisticated equipment? Does that help you find the Lord? Even though you've got better search tools than we've ever had and you can access to more material and information than you ever could before, that's not the kind of searching God's talking about. You cannot click your way to the Kingdom. If you had the old strong's & young's analytical concordances but you're searching with your heart, God says you'll find him. If you've got all of the most sophisticated search engines of Google and yahoo, but you're not searching with your heart, you won't find him. You'll have lots of information but, you know, in the last days it says knowledge will increase and people will still be wicked.

So you can have all kinds of biblical knowledge at your fingertips and still not have your heart with God. Does this make sense? It sure does. So the criteria is to search for me with all of your heart, is what God wants. Alright, moving on to the twilights - the twilight of the idols. Jeremiah 10:8 - now when I first read this subtitle for the lesson - the twilight of the idols - for this day, what it made me think of is - are you aware that after the children of Israel - after Jeremiah - after they were carried off to Babylon, they saw all the idolatry in Babylon, the remnant that came back from Babylon never had a problem with physical idols again.

Did you know that? You look at Israel in the time of Jesus - the Romans may have brought idols, but the jews had no problems with idols. Jesus said almost nothing about idols. John and the apostles talked about idols to the gentile converts that were coming from the greco-roman religions into Christianity, but the jews finally got the victory over idols after Jeremiah because they saw what it did to them. But, during Jeremiah's time, they were worshiping the idols. You go to Jeremiah 10:8 through 11, "but they are altogether dull-hearted and foolish; a wooden idol is a worthless doctrine.

Silver is beaten into plates; it is brought from tarshish, and gold from uphaz, the work of the craftsman and of the hands of the" - by the way, just a little trivia, when it says here 'silver was brought from tarshish' - I think I mentioned to you that was my - actually my mother's maiden name, but tarshish was a coastal city on spain just before you go through the gates of hercules from the mediterranean into the atlantic. It was one of the furthest most phoenician cities and there are a few verses in the Bible that talk about silver and tarshish and so they have been looking for silver mines in spain because of these verses. They know there was gold down in arabia where they went to - they went from eZion-geber and they'd go down to the land of uphaz looking for gold. But they never did find the silver mines of tarshish and there were always these fabled mines - and I guess they're still looking for them - "the work of the craftsman and of the metalsmith; blue and purple are their clothing;" - they make these idols and then they clothe them and plate them with silver and gold - "they are all the work of skillful men. But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting king.

" - Artists, now, can make replicas of humans that are so real - in fact, have any of you ever been to a wax museum? And you'll see, they'll make a life-sized queen elizabeth. The eyes sparkle like they're moist. The skin has the texture - just the pores and the hairs - they look so real you expect them to start breathing. And if you put the real queen elizabeth next to the wax one, it's hard to tell which is which if there's no movement. But it doesn't matter how skillful those wax artists are, it's still just wax.

It's not alive. Jesus isn't going to die for it. But, you know, there are some religions and they think, 'oh the more beautiful the idol, the more divine - there's something supernatural and you can pray to it. It doesn't matter how beautiful the idol is. It is stone.

It is wood. It's like einstein said, 'it's just sticks and stones.' And yet people pray to a block of wood - that's what it says in the Bible - they're praying to a block of wood or a piece of metal. And this is what Jeremiah was talking about. "But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting king. At his wrath the earth will tremble, and the nations will not be able to endure his indignation.

Thus shall you say to them: 'the Gods that have not made the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens.'" That's an interesting play on words - the Gods that did not make the heavens and the earth will perish from under the heavens. Deuteronomy 4:11 - and someone's going to read for me Exodus 20:25, I guess. Deuteronomy 4:11, "then you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the midst of heaven, with darkness, cloud, and thick darkness. And the Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of the words, but saw no form;" - now why does God say that? He was reminding them - 'don't be tempted to think you saw a form and don't make any form because I don't want you making an idol.

' He emphasizes that. You saw no form. You only heard a voice - "so he declared to you his covenant which he commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and he wrote them on two tablets of stone." Go ahead and read that next verse for me, please, in Exodus. "And if you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone; for if you use your tool on it, you have profaned it." Why did God say, 'when you make your altar, get the twelve stones - just get rough stones. You dig 'em up.

Pry 'em up out of the ground, stack them up into twelve - one for each tribe - do not lift up a chisel and a hammer on them. If you do, you have polluted them. You roll it away and get another rock.' Why did he say it is to be as natural as possible? Is that because God only believes in organic altars? Is the Lord an environmentalist? You know why? Because he knew that as soon as they thought it was okay to modify that altar with their artistic ability and they put their works in it, they would begin to admire what they had done and they'd forget about worshiping God and it would be about worshiping the altar. But as long as they were just rough, round rocks, there was nothing very aesthetically pleasing about the altar. It was to be without a man's hand touching it.

'You saw no form in the mountain. Do not make a golden calf. Where'd you get that idea?' God did not appear to them as a calf at any time in history. Let me give you another example of this point: Daniel chapter 2, verse 34, "you watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces." You notice that in Daniel , the whole vision - I'm assuming you all know about the vision in Daniel 2 - it's all about a great idol. Can you tell me - how many of you have seen the idol in Daniel 2? You've seen paintings of it - you know what I'm talking about.

What does it usually look like? Isn't it usually a man? Where does it say it's a man? It says an image. For all we know, it had a donkey head. It has a head is all it said. It has arms but we don't know what they looked like - because the pagans, they worshiped idols. Everything about it is an idol until you get to the stone.

And it says the stone is cut without hands - meaning, not man's hands - that destroys it. And it's talking about the contrast between God's truth - the true worship - and man-made idolatry. That stone is the truth of God - Christ - destroying the religion - the idols of the world. The whole thing is about the contrast between two kingdoms - a kingdom of the idols - world religion - idolatry and God's kingdom. Alright, last section - the remnant - alright, in - if you go to Haggai chapter 2, verse 2, "speak now to zerubbabel The Son of shealtiel, governor of judah, and to Joshua The Son of jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, saying: 'who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing?'" You know, I'm jumping ahead to Haggai because Jeremiah lived before the destruction that happened in Jerusalem.

He said they were going to - Jeremiah foretold, 'you'll serve Babylon seventy years. Here you are, they come back and rebuild the temple a few years after they've been freed - the king helps underwrite building the temple - and there were actually still people alive that had seen Solomon's temple before it was destroyed and they were heartbroken. Some of the people are rejoicing because they're having the big inauguration to lay the cornerstone, and these old men are all crying. They're going. 'Why are you crying?' 'Oh, this is nothing! Compared to Solomon's temple, this is pitiful!' And that's when Haggai gave them the prophecy and said, 'well, the glory of this temple is going to be bigger than the glory of Solomon's temple because my son is coming to this temple.

' And so it's a different story, but there were still people alive from the days of Jeremiah, who had heard Jeremiah prophesy, that lived through the Babylonian captivity and they came back. There was a remnant that survived. Now when the Babylonians came, if you were going to guess, who would be the remnant? The ones that are being carried off into Babylon, that will be surrounded with paganism and surrounded with false religion? They're going to end up - would they survive and come back, or would they be diffused and disappear? Or would it be the ones that Nebuchadnezzar said, 'I'm going to let you stay in the land. You can live in whatever house you want.' You would have thought, 'oh, that will be the remnant.' But when you read Jeremiah - do you remember as we studied? The ones that stayed behind that had an abundance of food, that were told 'you can have whatever house you want to live in.' They apostatized. They lost faith.

They went to Egypt. They disappear. The ones who were persecuted in Babylon, they began to cling to their heritage and they had Daniel, shadrach, meshach, abednego - of course those were their Babylonian names - there was hananiah, mishael, azariah, Esther, Ezekiel, mordecai - you have all these faithful heroes and all of them seem to survive in spite of attempts to kill them. Was there an attempt to kill Daniel? A couple - once when they gathered all the wise men to annihilate them, and then in the lions' den. God preserved them and witnessed through them.

Was there an attempt to destroy shadrach, meshach and abednego - and a golden statue? Was there an attempt to destroy Esther, mordecai? And Ezekiel would have been caught up in that. So they survived through trial. Now there's a lesson for us. It seems like God refines his people the best, not in prosperity, but in trial. So when you pray for revival for the church, should you be praying that God sends trouble? Nobody wants to pray that, right? Historically, that's usually - when did the church grow the most in the first century? In times of persecution.

When was the greatest apostasy? When Christianity was legalized. Isn't that interesting? Well, I've got to tie this off because I'm running out of time here. Just a couple of thoughts. We don't know what happened to Jeremiah exactly. As far as we know, there's a couple of ancient historians - one being jerome tertullian - we believe they are quoting earlier sources.

They say Jeremiah died in Egypt in tahpanhes and he was stoned by his own people there. Not too much that we've read contradicts that. It looked like they weren't very happy with his last prophecies. The final prophecy in Jeremiah is interesting. It's a quote - Jeremiah is quoting 2 Kings 25 or 2 Kings was added to the end of Jeremiah.

It's not likely Jeremiah lived long enough to see this, but it says, "now it came to pass in the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of jehoiachin king of judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month," - it's very careful about the date here - "that evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign," - right after Nebuchadnezzar died, evil-merodach, for a very short period was king and then he was assassinated, he lifted up the head of jehoiachin king of judah and brought him out of prison." - This young king, the last surviving king of David - the last son of David - or descendent of David who served as a king - was brought out of prison. And I know I read this to you earlier - he spoke kindly to him. He gave him a more prominent seat than the Kings who were with him in Babylon - "so jehoiachin changed from his prison garments, and he ate bread regularly before the King all the days of his life. And as for his provisions, there was a regular ration given him by the King, a portion for each day, all the days of his life." I think it's interesting that the book of Jeremiah ends, of all things, with the word 'life'. Of all the words that you could pick, it ends with the word 'life'.

And the book of Jeremiah ends by talking about someone going from prison garments and prison food and prison status to the King's palace, the King's robes, the King's food, and life. And so you've got, in that last story, you have the scenario of being saved from captivity, being brought to the palace - that's the whole Gospel story. Isn't this last - the last statement here in the book of Jeremiah? Well, I hope that you've been blessed by it. I want to remind everybody that we have a free offer. It's called faith reclaimed and if you call -788-3966 we'll send you that for free.

And also, don't forget, we're starting next week in our new Sabbath school study dealing with the subject of rebellion and redemption: the great controversy. Thank you very much for studying with us and, God willing, we'll study his word together again next week. (Rain pouring) (door squeaking) throughout recorded history tales of ghosts and spirits can be found in folklore in nearly every country and culture. Egyptians built pyramids to help guide the Spirits of their leaders. Rome sanctioned holidays to honor and appease the spirits of their dead.

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