Three Stages of
Rebellion Against God
Seminarian Mark Ehrlichmann
July 23, 2006
"MAN HAS EITHER
GOD OR AN IDOL." Martin Luther
We continue our study of God’s Word through Jeremiah.
We have learned that God called Jeremiah to be His prophet,
Jeremiah responds "No, I am not old enough."
And last week we discovered that God has had enough of Israel’s
silliness and unresponsive actions to God’s love for her. He
tells Jeremiah that it is over. He gives Jeremiah two visions of what
That God will watch over His Words, meaning that because He has had
enough, He will punish Israel for her lack of faith. And
that destruction will come from the north, meaning that Israel will
lose freedom and suffer much.
Today we will discover the three stages of Rebellion against God,
personally and culturally:
a. Deny sin (Jeremiah 2:31-35) New Century Version
do my people say, 'We are free to wander. We won't come to you anymore'?
young woman does not forget her jewelry,
and a bride does not forget the decorations for her dress.
But my people have forgotten me for more days than can be counted.
really know how to chase after love.
Even the worst women can learn evil ways from you.
on your clothes you have the blood of poor and innocent people,
but they weren't thieves you caught breaking in. You do all these
but you say, 'I am
innocent. God is not angry with me.'
But I will judge you guilty of lying, because you say, 'I have not sinned.'
God has Jeremiah tell Israel: "Stop
sinning. God will forgive you!"
But the people respond: "We are not
The people of Israel have not realized that they have become slaves,
stuck, locked in the thought process of following their own desires
instead of following God. They became unfaithful in their
relationship to God. Like a marriage where the wife or husband
completely ignores the other and follows his or her own desires.
But they know they have a spouse. They completely abandoned
God. They didn’t even care if other people knew they abandoned
God. They didn't care if God’s feelings were hurt!
They were worse than people who worshipped false gods. They
conducted false worship in the Temple, God’s Holy House. This was
too much for God. People who worshipped false gods were more
faithful than Israel because they did not dishonor their gods with
What is the image of Israel, what is her character? Surely, not
worthy of God’s love. God agonizes over His decision to destroy
Israel, but He must because His own character demands it for He Himself
said that He is Holy. Therefore, because He chose Israel as His
people, they are to be Holy. God's Word is His authority, and is
pure. God is Love. It hurts His heart terribly and He can't
stand it anymore. He wants to share His Holiness but Israel keeps
getting dirty and dirty. They did not think they were
sinning. Just the fact that they do not see themselves as sinners
is the final straw for God. So, God tells Jeremiah to proclaim to
Israel: "Enough! Enough! It is over! My relationship
with you is finished." Yet, Israel laughed. They did not
believe God, as we come to the second stage of Rebellion: Israel’s
Denial of God’s Judgment.
b. Deny judgment (Jeremiah 5:10-13)
10 "Go along and cut down Judah's
vineyards, but do not completely destroy them. Cut off all her
people as if they were branches, because they do not belong to the LORD.
11 The families of Israel and Judah have been
completely unfaithful to me," says the LORD.
12 Those people have lied about the LORD
and said, "He will not do
anything to us! Nothing
bad will happen to us! We will never see war or hunger!
13 The prophets are like an empty wind; the
word of God is not in them.
Let the bad things they say happen to them."
This reminds me of my experience working the farm for my cousin and
attending technical college for Farm Management. For through my
working on my cousin’s farm clearing some land for him to expand, I was
helping to prepare the land to grow grain. Because I did a good
job in preparing the land my cousin was able to grow much.
Because of my faithfulness and right way of clearing the land, both of
us received blessings from the land. Now, if I did not do my job
in preparing the land, if I did not pay attention in my Farm Management
class, I would not have a relationship with my cousin and he would not
have good land to grow grain. Because I did not care about
him. I only cared about myself.
Now think of Israel as the land, and her prophets as the ones clearing
preparing her for growing fruit. God is telling Jeremiah that
those prophets did not do the right thing in not proclaiming His
word. The prophets were just as guilty as the people were.
The people were not getting the warnings that God was not happy with
them. The prophets themselves were like an empty wind blowing
apathy and false security because the prophets themselves did not
believe that God would do anything, good or bad. They would say: "It
can’t happen here." Not facing reality. They believed their
own lies. They would leave people searching for the truth because
they forgot where that truth is. They knew God. But
neglected to listen to Him. It became "Whatever works for you."
Just like it is today in America. People are still searching for
the truth. And people also are still afraid of the truth and
prefer not to hear it over and over. Because they don't want to
give up their false idols. Their love of their things. They
begin to deny God. The last stage of Rebellion. God says:
c. Deny God (Jeremiah 6:16-17)
16 This is what the LORD
says: "Stand where the roads cross and look.
Ask where the old way is, where the good way is, and walk on it.
If you do, you will find rest for yourselves. But they have said,
'We will not walk on the good way.'
17 I set watchmen over you and told you,
'Listen for the sound of the war trumpet!'
said, 'We will not listen.' "
God declares that the time has come for Israel to awaken from its
slumber party. Time for the reality of real hard life as His
chosen people. To realize the consequences of their abandonment
of their relationship with God. To understand that their
souls will not have any rest because of their decision not to walk in
the right way of life. Their decision not to listen to the sound
of the trumpets, i.e. listen to the prophets over the years, of the
warnings of God to not abandon their faith. They will find no
rest for their souls.
We can also ask ourselves, where are we, in our lives? Are we
walking in His ways, Are we walking with God? Are we listening to
God? How is your soul? Do you have peace in your
I opened with Martin Luther’s quote of "Man has either God or an
idol." Do you worship God or an idol? Are you happy
with who you are? Ask Jesus to help you, I guarantee He will if
you will let him.
I am struck by the 14th verse of chapter 5, where God says:
14 The Lord God rules
over all. He says to me, "The people have spoken those
words. So my words will be like fire in your mouth. I will
make the people like wood. And the fire will burn them up."
I found it interesting because when I studied the Gospel lesson for
today, Mark 6.1-6, I noticed a parallel in that God was
Jeremiah to be a prophet without honor and that His Words would be like
fire for destruction. There is a similarity in that Jesus said a
prophet is without honor in his hometown and found it amazing that the
people of his time did not want to believe him either. Even
though they could SEE him and His works.
God sends Jesus, His own son, a
prophet without honor, but with a fire that will clean and not destroy!!
Think about that! Thanks be to God that we have a Savior, that
through our faith, will clean us instead of destroy us. Thanks be
to God for His Great Love and Patience with us. Even today,
Jeremiah’s words speak to us of God’s love for us. He also speaks
of God’s warnings to us not to let ourselves be obsessed with things
that cannot give us rest for our souls.
In this world of "lost-ness" may God shine His Word on your hearts and
may the Holy Spirit guide you into the Way, the Life, and the Truth in
Jesus Christ, your savior, so that you may find rest for your tired
souls, that you may find living bread and living water for your