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From Us to Me August 5, 2010

Posted by theronwatson in Uncategorized.
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Jeremiah 31:27-37
The story of Israel begins with a people in bondage in Egypt. Originally, they had gone to Egypt to escape a famine happening in their homeland. As generations past, they fell into bondage at the hands of the Egyptians who tormented them with hard labor. Enter Moses. Born an Israelite, rescued by Pharoah’s daughter and raised by his own parents, he lived as an Egyptian. After a serious incident, he runs away from Egypt and is next found tending sheep for his father-in-law. While out with the flock, he has a dramatic experience with God who tells him to free the Israelites from their bondage. After a long and difficult campaign, Pharoah relents and releases the Israelites to return to their homeland. Along the way there are high points and low points of disobedience.
From one dramatic story while the Israelites were in the desert comes the infamous Ten Commandments. Moses had been on the mountain in God’s presence and returned with tablets of stone containing the very word of God. He finds the people in blatant sin, breaks the tablets and returns to the mountain where God provides new ones. This time when Moses comes down, things are as they should be. They build a golden box to put the tablets in, the Ark, and Moses assembles the people for a revelation from God. It would seem that God wants the people to be obedient to the commands He has put forth and if they were not, there would be consequences. The people agree to abide in and follow the rules.
Fast forward now some time. God tells the people to enter the Land of Promise but, they don’t. Instead they wander the wilderness for forty years. Fast forward again and we find Joshua leading the people into the Land after Moses had died. The people lived in their land for many generations. They went through times of obedience and blessing and times of disobedience and exile. The books of the Old Testament record a circular pattern of rebellion, discipline from God, repentance, return to right living, blessings from God, and repeat.
The prophet Jeremiah takes place at the beginning of one of those cycles. The people had been disobedient and living in rebellion to God. They had sworn on oath they would not turn from God, but they did and had to pay the penalty. Life is always about risks and rewards, cause and effect, actions and consequences. When we drift away from the Lord, He will use whatever means He deems necessary to get our attention to bring us back to Himself. The people of Israel were always regarded as a one, as a whole. They succeeded or failed together. Fortunately it wasn’t for one person’s or one family’s sin that the whole was punished. Rather, God is slow to anger and abounding in love and waited until the whole of Israel had drifted from Him. When it was time, in His perfect time, He disciplined their unfaithfulness.
Until this point here in today’s passage, this has been the way God dealt with His people. Here however, God reveals something new. He will no longer punish en mass. He will no longer continue punishment against rebellion to the children and children’s children as He had said before. Instead, God would deal with His people on an individual basis. Before, the people succeeded or failed together. There were always some who were righteous in the midst of the rebellion, the Bible calls them “the remnant.” From them, God would rebuild after exile or re-establish the land, or rebuild, etc. No longer. Now, God would look at the individual. People would no longer suffer due to another’s disobedience. No longer would the unrighteous benefit from sanctity of a few. God would look on the heart of the individual and deal with them accordingly. Where once the Law was written on tablets of stone, it would now be written on the human heart. The problem with the transition is that now each one of us is accountable for our own thoughts and deeds. We must each take care of our own sins and shortcomings. But, how? How does one account for their own sins?
There is no way for any one person to make the concessions necessary to rid themselves of their sin. Our sins are not only something we do or not do, they are something we are. We are sinful by nature. There is no work we can do, however righteous and just that will be enough for God to pardon us. We cannot give enough. There is only one way for our sins to be reconciled, that is through Jesus. Only Jesus has done the work that must be done to make our sins disappear in God’s sight. Only by accepting the atoning work of Jesus upon Calvary’s Cross will we be right in God’s sight.
Has Jesus rescued you from your sins?



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