I almost missed the sermon this morning—not because I wasn’t there, but because it was in Thai. Thankfully, a young woman asked if I needed a translation and invited me to sit beside her. As the speaker spoke, she converted his words into a language which I could understand—English. Oh! How powerful it was! I feel compelled to share it with you. But this is mostly in my own words, and my understanding on what the speaker was communicating.
If the Lord came today. Would you be ready?
Jeremiah was a prophet, called in his youth, pre-destined before birth to be the Lord’s messenger, who lived to lived to see Jerusalem conquered by her enemies, sent to warn His people beforehand. Before the city was taken captive, God called Jeremiah to warn, instruct, and rebuke the people through preaching and acting out parables. (See the book of Jeremiah, particularly chapter 1 for more details on Jeremiah’s life and calling.)
On one occasion, the Lord told Jeremiah to buy a linen belt and to tie it around his loins. The prophet went to the market to buy the girdle, an then put it on as the Lord had instructed him. After an unstated and unindicated period of time, the Lord told Jeremiah to take the belt down to the Euphrates river and hide it in the hole of a rock. Obediently, Jeremiah went down to the river, found a rock with a hole in it, stuffed the belt inside, and left. A long, but unspecified length of time went by before the Lord reminded Jeremiah about the belt. He told the prophet to go and retrieve the girdle from the hole in which he had hid it.
Jeremiah went to look for the girdle. He found the place where he had hid the belt, but it was buried and he had to dig it out. When he finally pulled the girdle out from the hole, it was so badly damaged that it was no longer useful for anything. Then, the Lord said to him, “After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem. This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing. For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah…that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear.” (See Jeremiah 13: 1-11)
Israel and Judah were God’s chosen people, but they had turned their backs on Him to worship idols instead. Now, He called them evil. They were once close to him, as though strapped to His waist, but now they were so ruined by idolatry that they were no longer fit to be called His people. Because they were worshipping other gods, they lost sight of the true God, and no longer had a saving relationship with Him. They did not know the true God.
One day, God is going to come to take His people back to Him, to bring them to His kingdom. In that time, it was revealed to His disciple, John, that “the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the lamb: For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?’” (Revelation 6:15-17)
On the last day, when Christ returns, people who have turned their backs on God to worship idols, whether idols of stone, or idols of wood, idols of money or of fame or material possessions, will run and try,in vain, to hide from the Lord of Glory. They will be filled with terror, knowing that they are not ready to meet Him and that their destruction is near. They will pray to their gods to cause the rocks to fall on them, to hide them from the true God, but God’s true people, those who know Him, and who worship Him, who trust Him, and who love Him, will look forward to His coming with joy. They will be excited and happy when He comes. (See Titus 2:13)
In order to be ready when He comes, we have to know the true God (See Matthew 7:23). We have to be close to Him. We cannot do this if we are worshipping other gods. Yes, these idols can be made of wood, or gold, or stone, or can be celebrities or even invisible spirits, but we can end up making idols out of other things—money, work, food, houses (See Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13), family, friends (See Matthew 10:37 and Luke 14: 26), opinions or our own reasoning and/or wisdom (See Proverbs 14:12 and 1st Corinthians 3:19) fiction or fantasy (See Revelation 22:15), entertainment or fame(See Hebrews 11:24-26) or even traditions in our church that do not meet God’s standards, or even forms or ceremonies that can be in harmony with Scripture, if we are doing it in order to be saved, and lacking in love (See Matthew 23:23). Anything that occupies the mind more than God has become our god, or our idol. If we look to these things for help, we are not trusting in God as we should. While we should use many of these things for survival and for God’s glory, they are gifts from God, and it is in God whom we should trust, putting Him above all these things. We should not let these things occupy our time so much that they take away time that could be spent drawing nearer to God, and learning from Him. (See Matthew 6:31-32, Matthew 16:26 and Mark 8:36)
In order to be ready, we need to have that relationship with God. We need to spend time in His Word, praying to Him, and trusting Him. And, we need to love Him. If we love and trust, we will also obey, as Jeremiah did, even when the Lord asked him to do strange things that may not have made much since, until they were explained to him, but Jeremiah trusted God, and he obeyed. When we have this relationship with God, trusting in Him for salvation, and truly believe and love Him (which is key to a relationship) will lead to obedience, then we will be ready when He comes, and we will look forward to His coming. (See Matthew 26:41, Luke 21:36, Mark 14:38, 1st Peter 5:7, Psalm 55:22, Matthew 11:29, John 14:15 and 23, John 5:39, Revelation 14:12, and Hebrews 11.)
If He comes today, would you be ready?
But He’s not here yet. You still have some time to get ready, but don’t delay, because even if the Lord would not come today, nor tomorrow, nor this week, nor this year, nor this decade, we may not even have another hour. Don’t delay, but turn to God, and if you are already His, renew your commitment daily, hourly, even now. Prepare, and ask God, and He will prepare you, but you must cooperate with Him.
(See Luke 12:20, 1st Corinthians 15:31, 1st John 1:9, John 4: 10 and 14, Galatians 2:20, 1st John 4:8, Galatians 5: 22 and 23, and John 14.)
Disclaimer: Most of these extra verses were added for confirmation and study purposes, along with many comments and the brief history of Jeremiah, as this is my understanding of the sermon, and not a word-for-word manuscript. Picture is by Sweet Publishing and was downloaded from Distant Shores Media, used by permission through the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. Bible text was taken from the King James Version, unless accidentally copied from other versions (If you notice that any of it was copied from another version, please contact me, and you can do so via commenting, and I will try to fix it. Thank you.)