Jeremiah 27:5

Sermon preached on August 4, 2013 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

Some of you know that I'm a fan of the Boston Celtics. Last month I went to their web site to see what was new with the team and was shocked to learn that they had a new coach. Doc Rivers is no longer with them. I love Doc Rivers. I think he's one of the best coaches in the league. Not only that, but I also read that the Celtics had traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets. Again, I love Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. The two of them were the very soul of the team, defining its work ethic. Kevin Garnett set the whole defensive tone of the team. Paul Pierce had been with them for his whole pro career. They guys they traded them for were players I never even heard of. I was shocked and at first I thought it was a joke. I checked to make sure it wasn't April Fool's Day. It wasn't. I was very disappointed with all the changes. Things are never going to be the same.

But I had to accept it. It was just the way it was. One thing I recognized was that the Celtic organization had the right to do what they did. They people that own the Celtics, the General Manager and the Celtic organization had every right to do what they did. After all, they own and run the team. It doesn't matter if I like it or not, they had a right to do it and they did it.

Life is like that. I got fired from a job once. It was only for half a day—I got hired again the next day, but I did get fired. I was maybe 11 or 12 and I was working on a farm picking strawberries. One day I was working on my row, when suddenly, I got hit on the side of my face with a strawberry. One of my friends, who was working tow or three rows away, had thrown a strawberry at me. Without thinking I threw one back at him. But the boss saw me do it and he came tearing down the row shouting and told me to go home. He didn't see my friend throw the strawberry at me—so my friend didn't get in trouble. But I was told to go home. The next day I was back, having learned a lesson not to throw strawberries.

When that boss was firing me, reaming me out for throwing a strawberry—it never entered my mind to question his right to fire me. Of course he had that right. He was the boss. He owned the farm. He could have fired me even if I hadn't done anything wrong. But I had messed up. So when he told me to pack up and go home, I did.

Human beings often don't think of God in terms like that. Instead we often feel a sense of entitlement. Even in our sin we think that God owes us good things. When terrible things happen we ask why? Why would God allow it? Tragedies such as 9/11 make us ask,

"Why would God allow that?"

But as bad as 9/11 was, it was not nearly as bad as an actual foreign invasion. That's what our text is about. It's about the Babylonians sweeping across the Middle East and God telling the nations of Judah, Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon that He was going to give them into the hand of the Babylonians. The envoys of these kings had come to Jerusalem to make an alliance. They knew that they could not stand against the king of Babylon on their own. They thought that if they stood together they thought they might have success. God tells them that resistance to the King of Babylon is futile, at least for the time being. He tells them that the Babylonians will subdue them for three generations. God warns them not to resist the Babylonians, for if they resist they will be taken away from their own lands and perish. However, if they don't resist the Babylonians, the God will let them remain in their own land.

That's the context. In verse 5 God makes a great declaration about His right to give them into the hands of the Babylonians. God said,

"With my great power
and outstretched arm
I made the earth and its people
and the animals that are on it,
and I give it to anyone I please."

This is an incredible statement that. God tells us that He created the earth, its peoples and the animals and He has a right to do with all these things as He pleases. By virtue of the fact that He created everything,

God owns everything and He has the right to dispose of everything as He sees fit.

God is God. We are creatures. He can deal with us as He sees fit. He is absolutely sovereign. All the good that we experience comes from Him and it comes because of His love and mercy, not because we deserve it.

If we are going to be successful in Christian living this is a lesson that we absolutely need to learn. It's a difficult lesson, yet it's one that very important, for it is the truth that underlays humility, and enables us to praise and glorify God in both good times and difficult times.

After all, what was the difference between Job and his wife? When all the difficulties Job experienced came upon him, she ridiculed him for holding on to his integrity. She said, (Job 2:9)

"Curse God and die!"

But Job did not do that? Why? It was because He knew the truth of our text. When Job learned that he had lost his possessions and his children, Job said (Job 1:21)

"Naked I came from my mother's womb,
and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD
has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised."

The only reason Job could say that was because he knew this truth.

How can we ever do what Jesus told His disciples to do in Luke 17:10 when he said,

"So you also, when you have done
everything you were told to do,
should say,
'We are unworthy servants;
we have only done our duty.' "

—unless we know this truth?

This is a lesson we need to have impressed upon us. God shows us that in Daniel 4, with King Nebuchadnezzar. He needed to learn this lesson. Indeed, after he conquered Judah and the other nations, God told him that he was going to be insane for seven years. He said to King Nebuchadnezzar through Daniel, (Daniel 4:32)

"You will be driven away from people
and will live with the wild animals;
you will eat grass like cattle.
Seven times will pass by for you
until you acknowledge that
the Most High is sovereign over
the kingdoms of men and gives them
to anyone he wishes."

When King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon regained his sanity he said of God, (Daniel 4:34-35)

"His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures
from generation to generation.
All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him:
'What have you done?"

When King Nebuchadnezzar came to know this truth, he was humbled. He praised, honored and glorified God like he should have for all of his reign.

There are two sides of our text. The immediate context, is very negative. God was giving these nations into the hands of the Babylonians.

Yet it also teaches that all the good things that people enjoy, all the blessings that come to them—come to us from God's grace.

God says,

"With my great power
and outstretched arm
I made the earth and its people
and the animals that are on it,
and I give it to anyone I please."

All the good things that you enjoy—they come from God. How God has blessed you.

Think of the horrible judgment spoken of in your text—God has spared you of those horrors.

Foreign invasions—they are one of the most horrible thing possible. If you want to read about the horrors of the Babylonian invasion of Judah—read chapter 1 of the book of Habakkuk. These ruthless Babylonians came and devastated Judah. Habakkuk said that they were 'fiercer than wolves', like vultures swooping to devour, bent on violence, pulling people up with hooks.

That happened because of the sin of the people of Judah. History is filled with similar atrocities. In 1937 the Japanese Imperial Army took the city of Nanking. Over the following 6 weeks unbelievable horrors were visited on the people of that city and it is estimated that around 250,000 defenceless people were slaughtered. It's known as the Rape of Nanking. A couple of years later the Nazis invaded Poland, and then in 1941, Russia. The things that were done, not just to the Jews, but to the other people, are almost unspeakable. One can't read them without becoming sick.

People, what grace God has bestowed on you. You haven't experienced any of those horrors.

What a gracious and merciful Ruler you have in Jesus.

He has not let things like that happen to you. How blessed we have been in this country.

For those of you who are not Christians,

this shows you how kind Jesus has been to you.

During the time of Jeremiah the prophet the people of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon suffered unbelievable terrors. You're no different than them. Yet God has spared you such horrors? Why? To lead you to repentance. To lead you to Jesus. Romans 2:4 asks,

"Or do you show contempt
for the riches of his kindness,
tolerance and patience,
not realizing that God's kindness
leads you toward repentance?"

You need to go to Jesus. You need to do it today, before judgment comes upon you.

Secondly, for those of you who are not Christians, this shows you

how much you should appreciate the Christians that live around you.

What a blessing they are to you. Christians are the salt of the earth. (Matthew 5:13) The Christians living in this country are the reason it hasn't been judged already.

Many non-Christians look down on Christianity. They think that it's of little value. They don't realize the judgment that has been delayed because of the presence of Christians. It's because of them that you live. Repent and go to Jesus.

For those who are Christians,

how we should be praying for our country.

Nations are responsible to God. In our country we have the separation of church and state. Many people interpret that as meaning that God has no place in the public sphere. Faith is seen as a private matter that should not flow over to the public arena. That's nonsense. In verse 3 we see that God told Jeremiah to send these words to,

"the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon,
Tyre and Sidon through the envoys
who have come to Jerusalem
to Zedekiah king of Judah."

These kings and nations were created by God and they were responsible to Him. The same is true for our country. We need to pray for it—because if it doesn't repent, unspeakable horrors are going to come upon it.

Fourthly, for Christians,

How incredibly thankful we ought to be for the blessings that God has given us.

Why haven't these bad things happen to us? It's the grace of God. It's through the intercession of Jesus. Every day that you live you ought to be praising Him for not treating you as your sins deserve.

Not only that, but this text ought to help you with contentment.

Whatever you have, you have because God has given it to you. Yes, there are secondary causes. We work hard. Some people are gifted intellectually so that they can make wise financial decisions. But the ultimate cause of blessing is the grace that comes to us through Jesus Christ.

God is involved in our lives in a very real way. What we have in terms of possessions, is what He has determined. He owns everything and gives it to whoever He pleases. He has given you what you have. Now I'm not suggesting that you stop working hard or striving to improve your situation—but I am saying that knowing what we have comes from God should give us a contentment with what we have. He knows what's good for us. He gives us what we need, as 2 Peter 1:3 says,

"His divine power has given us
everything we need
for life and godliness…"

Lastly, for Christians, this means that

you should never have an inappropriate sense of entitlement with God.

Christians, because God has given you many great promises, you can claim them. He has given you a great status before Him—you have been brought into His family. You are now the children of God. So it's entirely appropriate that you claim God's promises and the position that He has given you.

But there are other ways in which it is inappropriate to have a sense of entitlement before God. Like Job, and Paul, we should be prepared to lose all things for Jesus. As Paul said in Philippians 3:8,

"I consider everything a loss
compared to the surpassing greatness
of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,
for whose sake I have lost all things."

Not only should you be prepared to lose all things for Jesus, but you should also be prepared to suffer. 1 Peter is all about Christians suffering for doing good. Much of the book of Revelation is about that too.

Rather than having an inappropriate sense of entitlement before God, rather we ought to be willing to do what Jesus said in Matthew 16:24,

"If anyone would come after me,
he must deny himself and
take up his cross and follow me."

May God give us grace to do so.