Old School : Jeremiah
09.09.18 - Week 7 - Breaking Point
OLD SCHOOL Pt. 82: Jeremiah Wk. 7 - The Breaking Point Metro CITY Church │ J. Schossau 09.08.18
Hey Metro…My name is Jeremy and I have the incredible honor of serving as the Lead Pastor here at Metro. At both of our campuses I cannot tell you how delighted I am that you have joined us. Super excited because we are in our series called OLD SCHOOL and it’s a series through the Old Testament part of the Bible. We spend a little time every year in this series and we started at the beginning of the Old Testament part of the Bible in the book of Genesis and we’ve been just journeying straight through a book or two each year. That might sound boring to some of you but I PROMISE YOU that you will find what was written so many thousands of years ago will be incredible modern and relevant to you. And we are in the middle of our study about a guy in the Bible named Jeremiah. He was a pretty significant guy. He was a prophet. He had this special calling and role from God. He spoke for God and his message was pretty straight forward to the people of Israel…YOU ARE SCREWING UP AND IF YOU DON’T CHANGE IT’S NOT GOING TO END WELL.
And one of the things we learn about Jeremiah is that his life was hard and it was difficult. Not just a hard day kind of hard or a difficult day kind of difficult…but he had a difficult life…a hard life. But God meets him in the middle of it all and there is so much to learn from this guy.
And I’d like to begin by reading a few pages from one of the great works of human literature. It’s a volume that we, as a family, have read many times. And since my wife is the BEST READER THAT I KNOW and since she is thoroughly acquainted with this work of literature I’ve asked her to join me on stage to read parts of this to you.
This work is called: ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE HORRIBLE NO GOOD VERY BAD DAY.
I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there is gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell that it was going to be a TERRIBLE HORRIBLE NO GOOD VERY BAD DAY.
At breakfast Anthony found a stingray car kit in his breakfast cereal box. Nick found a jr. undercover agent code ring in his breakfast cereal box but in my cereal box all i found was breakfast cereal. I think I will move to Australia.
In the car pool Mrs. Gibson let becky have the seat by the window. Audry and Elliot got seats by the window too. I said I was scrunched. I said I was being smushed. I said if I don’t get a seat by the window I’m going to be carsick. No one even answered. I could tell it was going to be a TERRIBLE HORRIBLE NO GOOD VERY BAD DAY.
On the way downstairs the elevator closed on my foot and while I was waiting for my mom to go get the car, Anthony made me fall where it was muddy and when I started crying because of the mud he said I was a crybaby and then when I was punching Nick for saying I was a crybaby my mom came back with the car and scolded me for being muddy and fighting. I AM HAVING A TERRIBLE HORRIBLE NO GOOD VERY BAD DAY. I TOLD EVERYBODY and NO ONE EVEN ANSWERED.
My bath was too hot. I got soap in my eyes. My marble went down the drain and I had to wear my railroad train pajamas. I HATE MY RAILROAD TRAIN PAJAMAS.
When I went back to bed Nick took back the pillow he said I could keep and the Mickey Mouse nightlight burned out and I bit my tongue. The cat wants to sleep with Anthony not me.
It has been a TERRIBLE HORRIBLE NO GOOD VERY BAD DAY. My mom says, ‘Some day are like that. Even in Australia.’
So, when is the last time you had a Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day? When was the last time you think you were at the edge…at a breaking point. We could call this message: JEREMIAH AND THE TERRIBLE HORRIBLE NO GOOD VERY BAD DAY but really I’m calling it Jeremiah Pt. 7: The Breaking Point. We’re going to camp out in chapters 19 and 20 in the book of Jeremiah so if you have a bible or smart phone I’d love for you to find your way to Jeremiah 19 and you have to understand something as we approach this…Last time we met and talked about Jeremiah he was at a FORK IN THE ROAD…but this week…he’s at a low point in his life, in his job…in his calling…it’s a low point for the people of Israel.
There is a line that Jeremiah uses at one point that says something like… ‘The Blood of Innocent people ran from one end of the city to the other.’ People were not safe. The weak among them were not safe. The widows and orphans were not safe. If you did not have a family, a clan to protect you…you were not safe. People would kill you to take your property. Women were be objectified and abused. The weak and defenseless were prayed upon.
This was a low point. Remember the People of Israel had this covenant relationship with God that said, I will be your God and you will be my people but the deal is…no other gods! YOU MUST SERVE ME. But the land of Israel was filled with all kinds of idols. They were loving and serving and bowing their hearts and minds down to all kinds of other things other then God. They were even offering child sacrifices. THIS WAS A LOW POINT.
And God is tired of this. He has sent prophets and priest to warn the people. He says judgment is about to come. AND NOW, JEREMIAH IS HIS MAN that carries this message. Jeremiah is the prophet of gloom and doom. It’s not pretty. He never wanted the job but he gets this call…FROM GOD…and he’s faithful. He’s scared. He’s afraid. But he knows God is with him. God has promised to be with him. And so year after year he is faithful but as we get to chapters 19 and 20 he’s worn out. This is getting old because it’s going no where. People are not listening. They are mocking him and now, it’s going to take a turn for the worse. And Jeremiah has this breaking point…and like some of us…when he does…he has a total meltdown.
And what I want to do is two things. One, I just want to walk through this terrible horrible no good very bad day that Jeremiah has and second..I just want us to see how Jeremiah reacts to all this. I think it’s going to surprise some of you because Jeremiah BEARS HIS SOUL. He just opens up. It’s raw. It’s transparent. And it isn’t pretty.
The first part we’re going to see what’s happen and then we get to see how Jeremiah FEELS about what is happening. And FRIENDS, I want you to know something. LOOK UP HERE PLEASE…I want you to know this. Some of you are at a breaking point. Or maybe you’ve been there or maybe you’re coming to one…but I think every one of us hits a breaking point and I JUST WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Most of God’s greatest servants have had major breaking points. MOST EVERYONE OF THEM have been brought to the edge where they just don’t think they can go on.
Breaking points happen when you stare at a stake of bills and there is just no way, in your mind, that you can make this work. Breaking points happen when you get to the point in your life when you cannot even remember when it was easy or good but everyday, week after week, moth after month, year after year…you have this financial mountain to climb and you don’t ever see it going away. Breaking points occur when you get a call from your brother and you need to drive across town or across the state or across the country for the countless time to bail him out…again… Breaking points occur when you sit in the hospital waiting for another round of test and there is no answer or no help but you know what you struggling with in your body is not good and your health is just going down and down and down. Breaking points occur when you get excited about the possibility of a new relationship but you realize that it’s just another dashed hope and you’re as alone as ever or that your marriage isn’t getting any better or your kids are wandering farther and farther and you’re tired. And you’re broken. And you’re broke. Your heart is sinking. Your emotions are sinking. Your health and finances and relationships are sinking and you’re at a breaking point.
Friends, I just believe that there are dozens and dozens of us who are here…on the edge…at a breaking point or near a breaking point and friends, if that is you…hear me…I just want you to know that you are not alone. Jeremiah whispers to us from this chapter…ME TOO. I feel what you feel.
Let’s dive into this. Jeremiah 19 verses 1 and 2. It says… 19 This is what the Lord says: “Go and buy a clay jar from a potter. (Go buy what? A clay jar from Home Depot. One time God ask him to go buy a belt. Remember that? Another time he says…Go to church. And this time…buy a clay jar. You know something is going down when God says…GO SHOPPING.) Take along some of the elders of the people and of the priests 2 and go out to the Valley of Ben Hinnom, near the entrance of the Potsherd Gate. There proclaim the words I tell you, What’s a prophets job? To Hear from God and then Go where God tells you to go. Do what God tells you to do. And Say what God tells you to say. So God says…go buy some pots…NOT POT…pots…clay pots… and take some of the leaders of the people. I just want to show you this…(SCREEN SHOT OF JERUSALEM) This is an artist rendition of the city of Jerusalem in the time of Jeremiah. About 600BC. And he’s told to take them to the Valley of what? BEN HINNOM. Anybody remember this place? This place wasn’t chosen by accident. This valley is located out of the south west walls of Jerusalem. So the bottom left corner of the picture. And this valley was the place where they had set up places of Idol worship.
And not just any old place of idol worship…but this was the place they would even sacrifice their own children to the false gods. So this place was a place of utter evil to God. It was not only the lowest place around Jerusalem but it was the spiritual low place. And so the words that Jeremiah is about to speak…is about to prophecy… happened in the geographical space that represents the lowest of the low. The worst of the worst. It represents just how far they have wandered from their relationship with God.
So he takes the people out there…the leaders and elders and AND HE TAKES THE CLAY POT and says… we have walked away from God. We have committed terrible sins. We have been stubborn and we refuse to turn away from our sin and back to God. We are proud and arrogant! He says…WAR IS COMING and JUDGMENT IS COMING and this city will be besieged. Remember, they are standing right outside the city walls…looking over the valley. He says… a great army is going to surround these wall. And starvation and sickness and plague will come to those inside these walls. And anybody who survives is going to be exiled, deported to other countries because of how we live.
THEN HE TAKES THE POT and SHATTERS IT. (Shatter Pot) And he says…just like it’s impossible for somebody to pick up these pieces and glue it back together again it will be impossible for our people to survive this. IT WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOU TO PUT YOUR LIFE BACK TOGETHER AGAIN. Do you know that at some point, though God can and will still forgive you, if you’re not careful, you can live in such a direction that one day, you might wake up and life is so out of control, sin has so consumed you, you’ve made so many poor decisions…you’ve broken so much that it may be just about impossible to fix it.
Remember something…this is Jeremiah’s capital. These are his people. He lived in a little town called Anathoth which is only about three miles away and if destruction comes to Jerusalem through war it is going to mow right through his village. This isn’t a message that he wanted to hear much less wanted to deliver. So you tracking with me? He hears from God. He goes and buys a pot. Takes the leaders outside the city. Delivers the message that nobody wants to hear to the leaders. Smashes the pot. Doesn’t sound like the best day but it doesn’t sound like a TERRIBLE HORRIBLE NO GOOD VERY BAD DAY either.
But his day is just getting started. And this is when God whispers to Jeremiah that I want you to leave the outskirts of the city and I want you to go into the heart of the city…into the heart of the temple and tell them this same message. So there is this geographical shift. (SCREEN: ARTIST RENDITION OF THE TEMPLE ) Look at this. This is an artist rendition of the Temple. This was built by King Solomon 3 or 400 years earlier. It’s the heart of the city. And the people who come here are just everyday people. People from all over the city and the surrounding villages.
And so now he’s not just speaking to the leaders and the elders and the priest. And Jeremiah just lets it fly. If we don’t get back to God destruction is going to come. War is going to come. Jerusalem is going to devastated and this very structure that we are so proud, of and that’s been the center of our people for hundreds of years is going to be destroyed! And so you think, ok. He’s done that before and the people just ignore him. Freedom of speech and all that. NO - NOT THIS TIME. They’ve had enough. They are sick and tired of Jeremiah being a sour note. They are tired of Jeremiah being a wet blanket. They’re tire of Jeremiah being a negative Nellie. So this time, the High Priest, a guy named Pashur, is going to make an example out of Jeremiah. When you’re the man in charge you don’t allow something like this to happen! Chapter 20 starting in verse 1. 20 When the priest Pashhur son of Immer, the official in charge of the temple of the Lord, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things, 2 he had Jeremiah the prophet beaten and put in the stocks (NOT IN SOME BACK ROOM BUT…) at the Upper Gate of Benjamin at the Lord’s temple. Front and center. Public humiliation on display.
This is turning into a Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day. He was first beaten… I don’t know exactly how you beat somebody but typically under Jewish law you would take a stick and you would strip somebody, bend them over a post and tie them up and then beat them on their back side until your back is bloodied and covered with bruises and welts.
But then they don’t let Jeremiah go instead they put him in stocks in the center of town. This is public shaming. Typically stocks confine your hands and feet…sometimes you neck. But this isn’t the COMFORT INN. And they keep him there all through the evening so as the market shuts down everyone walks by and mocks him. And then it’s long past midnight and then 2am and then 4am. Jeremiah isn’t getting a good night of sleep. He’s sore. He’s bloodied. He hasn’t eaten.
Then next morning Pashhur comes and he releases Jeremiah. And he expects Jeremiah to say…SO SORRY. I wont bother anybody again. But no, Jeremiah says…Pashhur. You think you are the Lord’s Priest but God is done with you.
He says… this destruction is going to happen right in front of your very eyes. All these people you think you rule over…all this wealth you think you command is all going to be stripped from you. You have been teaching LIES to the people. You have been telling them all of the sin is ok and God is going to protect them AND GOD IS ON OUR SIDE but WE HAVE LEFT GOD SO LONG AGO. You are going to see TERROR ON EVERY SIDE.
You gotta love his tenacity. But let me suggest that was a Terrible Horrible NO GOOD Very Bad day as he sits there bloodied and beaten and humiliated.
I want us to see how Jeremiah reacted. After all the dust settles he writes in his diary of sorts just how he feels about it all. He remembers his calling…about how God would make him a prophet to the nations and how God would be with him. And God was like…This is gonna be great. BUT JEREMIAH IS SAYING>>>NO THIS ISN’T GREAT. I am not ok with this. Look at verse 7.
7 You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me.
8 Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long.
9 But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.
10 I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side! Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!” All my friends are waiting for me to slip, saying, “Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him and take our revenge on him.”
Jeremiah 20: 7-10
So Jeremiah…how does it feel to be you right now? How does it feel to serve God. HOW DO I FEEL?
#1 I FEEL DUMPED
The language he uses in verse 7…look at this… You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived… is SEDUCTION LANGUAGE. He feels led on. He feels God is no where to be found and he dumped him. What else does he feel?
#2 I FEEL HUMILIATED What does he say… I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Nobody supports him. Nobody is buying his books or coming to his church.
THEN QUIT JEREMIAH. Just quit. I CAN’T. I can’t escape this call. I want to quit but I can’t. HOW DO YOU FEEL JEREMIAH?
#3 I FEEL TRAPPED Verse nine he says…I can’t quit. It’s in me…he says …his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.
Anything else Jeremiah? YES…
#4 I FEEL ALONE I don’t know if you caught it but he talks about his friends. Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!” All my friends are waiting for me to slip, saying, “Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him and take our revenge on him.”
With friends like that who needs enemies. Right? Guys I grew up. Guys I thought were my friends are sick of me and wanting to kill me.
For Jeremiah this is a Terrible Horrible NO GOOD Very Bad Day. I feel Dumped. I feel Humiliated. I feel Trapped. I feel Alone. ANYBODY EVER FEEL THAT WAY?
There is something that Jeremiah is doing here that is incredibly healthy. I heard somebody once say that there are three marks of an unhealthy dysfunctional life… You don’t FEEL. You don’t Talk. And you don’t TRUST. Don’t feel anything. Don’t let people know you are vulnerable. Don’t let people know you care. Don’t talk. Don’t be open. Don’t let people on the inside. AND DON’T TRUST. But a heart that tries to stay ALIVE TO OTHER PEOPLE and ALIVE TO GOD and ALIVE TO YOURSELF DURING AN AWFUL HORRIBLE SEASON OF LIFE - Requires you to FEEL. Requires you to TALK and REQUIRES YOU TO TRUST.
How do you feel Jeremiah. I feel DUMPED. I feel HUMILIATED. I feel TRAPPED and I feel ALONE. You look at that and you go, that guy’s a mess. He should be in counseling or something. But Jeremiah is doing something incredibly healthy because our tendency during TERRIBLE HORRIBLE TIMES is to turn inward. It’s to grow silent. It’s to grow numb.
Growing numb and growing silent are not your friends.
Some of you will recognize this women. Her name is Brent Brown. She’s done a couple of TED TALKS. And she’s written a couple of significant books. (SCREEN PICTURE OF BRENE BROWN) Brene Brown calls herself a ‘SHAME RESEARCHER.’ how would you like that job?
She writes about the difference between guilt and shame. She says that guilt says, “I made a mistake.” Shame says…”I AM A MISTAKE.” Huge difference between guilt and shame. Huge difference between making a mistake and thinking you are a mistake.
And Brene Brown said this about ‘NUMBING OURSELVES’… She says, “We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.” - Brene Brown
Friends…in the middle of incredible tragedy or suffering or pain you will be tempted to numb yourself to the emotions of it all. People turn to alcohol. To drugs. To sex and pornography. To business…that’s a drug of choice. I will just stay so busy jumping from one thing to the next. I will not have time to feel the pain of these emotions of what just happened to us. Some people buy things. Materialism numbs their pain.
Some people just shut down. Brene Brown’s quote there is saying that the body and the mind doesn’t do a good job at selective numbing.
Good news…I’m numb tot he pain. Bad news…I’m numb to everything.
When you numb yourself to the pain you also numb yourself to gratitude. To Joy. To Laughter and Happiness. When you numb yourself to the pain you might also find yourself numb to a beautiful sunrise or sunset. You might numb yourself to pain but you might also find yourself numb to your daughter’s wedding or numb to the first time you hold your grandchild. GOOD NEWS…YOU’RE NUMB TO THE PAIN… BAD NEWS…YOU’RE NUMB TO LIFE.
There something very simple I want you to know about Jeremiah…HE’S NOT NUMB. He feels. He talks and he still trust God. If you were to go through the rest of this chapter his emotions are all over the board but he keeps going back to God. Look at this… Verse 13 Sing to the Lord! Give praise to the Lord! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked. Jeremiah 20:13
Friends…the reason I think this is all so very important is because eventually you will have a TERRIBLE HORRIBLE NO GOOD VERY BAD DAY. Eventually you will hit a breaking point and I want you to know that you are not alone. It’s ok to feel pain. It’s ok to feel like life has let you down…that God has even let you down. It’s ok to feel.
You need to feel and you need to talk. Find somebody here. Make an appointment with one of our pastors. Find a life group where you can find folks who care and you can do life with. You are not alone. And you can still trust God. Turn to God. Let him know the hurt and give him the hurt. You will be surprised at the way HE MEETS YOU.