Sunday, September 15th, 2019
“Listening And the Cup”
Service Orientation: God is (by necessity) a God of both blessing and wrath. Blessing to those who listen, and wrath to those who utterly refuse to.
Memory Verse for the Week: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6
- Jeremiah had been serving for twenty-three years when he delivered the messages recorded in chapters 25 and 26 (25:3; 26:1). He was called into prophetic service in the year 626 BC (1:2) and continued to minister after the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BC, a period of over forty years. He was now at the midpoint of his career. (Warren Wiersbe, Be Decisive, 129)
- Jeremiah had keen insight into international events. He had been commissioned a prophet to the nations (1:10) and he was fully aware of what was going on around the Fertile Crescent. Nor was it difficult to know the current news, for the international highway from Egypt to Babylon ran along the coastline of Palestine. Hopper quotes A. B. Davidson as saying, “Like a lightning flash, Carchemish lighted up to (Jeremiah) the whole line of God’s purposes with his people right on to the end.” The battle of Carchemish with its results brought many things into focus for Jeremiah. Identity of the foe from the north was now clear. God’s plan to use the Chaldeans as the instrument of His wrath had become apparent. The fate of Judah was discernible in the light of these happenings. (C. Paul Gray, Beacon Bible Commentary Vol. 4, 408)
- Four times in this message, Jeremiah pronounced the solemn indictment, “You have not listened” (vv. 3–4, 7–8 nkjv). The earlier prophets, many of whom are unknown to us, had warned of great judgment if the nation didn’t repent and turn to Jehovah, but their ministry went unheeded. Jeremiah had preached to the leaders and common people of Judah for twenty-three years and had received the same response. As they disobeyed the law, worshiped idols, and rejected God’s servants, the people deliberately provoked God to anger, and the day of His wrath was fast approaching. (Warren Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: Old Testament, 1239)
- 17 Though described like a symbolic action that would typically have been acted out by a prophet, it is unlikely that Jeremiah actually traveled to all these nations to compel their leaders to drink from a cup. It is most likely that this is a dramatic description of an important literary theme. (Tremper Longman III, Understanding the Bible Commentary: Jeremiah, 174)
The question to be answered is…
What can we learn from this text about God’s nature, Judah, and God’s posture towards sin?
God is incredibly patient, but the cup of His wrath has a tipping point. Judah’s repeated refusal to listen invited God’s wrath to be poured out on them. In order for God to be fully righteous, He must take a harsh stance against sin.
The word of the day is… Listen
What should we take note of regarding God’s handling of Judah from this text?
- God was incredibly patient with Judah. (vv. 3, 4, 5)
(Ex. 34:6; Num. 14:18; Neh. 9:17; Ps. 86:15, 103:8, 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; Nah. 1:3)
Sin eventually brings suffering for all people, no matter who they are or where they are. (Max Anders, Holman OT Commentary: Jeremiah & Lamentations, 232)
- Judah repeatedly refused to listen. (vv. 3, 4, 7, 8)
(Ne. 9:30; Ps. 81:11-12; Is. 7:13; Jer. 5:3, 11:10; Zec. 1:4; Mal. 2:2)
Four times in this message, Jeremiah pronounced the solemn indictment, “You have not listened” (vv. 3-4, 7-8 NKJV). The earlier prophets, many of whom are unknown to us, had warned of great judgment if the nation didn’t repent and turn to Jehovah, but their ministry went unheeded. Jeremiah had preached to the leaders and common people of Judah for twenty-three years and had received the same response. As they disobeyed the law, worshipped idols, and rejected God’s servants, the people deliberately provoked God to anger, and the day of His wrath was fast approaching. (Warren Wiersbe, Be Decisive, 130)
- God would even use more wicked people to pour out wrath on Judah for their sin. (v.9)
25:8—11. In this section Jeremiah left no doubt about the judgment coming on the land: Yahweh would send it. Does this mean God allows an enemy to annihilate people who claim to be his people? It means exactly this and more. He actually sends the enemy even though the destroyer is worse than those he destroys. (Max Anders, Holman OT Commentary: Jeremiah & Lamentations, 233)
How should we listen to this text as 21st century hearers?
A. God doesn’t change; a cup still brims for those who refuse to listen to Him.
(Pro. 28:13; Rom. 2:4, 9:22, 2 Thes. 1:8-9; Rev. 14:10, 16:19, 17:4, 18:6, 20:15)
It is clear that when we think of the word “wrath” as applicable to God, it must be divested of everything that is like human passion, and especially the passion of revenge. It is one of the most obvious rules of interpretation that we are not to apply to God passions and feelings which, among us, have their origin in evil. [God’s wrath] is the opposition of the divine character against sin; and the determination of the divine mind to express that opposition in a proper way, by excluding the offender from the favors which He bestows on the righteous. We admire the character of a father who is opposed to disorder, vice, and disobedience in his family, and who expresses his opposition in a proper way. We admire the character of a ruler who is opposed to all crime in the community, and who expresses those feelings in the law. Why shall we not be equally pleased with God, who is opposed to all crime in all parts of the universe, and who determines to express His opposition in the proper way for the sake of preserving order and promoting peace? (Albert Barnes, Closer Walk: 365 Daily Devotions That Nurture a Heart for God, 183)
God’s wrath in the Bible is never the capricious, self-indulgent, irritable, morally ignoble thing that human anger so often is. It is, instead, a right and necessary reaction to objective moral evil. (J.I. Packer, Knowing God, 151)
B. Jesus drank the entire cup of God’s wrath for those who listen to him.
(Ps. 16:5, 116:13; Is. 51:22, 53:6; Mat. 26:39; Mar. 14:36; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 John 2:2)
The most fundamental need of man that the gospel addresses is addressed by the gift of justification. We are not merely alienated from God but are under his wrath (John 3:36; Rom. 1:18; 5:9; Gal. 3:10). This means that what must change fundamentally is God’s anger toward us because of our God-dishonoring sin (Rom. 3:23). We are not capable of changing God. We cannot pay our own debt. “Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life” (Ps. 49:7). Therefore, in his great mercy, God intervened to put Christ forward as the propitiation of God’s own wrath (Rom. 3:25). Christ absorbed the curse that we deserved (Gal. 3:13). “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Pet. 2:24). (John Piper, God Is The Gospel, 42-43)
Jesus emptied the cup of God’s wrath for those trusting in Him. Life can now be lived full and free because of what Jesus did.
(Ps. 103:12; John 10:27; 2 Cor. 5:21; Eph. 1:7; 1 Tim. 1:15-16; 1 John 1:9, 2:2; 4:10 )
Jesus Christ drank down the cup of God’s wrath in the place of every sinner who trusts in him. Because Christ drank the cup of wrath in the place of his people, there is no bitter wine left for them to drink. It is on the basis of the work of Christ that God can say, “you will never drink the cup of my wrath again” (see Isaiah 51:22). (Phillip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word Commentary: Jeremiah and Lamentations, 374)
If you’re in Christ, live free knowing that whatever wrath you’ve earned was emptied on Him. If you’re not trusting in Jesus, don’t delay in turning to Him.
God gives assurance of salvation and peace of heart to all who repent and put their faith in Christ (Rom. 5:1). The Holy Spirit witnesses to their own spirits that they are forgiven of their sins and adopted into the family of God (Rom. 8:16). Christians have peace with God through Jesus Christ because guilt is taken away and fear of judgment removed (Hebrews 6:11; 10:22). God continues to give assurance to believers through the Scriptures, the conscious presence of the Holy Spirit, and love for and fellowship with other Christians (1 John 3:14). (Free Methodist Book of Discipline, ¶3106)
Spiritual Challenge Questions…
Reflect on these questions in your time with the Lord this week, or discuss with a Christian family member or small group.
- If Christ emptied the cup of God’s wrath, why might Christians continue to fear God’s punishment?
- God’s wrath remains on those not trusting in Jesus. How does this reality effect the way you think and feel about those around you?
- Do you struggle with guilt or shame over a sin Jesus paid for? If so, what keeps you from living free knowing Jesus paid for it? How can you distinguish between condemnation (Rom. 8:1) and conviction from the Holy Spirit?
Quotes to note…
What do you especially demand of a guilty and wretched sinner, except that he be contrite and humble himself for his sins? In true sorrow and humility of heart hope of forgiveness is born, the troubled conscience is reconciled, grace is found, man is preserved from the wrath to come, and God and the penitent meet with a holy kiss. (Thomas, à Kempis, Imitation of Christ, 136)
It was F.B. Meyer, I believe, who once said that when we see a brother or sister in sin, there are two things we do not know: First, we do not know how hard he or she tried not to sin. And second, we do not know the power of the forces that assailed him or her. We also do not know what we would have done in the same circumstances. (Steve Brown, Christianity Today, April 5, 1993, 17)
We do not break God’s laws. We break ourselves on them when we refuse to recognize them as valid. (Max Anders, Holman OT Commentary: Jeremiah & Lamentations, 234)
Once fruit is rotten, it stays rotten. It stays spoiled even if it gets put into the refrigerator. That principle holds true for spiritual things as well. If God’s people stayed in Jerusalem, they would be rotten. If they went down to Egypt, they would be rotten there too. Wherever they went on the face of the globe, the smell of their disobedience would be just as rank. (Phillip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word Commentary: Jeremiah and Lamentations, 359)
Why does God punish people for their sins? Usually part of the answer is that people bring themselves under judgment. Most of the wounds people suffer for disobedience are self-inflicted. To choose sin is also to choose its consequences. The unregenerate pay their own way to Hell. (Phillip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word Commentary: Jeremiah and Lamentations, 360)
The church today needs to remember that the Lord is sovereign and can use whatever tools He deigns to use to accomplish His purposes on earth, even unconverted leaders. (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: Isaiah – Malachi, 115)
Before we’re converted, we choose to do whatever Satan wants us to do. We’re allies in his kingdom, marching to his orders. We walk according to the values and the systems of this world, and we are obedient servants, indeed, slaves, of the prince of the power of the air, or, as Paul puts it, “the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2b). Paul makes it clear that this was our collective past: “among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (v. 3). Paul is saying that all of us, by nature, are children of wrath. All of us, by nature, are obedient disciples of Satan. No one is born a Christian. In order to become a disciple of Christ, you have to have a metanoia, a change of the mind that is reflected in repentance. We have to be raised from spiritual deadness. (Sproul, R.C.. What is Repentance? Crucial Questions Series Book 18, pp. 33-34)
The ultimate good of the gospel is seeing and savoring the beauty and value of God. God’s wrath and our sin obstruct that vision and that pleasure. You can’t see and savor God as supremely satisfying while you are full of rebellion against him and he is full of wrath against you. The removal of this wrath and this rebellion is what the gospel is for. (John Piper, God Is The Gospel, 56)
FURTHER QUOTES AND RESOURCES