“Now Know This” – Jeremiah 9:23-26

Sunday, July 14th, 2019
Jeremiah 9:23-26
“Now Know This”

Service Orientation: Knowing God is best. We were made to know God, our hearts seek to know God, and life is best lived when we know God. Only in Jesus can we begin to know, understand, and have a relationship with God.

Memory Verse for the Week: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:6-7

Background Information:
• In contrast, v. 24 presents a wealth of ‘solid joys and lasting treasure’, here and hereafter — for there is a nuance of practical good sense in the Hebrew here for understands, while to ‘know’ God means life itself, even to eternity. There is also contrast between the three fading glories of verse 23 and the three unfading ones of verse 24: the faithful love, justice and righteousness which are God’s gifts to us before ever they are his expectations from us. (Derek Kidner, The Message of Jeremiah, 55)

• Jeremiah is warning those who are wise in the eyes of the world, those who have riches, and those who have power not to put their confidence in these things. Indeed, riches, power, and wisdom can easily blind people into thinking they do not need the Lord. Jeremiah addresses a complacent Judean audience who are depending on their own resources rather than on God himself. (Tremper Longman III, Understanding the Bible: Jeremiah, 92)

• Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon, Moab, and all who live in the desert in distant places—practiced some form of circumcision. The shock value for Jeremiah’s Judean audience was that they were listed with these pagan nations (and not even in a prominent position). They are being compared with those who are both circumcised in the foreskin (v.25) and also uncircumcised (v.26). The people of God may have practiced complete circumcision, but they were not really circumcised because it was not reflected in their life and behavior. (Tremper Longman III, Understanding the Bible: Jeremiah, 93)

• The people of Judah thought they were free to sin because they’d been born children of Abraham and were the people of the covenant. On the contrary, being a part of God’s covenant gave them a greater responsibility to live to glorify Him and obey His will! “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid” (Rom. 6:1—2). As I said before, any theology that minimizes personal holiness and excuses sinfulness is not biblical theology. (Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Decisive, 58)

The question to be answered is…
What does it mean to know the Lord?

Answer:
Knowing the Lord means knowing Jesus. He is the exact imprint of the Father’s nature (Heb. 1:3), and anyone who knows Jesus, knows the Father (John 14:7-9). Jesus is the perfect representation of everything God loves and is.

The word of the day is… know

How can we know the Lord better in light of today’s text?

1. By knowing his kindness.
(Is. 63:7; Jer. 9:24; Acts 14:17; Rom. 2:4; 11:22; 1 Co. 13:4; Eph. 2:7; Tit. 3:4-7)

In what should humankind delight? Above all, in an intimate relationship with the Lord. From this come all the virtues that make for character, security, and happiness. The three words listed in verse 24—kindness, justice and righteousness—which Yahweh perfectly revealed in our Savior’s life on earth are the values that bring happiness and fulfillment. (Max Anders, Holman OT Commentary: Jeremiah & Lamentations, 92)

2. By knowing his justice.
(Ex. 23:6-7; Lev. 19:15; Deut. 16:20; Job 8:3; 29:14; 34:12; Ps. 9:16; 11:7; 33:5; 36:6; 50:6; 89:14; 103:6; 140:12; Is. 1:17; 5:16; 30:18; Mat. 12:18; Acts 17:29-31; Rev. 19:11)

To boast about the righteousness of God is really to boast about the righteousness of Jesus Christ. For in the righteousness of Christ, God’s loving-kindness and justice embrace. As Jeremiah has already boasted, God is love, and God is just. Because of his justice God could not simply overlook sin. Although that might be loving, it would not be just. Because of his love God did not simply damn us for our sins. Although that would be just, it would not be a full expression of God’s love. But love and justice embrace in the righteousness of Christ. (Phillip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah & Lamentations, 180)

3. By knowing his righteousness.
(Neh. 9:32-33; Job 37:23; Ps. 7:11, 17; 11:7; 50:6; 97:6; 116:5; 119:137, 142, 144, 160; 145:17; Is. 5:6; 51:8; Jer. 9:14; 12:1; Dan. 9:16; Eph. 4:22-24; 1 Jn. 2:29; Rev. 15:4)

Fallen as man is, and provoking as man’s ways are, the heart of God is full of kindness towards him. While as a righteous Judge He hates sin, He is yet able in a certain sense—to love sinners! The length and breadth of His compassion are not to be measured by our feeble measures. We are not to suppose that He is such a one as ourselves. Righteous and holy and pure as God is, it is yet possible for God to love all mankind. (J.C. Ryle, Old Paths, 243)
4. Ultimately, by knowing Jesus.
(Mat. 11:27; John 4:42; 8:19; 2 Co. 2:14; Eph. 1:17-21; Phil. 3:7-14; 1 Jn. 2:1-6)

Jesus’ summons to the rich young man was calling him to die, because only the man who is dead to his own will can follow Christ. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, 90)

Jesus Christ gave himself up for us all — that is God’s loving-kindness. Jesus Christ satisfied the justice of God by paying the price for our sins — that is God’s justice. The righteousness of Christ makes God to be both just and the justifier of the ungodly (Romans 3:26). That is so far beyond anything mortals could improvise that it calls for a boast. (Phillip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah & Lamentations, 180)

Conclusion:
Earthly wisdom, strength, and riches fade; but the Lord’s kindness, justice, and righteousness remain. All these find their perfect embodiment in Jesus.
(Ps. 102:25-27;146:6; Mat. 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33; Ja. 1:11; Ja. 1:17; 1 Pet. 1:4; 5:4; 1 John 2:17)

Another definition of a hero is someone who is concerned about other people’s well-being, and will go out of his or her way to help them — even if there is no chance of a reward. That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero. -Stan Lee

And we are all helpless, both with regard to the power and to the guilt of sin. “For who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” None less than the Almighty. Who can raise those that are dead, spiritually dead in sin? None but He who raised us from the dust of the earth. But on what consideration will He do this? “Not for works of righteousness that we have done.” “The dead cannot praise Thee, O Lord;” nor do anything for the sake of which they should be raised to life. Whatever, therefore, God does, He does it merely for the sake of His well-beloved Son: “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities.” He Himself “bore” all “our sins in His own body upon the tree.” He “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” Here then is the sole meritorious cause of every blessing we do or can enjoy; in particular of our pardon and acceptance with God, of our full and free justification. But by what means do we become interested in what Christ has done and suffered? “Not by works, lest any man should boast;” but by faith alone. “We conclude,” says the Apostle, “that a man is justified by faith, without the works of the law.” And “to as many as” thus “receive Him, giveth He power to become the sons of God, even to those that believe in His name; who are born, not of the will of man, but of God. (John Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 482-483)

Worship Point:
Jesus wants you to know him, not just know about him. Only when we know Jesus can we truly worship him for who he is. (Mat. 15:18; Ja. 1:22-27; 2:19)

[Jesus] helps us see that worship begins with God’s extravagant grace, not our earnest efforts. He shows us that he is the center of true worship, however much our thinking might be sidetracked by personal preferences, emotional experiences, and religious traditions. He introduces us to unseen realities that fulfill us deeply and eternally, freeing us from bondage to things we can see that satisfy only temporarily. (Bob Kauflin, True Worshippers, 29-30)

Gospel Application:
If your faith is in Jesus, boast! In him you have been shown God’s ultimate kindness, have been spared God’s justice, and have been clothed in his righteousness.
(Ps. 44:8; Is. 45:25; Jer. 9:24; Rom. 5:1-5; 1 Co. 1:31; 2 Co. 10:17; 12:9; Gal. 6:14)

The only real basis of wisdom and happiness lies in knowing God. The character of God is best understood by what He loves, and how He deals with men. He takes delight in loving-kindness (gracious favor, steadfast love), judgment (equity, fairness, impartiality) , and righteousness (straightness, uprightness) . These things are the ground of true wisdom. Righteousness (tzedek) , judgment (mishpat), and lovingkindness (hesed) are the great triumvirate of the Old Testament. On these an individual or nation can build securely. Without them the greatest and strongest are hopelessly weak. (C. Paul Gray, Beacon Bible Commentary Vol 4., 362)

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.
• Would you say you know Jesus, or know about him? What in your life shows the difference?

• Boasting in the Lord is really about boasting of the Lord—boasting of who He is, what He has done and continues to do, and of what He has promised to do. How can you boast in the Lord this week?

• Is earthly wisdom, strength, or wealth a snare to you? Do you find yourself trusting in any of those things instead of Jesus? If so, how can you begin to change that this week?

Quotes to note…
God always acts according to His character, and His character is altogether righteous. Therefore, everything He does is righteous. There is a distinction between His internal righteousness and His external righteousness, between who He is and what He does, though they are connected. The same is true of us. We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners. There is something flawed about our inner character. When the Holy Spirit changes us inwardly, that change is evidenced in an outward change of behavior. We are called to conform outwardly to the righteousness of God because we have been made as creatures in the image of God, with the capacity for righteousness. We have been made with the capacity to do what is right and to act in a just fashion. The prophet Micah wrote, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Mic. 6:8). God’s justice and righteousness are communicable attributes that we are called to emulate. (R.C. Sproul, Crucial Questions Series Book 27, pp. 45-46)

For the Bible there is no one set of rules which we can keep and say that’s it, that is what God requires of me. There is something far more demanding, a vision of God, a picture of the way he acts, and the challenge to live in the light of that. (Robert Davidson, The Daily Bible Study Series: Jeremiah, 92-93)

To glorify God is to exhibit his character in thought, word, or deed. The men of Jeremiah’s generation, like those of every age, had their own scale of values: human wisdom (culture), military might (technical skill), material wealth (economic plenty). It makes very little difference how men change the emphasis; from age to age men are shown to be the same self-willed creatures: boastful of wisdom, trustful in might, lustful for riches. Thus they blind themselves to the eternal and transcendent character of that glorious Being who delights to practice kindness, to exercise justice, and to do righteousness in the earth. (Howard Kuist, The Layman’s Bible Commentary: Jeremiah & Lamentations, 40)

God did not rebuke man’s instinct to look for glory; instead, God guided that instinct to its proper destination. The problem with man is not that he longs to glory in something; the problem is that he generally glories in the wrong things, leading to his own hurt, the hurt of others, and most seriously, to offend his Creator. (David Guzik, Study Guide for Jeremiah 9, www.blueletterbible.org)

There is a valid form of boasting, which comes with the realization of correct priorities. True wisdom is not only the recognition that God has sent judgment on Judah; it is above all knowledge of the Lord and his character. God reveals himself as One who practices and takes delight in kindness, justice, and righteousness. As verses 25—26 make clear, those nations who spurn the moral integrity of God—whether Egypt or Israel, circumcised or not—will see his judgment. (J. Andrew Dearman, The NIV Application Commentary; Jeremiah & Lamentations, 115)

Jeremiah discovered that neither mind nor body can give ultimate security in this life. Or the next. Death and destruction overtake everyone who trusts in worldly wisdom, human strength, or earthly treasure. When people are scattered among the nations, houses lie in ruins, Death climbs in through the window, and the Grim Reaper takes his sickle to the grain; then all boasting must come to an end. The dead do not boast. (Phillip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah & Lamentations, 178)

Further Notes and Research…

“Faith is the only thing required, not knowledge. A man may be a poor unlearned sinner, and know little of books. But if he sees enough to find the foot of the cross, and trust in Jesus for pardon, I will engage, from the authority of the Bible, that he shall not miss heaven. To know Christ is the corner-stone of all saving knowledge.” J.C. Ryle, Old Paths, 122

Jesus’ summons to the rich young man was calling him to die, because only the man who is dead to his own will can follow Christ. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, 90)

Until a man is nothing, God can make nothing out of him. -Martin Luther

And we are all helpless, both with regard to the power and to the guilt of sin. “For who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” None less than the Almighty. Who can raise those that are dead, spiritually dead in sin? None but He who raised us from the dust of the earth. But on what consideration will He do this? “Not for works of righteousness that we have done.” “The dead cannot praise Thee, O Lord;” nor do anything for the sake of which they should be raised to life. Whatever, therefore, God does, He does it merely for the sake of His well-beloved Son: “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities.” He Himself “bore” all “our sins in His own body upon the tree.” He “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” Here then is the sole meritorious cause of every blessing we do or can enjoy; in particular of our pardon and acceptance with God, of our full and free justification. But by what means do we become interested in what Christ has done and suffered? “Not by works, lest any man should boast;” but by faith alone. “We conclude,” says the Apostle, “that a man is justified by faith, without the works of the law.” And “to as many as” thus “receive Him, giveth He power to become the sons of God, even to those that believe in His name; who are born, not of the will of man, but of God. (John Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 482-483)

Oh, let us beware of self-righteousness! Open sin kills its thousands of souls. Self-righteousness kills its tens of thousands! Go and study humility with the great apostle of the Gentiles. Go and sit with Paul at the foot of the cross. Give up your secret pride. Cast away your vain ideas of your own goodness. Be thankful if you have grace—but never boast in it for a moment. Work for God and Christ, with heart and soul and mind and strength—but never dream for a second of placing confidence in any work of your own. (J.C. Ryle, Old Paths, 157)

Do not be ashamed to serve others for the love of Jesus Christ and to seem poor in this world. Do not be self-sufficient but place your trust in God. Do what lies in your power and God will aid your good will. Put no trust in your own learning nor in the cunning of any man, but rather in the grace of God Who helps the humble and humbles the proud. If you have wealth, do not glory in it, nor in friends because they are powerful, but in God Who gives all things and Who desires above all to give Himself. Do not boast of personal stature or of physical beauty, qualities which are marred and destroyed by a little sickness. Do not take pride in your talent or ability, lest you displease God to Whom belongs all the natural gifts that you have. Do not think yourself better than others lest, perhaps, you be accounted worse before God Who knows what is in man. Do not take pride in your good deeds, for God’s judgments differ from those of men and what pleases them often displeases Him. If there is good in you, see more good in others, so that you may remain humble. It does no harm to esteem yourself less than anyone else, but it is very harmful to think yourself better than even one. The humble live in continuous peace, while in the hearts of the proud are envy and frequent anger. (Thomas, à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, 12)

“I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me along and keep your religion to yourself—how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?
“I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.” (That’s a quote from atheist Penn Jillette, of the magician duo, Penn & Teller.)

The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. all the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronising and spoiling sport, and back-biting; the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which i must try to become. They are the animal self, and the diabolical self. Te diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither. (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 58)

Proverbs tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 9:10). For the Jew, the very essence of biblical wisdom was found in godly living, not in clever knowledge. In fact, the Old Testament makes a distinction between knowledge and wisdom. We are told to get knowledge, but above all we are told to get wisdom. The purpose of gaining knowledge is to become wise in the sense of knowing how to live in a way that is pleasing to God. God Himself never makes foolish decisions or behaves in a foolish manner. There is no foolishness in His character or activity. We, on the other hand, are filled with foolishness. Yet wisdom is a communicable attribute, and God Himself is the fountainhead and source of all wisdom. If we lack wisdom, we are called to pray that God, in His wisdom, would illuminate our thinking (James 1:5). He gives us His Word that we might be wise.

Sproul, R.C.. What Can We Know about God? (Crucial Questions) (Crucial Questions Series Book 27) (pp. 46-47). Ligonier Ministries, Inc. – USA. Kindle Edition.

Morality, in and of itself, is a damning thing. Self-righteousness is a damning thing. You’d be better off to be immoral and face the reality of your needs so that you would come to a Savior, than to live under the illusion that because you have a moral code on the outside, all is well on the inside between you and God.
* John MacArthur, in Don’t Call Evil Good and Good Evil (2013)

Human justice is very prolix, and yet at times quite mediocre; divine justice is more concise and needs no information from the prosecution, no legal papers, no interrogation of witnesses, but makes the guilty one his own informer and helps him with eternity’s memory.
* Søren Kierkegaard Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses, Against Cowardliness p. 351.

Hebrews 1:1-4 (NIV84)

1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

Circumcision was established in Genesis 17, at the time of Abraham, as a sign of the covenant. It marked them as God’s people. Though they did not act like God’s people by obedience, they felt that God would still carry through on his part of the promise to take care of them. (Tremper Longman III, Understanding the Bible: Jeremiah & Lamentations, 92)

No amount of education, power, or wealth—three things the world today depends on and boasts about—can guarantee the blessing of God. God doesn’t delight in a nation’s learning, political influence, armies, or gross national product. He delights in a people who practice kindness, justice, and righteousness because they know and fear the Lord. God promises covenant blessings to those who obey Him, not to those who only submit to religious ceremonies. (Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Decisive, 59)

People today who depend on baptism and other church sacraments (ordinances), but who have never repented and trusted Christ, are in the same situation as the Jews in Jeremiah’s day; they think they’,re a part of the divine covenant, but their confidence is a false one. (Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Decisive,59)

23—26. Under such conditions of crisis the only rest which the wise can know is in the mercy (hesed) and righteousness of God (cf. 1 Cor. 1:13; 2 Cor. 10:17). Hesed is commonly used in the Old Testament of covenant love (AV, RV loving-kindness; RSV steadfast love; NEB unfailing devotion), hence God is emphasizing His own moral consistency as against the infidelity of His people. In an appended saying Jeremiah states that the Judeans, though circumcised in body, had no real inner dedication to the spiritual ideals of Sinai, having indulged in lust instead of glorifying God in body and spirit (cf. 1 Cor. 6:20). They were thus no better than their pagan neighbours, and so could only expect to be punished. (R.K. Harrison, Tyndale OT Commentaries: Jeremiah & Lamentations, 92)

The Hebrew of this little oracle is difficult, and scholars have translated it variously, but the meaning is reasonably clear. Jeremiah is stressing the primacy of inward religion as over against outward conformity to religious practices. (C. Paul Gray, Beacon Bible Commentary Vol 4., 363)

Whether Egypt or Edom, or even Judah, practiced circumcision, it does not matter, for the fate of the uncircumcised in the heart will be the same as the uncircumcised in flesh. Therefore the circumcision (in the flesh) of the Jew will be treated as uncircumcision unless an “inner circumcision” is effected with the outward act (cf. 4:3-4). (C. Paul Gray, Beacon Bible Commentary Vol 4.,363)

Outward conformity to religion without inward grace is totally insufficient. Since Judah had missed the deeper meaning of the outward acts of her religion, she will be punished with the heathen, for she is no better than they. In this emphasis on inward religion Jeremiah is definitely pointing toward the gospel age. (C. Paul Gray, Beacon Bible Commentary Vol 4., 363)

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