Misplaced Trust

Bible Readings for the day: Proverbs 24:5-14, Philippians 4:2-23, Jeremiah 6:1-7:29
Meditational Reading: Jeremiah 7:1-15
Pastor's Ponderings Illustration1  The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
2  “Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the LORD.
3  Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place.
4  Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’
5  “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another,
6  if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm,
7  then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.
8  “Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail.
9  Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known,
10  and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations?
11  Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the LORD.
12  Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it because of the evil of my people Israel.
13  And now, because you have done all these things, declares the LORD, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer,
14  therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, and in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh.
15  And I will cast you out of my sight, as I cast out all your kinsmen, all the offspring of Ephraim.

Today’s meditational verse is kind of long, but it is important.  It is important because it speaks to people (it speaks of people) who have placed their trust in the wrong thing.  The people of Judah used the Temple of the Lord as some sort of good luck charm; they believed that nothing bad would ever happen to them, to their nation, to their city because the Temple of the Lord was in Jerusalem.  This mistaken attitude started at the top with the priests and prophets and worked its way down to the common people who wanted to believe that nothing bad would ever happen to them; after all, they had “the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.”

God the Holy Spirit, working through Jeremiah, takes the people to task for their mistaken notion; he calls the people to repentance, to see their sin, to confess their sin, to receive the full and free forgiveness of their sin.  But the people would have nothing of it.  The continued to worship the false gods and disobey God’s holy, moral Law; but they sure kept the ceremonial (religious) Law!  They’d bring their sacrifices, thinking they were buying God off!

And when something bad happened they took pride and comfort in “the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.”  Nothing bad would come their way.  Nothing bad could come their way because they had “the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.”  But what does the Lord do?  He tells the people to go to Shiloh and see what happened their.  To understand what happened their you have to all the way back to the days of Samuel and Eli, the priest of the Lord.  The Tabernacle (the place where the Lord met his people) was set up in Shiloh after the conquest by Joshua.  In the days of Samuel and Eli the Philistines oppressed Israel; Israel fought against the Philistines and they brought the Ark of the Covenant into their camp, thinking that the Ark would be a good luck charm that would defeat the enemy.  We know that didn’t happen; but the Philistines defeated Israel, killed Hophni and Phineas (Eli’s sons) in battle, and when Eli heard that the Ark had been captured he fell over dead.  And the Biblical account ends their until the Philistines returned the Ark of the Covenant.

The Bible is silent on what happened after the battle (1 Samuel 3 and 4); it is silent because of the shame that came upon Israel.  From archaeological studies at Shiloh we know that the battle didn’t end with the capture of the Ark of the Covenant, but the Philistines continued the battle, continued their rampage, right up into Shiloh itself, destroying the Tabernacle of the Lord.  Five hundred years after that destruction the Lord tells the people, the people who trust in “the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord,” to go to Shiloh and see what happened their when Israel turned its back upon the Lord.

Today people misplace their trust; they trust in nice religious things but they fail to trust in the Lord and what he did in order to forgive them.  There are a number ways in which misplaced trust is exhibited:

1. People think they are basically good and need no forgiveness (and, therefore, need no Savior).  “Sinners” are really bad people like murderers, rapists, and thieves.  People fail to realize that whoever sins on one point of God’s holy Law is guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10 and its context).

2. People think that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere; after all, we’re going to the same place.  Aren’t we?  No!  Take a look at the meditational reading; the people who said, “the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord,” were sincere, but they were also wrong.

I could go on, but the biggest problem I see is that many, many people have a “who cares” attitude.  They believe that none of this really matters because all that awaits them is eternal extinction; you have to live in the here and now because when you’re dead and gone, well, you’re dead and gone forever. And forever is an awful long time.  So, who cares?  Nothing matters.

In the face of misplaced trust, the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is called to go to people and show them that it does matter; that God is concerned about sin, but that God also fully and freely forgives our sin (and sins) in and through Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross.  There and there alone do we put our trust, in our God and Savior who died for us to make us his own for eternity. The task is not easy, but it never was; the message is not popular, but it never was; but God calls us to be his people to bring his good news to people so that they too will come to him and his love and his forgiveness for them and for us!

A prayer:  Lord, people misplace their trust all of the time; I am always in danger of placing my trust in things other than you and your sacrifice for my sins.  Lord God Holy Spirit, open door of witnessing opportunity so that I can share your love with people who need to know it.  This I ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 585 South St. (Route 75), Suffield CT 06078 USA  http://www.gslcsuffield.com

If you liked this post in any way, please think about sharing it on your social media sites.  This is an effective way to evangelize on the internet.  You can also friend me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/james.kerner

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