Jeremiah 7
The Idol Of Freedom

Original English Sermon
Authored By Mike Furey, Georgetown, IN, USA

Title: The Idol Of Freedom
Text: Jeremiah 7 Key verse: Jeremiah 7:4
Theme: Freedom has become an idol in America. Choose to serve Christ wholeheartedly.
Preacher: Mike Furey, pulpit supply for Highland Baptist Church, Georgetown, IN
Date: April 25, 2004
Major Source: Word Biblical Commentary

Delivery: Try to preach this sermon as though having a private talk with the Lord on what to preach to the people. Lord, what shall I preach? Most people don't really want to hear the truth. These people might be like the Israelites of old saying the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord like some good luck charm. Someone might get upset. Remember that trial sermon you preached at Union Flat Rock Baptist Church on Memorial Day in 1988? I just made a mention of the 30 million babies that had been aborted since 1973 and she quit the church! After wrestling out loud, be a false prophet at the end and give the people what they want to hear. "Oh, bless you. God is so loving, gracious, good. He loves all his children and watches over us. He will always send his angels to guard us. Let's rejoice for he is the God of the sunshine and the sanctuary."

Repetitive idea: They made a choice. We make a choice. You can make a choice to be free in Christ forever or so-called free in yourself and face death a slave to it.

Use wherever it fits:

Idolatry & Adultery. Belief & Behavior. Spiritual whoredom and physical whoredom. We are a nation of whores and whoremongers. Theology leads to ethics. God is love; therefore, we must love. Root meaning of "idolatry": "worship what you see."

Idolatry has been a problem in Israel for centuries. Just after the time of Jesus, rabbi Akiba (50-135 C.E.) made a statement about it. In the Mishnah in Abodah Zarah 3.5 "Rabbi Akiba said: c Wheresoever thou findest a high mountain or a lofty hill and a green tree, know that an idol is there!," (Mishnah Danby version p. 441). (Notes only: This type of idol is called an asherah. It is linked to the fertility cult and the English word Easter is derived from this fertility goddess associated with the asherah pole. The Italian word for Easter is Domenica Pasqua from the Hebrew word for Passover. Christians in other languages are calling Easter Sunday the Christian Passover because Jesus passed over death by being resurrected out of its grip. To complete the thought here, the word evolves from Hebrew Pascha Passover to Greek Pascho which means suffering or passion.)

Context: Verse 2 puts Jeremiah preaching at the gate to the Lord's house, probably the same area where Jesus was at age 12 debating with the elders. At this gate throngs of worshippers passed through on their way to the activities taking place in the temple court. It may have been the year 608 BC during the Festival of Weeks that drew such a crowd as you compare this passage with Jeremiah chapter 26:1-2, shortly after the ascension to the throne of Jehoiakim (Word, p. 120). Why these good folks didn't have cars to travel with? They didn't even have the luxury of a taxi. They rode to worship on some bumpy mule and then Jeremiah goes an picks on them? What an mindless inconsiderate preacher!

The Root of Idolatry: Idol Of The Building

V 9: Their security was in a building and not the Builder. The temple was more important than moral integrity. They broke the ten commandments. Jeremiah said they have turned the temple into a place where thieves come to rest, a hide out for thieves. Here they are actually hiding from God because he is not there. They are taking solace together as sinners and getting strength to perform their next raids. Later Jesus would quote Jeremiah and turn over the tables and say You have made this house of prayer into a den of thieves. Religion without a change in behavior is not true religion. If you keep his commandments, then you are his, said Jesus in John.

Shiloh was once a city of God, a shrine town in the times of the books of Judges and Samuel (1-4). He invites them to visit that destroyed house of God.

People need to fear me. Are they afraid to sin? Do they have a conscience that is keen of my presence? Application: Sincere faith lives the faith sincerely.

History of Freedom in the USA: These ideas come from Saeki Keishi.

Puritan morality: 1620's, free to choose Christianity of your choice. No state church like in Europe. Individual chooses faith style based on conscience.

Democratic morality: The Declaration in 1776 calls for the pursuit of liberty and happiness as the individual sees fit.

Pluralist & Capitalist morality: Pluralist: Since the 1960's equal rights, human rights has been a major issue. Pluralism now means believe whatever you want and do whatever you want within the boundaries of other people doing whatever they want. Gay is "good," and you are mentally ill or homophobic if you disagree (DSM IV).

Capitalist: Since Ford's mass production, consumerism and capitalism have exploded. Common people live like kings for the first time in history. The development of Roosevelt's 4 Freedoms and human rights emerges strong.

America preaches freedom, human rights, equality to all the world. In actual practice though, to the world it is all seen as a stage to further our economic interests. Perhaps they are right.

THE FOUR FREEDOMS delivered by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, on January 6, 1941

In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression --everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way-- everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants --everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments...

A study by Saeki Keishi in Analyzing the New American Empire ([v, Vw鍑xAJU, ܐV :Shin 'Teikoku' Amerika wo kaiboh suru, Chikuma Shinsho Press, 2003), has shown that hardly no one disagrees with these basic principles, not even many of America's greatest enemies, not even many terrorists. The problem is in the perceived American interpretation of these principles, in the way America goes about putting these principles into practice in other countries. That's where the fight lies. Many people see us preaching freedom and equality, but it all really boils down to American control of foreign businesses, products, and consumer based culture. Religion becomes like fast food products, like disposable convenience products, and disintegration of the religion based culture occurs. Many cultures are simply falling apart because of freedom. The ancient or traditional ways that held them together are disintegrating: the freedom of the mentality of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll are the replacement.

In Roosevelt's day when we went to war, we would go because of conscience to set other nations free from tyranny. The US was reluctant. Now we go to war to keep the markets of capitalism free. We have evolved as a nation from the Puritan theology of freedom to worship God according to your conscience to the Democratic ideals of humanity and the freedom to pursue your happiness as you see fit to the Capitalist ideals of keeping the markets free by being the superpower policeman of the world's nations.. So, have we made the choice to be a nation of moneymakers? If Jesus were here, would he call America a den of thieves? I just wonder.

The Pursuit and Practice of Idolatry: Disobedience: Idol Of The Household:

Queen of Heaven: Sarcasm: Here's something nice the family is doing an activity together. How precious! They are worshipping a deity other than the God of Israel and practiced it at a household level. The children gather sticks (probably a reference to Numbers 15:32-35), the fathers kindle the fire (probably a reference to Exodus 35:3), and the mothers make dough for sweet cakes. But, in Jeremiah 8:1-3, they will have their bones dug up and exposed to the heavens they so worshipped. They will not have final peace but suffer the insult of an opened grave.

Application: Child Discipline today is based on choice. "You can either choose to clean your room or not clean your room and accept the consequences of no TV for 2 days." It is your choice. The word "disobey" is out of style.

Basic Obedience: vv. 21-28 In the sacrifice and worship, God says you might as well eat them because I reject them. First obedience was revealed at Mt Sinai, then came all the elaborate laws pertaining to sacrifice. Obedience was given primacy. The loss of basic obedience leads to idolatry and its attending behaviors.

The Fruit of Idolatry, The Ethics Of Idolatry:

vv. 29-34 The sacrifice of children. The next step in degradation. They misquote Exodus 22:29 b. They don't want the kid so they can offer it up to some god. We do the same thing. We don't want a kid so we offer it upon the altar of choice, the idol of freedom. Crazy sex, unwanted children. Many children don't even know who their daddy is, or each child in the same family all have different dads. Romance is in a mess today, people don't know how to date or relate.

Consequences:
1. God says there will be a Valley of Slaughter where they will be sacrificed.
2. No weddings, no children. In the USA, first we said it was okay to eliminate kids. Now marriage is under attack. People are actually voting to re-define marriage to include same sex partners.

Dead serious: Fear before Freedom: Adam and Eve feared God and hid themselves in the bushes after they sinned. If we have never had a sense of dread, a sense of fear, a sense of wonder, a respect and reverence - afraid to move in the presence of God for the first time, then have we experienced the true God? The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom!! The church is a holy place where people can come to study the word of God. I think? Is this place a place people fear the Lord as they receive the Lord's Supper? Is this a place where people make real financial sacrifices unto the living God out of fear and reverence? Is this a place where people kneel and cry and shed real tears on God's altar because they have encountered him here and seen their sinfulness? Is this a place where we pray to the point our lips quiver and our hands tremble? Or, do the tissues stay tucked nice in their packaged boxes? Is the church a holy place to do business with Almighty God? Or is it just a club? A family hang out? Do we hear our sins pointed out so that we come to our senses and repent? Then we are in the right place. Then, it is safe here.

Declare liberty as per Second Corinthians 3:7-18, especially verse seventeen. In Christ, we have the true Spirit of Liberty. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty!"

Humorous but pitiful summary: Just leave me alone for one more second to put all this together for the people. There's no dispute. An idol is mute, and not astute; it doesn't give a hoot. More than just salute the Lord each Sunday, we need to really compute, we need to let him uproot the brute in our boots. We need to get in cahoots with Jesus and let him impute his righteousness upon us. Why do we continue to pollute the world with our sin? One day we will stand before God in our birthday suits. And that won't be too cute! Should I preach it like that? Get a little rapster style in effect in the house this morn, in the house, in the house!!

Closing: Okay, I am ready to preach. The church, the church, the church. Such a nice place to bring our families and have lunch together afterwardsc Bless you all. Amen.

 
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