Hopes and Dreams
Good morning and welcome!
This morning we are going to be turning back to the Old Testament, looking at a passage from the Prophet Jeremiah.
Specifically, we are going to be looking at , if you would like to begin turning there in your Bibles.
This morning, while you are finding , would like for you to begin thinking a moment about hopes and dreams.
We all have hopes and dreams for our lives and our children’s lives and there is nothing wrong with that.
But what I want us to begin to think about this morning is whether or not those hopes and dreams align with what God’s plan is.
Do the things that we dream for line up with what God has designed for us?
Are we really hearing God when God speaks to us?
Are we being responsive to God’s call or are we pushing things in the direction we want to go?
In our passage this morning, we are going to read about at time when things do not go the way that the people of Israel had hoped they would.
They receive a message from the Lord and that message is definitely not what they want to hear.
And this message was dictated from God to Jeremiah, and recorded by his scribe and assistant Baruch.
Baruch was in essence Jeremiah’s apprentice and all of God’s judgement pronounced on Israel through Jeremiah was written down by Baruch.
So, his job was not exactly a very pleasant job.
He was constantly the “bearer of bad news,” to the people, which led to him getting a bit discouraged at times.
Which is exactly what we have going on here in this passage.
But, as we will discover as we work through this passage, the message that God had for Baruch, is a message that we also need to heed.
So, if you have found in your Bibles, I’d invite you to stand with me as we read the first five verses.
1 This is what Jeremiah the prophet told Baruch son of Neriah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, after Baruch had written on a scroll the words Jeremiah was then dictating: 2 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: 3 You said, ‘Woe to me! The Lord has added sorrow to my pain; I am worn out with groaning and find no rest.’ ” 4 The Lord said, “Say this to him: ‘This is what the Lord says: I will overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted, throughout the land. 5 Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.’ ”
Just to sort of set the story and stage up a bit, there is a lot that is going on in the nation of Israel at the time when this message comes from God.
As the Bible tells us this message came in the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s rune in Judah, and remember that at this time Israel was divided into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah and God had been warning both kingdoms for years that judgment was coming if they did not change.
And this could be seen as the the final warning to them that Baruch is recording on the scroll.
Our text simply says that “after Baruch had written on a scroll the words Jeremiah was then dictating,” but in order to get a good understanding of what exactly led to Baruch’s response we need to go back and look at , that records the entirety of the whole event.
In , the Bible records . . .
1 In the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you concerning Israel, Judah and all the other nations from the time I began speaking to you in the reign of Josiah till now. 3 Perhaps when the people of Judah hear about every disaster I plan to inflict on them, each of them will turn from his wicked way; then I will forgive their wickedness and their sin.”
So, again we see that the message was a message that God’s judgement was coming Israel, Judah, and all the other nations.
And God kept delivering this message to the people in hopes that each of them will turn from his wicked way; then I will forgive their wickedness and their sin.
And this message is not restricted to the Old Testament kingdoms of Israel and Judah.
God has been delivering the same message for over 2000 years to all the nations and all the people.
Jesus’ first recorded sermon simply was . . .
17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Even before Jesus, John the Baptist was telling the people . . .
1 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
And ever since then the message has been the same Repent for the Kingdom of God is near!
But we fail to listen, we fail to heed the warning, we don’t like the message so we ignore it.
Paul reminds us in that . . .
2 Timothy 4:
3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
And the reason they do this, Paul explains in . . .
2 Timothy 3:2-
2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
And they are . . .
7 always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.
Because they are not looking for the truth.
They are looking for validation and confirmation that their old sinful lifestyle is okay.
And the world is more than happy to do that for them.
But we can’t do that. We have to rise above that. We have to . . .
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
We have to . . .
2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
But, will we listen any better than the people in Jeremiah’s day?
Here’s what happened . . .
4 So Jeremiah called Baruch son of Neriah, and while Jeremiah dictated all the words the Lord had spoken to him, Baruch wrote them on the scroll. 5 Then Jeremiah told Baruch, “I am restricted; I cannot go to the Lord’s temple. 6 So you go to the house of the Lord on a day of fasting and read to the people from the scroll the words of the Lord that you wrote as I dictated. Read them to all the people of Judah who come in from their towns. 7 Perhaps they will bring their petition before the Lord, and each will turn from his wicked ways, for the anger and wrath pronounced against this people by the Lord are great.” 8 Baruch son of Neriah did everything Jeremiah the prophet told him to do; at the Lord’s temple he read the words of the Lord from the scroll.
And once Baruch did this, the government officials who heard were concerned and after some back and forth discussion, they deliver the scroll to the king.
And here is what happened . . .
23 Whenever Jehudi had read three or four columns of the scroll, the king cut them off with a scribe’s knife and threw them into the brazier, until the entire scroll was burned in the fire. 24 The king and all his attendants who heard all these words showed no fear, nor did they tear their clothes. 25 Even though Elnathan, Delaiah and Gemariah urged the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them. 26 Instead, the king commanded Jerahmeel, a son of the king, Seraiah son of Azriel and Shelemiah son of Abdeel to arrest Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet. But the Lord had hidden them.
And reading this, we would say “unbelievable!” How could they be so bold and brazen?
But how often do we do the exact same thing?
God has warned us over and over and over and we simply ignore God.
We dismiss the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
We bury our sin deep within our soul and run as far and as fast as we can from the deliverer of the message.
And I am not talking about a preacher or another person.
I’m talking about the Church.
If people were really serious about living for God, EVERY SINGLE CHURCH in this county would be filled to capacity.
There are roughly 26,000 people in Lincoln County and research is that about 10% REGULARLY attend Church, that’s about 2600 people. That means in this county alone there are 23,400 people who do not attend church anywhere.
And just to be honest, churches are so busy competing for the 2600, that they forget all about the 23,400.
Folks, we need to stop ignoring God’s warnings to us and to others.
We need to be sounding the alarm and we need to be working together before it’s too late.
And I say this to the Church because If the church doesn’t take this seriously then why would anyone else?
If we keep ripping up parts of God’s warning and throwing it in the fire then how do we expect 23,400 people to take the warning seriously?
And I am specifically talking about how we are living our lives and our hopes and dreams.
Woe to Me!
Woe to Me!
Let’s go back to our original passage for just a minute.
Remember in verses 2-3 there is an interesting exchange between Baruch and God . . .
2 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: 3 You said, ‘Woe to me! The Lord has added sorrow to my pain; I am worn out with groaning and find no rest.’ ”
Now, like we have already talked about Baruch had had the task of recording and delivering message after message and warning after warning to the people on behalf of Jeremiah.
And the response was much like what we read about regarding this one and Baruch was quite frankly growing weary.
He was worn out by it all and was beginning to grow cold and indifferent to the whole matter.
And God confronts him with it, “you said, “woe to me! The Lord has added sorrow to my pain; I am worn out with groaning and find no rest.”
But the issue is not Baruch’s growing weariness with the people and their lack of repentance before God.
Baruch’s weariness was related to his own personal hopes and dreams being interfered with by God’s plans.
Baruch was a prophet, a priest, Jeremiah’s apprentice.
He had dreams of being THE prophet one day. Maybe even High Priest!
He wanted to be successful.
He wanted to be important.
He wanted to be “relevant” someday and not just some scribe and apprentice.
And here God comes along and ruins it all!
God tells him . . .
4 The Lord said, “Say this to him: ‘This is what the Lord says: I will overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted, throughout the land.
It’s pretty hard to be the prophet or High Priest of a nation that doesn’t even exist.
God had ruined all of his plans.
And Baruch is sulking and having a pity party about it.
So, God reminds him in the first part of verse 5, “Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not . . .”
Which reminds me of something that Jesus also once said . . .
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
I wonder this morning, how many of us are willing to forfeit our very soul chasing after hopes and dreams?
Hopes and dreams that are rooted in the temporal, in the world and not rooted in God.
Again, as we have read many, many times . . .
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives for ever.
And again, there is nothing wrong with having hopes and dreams, but are they rooted in God’s will?
And if not, are we willing to change?
Are we willing to follow God and after God’s will?
God tells Baruch, “For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.”
In other words, God may not always give us everything we want, but as long as we are faithful to God, God will always with with us.
Even when God changes the plans and the things we hoped for and dreamed for don’t pan out, that doesn’t mean God has abandoned us.
That means that God’s plans are different than ours.
And it comes down to whether or not we trust God with our entire being. Mind, body, and soul.
Many times we do alright with giving God our soul, but what about the rest of us?
Have we given God every part of our being?
Do we trust God fully this morning?
Are we willing to even trust God with our hopes and dreams? Even if they don’t match up with ours.
Each one of us here this morning come with a different perspective and different experience in life, but God’s promise to us all is the same . . .
6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Do you believe that this morning?