Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Pastoral Prophet

There are some prophets I "get," and there are some that I don't.

Jeremiah I "get." Mostly because of his pastoral heart in the midst of proclaiming God's condemnation over Judah. He is called the weeping prophet for a reason. Not because he was the emotional sort, but because he really hurt for his people. I do believe he really did want them to repent, unlike Jonah and Nineveh, but that's another story yet to come. We get a good sense of his pastoral heart while reading Lamentations, but then again, that sermon is still coming.

Having looked at Isaiah last week and contrasting him with Jeremiah, I see a theme rising between the two, even though one precedes the other. It is the theme of True Worship. (You can take a look at my previous magazine, or listen to my message, All Consuming Worship.) But each have a different take on the theme, though both are proclaiming that anything but true worship can get you into trouble.

As a point of discussion I would like to ask the question that I believe contrast Isaiah and Jeremiah. The question is:

Which is worse worshiping God wrongly (Isaiah) or worshiping the wrong god (Jeremiah)?

Anybody care to take a stab at that?

You might find yourself quoted in my sermon. ;o)


Anonymous said...

Boy, that was one of the best sermons I think I have ever heard. I don’t want you to get the “big head” but really a sermon that good had to have very little flesh and a whole lot of help from a “Holy Ghost” writer so I’m not really giving you credit for the sermon so much as credit for being an obedient servant with feet of clay inspired by and yielded to the Holy Spirit.

I couldn’t add much to that sermon in terms of what is true worship, but I am going to pull out one quote that really presented an opportunity for meditation for me. You said the worship that Isaiah saw that shook the door posts and so on is not about how loud the music is, but refers to a “a truth in worship that comes from understanding who God is and who we are in relationship to him.”

I believe one of the things every believer needs to do is pray that God will bring us closer and closer to God, open our eyes so we really can get a clear picture because no matter how sanctified we are, his holiness (if we could see it) would just blow us away. Just like Isaiah, we would stand there quivering thinking, “Okay, it’s all over now, I even in my sanctified state am not worthy to look upon a God who is THAT holy --- except for the blood of Jesus.” To really get a clear picture, we would feel like a “dead man walking” or someone condemned to death row realizing that we had just been pardoned even though we did nothing to deserve that pardon.

Even in our most sanctified state compared to such holiness, we must seem pretty “messy” to God. It’s all relative isn’t it? We may feel like we’ve achieved a pretty high degree of sanctification, and that may in fact be true, but compared to God’s holiness? Where would any of us be except for the mercy of God. When I meditate on that, my heart fills with gratitude.

I know sometimes in AA circles, if I let myself, pride can get the better of me. I’ve walked with the Lord for quite a while so I have to fire “the judge” in me who could get on her high horse and start comparing my progress with that of a newcomer or even an old timer who quits drinking but thinks other types of sin are okay as long as they don’t drink. Newcomers come into the program hurting and messy just like I came in hurting and messy and some are messier than I ever was at my worst, but it’s all relative because without the blood of Jesus, we would all be trembling realizing that God’s holiness has to destroy us. Only because of Christ sacrifice, is it possible for us instead to let God’s holiness consume us.

If a God THAT holy can be that loving, kindhearted and compassionate, then in order to have His heart, I must (while exercising discernment and not joining the world) - not judge, but instead pray for God to give me the words and the wisdom to communicate the gospel to the lost in a way that will open their eyes and let them see what kind of love and acceptance and joy awaits them if they simply turn their lives and will over to God.

Regarding your question:
Which is worse worshiping God wrongly (Isaiah) or worshiping the wrong god (Jeremiah)?

I don’t believe you can worship God wrongly without inadvertently worshipping the wrong God. Because as you pointed out, in order to worship in truth, you have to know the truth about who God is and who we are in relation to him. When we know that, I believe true worship becomes a spontaneous by-product of the truth that does in fact set us free.

Good sermon. Really. If I had been in your church that morning, I might have gotten excited and to refrain from “running the aisles.”


Pastor Randy said...


I would have enjoyed your "running the aisles." Thank you for your complement on the sermon, and yes, it is always good when God grabs a hold of the sermon (and the sermonater).

Thank you as well for your thoughtful comments. May we all find the right work to our worship. And as I stated in the sermon, when we do come face to face with the sovereign LORD, our response will be a worship that works, that takes the grace we have so freely received and shares it freely with those who need it.

I suppose we see again God's declaration to the Children of Israel, that they were blessed to be a blessing. And for us, as followers of the Messiah, that blessing work continues.