Jeremiah, the weeping prophet of God’s promised Messiah Trinity Lutheran Church December 2, 2018

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who know that Jesus runs to us to save us despite ourselves said … AMEN!

Jeremiah “The Weeping prophet”, had a lot to weep over. In 32: 28-30 Yahweh is laying it right on the line with Jeremiah, it’s almost a summary of how much Israel has done to anger God for about 400 years, pretty much since the time of Saul /David /Solomon, Israel/Judah has continually ignored Yahweh and played around with their own beliefs.

Jeremiah has been on the short end of a beat down since he started 33 chapters ago, about 40 years, he’s been prophesying against all the evil of Israel and Judah. Luther writes ..he had to say hard things to obstinately wicked people. Still it did little good. He had to look on while the people went from bad to worse, always wanting to kill him, and putting him to much hardship… After Jerusalem was destroyed, Jeremiah laments over Jerusalem, how foolish his people were to deny Yahweh for so long in favor of foolish false “gods”, spirits like Baal, Molech, who were certainly not god, but evil spirits. The people of Judah gullibly followed them. Quoting Yahweh’s words in ESV Jeremiah 32:28 Therefore, thus says the LORD: Behold, I am giving this city into the hands of the Chaldeans and into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall capture it. 29 The Chaldeans who are fighting against this city shall come and set this city on fire and burn it, with the houses on whose roofs offerings have been made to Baal and drink offerings have been poured out to other gods, to provoke me to anger35 They built the high places of Baal in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.”

Yahweh’s saying: You people are so out of line, you know perfectly well who I am and what I’m about and you still play with these evil beings. He says “They have turned their back and not their face.” (33) What does it mean when you “turn your back” to someone? They’re irrelevant, you can ignore them, they won’t harm you, they are there, but only when you decide to turn back to them, when it’s in your interests. Sound familiar? John Holbert writes: Jeremiah is commonly known as the “weeping prophet,” based on his wish to have a “fountain of tears” with which he might weep for the slain of his own people (9:1). [1] To the effect; “…how can you be so stupid? How can you get caught up in such destructiveness? Why keep turning your back on God when you know He will tolerate your impertinence for so long and then the result will be horrible? So enough is enough, time to clean house, destroy what has been contaminated by these gross, nasty, abusive “gods”. To get rid of the people who have been such a negative influence, people who have been undermining Yahweh’s relationship with His chosen people, Israel.

But there are still promises to be kept. Does Yahweh fail to keep His promises, even when we are so completely undeserving? Yes, He does. He’s promised a Messiah since the very beginning. He has devastated His people, they have been dragged to Babylon, or to live among the ruins of Jerusalem. Everything has been stripped to the bone by the Babylonians and there is nothing left for the Israelites to survive on. Nothing material and certainly nothing spiritual. As much as people today want to complain, wish for better days, we all know we have things pretty good. While Judah was getting absolutely leveled by the Babylonians, many were killed, many others were shipped off to Babylon, if that were to happen to us here, we would end up somewhere in the north part of Central America. Completely different culture, environment to us, the Jews in Judah have been completely devastated and now it’s time to bring them back. Yahweh has made it clear He is who He says He is, He has completely taken down 400 years of Israelite civilization, and seemingly left the remnant without anything whatsoever.

But He doesn’t leave them completely, He doesn’t just leave them broken, hopeless with nothing to live for. That’s a great thing. As much as the Israelites deserved to be completely dumped by God, does He? No! He gives them hope and promise. He gives us this hope and promise, in Jesus. For Israel, He tells them, you will be back here in 70 years, with a whole new attitude. You’re going to finally get a little real and realize how you have failed so miserably. Not only that, but you will have eternal hope and promise:  Jeremiah 23:5-6,   ESV “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’ To make sure we are all clear, He makes the same promise a few chapters later, that yes, this will happen, you have not been abandoned and left hopeless”, He tells Jeremiah: “ESV 33:14 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’

God doesn’t make promises, didn’t make them then or now to just hear Himself talk. God will make His Word and His promises happen. He did to Jeremiah 2,600 years ago. A Branch did spring from David, His Name is Jesus. Now we wait for the promise of Jesus’ return. Not in terror, wrath, vengeance, but in the final welcome, the promise of the Resurrection, eternal life that God meant it to be and we have that complete promise. Advent is about taking time in penance, remembering your sins, what you’ve done that has failed God, that has offended God, that has failed His people/His church. But it’s a time of great hope and promise, a time to remember that the afflictions of the world are so temporary. Scott Murray writes quoting Basil the Great: “He will not hold back. He, in His love will not disdain even to carry you on His own shoulders, rejoicing that He has found His sheep that was lost . The Father stands awaiting your return from your wandering. Only come back, and while you are yet afar off, He will run and fall upon your neck, and, now that you are cleansed by repentance, He will wrap you in embraces of love. He will clothe with the chief robe the one who has put off the old man with all his works. He will put a ring on hands that have washed off the blood of death, and He will put shoes on feet that have turned from the evil way to path of the Gospel of peace.”[2]  Such a great picture of the eternal life, true life in the resurrection that Jesus brings with Him when He comes for the final time.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom  Christ will come again.


[2](Basil the Great, Letters, 46.6)    Scott R Murray  A Year with the Church Fathers Meditations for Each day of the Church Year  p 371


Sensationalist nonsense of the secular humanists or the facts of Christianity.

Another writer who would rather engage in the sensational instead of facts, especially when it comes to the continued cultural warfare against Christianity.

Betrand Russell in “Why I am not a Christian” asserts that millions of witches were burned in Europe in the Middle Ages. (Bertrand Russell, Why I’m Not a Christian: and Other Essays On Religion and Related Subjects (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1957), 20. OK, you tell me, why is that totally fallacious, and I have to surmise entirely written to be sensationalistic? … There simply weren’t that many people, and certainly not enough to put that many people to death. The most most extreme estimates is somewhere around 80,000 people were executed in Europe for witchcraft. For those who are challenged in their educational background in the areas of math and history, that is far below “millions” and simply, in fact, did not happen. That they were executed is obviously totally unacceptable. But to take a tragedy like this and for purposes of trying to generate hate against a particular group, Christians, for something that happened over 400 years ago, is obviously intended for bigotry and hatred, and the facts be damned. “Millions”, fantasy, vs 80,000 fact is a vast difference.

One wonders why someone like Russell would chose to submit fiction. I submit, he was a bigot, hater, and was probably trying to justify his own personal sins and hatred by trying to project that on to someone else. Cowards and bullies are notorious for such behavior. The number of people executed for witchcraft in Salem? Twenty. Again, not at all acceptable, but far below the nonsense often touted by uninformed sensationalists. By the way, despite what I see and hear regularly, none of them were burned, they were hung, the one exception was Gilles Corey who was pressed to death, a man. If you’re going to make accusations try and have some of your facts straight. But if you just want to be sensational, generate hate and bigotry against Christians, might as well tell whatever lies it takes to generate hate. But hey, lying haters, that’s what they do. By the way, Salem was the only place in North America where witches, to any extent, were executed. The whole rest of the continent none that anyone seems to be otherwise aware of. (now of course someone will pipe up with a handful of obscure, isolated situations that were related to nothing else.)

I know, those who simply want to achieve the sensationalistic and add to anti-Christian bigotry don’t usually get too concerned with the facts, afterall, they have a bigoted agenda to pursue. But we have to quit allowing this.

I assure you that Muslims, also for religious reasons, “convert or die” killed at least as many and I would submit more, and yet never called to account. Why? Christians are supposed to be meek and non-confrontational. They are then perfect targets of bullies, which is what the secular humanist is, and who then goes on prodding and bullying what they expect will be the cowering Christians. Muslims will not simply submit, they will push back and in ways that bullies don’t like.

Let’s talk about genuine horror. Secular humanism of the twentieth century, by far the bloodiest century in human history, in fact more than the total of all deaths by violence of all of history combined.) Hmmmm, who was conducting those crusades and assaults against humanity? Yea, the most vicious, vile secular humanists in the history of man. Why would they all of a sudden appear in such a short time? Is it that the only force capable of opposing such evil had been pushed away by all the “well-intentioned” persons of the 19th century who were so concerned with saving humanity from the “horrors” of Christianity. Well done! You subjected, quite literally, millions in Europe, particularly those areas captured by the Nazis. Russia, starting with the communist revolution from 1918 up to at least the late 1900’s. Of course throw in other fascists, Mussolini, Tojo, Franco, … The rest of the communist hit parade still going on today in China, starting with Mao in the 1940s. Let’s throw in Ho Chi Minn, Pol Pot, Che Guevera, Castro, secular humanist murders of, quite literally millions. Goes to show what ignorance, lack of critical thinking, basic intellectual dishonesty the “well intentioned”, inflict on others. Hitler was opposed by Dietrich Bonhoeffer a Christian, Lutheran minister. Soviet communists were opposed by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a Christian, who was booed at a Harvard commencement. Bonhoeffer was hung by secular humanists.

The church has committed a lot of stupid over the centuries, but has committed far more good and continues to do so now, far outstripping the efforts of any government. When there are needs, there are so many Christian organizations that rush in to provide for the victims. FEMA actually counts on the support of organizations such as Catholic Charities, Lutheran World Relief, The Salvation Army, American Red Cross and many other Christian groups. They not only rush in to the catastrophic (interesting how I can’t think of one secular humanist organization that rushes in to help anyone. Hey maybe Planned Parenthood rushes in to give emergency abortions, … nah, I don’t think they would. Cowards who simply kill and take your money are simply not so motivated.) But those same Christian organizations are all over the world day in and day out providing for the needs of millions. Those are the millions who are often subject to their local petty tyrants, think of Somalia as an example. Yea, Mother Teresa helping the poor of India, where are the Hindus or secular humanists in India? Not helping their own people who do quite literally starve and die of disease in the streets, yet no world out cry? Except those who like to peddle ignorant prattle of the “millions” of witches, blah, blah,blah.

People have to think things out, ignore the nonsense and get the facts. Maybe we can make the 21st century a peaceful one, instead of trying to exterminate a group of people or their religious beliefs like the Nazis and Communists tried to do to the Jewish people in the 20th centuries. But hey, haters gonna hate.

The Holy Spirit brings us to Jesus, we don’t “chose” Jesus, He choses us

American Christianity has introduced seriously incorrect concepts into Christianity. One of the most pretentious is how “I accepted Jesus into my heart”. This idea that in the super-mart of beliefs, I was a really great guy and decided to throw one to Jesus. I often wonder if people really understand how prideful and pretentious that sounds and is.

The Holy Spirit chose me, He gave me the understanding of who/what Jesus is and how He saved me. There was nothing left for me to mess up, other than of course I could just reject Jesus, but surely the Holy Spirit would make me realize how stupid that would be.

CFW Walther took orthodox Lutheranism from Europe and brought it to the United States, established the church apart from American Christianity and enabled it to be established in the US so that it could continue to teach and preach true Christianity. In a sermon, Walther asserts the understanding of how we are chosen and don’t chose. I do appreciate his point that while there are many who are “interested” in Jesus/God, they’re not interested to the extent that it runs their life, they’re still in charge and that’s that. If Jesus is not the Lord of your life and you’re not indwelt by the Holy Spirit, you are not a Christian. It’s all about God and what He does and nothing about what we do.

“By nature, no person is capable of receiving the Word in his heart. He must be brought to it by the Holy Ghost. As often as an unconverted person hears, reads or examines the Word of God, the Holy Ghost seeks to convince him that he is a great sinner, that he does not stand in grace with God, and that God’s wrath rests upon him. If, through this divine working, the person does not resist the Holy Ghost, his heart is filled with a deep sadness and his awakened conscience provokes anxiety and even terror in him. Then, through the Gospel, a heartfelt longing for grace, help and mercy arises in the person. Oh, blessed is he who experiences this, for this longing for grace is the beginning of the true, saving faith. It begins as soon as the sinner reaches out with longing to Christ, the propitiation of all sins. If such a person remains under the cultivation of the Holy Ghost through the Word of the Gospel, he finally, in faith and confidence, embraces Christ so he can cry out with divine certainty: ‘Praise the Lord, O my soul! For I, a sinner, have found grace. I, a miserable person have found mercy.’ The person who has had such an experience has received the Gospel and come to true faith.”

Essentially, that we as evil, sinful people have no capacity to even know how to truly come to Jesus. Those who pridefully announce it, are sinning in their presumption. Do we “accept” Jesus in our pride and power? No, of course not, we are making it into a sinful effort on our part.

“…whoever has never groaned from the depths of his distressed heart for Christ’s grace and whoever still fails to recognize that a person cannot believe in Christ by his own powers but alone by the working of the Holy Ghost is certainly still without faith. The birth of faith in the soul of a sinner cannot leave him unmoved. Indeed, it is a work that transforms the whole person – from darkness to light, from spiritual death to spiritual life – and brings him out of powerlessness into divine strength.” [I think it is better that in our humility and weakness we are endowed with the power God gives us to truly know him and live our lives in our new birth, in our baptism, in Him. How could we be anything but humble and weak in order to be endowed with God’s strength?] “Luther gloriously speaks about this in the preface to his commentary on the Epistle to the Romans: ‘This is the reason that, when they hear the Gospel, they fall-to and make for themselves, by their own powers, an idea in their hearts, which says, ‘I believe.’ This they hold for true faith. But it is a human imagination and idea that never reaches the depths of the heart, and so nothing comes of it and no betterment follows it. Faith, however, is a divine work in us. It changes us and makes us to be born anew of God’ (John 1); it kills the old Adam and makes altogether different men, in heart and spirit and mind and powers, and it brings with it the Holy Ghost … Pray God to work faith in you; else you will remain forever without faith, whatever you think or do’ (xvi, xvii).” (translated by Gerhard P. Grabenhofer God Grant it Daily Devotions from C.F.W. Walther pp 662-663)

Knowing that it is all about what God does in us gives us the assurance of knowing that we are truly in Christ, that it’s been done effectively, correctly and for eternity. Can we decide we just don’t want this? Sure, reject God and decide to do it our way. How do you think that’s going to end up? I always find it interesting when people in such indignation complain “how could a good God send people to hell?” As you can see here, it’s about what people are doing by rejecting God. That than begs the question, who’s sending who where? Obviously people are rejecting God and choosing eternal separation and outside of God that means torment. When it’s all about their “choice”, it’s always bad, when it’s about God choosing, obviously, it’s always good and that’s what we want to go with, God’s choice, not mine.

USA Triathlon Olympic Distance Age Group National Championships

If you watch a large national sports tournament, oh let’s take the NCAA’s Men’s Basketball championships, often referred to as “March Madness”. You will see, teams there that haven’t got a snowball’s chance in hell of doing anything more but playing in the first round, then watching the rest of the tournament.

In 2018 the Long Island University Blackbirds were unceremoniously eliminated from the first round, what’s actually a kind of you’re the last two seeds and only one can proceed round. LIU comes from a small conference won a championship, got to the NCAAs. No problem, just to say I’m sure they were thrilled to be there, played as hard as they could, and just didn’t have the firepower of bigger schools with a higher level of programs.

I just recently had my own comparable experience in triathlon. USA Triathlon has Olympic distance (.9mile swim, 25 miles bike, 6.1 mile run) national championships and this year it was held in Cleveland, Oh. I managed to place in a group category in a race in Rock Hall, Md, Waterman Triathlon and thereby received an invitation to the National Championships. I placed last year in a race in Wheeling, WV “Faith in Action Triathlon” and that earned me a place in the championships in Omaha, Ne. that year, which I couldn’t go to.

I’m sure much like the LIU team to be on college basketballs biggest stage, I know I was thrilled to be on, one of at least, USA Triathlon’s, ok, we’ll say bigger stages. But it was the biggest one that I will probably ever be on, at least in terms of sports. National Championships run Cleveland I

This was my principle race, my target race for the year, without any pretense that it would be anymore than get there, do the best you can, be happy with the results. But it was still stressful, especially the closer I got to the date. The “what are you doing?, what makes you think you can do this?, Don’t you know this is going to be a lot of trouble which nothing good will come of?” You know, those kinds of thoughts. Trying to be conscious of what I ate, how I worked out. Still over weight from last year by about 5 pounds, stressing out over how that is going to affect my race. We’ve moved from the hills of York, Pennsylvania. Is the terrain here in Maryland going to help or not be enough of a challenge to be in good condition? And of course the ever present, why? you’re not going to make it, you won’t finish, … On and on.

If the trip there was any indication, I should have listened to “thoughts” and stayed at my son’s house. We left the eastern shore of Maryland at 8am, with no doubt that there was plenty of time to get to Cleveland by 5pm, 9 hours, no problem. Yeah, well, there were a few problems. About 3 hours sitting in traffic, which I, frankly am shaking my head even as I write this. And it rained, so hard, that again, just had to slow down. So what should have taken less than 6 hours, well it resulted in taking 10 hours. So could not get all my stuff for the race the next day. Wasn’t even sure I’d be able to get it and be in the race the next day.

Saturday, my son and I get up at zero dark thirty and I was able. My son dropped me off at about 5:30 and I, somehow, found my way in the dark to the right place, got my bag, Timothy showed right back up to help me get organized the rest of the way and I found myself on the beach on Lake Erie with time to spare and much relieved. USA Triath championships Swim start on Lake ErieMy wetsuit got left in the car, and no one was going back for it at this point, but as it turned out, that might have been a good thing. The water temp was at about 78, it was a mildly hot day. The more I think about it, it seems that being in the wetsuit would have left me over heated for the rest of the race and while my swim time was, to put it mildly, horrible, I’m not sure, based on some other issues, that it really would have made any difference.

The bike part was mostly through downtown Cleveland. This was my 60th race, which I completed just before I turned 60 years old, and I had never really done a race in a straight up urban environment. It was great and I’m glad I had the experience. I’m not sure a lot of the people in the downtown area we went through saw it that way, those who were trying to otherwise live their life, but I appreciated it.

I was ok, stronger than I thought I’d be on the run. Don’t misunderstand, doesn’t mean I was strong, just better than I thought.

Finally finished and I only put this on here as a matter of record, ‘cuz it sure weren’t anything to brag about

usa-triathlon-age-group-national-championships-ryuxn9ze (1).png  hey, I still maintained my “I haven’t finished last record”, and I did finish. Got the medal, got the t-shirt.

It is to say that despite all the tension, anxiety, it still happened. Believe me, it is all glory to God! Certainly not for the actual performance, because that was mine to louse up. But that I did get there, I did start on time, I did do the swim,  National Championships swim exit Cleveland the bikeNational Championships bike Clevelandthe runNational Championships run Cleveland and  to the glory of God, did acceptably and had a great experience in a different environment, did my first race in a city setting, my first race on a Great Lake (Lake Erie) and certainly the first time I’ve done a “National championship” of anything. I’m going with I may have finished very near the bottom, but it was near the bottom of the best in the country. So I’m going with that and again, giving all glory to God and thanking Him for giving me such a tremendous experience. I do want to thank USA Triathlon too, they did a great job organizing this. They provided the atmosphere for a “championship event” that I was eligible to be a part of, albeit circumstantially. But I’ll take it.