What is fundamental and what we need to understand concerning living properly our relationship with God, is the time in which we live. By the time I which we live, I mean what exactly He requires from us at the present specific time and how do we need to behave and respond to Him. This is something very fundamental as of this will depend our relationship with Him and the direction we will take, our growth and also blessings we can obtain. When I speak about blessings, I am above all referring to walking in obedience to Him and bearing fruit. It might be that God in the specific time in which we live is demanding from us to focus more on obedience to Him, or to move, or stay and endure, to humble, or to repent as also this sermon is dealing with this topic. This is all very personal and spiritual. We only can understand it by seeking deeper into the scripture and opening our heart in prayer to Him. A spiritual discernment will help us to determine what does He want from us and will help us to filter and discern His voice amongst all the voices we hear daily. This knowledge and discernment we receive personally from Him. A person can help us and guide us, but even to discern and accept properly what the person of God wants to tell us, we need the wisdom which comes from above. (James 1:5, James 3:17)
In the case of this sermon we will particularly discuss the topic of sin and repentance, and although not all of us might be living in this particular time at the present (as we might be living in different time), it could be something useful as repentance is something that we will be dealing with in many situations in our life. With this, I am not promoting the idea that we freely sin and then just use the repentance as something granted and something to sort out the situation in which we live. God is indeed a loving Father who forgives, but we need to know that His blood is precious and we were bought with a high price. We will first look at an example in a story found in Jeremiah 27:12-15
12 I also spoke to Zedekiah king of Judah according to all these words, saying, “Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live! 13 Why will you die, you and your people, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, as the Lord has spoken against the nation that will not serve the king of Babylon? 14 Therefore do not listen to the words of the prophets who speak to you, saying, ‘You shall not serve the king of Babylon,’ for they prophesy a lie to you; 15 for I have not sent them,” says the Lord, “yet they prophesy a lie in My name, that I may drive you out, and that you may perish, you and the prophets who prophesy to you.”
We see this passage that represents a particular part of the story of the nation of Judah. They were surrounded by the army of the king of Babylon Nebuchadnezzar. Here is the prophet Jeremiah admonishing them to bring their necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon. He was telling them to surrender and to submit to him. A bit controversial as this is the first time when probably they were told such a thing. This was because that was the moment and the time they had to go through, and this was from the Lord. This was a time established by Him into their lives. It was a result of their life of idolatry and sin they lived in the past. There were times in their history when they trusted in the Lord and He delivered them, He gave them a victory. This time was different though as they had to surrender. This was what was hard for them to believe and accept. That’s why Jeremiah told them not to trust in their false prophets who were telling them that they were not going to serve the king of Babylon. What the Lord had planned for them was to be submitted to Babylon after which they were going to have their freedom again. They had to go through this time of correction and discipline in their life. A father who loves his child, disciplines him too (Hebrews 12:7-10). He does all of this for his child’s good. This is what also the Lord wants to do for us. They had to understand that the time they were going to go through was a time of correction which was for their good. The king and the rulers of Judah didn’t submit to what the Lord was telling them, and all of this became more painful even as some of them lost their lives and most of the nation was taken to exile. When we are not disposed to accept what the Lord has planned for us and His correction and time for us, it gets harder and even more pain comes along. What He wants to do is to heal us and restore us in time. Not accepting His treatment makes it just harder. His purpose for His nation was repentance and mercy. We can see it by a passage found in Lamentations 3:21-24
21 This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”
Here in this passage in the book of Lamentations which is believed to be written by Jeremiah we see that the message of the Lord was repentance and mercy saying that His mercies are new every morning. This book was written after they fell under the hand of Babylon. We see therefore that when He wants to work and correct something in our life, He does it for good.
We need to understand that if we sinned and we repent sincerely, we are forgiven, but there are still consequences of the sin. The Lord doesn’t just cover that sin without we realize the weight of it in part. I am saying this mainly to the believers who repented and found the Lord in their life, but they still fell into sin afterwards. If we are in such situation, we need to approach with confidence the throne of God and repent. He is ready to accept us. What I am saying is that He will want to teach us a lesson afterwards. He is a Father who corrects His child (Hebrews 12:7, 8). He does it for love. The people of Judah didn’t manage to understand that after the sin of idolatry they committed, they had to go through a time in which they were going to be taught a lesson. The Lord wanted to work in their life and sometimes He works through such situations. Through tough moments and trials, so that we can learn a lesson. When a child keeps on touching a hot stove, his father corrects him as he doesn’t want his child to get hurt. That’s why it is also so important in our society for parents to correct and rebuke their children, but this obviously needs to be done in the right way. This was the reason for which the nation of Judah had to submit under the Babylonian empire. That was the correction that needed to be applied in their life. The Lord corrects our life so that we can walk in holiness or we can grow in Him and have faith. These are the reasons for which He does that. They had to humble under the treatment of the Lord and accept the time they had to live.
The Bible speaks about a time of drought too. This is the time
as the Bible describes it, that used to come after the nation of Israel was committing a sin, but not in all the cases, as “drought” could represent a time of a trial and a difficult situation with the purpose to strengthen our faith. The same as the nation of Israel had as they were walking through the desert after their departure from Egypt. Still God expresses in His word that the purpose of this desert was to test their hearts.
2 And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” Deuteronomy 8:2
Sometimes we are tested and corrected for things that maybe we are not aware of (in that moment at least). This is also done with a good purpose. David said in Psalm 19:12
12 Who can understand his errors?
Cleanse me from secret faults.
There are sins and faults that we are not aware of. They are not the obvious sins that e know of, but in the most of the cases are certain attitudes and opinions we might have. They need to be shown to us by God. We need to read His word so that we can be enlightened and change. The desire of David was to be cleansed even by this kind of sins. He was disposed to be examined and judged by the Lord. This is the desire we need to have before God – to be clean, to be completely pure. This is the desire coming out of the regenerated heart of a believer. We can doubt in our salvation if we don’t have this kind of desire. Obviously, every believer differs from another and some might be better and stronger in their walk in in the Lord and His holiness, but nevertheless this desire needs to be present. So, going back to the scripture in Psalm 19:12, there are some sins unknown to us and sometimes we are going through a treatment and correction with the purpose that we can see and be aware of these wrongs. The Lord wants to cleanse us from this, because He knows where these kind of sins may lead us in the future. One of these faults that we might be not always aware of, is the pride for example. As you see in this situation we are not speaking about falling into some particular sin, but about an attitude. Pride could cause serious damage to our walk with the Lord and He had to work a lot in my life and I had to go through a dessert as the scripture in Deuteronomy 8:2 mentioned above says, so that I can come aware of it and repent. I know that there is still pride though and other things that the Lord has to work with, in my life. Often this takes a time and it is a process. There are sins that we know of and we fall into and there are those sins that we are not aware of, but we still need to repent from them, and they still can lead us astray. There is a difference however in the way He judges and treats these sins. He only as a loving Father knows how to treat us in the best way possible so that we can grow in the right way. He wants only good and the best for us. It is us that many times cause pain to ourselves. He wants to prevent that. Not only for the present time, but also for the future. He doesn’t want us as that child touching the hot stove, figuratively speaking, to keep on doing what might hurt us.
A time of drought represents a time in which we are not living fully the blessings in the Lord in our life. This is a time in which we have to believe not for the things we have or receive but for the reason itself to believe, and this is the Lord. This is a time in which we need to set our eyes on Him and in this moment we will see if we really believed for the blessings only or for the right reason. There were many people amongst the nation of Israel who just complained while crossing the desert exactly for the things they didn’t have, for the lack of blessings. The Christian life isn’t just about blessings but about the Lord and about reaching the promise land. There were those people amongst the nation who through faith persevered. They set their sight on the Lord and on His promises. They didn’t have them in that moment, but nevertheless they believed. A drought is also a drought of the presence of the Lord in our life. Many times we might not feel Him in the way we are used to, but He is still there, watching on us and guarding us.
We can have a look on some of the passages speaking about drought.
4 Because the ground is parched,
For there was no rain in the land,
The plowmen were ashamed;
They covered their heads.
5 Yes, the deer also gave birth in the field,
But left because there was no grass.
6 And the wild donkeys stood in the desolate heights;
They sniffed at the wind like jackals;
Their eyes failed because there was no grass.”
7 O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us,
Do it for Your name’s sake;
For our backslidings are many,
We have sinned against You.
This passage is an example of a drought caused by a sin. This nevertheless wasn’t with the purpose to annihilate them, but to teach them and to guide them in the right way.
7 “I also withheld rain from you,
When there were still three months to the harvest.
I made it rain on one city,
I withheld rain from another city.
One part was rained upon,
And where it did not rain the part withered. Amos 4:7
As we said before, when talking about a drought today in the New Testament times, we are not necessarily talking always about a literal drought, but mostly about a spiritual one. A drought of the presence of the Lord.
There is a time for each moment in our life. If there is a time of drought, there is a time of rain as well. James 5:7 tells us about it.
7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.