Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Disaster Avoiding Necessity of Pleasure

Hear, o earth; behold, I am bringing disaster upon this people, the fruit of their devices, because they have not paid attention to my words; and as for my law, they have rejected it. What use to me is frankincense that comes from Sheba, or sweet cane form a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices pleasing to me.
Jeremiah 6:19,20
Why aren't the sacrifices of Jerusalem pleasing to the LORD? Why does He not accept their offerings? The plainest answer to see from the Scriptures is that the people aren't pleased to give them! How can the LORD be pleased in receiving sacrifices from people who aren't pleased to give them? That wold be absurd! It would defeat the purpose of the offering or sacrifice since the one who is giving is essentially the one who comes to define the terms of the giving rather than the One who calls for the sacrifice. It would make the LORD out to bee a fool. And a fool He is not.

So how do we know that Jerusalem isn't pleased to give the offerings and sacrifices that they give in v.20? Well if we look just one verse earlier, we see that they have not paid attention to the words of the LORD and have rejected His law (v. 19). This, at first, doesn't make sense. Why would the LORD follow this statement about the rejection of His law by a seeming example of obedience to His law in the giving of burnt offerings and sacrifices, which was commanded in the Mosaic law (Leviticus 16:23,24)? It seems like a contradiction since the people are indeed giving sacrifices and the LORD simply isn't accepting them. Well, almost.
Behold, their ears are uncircumcised, they cannot listen; behold, the word of the LORD is to them an object of scorn; they take no pleasure in it;
Jeremiah 6:10
Look closely at the second half of the tenth verse earlier in the same chapter. Jeremiah here says that the word of the LORD is an object of scorn to Jerusalem, language similar to that in v.19 of them having rejected the law and not paying attention to it. And here is the all-important connection: how does Jeremiah follow his thought to show how he sees that the word of the LORD is scorned by Jerusalem? Does he say that they scorn the word of the LORD because they don't obey it? NO! He says that they take no pleasure in it! Do you see that? In Jeremiah's inspired mind, the opposite of scorning the word of the LORD isn't simply to obey it, but rather to take pleasure in it! The LORD gives His law so that we may love it! He demands that we love His word and take pleasure in doing what it says. This is NOT optional. It is a terrifyingly indispensable necessity.

There is absolutely no way someone can scorn the word of the LORD yet be pleased to offer sacrifices. If he hates the law of the LORD, he will hate giving sacrifices. If he dutifully follows the law of the LORD and dutifully obeys the word of the LORD, he will give sacrifices and offerings dutifully. And note this very well: The LORD will NOT match our duty with His pleasure! So the only alternative is that He simply will NOT accept our duty and that seems to be what is happening in the case of the people of Jerusalem here. God will not do ANYTHING out of duty! He is a gloriously happy God who does all that He pleases (Psalm 115:3, Psalm 135:6)! And so He will be pleased to reject that which we offer up dutifully without our pleasure. The LORD will be pleased to receive only that which we are pleased to give. This alone is worship. This is the way He has ordained it. And because it is His prerogative and His alone to do it this way since He is God and we are not, we ought to tremble before Him and plead for the circumcised heart that loves the fullness of His law because we don't want to be the one whose sacrifice He rejects. The one whose sacrifice He rejects is the one whom He brings disaster upon (v.19).
Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you.
Deuteronomy 28:47,48
Father, we tremble at the thought that You would reject that which we consider to be obedience and instead bring disaster and destruction upon us! Forbid that we would ever be resigned to monotonous, dutiful giving and obedience that is nothing more than routine or even resentful. For this shows that we have another agenda. But woe to us if we have any agenda other than that which is Your own! May we never expect You to meet our duty with Your pleasure! May we never pass contempt on Your emotions in that way but may we treat Your affections as infinitely valuable, knowing that our greatest pleasures that we can offer to You aren't even worthy of Your smallest pleasures in receiving them because ours are infinitely smaller and weaker. But thank You, Father, that You do delight to receive them! So may You enable us, by sovereign grace, to give all that we are and have with the utmost joy. May You grant us God-glorifying pleasure in all that we would do for the sake of Your Name. Circumcise our hearts Father. For we cannot do it ourselves. And may You do so continually in our lives so that our love for You may never grow cold. May You be most glorified in us by making us to be most satisfied in You. Always. For Jesus' sake I pray these things in His precious Name, Amen.

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