September 23, 2018-The Bottom of the Ladder

It’s a conspiracy against the man sent by God!

This is the man, who had to tell the hard truths that the people did not want to hear.

They took their country in the wrong direction for too long and now they would bear the fruits of their corruption.

Their actions that led to the deleterious condition of the country were not in question, they did, what the man sent by God, said they did, and the end result was coming.

Forces outside the countries’ sphere of influence would make sure that they were powerless to stop it regardless of what they did now or who they made alliances with.

Ignoring the facts they conspired against the man of God in a futile attempt to undermine his authority, and they hoped, his ability to carry out the judgement.

They could not have been more wrong on two specific accounts.

#1. It was never the man of God’s authority…it was God’s alone.

#2. The resulting judgment was as sure as “the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” (Daniel 6:9)

Oh they thought they were morally right, at least right enough to justify a myriad of actions that rebelled against the institutions they formally held so dear.

Those who handled the law, perverted it and didn’t even know who gave them the law and why. (Jeremiah 2:8)

Their religious leadership changed the worship of God to worshipping their own false acts of piety. (Jeremiah 2:11, Psalm 106:20)

They trusted foreign influence which changed their culture and the very foundation of their fundamental identity and beliefs. (Jeremiah 2:16)

They took sides with foreign World Powers that were on the rise in the region and their conspiracies created loyalties with the wrong side and now their country would suffer near annihilation.  (Jeremiah 2:18-19; See LSB Note)

Their futile acts of rebellion and conspiracy certainly hurt the man sent by God, and made his job way harder than it had to be.

He shouldn’t have taken it personally, for they were not rebelling against him, they were rebelling against God!

But the country did take it out on the man sent by God, because if you want to kill the message, it’s always easier to just kill the messenger.

Today in our Old Testament Lesson, Jeremiah receives his comfort, for being the abused messenger of God, and even the hope that God Himself will come one day and tend to Jeremiah Himself.

God shouldn’t have had to take it personally either, but that’s just what He did, in a way that we can all appreciate forever!

Our hard truth today for the Judeans becomes a hard and fast hope forever, because the Lord of all has come down to meet us where we are and see us through to the end.

25 years ago a dear friend of mine was working in a Christian book store, and was not happy with her job.

Inventory was tough to come by, she didn’t have the authority to order her customers what they wanted and management seemed completely indifferent to her predicament.

What she didn’t know is that the company was being bought out, and management held little hope that their jobs were secure so they basically stopped working altogether.

When the buyout finally happened; that very same week the new owners came to visit her store, and they wanted to talk to her and all the other customer service reps about their needs.

Now you have to remember this was long before the days of email and texting with mobile phones, so you can appreciate how advanced these new company owners were:

As they interviewed my friend and addressed her concerns, questions and suggestions; she said they would immediately call someone on their mobile phone and make the necessary changes right there and then.

The problems were all solved just in the time it took them to relay the concern to the person responsible for the solution.

Her despair turned to hope and her entire outlook on her job turned from the drudgery of work to the joy of making a difference in her community.

All it took was the attention of the one in authority who cared about the ones at the bottom of the ladder.

Now I think we can all agree that the state of the National Church Body has been challenging to Pastors, Church Workers, teachers and laity alike.

It’s pretty easy to get run down by the day to day challenges of sharing the Gospel in church and the community.

It’s even more challenging when we see good pastors and lay leaders leave the churches to go work in the National Church Body Headquarters, and watch our donations go out of state to support so much that doesn’t appear to help us locally.

We may even be tempted to wonder from time to time as to why we have all that bureaucracy anyway, after all what do they actually do for us…we sinfully murmur.

Well President Harrison…Our National Church Body President helped to alleviate some of those sinful murmurings this year at our District Convention in Orlando.

He came all the way from St. Louis, and simply gave us hope for the future of our church.

He shared that we have reduced our national debt 42%, Our Church Worker Pension plans are in great shape with more workers coming on board then years previous, and excepting Mormons and Assemblies of God, we are having more children than most other denominations.

His challenge to us was to rigorously read, meditate on, and study our bibles and likewise do as well with the Book of Concord.

President Harrison…CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

Is there decline, yes, but is there hope amidst the decline, an even bigger YES.

All it took was our President to come and meet with us face to face and share the hope we really have.

All it took was the attention of the one in authority who cared about those of us on the bottom of the ladder.

Almost 30 years ago I was serving in the U.S. Army and training how to be a food service specialist.

It was a good school with excellent Army Instructors.  Unfortunately we had one civilian instructor who was horrible…especially to females in our school.

His frustrating demeanor and demeaning comments finally boiled into serious moral issues and before long the Chief Warrant Officer and Commandant of the School showed up to address the complaints.

Warrant officers have most of the respect and experience of an enlisted soldier and nearly all the authority of a commissioned officer; in other words, to us little privates…they were like Gods.

He totally understood us and had the authority to help us and help us he did!

The civilian instructor was gone and we all went joyfully back to our kitchens and mess halls, as anyone knows, the army rolls on its’ stomach.

We got back to our mission highly motivated and all it took was the attention of the one in authority who cared about those of us at the bottom of the ladder.

Oh I wish I could tell you it works this way all the time, the truth is it rarely does.

Poor Jeremiah was being treated like the hired help, and no one in authority wanted to hear what he had to say, and were even scheming to sacrifice him at the very first opportunity they had.

But when Jeremiah thought he knew who was in authority, he was wrong when he thought the ones in authority were devising schemes against himself.

Today in our lesson the real authority over Jeremiah came down that ladder, and gives Jeremiah Hope.

Jeremiah wasn’t a gentle lamb led to the slaughter; he was a part of the whole company of heaven that was saved by the slaughter of the lamb.

Jeremiah wasn’t the tree to be cut down and remembered no more!

That same lamb was nailed to the tree and the fruits of that sacrifice would be the remembering and worshiping of His name forever.

No, Jeremiah wasn’t being treated like the hired help; he was hired to help prophesy Jesus as the Lord of Hosts!

Jesus who came in authority to lay down his life and take it up again, Jesus who captures the hearts and minds of his little lambs, Jesus who will come again to take vengeance upon the enemies of everyone committed to his cause!

Jesus, who gave all his attention, as the ultimate one in authority who cared about us sinners at the bottom of the ladder and took us back up the ladder again. AMEN.