First of all he starts to show us the dynamics of spiritual attraction. All through here he is using remarkable sexual imagery. One verse which I left out you know, I was trying to say “well, I can’t print the whole chapter” but we are looking in a sense the whole chapter. And there’s one verse that’s very very interesting. See in verse 4-8 which we did print, we are told God is calling them the task, the fact that they are turning to idols. They are worshiping other Gods. They are not worshiping Him. And verses one to three, he uses, we’ll get back to this, remarkable sexual imagery of a young married couple just hopelessly in love. And in the very end we are going to see but in verse 20, this is what I didn’t print but I should’ve, in verse 20, there’s a verse that starts this way. It goes like this, “on every high hill, under every spreading chestnut, under every spreading tree, you..” now, ok we say “that’s idol worship” because that we know that under every high hill, they had altars to Baal. Under every spreading tree, there were altars to Baal. Why? Because altars were the signs of, high hills were sign of transcendence, spreading trees were a sign of fertility. So in verse 20 you see the sentence starts like this, “under, on every high hill, and under every spreading tree”, and you figure the sentence will end, “you worshiped idols.” That’s not what it says. What it says is, “on every high hill, and under every spreading tree, you spread your legs.” Now I don’t know what version you’ve got out there, but I could tell one thing, whatever English version, if you’ve got a bible with you if you look at it and I know what it doesn’t say that. Whether it is King James or RSV or The New International Version or whatever version it is, it’s not going to say that. But that’s what it says literally in Hebrew, it’s interesting. Generally speaking, the translator feel that we are just too sensitive or something to actually hear what God is trying to tell us. What God says is, when you worship idols, when you worship other gods, He says “under, on the top of every hill, under every tree, you are spreading your legs.” Now why would He use that kind of imagery? Is He just trying to you know, get our attention? He is just trying to you know, is this just for shock value? No, it’s for teaching value because this is what He is teaching, all through here, why all the way through the bible, when God’s talks about worshipping Him, He uses sexual imagery so often and when He talks about worshipping anything else, or worshipping else, any worship is used very often under the umbrella of sexual imagery, why would God do that? Here is what He is doing. He is saying, that there is an attraction going on in the spiritual level in your heart right now, every bit is powerful as the sexual attraction to the physical level that could happen. In other words, right now He is saying, there is something going on in your soul, in the deepest recesses of your soul, you are laying down with something spiritually. You are putting your arms on something spiritually. And you are relating, your spiritual relationship with that thing, every bit is powerful, as a physical relationship is and a sexual one at that. Now for a minute think about physical attraction. One the one hand physical attraction is pretty overwhelming, in fact most of us would probably say, the most embarrassing moments of our lives and most of you only, only you yourselves know who these what these are, the most embarrassing moments of our lives are times when physical attraction kind of overwhelming our common sense, overwhelmed our wisdom, overwhelmed our conscious. But what makes physical attraction so strong? Is it just emotional infatuation? Now here is a place where I’m going to turn to the biologist because actually Jeremiah turns to a biologist, I usually don’t. Generally I’m not going to go to the biologist and say “tell me about the sexual instinct.” I don’t usually like what I hear in fact you don’t either, most people don’t. But it’s intriguing, Jeremiah likens us and it’s really pretty powerful, he likens us to an animal at one point. Not just to a bride like in the very beginning of chapter two and at the very end, but here in the very middle. “See how you behaved in the valley? You were a swift she camel running here and there. A wild donkey accustomed to the desert, sniffing the wind at her craving in her heat.” Now here’s what the biologists are going to tell you. Why is the physical desire, why is sexual desire so important and it’s this. Collectively speaking, we are dead unless we find somebody else, we cannot reproduce ourselves, that’s what the biologist would tell you. The biologist would say that, unless you’re godzilla this is true of every every other species, there’s something in the male that only the male produces, that has to get together with something in female that only the female produces or else your race is over. Your species is over. Your over! And therefore what the biologist would tell you is a big root of this incredible physical attraction is a collectively speaking a male gender or female gender by itself is incomplete and it’s dead unless you literally get together. That’s certainly obviously, there’s nothing emotional about animals and yet the physical attraction is incredibly powerful, there’s no emotional involvement from what we can tell. Oh, where does it come from? It comes from the fact that we are biologically speaking, we are incomplete, collectively, ok. Why this powerful sexual imagery? Here’s why. This passage, this text is not talking all about Israel sexual practices, it’s not talking at all about sexual ethics. It’s talking about religion. Now it’s very interesting, down on Saint Mark’s place across from Kim’s video there’s a store that says Religious Sex, and it’s very attention getting, it’s sort of avante-garde and cool to call something religious sex why because in our mind religion and sex is two totally different things, they’re two total opposites of, put it together kind of gets to you right? That’s why they chose it, it’s Saint Mark’s Place, we are avante-garde, we are unusual, we are shocking, well God beat them to it. Jeremiah did this twenty five hundred years ago. And here’s what they’re are saying. There is deep in our soul, a spiritual desire even more powerful than the desires that in form physical attraction and it’s this; you cannot produce your own meaning in life, you cannot by yourself produce your own worth, you cannot produce your own security, everybody has got to have some meaning in life or else life is empty. Everybody has got to have some affirmation of your worth, or else you feel worthless. Everybody has got to have some security or you can’t face life but you cannot produce it yourself any more than you can reproduce your species, your own life. You can’t reproduce that spiritual any more than you can reproduce yourself physically all by yourself. You have, you can’t just say, “all that matters to me is that I like me”. You’re never going to have your worth that way. You can’t say, “I’m just going to live for my own happiness”, you’re never going to get your meaning that way. There’s got to be something else besides you that is the source of your meaning, the source of your worth, the source of security and your drive for that, your need for that, your need to take hold of whatever that is, it must be something, or somebody, or some person, or some pursuit, or some relationship, or some goal, or some condition, or some practice, SOMETHING! You are powerless to reproduce to produce in your heart, meaning and worth and security as you are physically able to produce reproduce your own life. And so spiritually speaking if it’s not God whose the lover of your soul, if it’s not God whose arms you are spiritually, if it’s not God whose meaning is the source of your meaning, whose affirmation is the source of your self-worth and whose power is the source of security, if it’s not God you're in bed with something spiritually. Something you’ve given yourself to in realm so deep, so profound that God here is saying “you are as every bit spiritually beholden to it as you are physically beholden, every bit is spiritually laid out, spread out, as vulnerable to it spiritually as you are physically when we are having sex with someone. You are doing the very same thing spiritually as you do in bed with someone physically. Same thing!” You’ve got to have this. You are spiritually incomplete, and therefore you are in bed with something. Now let’s take a minute before we move on. Can I show you how radically different this view is of soul and of spirit then what you are going to hear about or read about in Barnes and Noble? When you go to the section on Soul and Spirit, it’s getting bigger in every year. There’s just tons of book on soul, care of the soul, and help for the soul, and chicken soup for the soul, what is spirit? You know, or the spirit, care for the spirit. And if you those books down, and they are all very different and yet they are all the same. First of all, they depict the soul as a pond. A sort of still lake. But the bible depicts the soul as a restless turbulent ocean or whenever they talk, all these books talk about the cure of the soul, or the care of the soul, what they usually talk about getting into quiet places. And they think about, and think inspirational thoughts, reflec, you see. Be quiet. See the soul is that sort of thing and the bible says something so much more robust, so much more robust, so much more vital, so much more alive, your soul are, your soul are two empty arms, your soul is an utterly empty heart and you must run after the things in order to fill that, “I can’t help it!” says the soul. I must run after them, see? Completely different approach not only to your soul, your soul just doesn't need to be petted “there, there”. Your soul needs love, Your soul need rapture, your soul needs passion! Alright? But it’s also giving us a completely different view not just of the soul, but it’s a completely different view on God. If you take those books down, if they ever do talk about God, many of them just don’t but if they do ever do talk about God, they talk about God in a sense of being someone who sort of gives peace, sort of a remote, a power, a force and God here says, “I am not just a remote force, in fact I am not just the sovereign you obey! Let me tell you what I built you for, I want to be the lover of your soul. I want to be the center of your heart. Look he’s saying, at the sex act, look at the greatest rapturous bit of sexual love that is just a dim hint of what your soul and my soul will be. That’s what I made you for, that’s what I want you to be with me!” (Laughter*). You know, there are lot of people go in and they think this is great, this approach to the soul, the modern new age spirituality. And they just say that, it seems so cool, it seems so avante-garde you see it? It seems so much more a, it seems so much better than the wooden mechanical understanding of people have of Christianity but Christianity, real Christianity, look what we are seeing! Look what we are talking about! This view of the soul, this view of God! God says, I want you in my arms. The power, the dynamics of spiritual attraction. And he says “I’m not, if I’m not in your arms, if you’re not in my arms, you’re in the arms of something.”
Now the second thing we learn, I’m going to be brief on this because a lot of you know this, and you would rather have, you would like to know, I’m pretty good at telling you what’s wrong with you and some of you are going to say, “I’ve heard this part before, I like to find out what to do about it”, so let me be brief. The second thing we learn here is also the dynamics of spiritual addiction because what God is saying is if you don’t have me in your arms, if you’re in the arms of anything else, you’re in deep trouble, you are actually in an addiction cycle. Let me show you how that cycle runs briefly. First of all, the first part of that cycle is, you promote something. Look here in verse 27, they say to wood, “you are my father” and to stone “you gave me birth”. And then you say, ok, “you’re my father and you gave me birth.” Now, what is, some of you are saying, “ok, what you mean if you are not worshiping God, if He’s not your center of your life, if He’s not the center of your heart, if He’s not your greatest joy, if you don’t have that intimacy with Him. Well, I’m turning to other gods, well what do you mean?” When you think about idolatry and false gods you usually think of sins. See now here’s where I’m trying to enrich your vocabulary. Is there anything sinful about wood? Is there anything sinful about stone? No! False gods, idols are not sins! They might lead you to sin but they are not sins! They are good things, they are created things, you see, which you’ve looked at though and you’ve promoted and you’ve put them in this top place in your life and what do you say to them? “You made me. You define me. You are my father!” See. When you look at somebody and say, “without you baby~, what good am I~?” You’re saying to something very very good, “you are my father. You are my savior. You are my maker!” And that’s the first step. The first step is that you take something good, wood, stone, something good, not a sin, and you promote it, and you say, “you are my father, you are my maker, you are my defin...without you I have no definition.” That’s the first thing. But then secondly we see, that leads to addiction. It says, “you can’t be restrained.” See? It says, it’s very plaintive here, verse 25, “do not run into until your feet are bare and your throat is dry, says the Lord.” Why are you, your feet are bare, your shoes have worn through. Your throat is dry you’re dying of thirst, you’re running through the desert of course it’s a terrible thing, you should never run in the desert. What’s where this is depicted and but she says but you said “it’s no use. I must.” Now that word must is everything. Anything you have decided, you see, as I said before, if God’s not your center of your life, something is, right? It might be work and career and job and achievement. It might be beauty, love and romance. See? It might be money, possessions and comfort. It might be Adam Smith’s invisible hand of the market, it might be Hagel’s you know the World’s Spirit or it might be baseball or it might be football, it might be your music. It might be your independence. It might be something incredibly noble cause. Somebody that you’re working for, some cause you are working for against an injustice, it can be anything! But when you say, you define me, you’re my meaning without you I don’t have meaning. By achieving you, you make me feel, I’ve got worth, or otherwise I got no worth, you have to have those things so you are addicted to them, you’ve got to have them. And you know the best way to tell whether you are addicted to something is not, and this is what the text says, not when things are going well but when you are in trouble. You see in verse 27 and 28. Fastest way to tell is when you are in trouble. See for example let’s just say, I’m sure this is got to be true for some of you. Let’s just say you’ve got a really close friend and she and you talk to each other a lot, I guess I’m thinking of two women friends right now. Have you ever noticed for example, you’ve both went through a career disappointment and see was ok with it and you were kind of devastated. But you’ve both been through a romance disappointment right? Similar disappointment, and for some strange reason, see was more devastated and you were ok, what’s going on here? I’ll tell you what’s going on here, see, you’re in bed with success, you are spiritually sleeping with it, that’s the reason why, when it’s taken away from you, you can’t take it. Where she, is maybe in bed spiritually with romance, you see? You see, we are all in bed with something, but the way you can tell is usually when it’s taken away. I mean here’s four people at a restaurant and they are all drinking a glass of wine, one’s an alcoholic, how do you find out? How do you find out who’s the alcoholic, how do you find out who is addicted to the wine? Not by, not when they all have the wine, that’s not the way to tell because you see people who are not addicted are also drinking. The way you tell is take it away from them. Take it away so you can’t have anything. You see it’s the absence of the addictive substance which is really what tells you, you’re addicted. And for most of us, the only way we come to realize we are addicted to lover gods, theses lover gods, we have a fatal attraction to a lover god to something we feel like we got to have is if when something goes wrong. And you see, there’s a terrible challenge here and I thought about this many times, you see God comes and says, “where then are the gods that you have made for yourself, let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble.” And of course they can’t! I’ll be really blunt here. If you build your life around your spouse, and see build her life around you, you know if you are a man, one of you are going to see another one in a coffin some day, and here’s what God is saying, “where then will be the gods you’ve made for yourself, how will they…” if you build your life on her, how can she possibly save you in a moment of greatest need, she can’t. Let me give you a very different view but it’s really the same. What if you build your life on the idea that you are a moral decent person, and therefore in a sense your moral standards, your precious moral standards and your sense that I’m a good person is really the thing that give you the meaning and your worth, and what happens when you fall? What happens when you lapse, what happens when you blow it? How can the god of moral integrity save you when you just blown it! Do you see that? This is the reason why your guilt, your guilt will come down on you, “where then will the gods be?”, it’s when you are in trouble, when your heart is breaking, that you come to realize that the things that built my life on can’t possibly save me. That’s the addiction cycle.
Now lastly, there’s a remarkable program here of restoration. First of all we see a dynamics of attraction, the dynamics of spiritual addiction, those things that you promote that we get addicted to and those things that we are addicted to, desert us at our time of greatest need. See? They are worthless and in the end we feel worthless says in verse 5. Now, here’s the last point. How can we avoid the fatal attraction? How can we do that? How can we keep, how can we get out of bed with our lover gods? And you know what? I’m not being discriminatory here at all, let me just speak to Christian friends but let me speak to my, let me speak to solid committed mature Christians, whoever you are, you know. Who dares to think I’m talking to you now but anyway there are some of you out there. Let me tell you something. All of your problems come from this. It doesn’t matter if you’re a strong christian, a weak Christian or a no Christian at all, this is the map of your life. Your lover gods. And whenever you feel an inordinate amount of anger or an inordinate amount of fear or inordinate amount of guilt or even inordinate amount of boredom, you can always find out why. You can always get to the bottom by asking two questions; why do I feel like, what is there, you say this, “what is there that you got to have or I’m dead?” No meaning, no worth. “What is it that I’ve absolutely got to have?” And the second question is, what is more, what is functioning right now more as my real savior than Jesus Christ? I mean that’s, that’s the map of your life. Now, your lover gods. Now how are you going to deal with them? There’s a wonderful program, there’s three thing we are told. Three things. Still have to be kind of brief but I want you to see them. If you want to overcome these fatal attractions, if you want to get freedom, here’s how you do it. First thing is, personalize the understanding of sin. Read verses 1 to 3 with me, or actually just 2 and 3. “I remember the lord says, the devotion of your youth, how was a bride loved me and followed me through the desert a land not sown. Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of the harvest all who devoured her were held guilty and disaster overtook them.” Now, here’s what I mean by vocabulary. Here’s the vocabulary issue. If you understand sin as only breaking the law of God, if that’s your basic understanding of sin, here’s what you are going to do, you are going to be a scold. You are going to scold yourself when you sin and you are going to scold others when they sin, you’re breaking the law! And the only thing I know about scolding is this. Any one you scold about doing x wants to do to more of x than he has ever wanted to do before. Even yourself, you scold your heart, your heart is going to want to do it more! And some of you, that’s all you’ve ever done. Over the years, you’ve got these things that you’ve want to overcome, you’ve got these things that you want to change and all you ever do is scolding your heart. You’re breaking the law of God. This changes our vocabulary, I should say it enriches the vocabulary because here’s what the text is telling us. Sin is breaking the heart of God. One of the most vivid ways I can put it is this. Some of you have been through what all the counselors will tell you is the ultimate psychological torture. The worst thing, the most stressful thing that could happen to human being is divorce. You know that right? Especially when the person you’ve given yourself to, you’ve made yourself vulnerable to them, rejects you. Turns away from you. Maybe even put him or her into somebody else’s arms. Now that kind of suffering I think is probably the worst kind of suffering there is. But even though you do not want to wish this on any body, that’s a terrible thing and I know there’s people in this room that experienced that. But you know what, but you know what we are learning here? That’s exactly how God feels. If you’ve been through that marital suffering, you get insight into God. Until you understand that’s how God feels about sin, you don't understand sin. Until you understand, look! Look at this language. This honeymoon language. You know what verses 2 and 3. He is depicting his relationship to us as two love birds, in fact it’s almost, it’s almost disrespectful. You see because on the one hand he depicts us as a young bride who didn’t care the fact that’s she’s marrying somebody with no money and they are going to live in little hole in a wall or some, it doesn’t matter, and he’s even, look at verse 3, he’s depicting himself as a sort of young man and he’s just going to deck anybody who even looks cross eyed at my girl. And you look at this and you say these two love birds, it doesn’t matter, nothing matters but that they have each other. And now why in the world would God use in a sense such an unworthy illustration? Because that’s what his heart is like. The bible is telling us, that even though God is utterly holy and utterly majestic and in His being, He does not need us. We are told that God is voluntarily done the exact, here’s the other side of the sexual imagery, He’s made himself vulnerable to us. He cares for us. He’s bound up his heart for us. He in a sense, He’s given His heart to us and when we live for anything more than God, we are doing exactly to Him, only far more than what people have gone through when their spouses walked out on them. You’re not just breaking his law, you’re breaking his heart, you are stabbing him on the heart whenever you are not putting Him in the center because He’s put you in the center of His heart. Do you understand sin like this? Here’s why I want you to know this. For some of us, the reason we’ve never really been able to change is because all we’ve ever do is scold our heart. But this will melt your heart. You have to look, you have to look down until you see, that what God has done, as He’s given his heart to us and you know what, since He’s infinitely more powerful than we are, infinitely more loving than we are, infinitely more you know wise than we are, that must mean He suffers infinitely more than we do too. I mean I’ve seen some people, I’ve had very close friends who’ve been through this kind of rejection, where you’ve made yourself utterly vulnerable, you’ve put yourself in the arms of somebody else and they have rejected you, they’ve gone somewhere, they’ve put themselves in the arms of someone else. It hasn’t happened to me, when I see what other people go through, it’s devastating even, even to care somebody like that, and yet God says, I’m going through something infinitely greater than the worse experience of that and if you’ve been through that, at least you know little bit about how God sees us. He cares for us, He loves us. Until you personalize the view of sin, your heart will not be melted the offertory when you listen to it's about this. Melt your heart with a personal...personalize your understanding of sin. Secondly, remember grace. Look at verse five and six. Verse five says, “this is what the Lord says, what fault did your fathers find in me that they’ve strayed so far from me?” Ok? But then verse six, “they did not ask, where is the Lord who have brought us out of Egypt, lead us through the barren wilderness, through the land of desert and rifts, the land of drought and darkness, the land where not..” the reason why they got into idolatry was that they had, they had spiritual forgotten their salvation. They weren’t constantly saying, let me remember what He’s done for me. The second way you can deal with lover gods is you have to spiritually make real what Jesus has done for you. There’s a place in the Lord of the Rings, my favorite novel. Where the hobbit Pippin is standing at the gate of the city and in come the Great Witch King, demon king and he comes through the gate and he’s about to destroy the city and all of a sudden, off at a distance, horns. The horns of the cavalry basically, the horns of the riders of Rohan, and even though the king of Rohan rides to his death that day, the city is saved. And we are told, that for the rest of his life, Pippin could never hear a horn off in a distance without bursting into tears, why? Because every time he heard a horn in the distance, it reawakened the memory of his salvation and the memory of the one who died for him. Now how do you listen to the distant horns, what do you are your distant horns? The sacrament when you take the lord’s supper. Christian friends coming to worship but unless, you see you get into the arms of lover gods when you stop saying, “where is the Lord who did this and this and this”, you need to remember grace, you need to find ways of making it spiritually real to you. You need to find ways of doing that. You can’t be passive. Verse five happened because verse six didn’t happen. So first of all personalize your view of sin, secondly remember grace but then lastly, look in the mirror. Verse 32, this is an amazing verse and Jeremiah couldn’t have possibly known what we’ve know about it. Does a maiden forget her jewelry, a bride her wedding ornaments yet my people have forgotten me, days without number. Now what are the, what’s the function of your wedding dress? Brides? On your wedding day, you want to be perfect and the fact of the matter is, you’re not perfect. On the wedding day, you want to be just the right size, you’re not the right size. On the wedding day you want to be you know, flawless you’re not flawless but there’s something about wedding ornaments and wedding dresses and the make up that never been an imperfect bride. And that’s the reason why they’re so important but one thing I’ve never seen in all my years of doing wedding, I’ve never seen a bride get to the top of the aisle and say, “I didn’t put my make-up on!” And everybody says, “oh you’re right!” Heck no you know why? Because the brides always looking in the mirror. I mean all day you’re looking at the mirror. I mean can you imagine, can you imagine bride getting to the top of the aisle, “I’ve forgot to look at the mirror, I don’t have a vail on!” Or “I don’t have this sort of…” That doesn’t happen! Now God, not only says, gosh, God doesn’t just say, just as you, use your wedding ornaments to hide your physical deformities and make yourself physically perfect looking. So I will give you something that will make you spiritually beautiful and spiritually, he doesn’t say I’ll give you something, what does he say? “Does the maiden forget her jewelry? Does the maiden forget her wedding ornaments? Yet my people have forgotten me!” Now he’s saying this. Here’s my promise, I can make you spiritually perfect and beautiful. The reason you’re out there working so dog on hard, the reason you’re out there so upset, the reason you’re, the reason you are you want your children to be perfect, the reason you want somebody to love whose love is perfect, the reason you want your career, you’re trying to cover yourself. They are ornaments. You’re trying to make yourself spiritually beautiful, spiritually acceptable, and God actually comes so far and says, “I’m not going to just give you something that makes you spiritually acceptable, I am that!” I can be that for you. And only Jeremiah, Jeremiah couldn’t have understood but we know when that is when Jesus Christ did not just come and die to make us forgiven. Jesus Christ came, we are told in Ephesians 5, to present to us spotless and radiance, a bride. He came to be perfect for us. He says to John the Baptist, the day he’s getting baptized, John the Baptist says you don’t need to be baptized and you’re not sinful and what does Jesus say? He says I have to fulfill all righteousness! Of course he’s not doing everything perfect for Him! He’s already perfect! He’s living a perfect life for us so that when we believe in Him, His beautiful record is put upon us. And the reason we are going to lover gods is we are trying to convince ourselves we are beautiful. Spiritually. And God says, if you look at yourself in the mirror, if you are willing to see what I have done for you, if you understand how beautiful you are in my sight because what my Son has done for you, you will be free from these lover gods forever. You know the song that goes like this? You see, “I will arise and go to Jesus, He will embrace me in His arms, in the arms of my dear savior, oh there are ten thousand charms.” Go learn what that means.