Tenth Sunday after Pentecost Rev Mark Duer
Jeremiah 23:16-29/ “The Anger of the Lord” August 18, 2019
Jeremiah 23:20 20The anger of the LORD will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his heart. In the latter days you will understand it clearly.
It seems like a strange way to start a sermon when we have a text like this—The anger of the Lord.
When we think about the attributes of God, we think about all kinds of things like love and mercy, and kindness, and goodness. We don’t dwell on the anger of God.
A Seminary professor once started a lecture like this: Is God who He is because of what he does? Or does God do what He does because of who he is? In good Lutheran fashion, the answer is yes.
In the Small Catechism we have a section that talks about the attributes of God. The things that God is and what He does. Sometimes they are hard to distinguish from one another. God is eternal, without beginning, and without end.
God is immutable, that means He doesn’t change. God is almighty, and all powerful—He is omnipotent. God is omniscient—He is all-knowing. God is omnipresent—present everywhere. God is holy, God is just, which means he is fair, and impartial.
He is faithful, unlike us. God keeps his promises! God is good, and kind, and desires good things for us. God is full of pity. He is merciful. God is gracious, showing us underserved kindness, He is forgiving, God is Love.
Nowhere on the list, does it talk about the anger of God—or does it? We passed over one of the attributes of God rather quickly. God is holy. When we think about the holiness of God, we often times fail to think about the ramifications of the fact the God is holy, and we are not. God is sinless, without sin. The holiness of God also means that he hates sin.
Sin kindles God’s righteous anger. We’ve all had righteous anger? You know what I mean? When your children or grandchildren disobey you, and they break the rules, your angry!
When you’re inpatient and offended by someone else, you might be hurt or even mad.
So often our righteous anger doesn’t stay righteous very long. Maybe just a few moments, before that righteous anger overflows into sin. But not so with God. God is righteously angry at our sin. In the text for today, He is righteously angry when His Word is polluted. When his Word is distorted. When his Word is mocked or ignored.
When his Word is twisted to make it fit into our sin. It happens all the time. We know what God’s Word says, and we ignore the parts of God’s Word that we don’t like. We are happy to point out other people’s sin, and other people’s problems with the Word of God, and yet when that turns back on us—then we are angry and not righteously so.
We sit back and we see, and we hear the Word of God being mocked and ridiculed in the world, and sometimes even in the church. Is our righteous anger kindled? Are we mad when God’s Word is drug through the mud or distorted? Rarely! Because it’s so much easier to keep silent, or even to keep that righteous anger to ourselves.
Brothers and sisters in Christ. In recent years, people have defended things like ungodly marriage practices, which isn’t marriage at all. We have seen the Boy Scouts which have always been a bastion and stalwart of morality cave under pressure to allow deviant lifestyles to creep in.
Today, we have institutions that perform more abortions than ever before, and if that’s not bad enough they also dismember little babies and sell their body parts. Where is the outcry?
God sees these things; He knows these things. He is rightfully angry at these things, including us and our silence. What does God’s Word say for us today? It says beware of false prophets. Prophets who say peace, peace, when there is no peace. People who act like a loving God, could not possibly be angry at anything.
Today, the love of God is twisted and distorted. God’s Law, and his anger are not preached.
Part of the problem is that we in the church—and far too many pulpits, have failed to take seriously the wrath of God.
Most churches don’t preach the wrath of God, it doesn’t work well with their evangelism programs, and so God’s Word has been ignored and distorted, and abandoned.
The anger of the Lord is real. Verse 20: The anger of the LORD will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his heart. In the latter days you will understand it clearly.
We can ignore the righteous anger of God, we can pretend it doesn’t exist, but it will be executed—thus sayeth the Lord. It will accomplish the intents of the heart.
When we sing the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy, we sing that God is holy. This hymn clearly proclaims that fact, but it leaves us right there. God is Holy and we are not. This is a problem! A holy God cannot stand unholiness of any kind. We cannot stand before a holy God without being vaporized.
The prophet Isaiah brings the holiness of God and the unholiness of people together. Isaiah 53:6 “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
Jeremiah says, in the ladder days, this anger of God—how it will be executed and accomplished, will be made clear.
We are living right now in the ladder days. All of God’s righteous anger that should be poured out on you and me, has been poured out on the spotless Lamb of God—Jesus Christ.
He has taken the hit we deserve—all of God’s righteous anger down to the dregs, has been taken in by Jesus Christ. Luther called it the Great exchange—His righteousness for all our sin!
For all the times when you cherry picked God’s Word—only those parts that you liked and distorted God’s Word to make it fit the way you wanted.
Jeremiah 23:29 Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?
For all of those times when you have failed to stand up and defend God’s Word, when you have seen his Word being mocked and distorted. For all of these sins and more Jesus Christ has paid the price. Jesus Christ has suffered and died on Calvary’s Cross for you and me!
Repent! For the kingdom of God is near. Jesus knows the anger of God. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Because of our sin!
The dead body of Jesus was placed in a new tomb, but it didn’t stay there. Three days later, Jesus who was dead is alive! Never to die again! Jesus is victorious over sin, death, and the grave. Jesus could stand back in righteous anger and say—Just try to live up to my example and be holy.
Instead, Jesus robes us with his holiness and righteousness in the waters of holy baptism. He feeds us with his holy and righteous Word, he gives us to eat and drink His crucified and resurrected body and blood. Spiritual food for the journey ahead in this evil world.
He gives us the strength, not only to believe his Word, but to live each and every day in faith in his Word.
To die with our passions and lusts and perversions! To live in him and for him. To die with our silence and to live confessing His Word in any situation.
In the ladder days Paul says: 2 Timothy 4:3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.
Not so with us. May God bless you with ears, and hearts, and lives that cling to God’s Word. That demand God’s Word! That trust God’s Word will accomplish everything that he promises.
Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,
May you continue steadfast in the faith by the powerful Word of God, which holds us in the nail-scarred hands of our Savior who loved us and gave himself for us.
When difficult times come, and God’s Word is hard to believe, we cry out to God. Give me the strength to hear, and believe, and confess your Word in every situation.
The anger of God is real, but we don’t have to be afraid of it! We can give thanks that God’s anger was poured out on Jesus—on our behalf.
May God fill us with his Word, and a desire to hear, believe, to live, and to confess his strong Word. Today, tomorrow, and forever. Amen.
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