The Year of Resurrection
Rev. Lily Lim | On 07, Oct 2014
Jeremiah 31:4-40 (NET)
V4- I will rebuild you, my dear children Israel, so that you will once again be built up. Once again you will take up the tambourine and join the happy throng of dancers.
During Pastor Toh Nee’s time (1980s), there was this examination system that was practiced in the National University of Singapore. It was called the Re-s. Unlike the universities here in the Philippines, NUS had only one final examination for the whole school year and that was usually held in March. I remember meeting a few NUS students at that time who complained they never had a good time celebrating Chinese New Year because they had to take this one important examination in March, which incidentally was close to the Chinese New Year. Should a NUS student fail in this one examination, he was allowed to take another “Re” in May. There was a second chance given to any failing student. And if he failed again, he would have to repeat the whole school year.
The prefix “Re” simply means “AGAIN or AGAIN AND AGAIN to indicate repetition or with the meaning “back” or “backward” to indicate backward motion like revert or refurbish.
This little prefix is found in the word “REsurrection” – a word that is the central theme of Christianity.
Resurrection simply means “rising AGAIN.
In Jeremiah 31, the text for the prophetic restoration upon our Church by God, are many words with the prefix “re” or the word “again.”
There are many things God wants to revert for this church; many blessings He wants to refurbish (restore) us with. God wants to bring us back to the days of glory.
Last Sunday, I declared to the church: “Behold! The Day of Radiance Is Here!”
In my message last week, I shared with you that we are already in the third year and it is as promised by God – a Year of Resurrection, a Year of Radiance where the brightness of God’s hope will shine upon us. I shared last week what the day of radiance is like. It is a day of adorning; a day of rejoicing and a day of satisfaction. I also shared with you who are the people who would be radiant –the sword survivors; the remnant; the scattered ones; the ransomed ones; the young and the old ones. I also gave you the reasons for their radiance – because they would realize that God has been their Yahweh, their everlasting love with faithfulness; their builder; their gatherer and their shepherd.
This morning, I would like to continue Part 2 of my message. I would like to title my sermon this morning as THE YEAR OF RESURRECTION.
What does this year of Resurrection hold for us?
There are 12 Re-s God wants to do for us. They are all found in Jeremiah 31.
Let’s look at the 12 Re-s:
V4- I will rebuild you, my dear children Israel, so that you will once again be built up. Once again you will take up the tambourine and join the happy throng of dancers.
The whole nation of Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians and the Babylonians.
Now through Jeremiah, God announced to them that He would REBUILD the nation again.
God had declared His everlasting love to the children of Israel. But He never kept His love from being an abstract concept. God now announced to them, “I will rebuild you, my dear children Israel.” Israel was to have a CONCRETE, ARCHITECTURAL reality.
V4b-Once again you will take up the tambourine and join the happy throng of dancers.
The physical imagery of sound and sight promised a palpable (obvious), bodily experience of His love. The transcendent reality of God’s everlasting love was translated into the language of our humanity. When the Jews repatriated (sent home) during the time of the Persian Empire they REBUILT the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah was their project manager. Then with all manner of music, they went forth upon those walls in a processional of joy bursting with color and sound that was witnessed by the incredulous world around them.
Application: God has rebuilt our church physically. From a two-storey Quezon Building which we had been renting for 20 years, God used our dire situation to push us out of our comfort zone into this spacious land and by His grace, He helped us to build this literal and concrete new sanctuary.
E.g. Last Friday, I spent long hours brainstorming with the pastoral team on the many departments we would be revamping. Many old and ineffective ways will be torn down and discarded and many new methods and ministries will be built in its place. It is a time of rebuilding not only the physical church but also the spiritual ministries and the spirituality of the congregation.
Application: On a personal level, may I ask you what are the areas in your lives that you need God to rebuild? Is it your relationship with God; your relationship with your spouse; your relationship with friends; your commitment to this church; your faith or even your business? This is the year of Resurrection. If only you are honest and humble yourself to acknowledge your devastation, then God will REBUILD you again.
V5- Once again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria. Those who plant them will once again enjoy their fruit.
We will be back to planting literal and spiritual vineyards.
The literal vineyard could refer to the livelihood projects which we are about to start on new lands to assist our poor members and church planters to be self-sustaining.
The SPIRITUAL VINEYARD is the church planting ministry which was kicked off officially in June 2014.
On a local level, I believe God is going to empower many cell groups under the different zones to plant community cells through CP (Community Penetration) blessings.
There is a promise given by God here too for the REPLANTING:
“Those who plant them will once again enjoy their fruit.”
This means our planting will be fruitful and we will get to enjoy the fruit of your labor.
Application: Our evangelistic effort will bear fruit; our community penetration will bear fruit; our ministry will bear fruit; our community cell teaching will bear fruit. Every planting that we engage in will bear fruit – whether literal or spiritual.
And this promise also resonates with the prophecy of Isaiah 37:30-31 which God gave to our church on 27 Oct 2013 when I shared the sermon on THE SIGNS OF THE THREE YEARS: “And this shall be sign for you: this year eat what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs of the same; then in the third year SOW and REAP, and PLANT VINEYARDS, and EAT THEIR FRUITS. And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall AGAIN take root downward, and BEAR FRUIT UPWARD;”
V6 – Yes, a time is coming when watchmen will call out on the mountains of Ephraim, “Come! Let us go to Zion to worship the LORD our God!”
V7- Moreover, the LORD says, “Sing for joy for the descendants of Jacob. Utter glad shouts for that foremost of the nations. Make your praises heard. Then say, ‘LORD, rescue your people. Deliver those of Israel who remain alive.’
V8- Then I will reply, “I will bring them back from the land of the north. I will gather them in from the distant parts of the earth. Blind and lame people will come with them, so will pregnant women and women about to give birth. A vast throng of people will come back here.
V9- They will come back shedding tears of contrition. I will bring them back praying prayers of repentance. I will lead them besides streams of water, along smooth paths where they never stumble. I will do this because I am Israel’s father; Ephraim is my firstborn son.”
Here Jeremiah foretold that the Jews would return not just from one direction but from every direction to Jerusalem to rededicate their lives to God.
They would not just trickle into Jerusalem but they would come streaming to the goodness of the Lord.
They would not come silently but with a great noise of singing.
Who were these people returning to Jerusalem to rededicate their lives to God again?
• Those from the north country (v8) – Those from the land of the oppressors.
The land of the North here is the land of the Assyrians and the Babylonians. They are Israel’s oppressors
Application: Many believers who have been oppressed by this cruel life or by bullies will return to our church to rededicate their lives to God.
• Those from the distant part of the earth (v8) – Those who have gone far away from the Lord.
Application: Many backsliders will also return to Etab with brokenness and repentance.
• The blind, the lame, pregnant women, women in labor (v8) – Those who face inconveniences in life.
Application: When we are blind, we face the inconvenience of not being to see properly. Last Sunday, I was talking to this sister who shared with me that her eyesight that is affected by Glaucoma has caused her the inability to see properly and consequently she overshot our church building in the jeep and had to walk a distance to our church. Also, at the third service we have RR and Gilbert (contacts of Region C) who experience the inconvenience of physical immobility. They can’t walk; they are lame and they have to be carried by Region C leader to our 3rd service. The pregnant women and who those in labor face the inconvenience of curbed liberty. Yet despite all the inconveniences these group of people face, they would still return to God to rededicate their lives.
Yes, a VAST THRONG of these groups of people will return to the Lord to REDICATE THEIR LIVES.
Jeremiah here prophesies that this VAST THRONG of people will return to God WITH TEARS OF CONTRITION AND REPENTANCE. That means they will return to our church in BROKENNESS.
After they have rededicated their lives to God, they will begin to PRAISE GOD again because:
• They have been led by God besides streams of water (v9) – God renews and refreshes them
• They will never stumble again (v9)- they will not backslide again
• They have returned to the Father heart of God (v9)
V10- Hear what the LORD has to say, O nations, Proclaim it in the faraway lands along the sea. Say, ‘The one who scattered Israel will regather them. He will watch over his people like a shepherd watches over his flock.
V11- For the LORD will rescue the descendants of Jacob. He will secure their release from those who had overpowered them.
There will be no more scattering or splitting for our church. God will regather us again and watch over us like a shepherd watching over his flock and He will secure our release from those who had overpowered us.
V12- They will come and shout for joy on Mount Zion. They will be radiant with joy over the good things the LORD provides, the grain, the fresh wine, the olive oil, the young sheep and calves he has given to them. They will be like a well-watered garden and will not grow faint or weary any more.
V13- The LORD says, “At that time young women will dance and be glad. Young men and old men will rejoice. I will turn their grief into gladness. I will give them comfort and joy in place of their sorrow.
V14- I will provide the priests with abundant provisions. My people will be filled to the full with the good things I provide.
This will be a year when we will be REJOICING over 4 things.
Firstly, we will be rejoicing over the GOOD THINGS the Lord is providing namely the grain, the fresh wine and the olive oil.
• The grain means the Word of God or new revelation from the Word of God.
• The fresh wine refers to the fresh joy of the Holy Spirit.
• The olive oil here means the new anointing
Application: Spiritually it means our people will be rejoicing over the revelation of the word of God. They will be experiencing fresh joy of the Holy Spirit and new anointing. (I believe new anointing will be released upon our leaders when we activate them for the prophetic flow.)
Now, grains, fresh wine and olive oil in the culture of the Jews are the basic necessities.
PRACTICALLY, it is referring to the PROSPERITY that is coming upon our people. Our people will be having all the basics of life IN ABUNDANCE.
Even the PRIESTS, our pastoral team will be having ABUNDANT PROVISIONS.
V14 (Msg) – I’ll make sure that their priests get three square meals a day and that my people have more than enough.” God’s Decree.
Yes! Our people and all the pastors will be FULL WITH THE GOOD THINGS GOD PROVIDE.
Secondly there will also be the rejoicing over the YOUNG SHEEP AND CALVES God is giving to us.
Application: Young sheep and calves refer to the new ones; to the new converts; to the youths. There will be many new believers, young converts and youths coming to our church which will be another cause of rejoicing for our church.
Thirdly, there will be rejoicing over the WELL-WATERED GARDEN of our lives.
Well-watered garden implies a sufficiently sustained garden. It co notates the constancy of the sustaining and refreshing grace of the Holy Spirit of our lives.
APPLICATION: Our people will be rejoicing always in the Lord because the Holy Spirit will be constantly watering our lives with His presence and grace to the point we will not be weary or faint anymore.
Fourthly, there will be rejoicing because there will be a TURN OF EVENTS. God will be turning our grief into gladness and our sorrow into comfort and with this turn of events, WE WILL BE REJOICING AGAIN IN THE LORD.
V15- The LORD says, “A sound is heard in Ramah, a sound of crying in bitter grief. It is the sound of Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are gone.”
V16- The LORD says to her, “Stop crying! Do not shed any more tears! For your heartfelt repentance will be rewarded. Your children will return from the land of the enemy. I, the LORD, affirm it!
V17- Indeed, there is hope for your posterity. Your children will return to their own territory. I, the LORD, affirm it!
Rachel, the wife whom Jacob loved, died giving birth to Benjamin. She was buried in Ramah. She never lived to see her beloved Joseph become ruler of Egypt, nor to see him sold into slavery. She never lived to see his son Ephraim and to be present at the family gathering in which her beloved husband blessed their grandchildren. Yet, with a mother’s heart she held on to her children and to their children, even in eternity.
Jeremiah’s language suggested that she wept from her grave. What a model of tenacity! A mother’s heart never gives up. It is to such hearts that God has this to say: “Keep your voice from weeping…….for your work shall be rewarded……and they shall come back from the land of the enemy” (v6 RSV).
There are many mothers here who are lamenting and grieving for their children because they are no more in our church. Their children have strayed to the enemies’ territories. But God promises here that this is the year where mothers will see their children returning to God. The tears that they have cried and the sorrow that they have experienced will be rewarded by God. He will cause their children to return to Him.
There is hope for our posterity.
Spiritually, there will be a RETURNING of our real spiritual children to our church.
THE LORD AFFIRMS IT.
V18- I have indeed heard the people of Israel say mournfully, ‘We were like a calf untrained to the yoke. You disciplined us and we learned from it. Let us come back to you and we will do so, for you are the LORD our God.
V19- For after we turned away from you we repented. After we came to our senses we beat our breasts in sorrow. We are ashamed and humiliated because of the disgraceful things we did previously.
V20- Indeed, the people of Israel are my dear children. They are the children I take delight in. For even though I must often rebuke them, I still remember them with fondness, so I am deeply moved with pity for them and will surely have compassion on them. I, the LORD, affirm it.
Verses 18 and 19 refer to the repentant spirit with which Ephraim returns from the land of exile. Like the prodigal son, he now turns towards the home to which he had once turned his back. He has set his heart “toward the highway” (v21). His REFLECTION is much like that of the prodigal, “I was ashamed, yes, even humiliated, because I bore the reproach of my youth” (30:19). Like an extravagant father of the prodigal, God says, “Is Ephraim My dear son? Is he my darling child?…..I will surely have mercy on him” (v20 RSV). Ephraim, a representative of all repentant people, finds this everlasting love compelling.
Application: Many of us will get to REFLECT on our past humiliation and disgrace that God has allowed upon our lives. Don’t defend yourself; don’t blame others. Just humbly confess and agree with God that you were like an untrained calf and as such you deserve such discipline from God. But this reflection must be done with God’s mercy as the background. If not, you will fall into condemnation. Remember, God still regards you AS HIS DEAR SON AND DAUGHTER. God still regards you AS HIS DARLING CHILD. And God promises HE WILL SURELY HAVE MERCY ON YOU!
V21-I will say, ‘My dear children of Israel, keep in mind the road you took when you were carried off. Mark off in your minds the landmarks. Make a mental note of telltale signs marking the way back. Return, my dear children of Israel. Return to these cities of yours.
V22- How long will vacillate, you who were once like an unfaithful daughter? For I, the LORD, promise to bring about something new on the earth, something as unique as a woman protecting a man!”
We will be RECHARTING our paths back to God by following the ANCIENT LANDMARKS.
The ANCIENT LANDMARKS are old teachings on REPENTANCE, OBEDIENCE, WORSHIP, FEAR OF THE LORD, FAITHFULNESS, PRAYER AND DEVOTION.
No more will we embrace any new doctrines or any unbalanced teachings like hyperfaith, hypergrace and hyperprosperity.
We will be remembering the road we once took, recharting it and then returning by it to the Lord.
V23- The LORD God of Israel who rules over all says, “I will restore the people of Judah to their land and to their towns. When I do, they will again say of Jerusalem, ‘May the LORD bless you, you holy mountain, the place where righteousness dwells.”
V24- The land of Judah will be inhabited by people who live in its towns as well as by farmers and shepherds with their flocks.
V25- I will fully satisfy the needs of those who are weary and fully refresh the souls of those who are faint.
V26- Then they will say, ‘Under these conditions I can enjoy sweet sleep when I wake up and look around.’”
God will be restoring us to our rightful place, gifting and health.
God will be restoring us to our right place in the society, family, career and church.
God will be satisfying all our needs.
God will be restoring those who are weary and faint by refreshing and replenishing their strength.
God will be restoring those who lost sweet sleep with a good night sleep.
V27- “The day is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will greatly increase the human population and the number of animals here in Israel and Judah.
V28- In the past I deliberately uprooted and tore down this nation. I overthrew it, destroyed it, and brought disaster upon it. But in the future I will just as deliberately plant it and built it up. I, the LORD, have spoken.
Our church and ministries will be repopulated.
In the past we saw how God uprooted and tore us down and how we were destroyed and demolished.
But this year, God will see to it that we are being built up and firmly planted and REPOPULATED.
V29- “The people will no longer quote this proverb: ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes, but their children’s mouths pucker at the taste.”
V30- All people will die for their own sins – those who eat the sour grapes will be the ones whose mouths will pucker.
V31- “The day is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah.
V32- This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the LORD.
V33- “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the LORD. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
V34- And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives saying, ‘You should know the LORD.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the LORD. And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”
In these coming days, the dynamic would not be DESTRUCTIVE but rather CONSTRUCTIVE.
There would be a reversal of our VERBAL CONFESSION.
We would quit complaining that we are suffering unjustly for the sins of our parents. No more would we say, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge” (v29).
In this third year, we would be aware of perfect justice and of individual moral responsibility. We would have no one to blame but ourselves and we would be able to say, “But every one shall die for his own iniquity…(v30).
God will be making a new covenant with us. God will be putting His laws within us and writing them on our hearts and minds.
We will no longer need to teach others to know God. For all of us, from the least to the greatest will know God. Our bondages and sins will be broken and forgiven by God in this new covenant.
V35 –It is the LORD who provides the sun to light the day and the moon and stars to light the night, and who stirs the sea into roaring waves. His name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, and this is what he says:
V36 – “I am as likely to reject my people Israel as I am to abolish the laws of nature!”
V37- This is what the LORD says: “Just as the heavens cannot be measured and the foundations of the earth cannot be explored, so I will not consider casting them away for the evil they have done. I, the LORD, have spoken!
The next new covenant that God will be making with us – we will recontinue our destiny with God. Here God guarantees that we will recontinue as His people and His church and nothing nor anyone can discontinue us, unless the sun fails to give its light or God fails to stir up the sea with its waves or when the heavenly light fails to operate.
WE WILL NOT CEASE TO BE THE CHURCH OF CHRIST AND HIS PEOPLE – that is the new covenant God wants to make with us.
V38 – “Indeed a time is coming,” says the LORD, “when the city of Jerusalem will be rebuilt as my special city. It will be built from the Tower of Hananel westward to the Corner Gate.
V39- The boundary line will extend beyond that, straight west from there to the Hill of Gareb and then turn southward to Goah.
V40- The whole valley where dead bodies and sacrificial ashes are thrown and all the terraced fields out to the Kidron Valley on the east as far north as the Horse Gate will be included within this city that is sacred to the LORD. The city will never again be torn down or destroyed.”
Here, Jeremiah is describing the ENLARGEMENT of the boundary line to the northeast and northwest, the south east and southwest corners of the city of Jerusalem.
Application: The boundaries of our church GEOGRAPHICALLY and MINISTERIALLY will be ENLARGED.
The territories for our impact and influence will be enlarged by God soon.
What does the year of Resurrection hold for us?
Many Re-s; many restoration; many new things to come upon us.
God wants to bring us back to our days of glory again starting this third year. Are you prepared? Do you believe? Are you excited?
Preached at Etab 2nd service on 5 oct 2014