We established in the first part of this series that Jeremiah pleased God because he saw exactly the thing that God wanted him to see. In other words, he saw things exactly as God saw them. And this pleased God immensely.
But the Bible also makes clear what it was that Jeremiah saw. The Bible says that he saw an almond rod. The fact that Jeremiah saw a rod also pleased the Lord greatly.
And what, pray, was the significance of this rod?
Proverbs 13:24 says, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son…” (Prov. 13:24)
In the Bible, a rod is an instrument of chastisement. A rod is a tool of correction in the hand of the father.
Today there is a problem in the church. People are not seeing what God wants them to see. God’s people are not seeing a rod. They are not seeing chastisement.
Instead, God’s people today are seeing blessings.
And yet… “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Heb. 13:8).
God never changes.
If Jeremiah saw God’s rod of chastisement for the nation of Israel, we too ought to see God’s rod of chastisement. Under the New Covenant, God has a chastising rod, and it is the cross of Jesus Christ.
It pleases the Lord exceedingly when we are walking in the revelation of the cross, just as it pleased Him when Jeremiah was walking in the light of that vision.
I wonder that we would not want to know what it was that the Galatians saw in the Spirit when the gospel was first preached to them:
“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?”
According to scripture here, the truth of the gospel is Jesus Christ “crucified among you”!
Today people are having dreams and visions of blessings. But we don’t read “blessings” in this scripture. Every believer should ask themselves: What exactly did the Galatians see?
It is a paradox that believers today are seeing something that is not there in the Bible! Do I mean that blessings are not there in the Bible? By no means. But they are hardly the “truth” according to scripture.
When the Galatians first heard the gospel, they received a revelation of the cross in their hearts. That is what they saw. They did not “see” or receive blessings. They saw Christ, “crucified among you”. Consequently, they were willing to suffer with Christ and to live a life that was pleasing to God.
But the Galatians later lost sight of this revelation, and they began struggling spiritually. When you are stuggling you introduce laws and principles and the “ten steps” to nowhere. Now, law has no power, and the Galatians swiftly turned into carnal believers. Amongst the harmful things they had in their midst at the time of Paul’s writing was that they bit and devoured one another! (Gal. 5:15)
There was no cross in their lives, and therefore the life of Christ also was not there.
But, initially, they saw the crucified Christ. And this pleased the Lord greatly.
In the same way, when Paul first went to the Corinthians, he says that he “determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor.2:2). He knew this alone would please God and he determined not to waver from this message.
When he preached to them, the message of the cross that he carried changed the Corinthians. He left them living the crucified life. But later on, he received news that the Corinthian church had slid back into division and every type of sin. He realized that they had put aside the hard, narrow life of the cross and had allowed the lusts of their flesh to overwhelm them. They were now just plain carnal believers.
But Paul never wavered from his purpose. He said, “But we preach Christ crucified… Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:23-24).
These Corinthian believers had many things of the Spirit going on in their midst, but they lacked the real power in their lives – the power to defeat sin.
But the church today is seeking after blessings, miracles and signs and wonders. The hand of chastisement is not in the church. The doctrine of Christ and Him crucified is not understood in the church.
Listen to any number of sermons or contemporary worship songs; and they are all about God’s provision and His protective hand. There is nothing wrong with that, of course, but how much more should the church be singing and preaching about the need to relinquish the deep things of our hearts, the things that strangle the life of Christ in us? Things like pride, for example, or unforgiveness. Or the lust after the things of this world.
People do not hear the gospel that can provide them with the grace to let go these burdens. All they hear is how God will bless them.
But the Early Church saw in the Spirit, and what they saw – the cross – had power to strip the flesh away and to allow them to live a spiritually fulfilling life. They practiced the crucified life.
No wonder, therefore, the Early Church was powerful in a way that today’s church is not.
Without a revelation of Christ, and him crucified, there can be no true church.
[Below: The sun setting over Shinyanga Town]