Thursday, August 19, 2010

Aber 2010 Dale Ralph Davis' Conference Addresses 3 & 4

(Jeremiah by Rembrandt)

Some more notes on DRD's preaching at Aber:

Address Three: "The Yoke is no Joke" (Jeremiah 27-29)

I. There is a decree that controls politics

Yahweh had decreed that many nations, including his own people would have to submit to the king of Babylon. The God of Israel is no tin pot tribal deity. He is not the little god of Israel, but the God of little Israel.. His will determines the rise and fall of nations. Jeremiah was to send yokes to the leaders of the nations as a vivid illustration of this principle, Jeremiah 27:1-6. Mighty Babylon  itself was also subject to his decree, Jeremiah 27:7. God's mighty sovereignty does not depend upon his people.

i.  Particular sovereignty

It is for us to acknowledge Yahweh's will in every situation. Whether the political context is favourable or not, we must submit to God's programme and wear the yoke that he places around our necks. Needed lesson for the church in UK.

ii.  Sobering sovereignty

Jeremiah 27:7, "until the time of his land comes". Babylon will fall. No such thing as America's "manifest destiny". The is USA not the chosen race, neither is the UK. The time will come when Yahweh will sovereignly judge this nation.

II. There is a dilemma involves truth

Hananiah took the yoke of Jeremiah's neck and broke it prophesying that within two years the yoke of Babylon would be broken and the captives of Judah would return to their own land, Jeremiah 28:1-4, 10-11. This flatly contradicted what Jeremiah said in chapter 27. Here is the dilemma: who to believe? Jeremiah refuted Hananiah's claims, citing the the message of the former prophets, Jeremiah 28:6-9, also he pronounced the word of Yahweh against the false prophet, foretelling his death, Jeremiah 28:12-16. Unlike Hananiah's words, Jeremiah's prophecy was fulfilled, Jeremiah 28:17. When the voices of false teachers (like Oral Roberts etc) contradict the teaching of your church, the dilemma must resolved by appealing to Scripture, Isaiah 8:20.

III. The prescription that governs life

i. Future hope

According to Jeremiah's letter to the exiles in Babylon, the captivity would be over in 70 years, Jeremiah 29:10. The people were encouraged to pray in the light of his promise, Jeremiah 29:11-14.

ii. Immediate challenge

The exiles were called to be faithful in a difficult situation that was not of their choosing, Jeremiah 29:6-7. So with us when we find ourselves in hard times that we cannot escape. Example of Christian woman who suffered a mental collapse, yet who faithfully served the Lord, ministering to other patients in the asylum. In the UK we would not choose to live in a climate that is increasingly hostile to the gospel. But we must be faithful to the Lord.

Our sovereign God always speaks the truth and he charges us to be faithful in our exile.

Address Four: "Jerusalem Burning" (Jeremiah 37-39)

I. You can resist the Word of the Lord and yet have a keen interest in it

Zedekiah expressed an interest in the Word of the Lord, Jeremiah 37:3, but failed to act upon it, Jeremiah 37:7-10. Jeremiah persisted in his message despite being imprisoned, Jeremiah 37:16-17. But still Zedekiah failed to listen. Indecisive king like a boneless chicken. Being interested in the Bible isn't enough. We have to receive the Word in faith and act upon it - see also Felix, Acts 24:24-27.

II. You can resist the Word though you have reason to believe it

What Jeremiah said regarding the king of Babylon beseiging Jerusalem came to pass, Jeremiah 37:19. But still he failed to believe. People do not persist in unbelief becasue of lack of evidence for the truth. Eyewitness testimony of the Gospels to the person and work of Christ. Like Zedekiah people refuse to belive despite the evidence set before them.

III. You can resist the Word by submitting to fear

People sometimes suggest that faith is the cowards way out - mere escapism from harsh reality. But in Zedekiah's case it was fear that kept him from faith. In fear he allowed Jeremiah to be lowered into a dungeon, Jeremiah 38:1-6. Zedekiah permitted Ebed-Melech to resue the prophet, but once again, fear kept him from obeying the Word, Jeremiah 38:17-19. He refused Jeremiah's words of reassurance and warning, Jeremiah 38:20-23. If only the king had had the courage to listen and act on what Jeremiah told him. Look what happened to him, Jeremiah 39:4-7. Jesus warns those who are too fearful to believe, Luke 12:4-5.

IV. Though many resist the Word there will be a faithful remnant

Ebed-Melech supported Jeremiah. Onesiphorous stood with Paul, 2 Timothy 1:16-18. Even in the darkest times there will be a godly remnant. William Still's aunt stood by him when his preaching on hell was disturbing the church. Will you stand with those who are battling for the truth and identify yourself with God's suffering people? Christ will build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. "Nevertheless, there shall be always a Church on earth to worship God according to His will." (WCF XXV:V).

Just as seeing a T-Rex skeleton at the British Museum cannot give you much of an idea of what it would be like to confront a living and breathing dinosaur, so these brief notes can only give you the bare bones of DRD's ministry.  You just had to be there. Davis' preaching style is not as polished as you might have thought from simply reading his commentaries. He's a preacher and there was a healthy element of rough hewn spontaneity in his delivery. Sometimes the application could have been a little more pointed, but the messages were characterised by a good mix of insightful exegesis, well thought-out structure, bags of engaging illustrations (few of which are included in these notes) and plenty of relevance to the current situation. A good model of "big chunk" preaching that in some cases handled several chapters of Jeremiah at at time without skimming over the surface of the text. Made me think about trying to do a series on Isaiah or Jeremiah some day.

More reportage on the evening meetings to follow.

You can order CD or DVD recordings of these addresses from the Evangelical Movement of Wales.

No comments: