When the LORD Is Like an Enemy

by | Feb 25, 2024 | Podcast, Sermons

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Preacher: Pastor Chuck Holiday

Scripture: Lamentations 2

There are times when even the most devout believer questions the heart of God and only seeing seeing Jesus will give us the true perspective of our Heavenly Father’s love and compassion.


I’d like for us to to begin this morning with uh the Gospel reading uh because man that Lamentations passage is heavy right and uh and we’re going to get to it because that’s that’s God’s word for us today um but we need to we need to remember who God is and where do we find the heart of God in the face of Jesus you know when it’s it’s when when terrible cruelty uh hits us aresh you know a mass shooting a a kidnapping a you know just a brutal discovery of torture and horror uh our hearts always seem to cry out God where are you I me it’s just the instinctive reflexive uh Cry of our hearts God you know are you sitting on your hands are you watching do you see what’s going on and

um you know we’re not

alone and uh you know we’re going to that’s what we hear in Lamentations it’s like God really um so let’s start again just let me just remind you of this gospel passage where where Jesus is prophetically uh beholding the the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD the father had revealed to him that what happened in the Old Testament that Lamentations is describing is going to happen again and Jesus is pouring his heart out to his people to be spared of this coming judgment he you much like Jeremiah or whoever wrote Lamentations I think it was Jeremiah but somebody like Jeremiah a Godly caring uh bold truthful faithful Prophet who could see what was coming and nobody would listen nobody would listen and and Jesus says it’s going to happen again and uh so you know and he’s speaking to to the people the leaders of Israel and he’s saying look don’t you remember what happened in the times of of lamentation don’t you remember how blind you were how you didn’t see it coming how you wouldn’t hear you wouldn’t listen and and the horrible horrible judgment That Came Upon Israel because you wouldn’t listen and he says it’s going to happen again and so you know we we hear the heart of our savior he’s getting ready to go to the Cross to die for the sins of the world and he’s pleading with these leaders oh Jerusalem Jerusalem you know in the Semitic way uh uh um that’s how person expressed emotion deep emotional connection it was when Jesus Remember uh uh came to Mary and Martha after Lazarus their their brother died it was Martha Martha you know uh it’s Mary Mary and and here it’s all Jerusalem

Jerusalem I love

you I want you I beg you to see what’s coming you can avoid it you can repent you can hear the word of God you can receive your Messiah and and they wouldn’t hear so my friends I just just briefly want to Anchor you in where is the heart of God when you when you when fresh tragedy comes to our ears and and and you know we we witness things that we thought were unspeakable cruelty we’d never see our our hearts instinctively ask that question that that the uh that Jeremiah is asking in Lamentations 2 he said he says God you look like the enemy right now he says this several times there are times when even the most

devout faithful Believers question

God they they question where God where’s your heart are you pay attention now I don’t know if that how that hits you you know I was raised thinking that was not okay to ever say that out loud you know that Godly Christians didn’t ask those questions that that Godly faithful trusting Christians were above ever questioning God I mean I’m just saying that’s how I was raised uh I’m not saying my parents taught me that but that’s what I heard growing up that a faithful Christian would not ever say to God God you look like the enemy but that’s what Jeremiah says and U you know over and over in this in this book this collection of poems uh that that he wrote in the expression of the anguish of his heart in the heart of his people um you you can see it look in verse four he says like an enemy he is strung as bow his right hand is ready like a foe he has slain all who are pleasing in his eye he has poured out his wrath like fire on the daughter of Zion like the Lord is like an enemy now I don’t know how you respond to that um it might have been Jeremiah I think it was Jeremiah it was it was somebody Godly like Jeremiah okay I think we can all just safely say that but if you turn back to Jeremiah chapter 15 for instance there’s a specific example in in Jeremiah’s writings that we know was Jeremiah in chapter 15:1 17 Jeremiah says I never sat in the company of revelers never made marry with them I I sat alone because your hand was on me Jeremiah said God you gave me a heavy message message that nobody’s listening to and when I tell them about the coming judgment they mock me they make fun of me they don’t listen to me and Jeremiah said but God I’ve been faithful to you I’ve given them your word even though I knew it was unpopular even though I knew it was going to cause me persecution I was faithful God and he said and I said alone because your hand was on me and your and you had filled me with indignation why is my pain unending and my wound Grievous and incurable will you be to me like a deceptive Brook like a spring that fails here he’s accusing God of tricking him saying God you’re like you’re you know I’m taking a hike in the woods and I and I’m thirsty and I’m I’m dry and I I I hear the trickle of water and I think there’s water and I get there and it’s a dried Brook said that’s what you seem like to me you seem like one who’s tricking me my friends this is a godly man who is saying God this is really what it’s like to be your son Steve Brown says you know he says God if you treated your friends better you’d have more of

them sometimes it’s confusing isn’t it you know the the high school girl who tries to stand what’s right stand for what’s right and and has has standards of moral Purity sits alone and doesn’t always get asked to the

prom the boy who who doesn’t join in with the other boys when they want to you know go into the 7-Eleven and steal some stuff you know he sits

alone it sometimes it feels like God what why are you persecuting me I’m standing for what’s right well this was Jeremiah’s complaint his heart is broken for his people but he’s like Lord this is too much my friends there are times when even the most devout Believers question the heart of God and you say well I never do well maybe you don’t yet uh I spent a good bit of my life not not letting myself admit that when God seems to be our

enemy have you gotten to that place yet you know my friends pretending is never helpful did you know that as a child of God As a Christian God never asks us to pretend Jesus said I am the truth because I’m the truth you do not have to pretend about

anything you know I I lived half my life pretending I never was angry and it’s and and it’s not that I was pretending to you I was pretending to myself I did not believe I struggled with anger because my anger is not a hot anger I don’t yell and scream and call people bad names when I get angry mine’s a cold anger that just creates distance I withdraw in anger and and so I didn’t think that was anger um I remember I think I’ve shared this before but this made such a life-changing impact on me we were in Colorado on a sabatical and and um my son was maybe eight or nine and he had real bad CP one night and we Debbie we were in a rented house with our family and we were in the in the basement uh bedroom and he came down in the middle of the night just you know like really having a hard time breathing and very scared and uh Debbie knew what to do to get him in the hot steamy shower you know and it it cleared up his lungs and he was okay but the next night he said can I sleep with you guys tonight because I’m scared it’s going to happen again you know in the middle of the night and Debbie said absolutely uh so you know came he fell asleep on the couch up upstairs in the family room watching TV and she said honey I’m going to stay up here and just sleep here I don’t want to move him and wake him up and so I went down went to bed and Debbie Went to went to bed right next to his couch um in the middle of the night he comes busting into my bedroom throws open the door and said you promised you promised you wouldn’t leave me he was just so mad and I woke up you know and got my wits about me finally I said but I’m I’m sorry I I don’t know where your mother is but let’s go find her I think she’s probably upstairs next to your sure enough she was sleeping right next to the couch he stepped over his mother to come downstairs and scream at me for leaving him

right there now let me tell you the backstory I had been dealing with some people who are helping trying to help me see how angry I was and I was saying look I got a lot of problems but that’s not one of

them and at that moment I realized there was nothing in me that was upset with my son for being angry with me not one Instinct in me said well I’m going to punish this kid for being disrespectful there was nothing in me that was upset with him or it was angry with him I knew he was wrong but I knew that he didn’t understand right and at that moment it hit me I think I’m a better father than God

is because if I ever treated God that way he would slap me down he would surely withhold his Blessing for my disrespect and it just hit me it humbled me it broke me and lo and behold I started getting angry at everybody I I mean God had to help me like whoa what’s going on here CU when it came out it really I mean I I screamed at a dentist you know and I was like where did that come from you know we’ve all screamed at the dentist well it wasn’t for what he’s doing in my mouth it’s because he canceled my opin appointment because I was two minutes late but U but anyway my point is my friends we don’t see what we don’t see and and um should you be angry with God no should you trust God always yes are you Jesus

no you’re not and what’s worse than Ang being angry at God is pretending you’re not when you

are the thing I love about jeremi you know Abraham was angry at God David was angry at God Jeremiah was angry at God job was angry at God you can go through the scriptures and and the Great Men of of that God parades us as the the holy men of scriptures a lot of them really said some inappropriate things to God and what did God

do he was a loving

father now my friends my point is pretending is never helpful one of the things I love about the laments you know I was listening to the Christian radio station the other day and uh the interviewer the the disc jocky or whatever you call them now you know the the host was interviewing a contemporary musician and he said hey I have a question for you have you written any songs of lament try to find a song of lament in Christian radio radio

today well God wrote five songs of lament for us for the church David said last week these were Psalms or poems of lament that God said we’re going to use in the Liturgy of worship in the Old Testament he said when you don’t have the words to complain let me give you some pray these words and if you’ll notice each one of these chapters is its own individual poem they stand alone and it doesn’t end with but then we saw Jesus and everything’s great now he leaves them in their lament he said because I want you to get used to the idea that you can be honest with me about how it really feels I can deal with your honesty can you be be self-aware and and not pretend that you’re better than you are because you’re

not some my friends um

we have a the freedom God says I want you to be free to come as you are and not as you ought to be in to lent let’s come into lent as we really are not as we ought to be now the other thing that really jumps out at me in this chapter is the great danger of self-deception you know the the the religious leaders Jesus was talking to in Matthew 23 did not really think they were that bad they did not believe they were that bad they thought they were lawkeepers they certainly were observed all the religious rituals and Jesus said you’re whitewashed Toms you are full of dead men’s Bones on the inside while you’re polishing up the

outside self-deception is

terrifying you know again in in limitations this is a Godly Man writing this book this is a good man this is a man who’s committed to Holiness and righteousness and Faithfully communicating God’s word but even he is in absolute shock and horror he said God it can’t be this bad so I I know we’re bad but but we can’t deserve this to see mothers eating their

babies little little children Starving in the streets old men and little babies

slaughtered God it’s not it can’t be that bad surely the shock and the horror of even this Godly Prophet it it it’s way worse than he had any idea my friends um it was stunning he said the Judgment it’s like it was like a he said I thought God was going to come and prune his garden but God came and turned the whole thing up and said no we got to start all over he said I thought we were going to get a little Sin from the fire but the Go the fire of God has consumed the whole Forest he said I thought we were going to get a little you know sprinkle of judgment but the the ocean waves broke through and washed away everything these are the images he uses in this chapter the Judgment of God was beyond anything I could I had no category for how how harsh it was going to be which is a reflection of how bad we

were self-deception is terrifying not seeing our

sin another aspect of self-deception is okay I see it but I don’t think it’s that

bad you know I I I I yeah technically I know I should stop doing that but everybody does it and there and nobody’s getting hurt we have so many ways of saying okay God yeah I’ll give you that but I mean of all the sins that’s not that bad right that’s all part of self-deception you know one of the one of the particular pernicious kinds of self-perception in the Christian Community which I battle with and I is when God finally shows you a sin like it might be the sin of not listening well talking too much that’s I’ll use that because that’s been one of my perennial sins I love to talk I love to get advice I I love to you know help people with my

wisdom I mean I just can’t hold myself back and when God finally kind of puts your nose in it and says Chuck this is a problem you’re full of Pride you you’re you’re constantly craving the affirmation of the people around you you finally see it and you repent and you’re broken well the air my friends is thinking now that you see it all in reality when when God finally breaks through and shows you a a deep abiding sin pattern in your life you don’t see it all you see this tiny little bit you see the tip of the iceberg that’s what you see don’t think you see the iceberg if there’s some if there’s some revelation of your heart how you’ve been ugly to your kids or or not being in a position to listen to their hurt and their pain and you finally sit down and say okay I can I I’ve done it trust me my friends you have only begun to do it you’ve only begun to enter into a deep Chasm of spiritual

blindness there’s never a place of rejoicing because I see it it’s it should be a place of stun to silence because how much left is there that I haven’t seen it should leave you more humble not not feeling confident that oh yeah I used to be that and thank God now I’m not my friends that’s never a sign that you’ve seen anything it’s just another form of

self-righteousness okay it’s all part of our self-deception so as we go into lent we’re in Lent it’s it’s good it’s good to give things up for a for a good purpose but my friends lent can be a very bad thing for us I remember hearing a a speaker in the in back 50 years ago he was ah head of a very successful large good Christian College organization and he’d written a book called ordering your private World which I love loved it was all about self-discipline and and accountability you know and I heard him preaching and he and he was talking about you give up a cup of give up coffee just to prove to your body that you your mind is Master over your flesh and I thought yeah what can I give up you know to discipline myself and to be a a more holy person the next time I heard him speak he had left his wife for another

woman thankfully it ended a good story he repented and he came back and I heard him I heard him speak again and you know what he said he said if you’d ask me in fact he said somebody did ask me on an airplane one day if if go if Satan was going to get to you what would it be and he said and you know what I said I said well I’m not sure but I know it wouldn’t be my marriage because that’s one area where I am really

strong my friend self-deception is

terrifying so how can lent be helpful as as a time of not proving that we’re stronger than we are not not what can I give up for God but a time of self-reflection if you give something up give it up for the purpose of of fasting and praying for God God show me what I don’t see expose to me my blindness deepen my repentance so that my heart can be more fully not righteous but broken and resting in the righteousness of Jesus I give you three helpful things one is if you if you don’t know for instance if you don’t know you’re angry try journaling first time a friend suggested that to me I said I can’t I why am I what am I angry about I couldn’t get anything he said well try some synonyms use words like

frustration so top of the page does anything frustrate me well all of a sudden I had some stuff does anything irritate me all of a sudden I had some stuff 10 pages later I said I’m

angry journaling can help be being alone with God in a way that helps you get in touch with how you really feel um Community is essential because no matter how much time you and Jesus spend alone there are things that you won’t see by yourself you need some people around you that know you that love you who can give you some feedback okay but you can get you can if you’re if you want to know what you don’t know God says there are some paths you can take I’m not going to force it on you but I invite you to it and lent can be a really good time for that okay now my friends in closing I want you to the man who wrote this book I think it was Jeremiah this was an honest heart cry from a godly man he was a faithful prophet he seen the temple destroyed and he said God what are we going to do well my friends what did Jesus say about the temple being destroyed he saides the temple is going to be this is the foot the foot stol of God this is where God touches Earth this is where we see him there’s going to be a better Temple you see Jesus said I am the better Temple yes the temple was destroyed the picture of God on Earth was destroyed because God has given you a better picture it’s God the son in the flesh he he talks about the false prophets in verse 14 he said oh yeah you’ve had your Prophets The of your prophets were false and worthless because they did not expose your sin your prophets your false prophets just kept telling you well you’re not that bad no God would never do

that he said they were false prophets that God took away but who did he give us he gave us his true perfect holy prophet Jesus who is the truth the way in the life friend he said I’m going to take away your priests and your Kings he says in in verse six he said who would have thought that we’d see the day when all the the feasts and the sabbaths would be gone and in Fierce anger he spurned both Kings and Priests he took away their prophets he took away their priests he took away their kings but who did he give us Jesus he gave us Jesus the true king of kings the true priest who poured out his blood on the cross for his people not the blood of go goats and bowls but he poured out his own blood on the cross for his people the true priests Who Weeps over Jerusalem where is the heart of God it’s in the Heart of Jesus Oh Jerusalem Jerusalem you don’t have to go this way look to me and live my friends U you know throughout this passage he calls he calls his people the daughter of Zion the daughter of Judah the daughter of Jerusalem in in verse 13 He he uses this tender phrase he says oh virgin Daughter of Zion see these are terms of affection this is God saying these are my people these are my my little girls these are my pure children you see the affection of God for his people it’s in Poetic language to describe the the heart connection God he feel feels for these people he’s going to have to destroy because they will not listen my friends we’ll never understand all the ways of God but God is for you his heart is for you he never takes Delight in the destruction of the wicked but rather that we repent and live and Jesus has come to provide the way amen yes


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