Jer 3:1-5 The Former Rain Without the Latter Rain 5/12/2002

 

 

 

 

#1. Though Your Sins Are Great (II Pet 1:21, Jer 3:1, Isa 55:6-9, Eph 2:1-3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2. There Has Been No Latter Rain (Jer 3:3, John 6:37,44,65,66, Amos 4:9-11)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3. There Is Still Time to Cry: My Father (Jer 3:4-5, Mal 2:13-14, II Cor 6:14-15, Mic 7:18)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to Deuteronomy chapter 24, (2X). I need to show this as an introduction to this sermon. Here in Deut 24 God laid down an important Ceremonial Law. What is a Ceremonial Law? A Ceremonial Law is an O.T. law that only applies to the O.T., and that is pointing forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. For example, all animal sacrifices of the O.T. are ceremonial in nature, even all animal sacrifices that were performed before the Ceremonial Law was given through Moses, because they were all pointing forward to Christ's Atonement on the cross. Here in we have:

Deuteronomy 24:1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.

We read here in verse 1 that her first husband "has found some uncleanness in her". The Lord Jesus explained in the Sermon on the Mount, that the words "some uncleanness" refer to "fornication", and nothing else. The word "fornication" means any kind of sexual misconduct, including homosexuality and adultery. Let me read to you Matt 5:31-32. Just listen as I read:

Matthew 5:31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:

Matthew 5:32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

The Lord Jesus was specifically referring to the O.T. law written in Deut 24:1. Now, why is this a Ceremonial Law? It is a Ceremonial Law because just a little earlier in Deut 22 God gave several laws concerning a woman who has committed fornication, and she was to be stoned to death. But in Deut 24:1 God recommended divorce, because God was married to O.T. Israel. For example, God said in Jer 3:14, "Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you". God could not stone Israel for spiritual fornication, because Christ still had to come out of national Israel. But about 1500 years after these writings by the hand of Moses, at the cross God divorced the nation of Israel as His wife, and since the cross the entire Body of believers is called "the Bride of Christ". Since God planned to divorce His wife, the nation of Israel, therefore God wrote this law in the Book of the Law, so that God could legitimately use this Law about 600 years later. We read in Deut 24:2,

Deut 24:2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife.

Deuteronomy 24:3 And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife;

Deuteronomy 24:4 Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the

land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

When her first husband sends her away, she may be another man's wife. This is entirely opposite the N.T. teaching of Rom 7 and I Cor 7, and that confirms that this law in Deut 24 is a Ceremonial Law. Then if the second husband also divorces her, or he dies, then her first husband may not take her back, for that is an abomination in the sight of the Lord. What does that mean in terms of the Ceremonial Law? It means that after the cross, when God has divorced the nation of Israel as His wife, and the nation goes to worship another god, that God cannot give again special privileges to the nation of Israel as if she again is His wife. And it is true that the nation of Israel has gone to worship another god; it is the god of "righteousness through the Law". Many people believe that after this Church-Age God will establish a glorious 1000 years with the nation of Israel on this earth. But that is not possible according to this teaching of Deut 24:4.

Please turn to the Prophecy of Jeremiah, chapter 3. (2X). This section is titled:

#1. Though Your Sins Are Great, point #1. (II Pet 1:21, Jer 3:1, Isa 55:6-9, Eph 2:1-3)

Now we are turning to the main meat of this sermon. I needed the introduction into Deut 24 to understand the first verse in Jer 3. Who is speaking here? Some people say, "Jeremiah is speaking, or Jeremiah wrote this". But we read in the N.T., in II Pet 1:21, "Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost". Throughout the Bible God is speaking to us, and God wrote these words using the hands of "holy men of God". God says:

Jeremiah 3:1 They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? Shall not that land be greatly polluted? But thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.

God is speaking about that passage in Deut 24:1-4, where God stipulates that she shall not return to her first husband. In other words, God says here "He has found some uncleanness" in the nation of Israel. He has seen that they have committed spiritual adultery by worshipping many other gods. Indeed it is spiritual adultery that God accuses Israel of in the entire previous chapter, Jer 2. How justly God might have abandoned them. But Christ has not come yet, and therefore God has not totally divorced them yet. About 100 years earlier God destroyed the ten tribes of the Northern kingdom of Israel, through the hands of the kingdom of Assyria. Now God says to the remnant of Israel, to the Southern kingdom of Judah, "Yet return again to Me". It is still the time of salvation. You can still come back. I have not sent you away yet. How mercifully and graciously God invites them to come back. Though your sins are great, there is no sin so great that it cannot be forgiven.

Have we not seen this before? This is the fourth sermon about the subject of the Latter Rain and here is another passage where God speaks about "the Latter Rain". The first one we saw was in Joel, chapter 2, the second one was in Deut, chapter 11, the third one was in Hosea, chapter 6, and in every one of those passages God first called the nation to repentance. Is there a pattern here?

Indeed, God's mercy is great. Just think of the parable Jesus told about the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. Just think of what God says in Isa 55. Hold one finger in Jer 3, and please turn about 20 pages to your left to the Prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 55. (2X). In Isa 55 God addresses people who have been bewitched by the doctrines of Satan, and God says lovingly: "Incline your ear and come unto Me: hear and your soul shall live". And then God says in verse 6:

Isaiah 55:6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

Isaiah 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Do you see that? God's mercy is incomprehensible to human beings. Here we read that God calls the wicked to repentance. God calls only great sinners. Did you know that? If you say of yourself that you are not a great sinner, because in comparison with others you don't seem to be such a great sinner, then God is not calling you. This is an important point. If you think of yourself that there is something inherently good in you, so that you are not such a great sinner as others around you, then you ascribe to yourself qualities that you don't have, and you are puffed up in pride. "God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble" (I Pet 5:5) There are no small sinners in this world. Our sins are so great that we deserve to be cast into Hell for an eternity.

God's call to repentance goes out to the entire world, because everyone in this world was born as a wicked person. By nature we all are born sinners, inclined to sin and to rebel against every one of the commandments of God. Let me read to you what God says of us, from Eph 2:1-3,

Ephesians 2:1 And you (hath he quickened), who were dead in trespasses and sins;

Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Eph 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

In other words, we were dead in sins, walking in obedience to Satan, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others who never become saved. Do we realize what God is saying here? We were spiritually dead in sins. We were unable to do anything pleasing to God. God says in Prov 21 that even "the plowing of the wicked is sin". That is how dead we were. We were unable to help ourselves. Let us turn again to Jeremiah chapter 3. God is pointing at their sins, and God says,

The high places were places where the children of Israel worshipped other gods. But God did not write this so that we can say, "O yes, these were people who lived a long, long time ago, in a land far, far away, and they were all ignorant idiots. This really does not apply to us". No way! The Bible was written for all times. Where are our high places? What have we in our pride placed on a high hill? And then we have to confess that in our recent past we have placed on a high mountain our sinful self. We thought of ourselves that we were not entirely dead in sins. We were capable of doing something good for the Lord, and we were proud of that. We were proud of the fact that we had given our life to the Lord, and how good that feels. O Yes. We all came from that corner. But after we studied the Bible we found out that a preacher had deceived us, or we believed what our church told us rather than believing what God tells us in the Bible.

Just about the same things occurred with the children of Israel. They also accepted the idols that were handed down to them from their fathers, without questioning. God says in Jer 3:2,

Jeremiah 3:2 Lift up thine eyes unto the high places, and see where thou hast not been lien with. In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness; and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness.

In other words God said: Look at your high places. You have worshipped all these idols on the high places. You have committed spiritual adultery with all those idols. You have sat by the highways on the lookout for more and newer idols. You have been on the lookout like the Arabian in the wilderness is on the lookout for customers. And you have polluted the land with your spiritual whoredoms and with your wickedness. What wickedness is God talking about? These are sins against their fellow man. They were not only idolaters but they dragged their children also into condemnation, by teaching them how to worship these false gods. O these dear people. But they mean well. They are still sincere. How can we think that those who are false to the only true God, will be true to their neighbor? How can we think that those who do not fear the only true God, will be kind to their neighbor? How can we think that anyone who shows that he is not saved is able to do any good to their fellow man? God says of them: "There is NONE that doeth good, No Not One" (Rom 3:12). We must understand the kindness of God to even talk to these people through the mouth of Jeremiah. These people are not saved, so they are in the enemy's camp. They are willing slaves of Satan, and they have no willing ear for the Words from God spoken through Jeremiah. God calls them to repentance, but repenting they do not. Why not? Only God can give repentance. God says:

Acts 5:31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

Forgiveness of sins, or salvation is accompanied by repentance. You cannot be saved without showing repentance as evidence of your salvation. And again God says in Acts 11:18,

Acts 11:18 Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

You see, God grants us repentance unto life. Actually eternal life is given first, and the evidence of that is repentance and faith. Now, let us look at the next verse in Jer 3,

#2. There Has Been No Latter Rain (Jer 3:3, John 6:37,44,65,66, Amos 4:9-11)

Jeremiah 3:3 Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore's forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed.

Can we interpret this verse this way: "Because you have polluted the land, therefore the showers have been withholden"? No! Remember to whom God is speaking: to the unsaved Jews. Can they do anything good? No! Their souls are in bondage to Satan. Their souls are dead in trespasses and sins. They cannot do anything else than pollute the land. "There is NONE that doeth good, No Not One".

But does God demand that they do something good? Yes! Does God demand from every human being in the world that they obey His laws? Yes! But can anyone obey God's laws as perfectly as He commands? No! Does God demand from every human being in the world that they glorify Him? Yes! But can every unsaved person do good works that are glorifying God? No! In other words, does God require something from every human being that they are unable to do? That is exactly right! The Bible is full with those kinds of statements. And why does God write those commands in the Bible? Why does God require of us something that we are unable to do? God does that to get the point across that salvation is all by grace and the good works we do afterward are all by grace. God calls us, but we are spiritually dead, unable to respond, and unless God makes us alive first we remain dead in our sins. That is what God teaches, for example when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Jesus stood in the cemetery and Jesus cried out loud: "Lazarus, come forth". Only Lazarus came forth, because Jesus first had made him alive so that he could hear the call, and could respond to the call. None of the other dead people came forth. They could not hear the call of Jesus, because God did not choose them to be made alive. And God put this story in the Bible to show us a dramatic picture of what salvation is. Therefore, what does Jer 3:3 mean?

Look at the words of verse 1. God calls them to repentance, which means God calls them to salvation. How are they going to receive repentance? Look at what God wrote in John 6. Hold one finger here in Jer 3, and please turn to the Gospel according to John, chapter 6. (2X). In John chapter 6 the Lord Jesus said: "I am the Bread of life". Paraphrased He said: "if you eat of Me you will live forever". But who believes Him? Who is coming to Christ? Only those who have been chosen by the Father are coming to Him. We read in John 6:37,

John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

In other words, the Lord Jesus said: "Only those whom the Father has given to Me, shall come to Me. They are the only ones who will believe My Word, and I will not turn them away". Now, this is not an isolated verse. Further up in John 6:44 the Lord Jesus said:

John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

No man is able to come to Jesus, except the Father draw him (literally "drag him") to Jesus. We are not gently drawn to Jesus. We are dragged to Him, because in our natural state we do not like a God who overrules our own will. But God lovingly gave us a new heart; He made us born from above, and therefore He made us willing to come to Jesus. In case you missed it, Jesus repeated this in V 65

John 6:65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

Is this a popular doctrine? No! At least 95% of the present day churches have done away with this doctrine that the God of the Bible is a sovereign God, which means that God saves those whom He chose to save. What was the result of this teaching by Jesus? We read in verse 66,

John 6:66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

But let me ask the question: How does the Father draw us to Jesus? Let me quote you from Amos 4:9, where God says, "I have smitten you with blasting and mildew, yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD". And in verse 10 God says, "I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD". And in verse 11 God says, "I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD". Do you get the picture? God draws us to Jesus through difficulties or even disasters in our life. When we think, "All is lost", that is when God brings us someone with the Gospel and we are willing to hear, because He made us willing to hear.

Now, let us turn back to Jer 3:3, and let us read this verse again:

Jeremiah 3:3 Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore's forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed.

It means that the people have enjoyed:

What does this mean? It means that instead of raining fire and brimstone on these horrible idolaters, God is withholding the Latter Rain. That is a much gentler treatment than they deserved. Historically this meant that the plants, which had been nourished by the Former Rain, were shriveling up and died. There was no harvest. People would have to rely on what they have stored up, or be hungry. Some may even die of starvation. God did that! God was drawing them to repentance in the terms that I have read to you from Amos chapter 4. In N.T. language: The Father, whose name is Jehovah, was drawing them to Jesus, whose name is also Jehovah.

What does this verse mean spiritually? When we look for the spiritual meaning of "water", what are we thinking of? The water of the Gospel. The words of the Gospel flow like living water. Just listen as I read from John 4:14, where the Lord Jesus was talking to the Samaritan woman:

John 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

This water that Jesus spoke of is the water of the Gospel. People are being saved while hearing the Word of God. This interpretation agrees with Rom 10:17, which says:

Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

We have seen in the previous three sermons on the Latter Rain that the rain symbolizes the Word of God. The First Rain, also called the Former Rain, symbolizes the words of the O.T., and the Latter Rain symbolizes the words of the N.T. What does this mean then that they had the Former Rain, but they did not receive the Latter Rain? It means that they had received the O.T. as the Word of God, but they had not received the N.T. Could they be saved without the N.T.? Yes they could. King David was saved, and many O.T. people were saved, because they were chosen by God to be under the Covenant of Grace. Their sins were paid at the cross just like our sins were paid at the cross. Moreover, they were living in a time that Rev 22:18-19 was not yet written, and so they were not subject to the curse that is written in Rev 22:18-19.

Who is God speaking to in Jer 3? God is speaking to the remnant of the children of Israel, the nation of Judah, consisting of Judah, Benjamin, Simeon and part of the Levites. Historically they had only the O.T., so that is consistent with the fact that they had received only the Former Rain.

But this passage in Jer 3 must also apply to our days, and then what is God saying? What does it mean that you have received the Former Rain without the Latter Rain? God is saying that if you only have the O.T. you do not have the whole Gospel. If you hear only the O.T. preached, like the Jews in our day do, then you are not under the hearing of the whole counsel of God. Then God does not save you, because you have never heard the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ and His Atonement on the cross for our sins. In fact, because you have only the O.T. you are in violation of Rev 22:19, which says, "You shall not take away from the words of the Book of this Prophecy", and therefore you are still under the Judgment of God. So you see, that the Latter Rain does not at all refer to the end time. Let us continue in Jeremiah, chapter 3, verses 4 and 5, where God says:

#3. There Is Still Time to Cry: My Father (Jer 3:4-5, Mal 2:13-14, II Cor 6:14-15, Mic 7:18)

There is still time to acknowledge Jehovah as their God. God says in verse 4,

Jeremiah 3:4 Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth?

"My Father", what a beautiful relationship to have God as our Father. As our Father He will move heaven and earth to make everything for us as profitable as possible. But woe unto those for whom He is not their father. He will move them out of our way for our protection. Our Father will protect us.

Under what condition may we call God "Our Father"? Is He not the Father of us all? Have we not all been created by God, and therefore may we not all call God "Our Father"? No, we may not all call God "Our Father"! Why did the Lord Jesus say to the unbelieving Jews: "You are of your father the Devil"? How can we square this with Jesus' teaching in another part of the Bible where He said: When you pray, say, "Our Father"? It really indicates there are two groups of people in this world.

When God created Adam and Eve, God was their Father. But when they ate from the "Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil", Adam and Eve sold themselves and all their posterity to Satan. This they did of their own free will. From that time forward all mankind came into the world as sinners, whose will is in bondage to sin and Satan. We came into the world as willing slaves of Satan. O yes, we too have a free will, but our will is to do only evil continuously (Gen 8:21). Just like a lion will not eat straw, that is why the natural man will not do those things that are pleasing in God's sight. Therefore, God cannot call those His children who are continuously fighting against Him. These the Lord Jesus called the children of the Devil, deserving to be cast into Hell forever. And this is where the majority of mankind is heading. If you follow the majority of mankind as your example, you are heading for the greatest disaster you can imagine. "But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us" chose US before the foundation of the world to become the sons of God and to be the Bride of Christ. Who is US? The Bible says that God has His elect people picked out from before the foundation of the world, not because there was anything inherently good in them, but "According to the good pleasure of His will". That was the only way any human being could become saved. And God planned to send someone in our life to preach to US the Gospel, and to call US to repentance. This call of the Gospel goes out into all the world, not that God desires everyone in the world to become saved, but that the Gospel is preached to all those whom God intended to save.

Here in Jer 3:4 God is again calling the nation to repentance. Will you not cry unto Him: "My Father, I have sinned and I have wasted my life. This wasted life is all I have to offer." That is indeed the case. Even our best works after we have become saved are tainted with sin.

Then we read in this verse: "Thou art the guide of my youth". Most certainly, young people need a guide. Young people must be aware of the gravity of decisions they make in their youth. Do you know, young people, that the decisions you make within the first 20 years of your life are going to have a profound influence for the rest of your life? For example, God said in Mal 2:13-14,

Malachi 2:13-14, He regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand. Yet ye say, "Wherefore"? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.

Young people, consider how important it is for you to choose a mate who bears God's approval. God hates divorce. Therefore you have only one shot at marriage. When God says in II Cor 6:14,

2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?

2 Corinthians 6:15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

This is not a gentle advice. This is an urgent command. Are you going to obey, or are you going

your own way? Sure, you may go your own way, and hope that God will forgive you. Do you realize that you are taking on God? And how do you know if God will give you repentance? Remember that this issue: "Being unequally yoked together with unbelievers", was the reason God gave for destroying the world in Noah's days. And this too will be the reason for God to bring on the end of time. When faithful churches become smaller and smaller, the young people in those churches seek their mates outside the circle of faithful ones, and so the holy seed is corrupted until none will be saved anymore. Then we read in Jer 3:5,

Jeremiah 3:5 Will he reserve his anger for ever? Will he keep it to the end? Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldest.

No! God is gracious and merciful to those that are His elect people. God continues to tug at them until they are brought to repentance. Though He causes grief, He will have compassion. "God delighteth in mercy", says He in Micah 7:18, even though we have done evil as we could.

Please turn in your Bibles to Psalm 85. (2X). Throughout Jer 3:1-5 we have seen that the context speaks of repentance. That is really the focus here. And God is saying, "If you only have part of the Bible, then you do not have the whole counsel of God, and you are still under the wrath of God". Here in Psalm 85 God again addresses the question of repentance.

Psalm 85:4 Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease.

Psalm 85:5 Wilt thou be angry with us for ever? Wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations?

Psalm 85:6 Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?

Psalm 85:7 Shew us thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us thy salvation.

"Turn us, O God of our salvation". It is God who has to turn us. We cannot turn to Him unless the Father draws us. This is the God of the Bible. He does not wait for our response, because we were spiritually dead. He takes the initiative, and He finishes what He started out to do with US, dead people. That is why verse 6 says: "Revive us again". We were once alive before Adam sinned, but then when Adam sinned we also died, spiritually, with Adam. Then verse 7 says: "Grant us Thy salvation". Salvation is a FREE GIFT. How free is FREE? If it is required that we DO anything for our salvation, then it is not FREE. If it is required that we accept the Lord Jesus as our Lord and Savior, then that kind of a salvation is not FREE, but it is earned by accepting the Lord Jesus. That is not a salvation that gives God all the glory, and that is not the salvation of the Bible. It is a salvation plan of our own making, and it like worshipping an image made by our own hands.

It is so important that we teach this to our children. Teach them the truth while they are still young. Teach them the whole counsel of God, because that is the task God has given us when He gave us these children.

Amen. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.