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The Prison Experiences Of The Bible
THE PRISON OF HIS PURPOSES
Intro: Our God is a mysterious God. He works in ways that you and I cannot
understand. He declares this very thing
in His Word, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,
saith the LORD. For as the heavens are
higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts
than your thoughts,”
He is a God Who is doing some amazing eternal things in your life and mine. He is a God Who is working out a sovereign, unstoppable plan. As He does what He does in us and around us, we often find ourselves standing back, scratching our heads, wondering about what is going on.
There are times when we find ourselves caught up in the vortex of God’s eternal plan, with things going on in and around us that seem to make no sense at all. Have you ever been there? Can you identify? You know God is in control, but you have no idea what He is up to and sometimes that sense of the unknown bothers us deeply.
That is the place Jeremiah finds himself in these verses. He is in prison and God is doing something in him, to him and around him that he cannot fully comprehend. Since we also find ourselves in that same prison from time to time, it might be helpful for us to look at what Jeremiah experienced in The Prison Of His Purposes. I would like to take Jeremiah chapters 32-33 and show you some facts about this prison that you need to know. Let’s join Jeremiah in The Prison Of His Purposes.
PRISON CAN BE
A. The Circumstances Of Life Can Be Confusing – Even before Jeremiah arrived in this prison, his life had been a series of devastating circumstances. Let’s take a brief look at the trials faced by this faithful prophet:
1. He had been denied the comforts of love and family – Jer. 16:2.
2. He had been denied the comforts of encouragement and friendship – Jer. 15:10. Jeremiah preached the truth and stood for God and not a single person said, “Thank you”, or offered a word of encouragement and friendship.
3. He had been denied the comfort of personal liberty – Jer. 32:2. Jeremiah conducted much of his ministry from the confines of prison.
There can be little doubt that these circumstances of life, and others besides, caused Jeremiah much confusion and turmoil of spirit. He had been faithful to the Lord in spite of everything that had come against him, and still he suffered greatly. In fact, there is no record that Jeremiah ever gained a single convert in 50 years of ministry!
(Note: If we looked only at the
circumstance of our lives, we too can find ourselves confused. Sometimes, it may seem that God isn’t fair in
His treatment of His servants. Life is
hard at best and sometimes it seems that God’s children carry a greater portion
of the burden than others do. (“For all his days are sorrows, and his
travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also
vanity.” Eccl. 2:23.) Look at Job!
God’s Own testimony is that Job was a godly, faithful servant,
What we fail to see is that God is operating on a higher plane than we can see. He is doing things that we cannot fathom. He is moving in ways that we cannot comprehend.
God has used Job’s tragedies to comfort millions down through the ages. Job had no idea what God was doing. Jeremiah’s troubles were used to teach a nation about the judgment and faithfulness of God. Jeremiah didn’t grasp it all either.
So, when your path makes no sense and it seems that God is not treating you fairly remember this:
1. God is working out a good plan in your life, and you can trust Him, even though you don’t have all the details.
2. Nowhere does the Bible say that God is
fair! It does say that He is just and that
He will always do right. “Shall
not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
B. The Complications Of Life Can Be Confusing – v. 2-5 – Here is Jeremiah, he is preaching the message God has given him. He holds nothing back, but he tells the truth and he is thrown into prison for his efforts. It must have seemed to Jeremiah that he was being shelved by God. Surely his situation made no sense to him at all.
(Note: Have you ever been there? The wheels of life can spin fast at times, and there are times when they seem to spin out of control. In fact, your life can become derailed in a blink of the eye.
Another person gets that promotion and you are passed over. Your spouse comes in one day and tells you they do not want to be married to you any longer. That child in whom you have invested the best years of your life turns on you and goes off into rebellion. Your ministry comes to a grinding halt and others move forward while you stagnate. The complications of life are many and they arrive without warning. They are devastating in their impact and they leave us wondering, if not out loud, at least in our hearts, “Where is God and what is He doing to me?”
Sometimes it seems as though God has forgotten our address, doesn’t it? Sometimes it seems as though God has placed us on the back shelf, out of the action, and that He has forgotten all about us. Sometimes it seems that He doesn’t care about what we are facing. Sometimes it seems that He is nowhere to be found. The complications of life can be very confusing!
Remember John the Baptist; the great preacher and prophet who was locked away for preaching the Word of God? He faced such a time of doubt and confusion, Matt. 11:1-11. We are not alone in our confusion over life’s complications.)
Commands Of Life Can Be Confusing –Jeremiah locked up in prison. He has been preaching that
In the midst of this impossible situation, Jeremiah’s uncle sends his son Hanameel to Jeremiah, asking Jeremiah to redeem a piece of property that belongs to Jeremiah’s family. That made no sense! The Babylonians surely possessed that land already. Even if they didn’t they would soon. They would possess it for the next 70 years. Jeremiah was being asked to pay money for a piece of property that he would never be able to farm or even see. Yet, God was in this matter, v. 7, and Jeremiah bought the property as he was commanded, v. 9-16, fulfilling all the legal requirements of such a transaction.
(Note: Sometimes the commands of life can be confusing also. God will come by and request something that makes no sense. He may call you into a new ministry in a place that seems to make no sense. He might uproot you from a church where you have served for years. He may require you to give up something that you love very much. He may make a request of your life that seems insane on the surface.
When God shuts you up in the prison of His purposes, you can expect Him to require some strange things from your life. He doesn’t ask these things from us to confuse us, but He does so to accomplish His purposes. We don’t always know what He is doing, but as I have already said, we can trust Him to do right. He will never lead you down a wrong path, Psa. 37:23.)
PRISON CAN BE
A. v. 16-25 The Prison Became A Place Of Communion – Jeremiah did not understand his circumstances and he did not understand what the Lord was doing in his life, but he used that time as a time of personal growth and communion with the Lord. He praised the Lord for His greatness, His glory and His power. He praised Him for His past works. Jeremiah was in a hard place, but he turned to the Lord in that prison and spent time with the Lord.
(Note: The hard places of life
can affect us in one of two ways. They
can drive us away from the Lord as they did Cain, Gen. 4:1-16. Or, they can
drive us to the Lord as they did Job,
When we find ourselves in one of the
prison experiences of life, there is no better thing for us to do than to
pray! When we turn from our fears, our
doubts and our confusion, to face the Lord, we are allowed to step out of our
reality and into His presence, Heb. 4:16. Prayer brings us into contact with the help
and the resources we need to make it through our prison times,
Prayer is never an easy business. It is made even more difficult when trials
and trouble arise in our lives. But, we
must pray! We must seek the help of our
Father. He cares about what we face and
He invites us to come to Him for the help we need, Jer. 33:3; Matt. 7:7-11;
B. v. 26-44
The Prison Became A Place Of
Confidence – The theme of Jeremiah’s prayer had been confidence in
God’s abilities, v. 17. When the Lord speaks to Jeremiah after his
prayer, God confirms His power and His ability, v. 27. God tells Jeremiah
that He is going to judge
(Note: That is the place to which
God wants to bring us. He wants us to
reach the place where we do not need to know all the answers. His desire for us is that we come to the
place where we trust Him, even when what He is doing in us and around us makes
no sense at all.
One of the greatest days in your Christian
walk is the day when you reach that place of peaceful contentment, where you
may not know what God is going to do, but you know that He has a plan. The Three Hebrew boys reached that place, Dan. 3:16-18. Daniel reached that place, Dan. 6:10. Paul reached that place,
C. v. 9-15 The Prison Became A Place Of Compliance – Jeremiah’s character is seen in how he responded to the Lord in a time of confusion and personal pain. He simply did what the Lord asked him to do. He redeemed the family and he made sure that he took every step that was necessary to record the transaction. I am sure that some people must have laughed at Jeremiah as he did this, but he did it anyway. I am sure that many did not understand, but that did not stop him. He remained faithful to the Lord, even when doing all that God required made no sense at all.
(Note: Anyone can serve the Lord and keep His commands when they make sense and the way is easy. However, it takes true commitment and dedication to do the Lord’s will when others do not understand.
Imagine how Abraham must have felt as he
led Isaac up that mountain to put him to death.
Put yourself in his sandals. That
was a moment when the requirements of the Lord made no sense at all. But, if you will read
That is the response God is after from
each of us. It’s not always easy to obey
God. It is made especially difficult
when God’s commands make no sense at all.
It is not easy to do what He wants when our hearts are breaking. It is not easy to remain steadfast when
everyone around us seems to be moving away from God. He is looking for a people who will obey Him,
without question, simply because they love Him,
PRISON CAN BE
Are Comforted By God’s
(Note: When we find ourselves in the prison of His
purposes, we need to take comfort in Who our God is. We may not understand everything that He is
doing, but we can trust the fact that He is in control. We serve a sovereign God Who is working out
an eternal plan. I take comfort from the
fact that He is in control, Dan. 4:35;
Eph. 1:11; Rom. 9:15-23;
B. We Are Comforted By God’s Power – Jeremiah is comforted by the Lord’s Power. Not only does God have the power to declare the future, He also had the power to bring it to pass.
(Note: Let me just remind you
that we serve a God of limitless power and ability, Eph. 3:20;
C. We Are Comforted By God’s Presence – Surely Jeremiah felt all alone and deserted in his prison. Yet, the Lord was still with him. God spoke to him there and God even used that prison to meet the needs in Jeremiah’s life, Jer. 37:21. While others were starving, God used the prison to feed his man!
(Note: The prison times of life
and be frightening. They can make us
feel as though we have been deserted by the Lord and left there to die. Regardless of how things may appear, we still
have His promise that He will never leave us, Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5. God
will often use the very things we fear as His vehicle to move in our lives.
D. We Are Comforted By God’s Promises – When Jeremiah heard from the Lord in his prison, he was given the good news that things world work out. The Lord came with His promise that all would be well in the end. Surely, that word from the Lord cheered the heart of the prophet in that prison. Jeremiah leaned heavily on the Word of God, Jer. 15:16.
(Note: As we journey through this life, we often find ourselves in what can only be described as prisons. We can find hope and comfort in our prison by leaning on the promises of God. As God told Jeremiah in verse 27, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” No matter what kind of situation we are facing in life, we can rest in the promise that our God can handle it. Nothing is too hard for Him!
The world laughs at us today because we do not run with them in the pursuit of worldly pleasures. We separate ourselves from them to follow and ancient religion that demands holiness and obedience from its followers. The world does not understand our commitment to the Lord and they mock us as a result. But, there is a day of vindication coming for the saints of God! Our commitment to Him will pay off and we will be rewarded for our loyalty to Him.
Conc: Are you in the Prison of His Purposes today? Is God doing some things in your life that do not make sense? Is He allowing some things to happen to you that just do not add up? Is He working out some plan that you cannot seem to get a handle on?
Are you confused and concerned about some of the things that are happening to you? Do you find yourself doubting Him more than you find yourself trusting Him? Do you need a word in your prison? If so, come to Him like Jeremiah did, pour out your heart before Him and look to Him for the guidance you need.