[forthright] You Are the Burden

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From: "Forthright Magazine" <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2010 16:32:33 -0300
Forthright Magazine
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Straight to the Cross

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COLUMN: FINAL PHASE

You Are the Burden
  by J. Randal Matheny, editor

Prophecies, or inspired messages, given to the prophets
in the Old Testament were sometimes called "burdens."
These messages burdened the heart of God and of the
prophet, for they were given in times of moral laxity
and religious infidelity. They were unpopular messages,
calling people to the hardest action of all, that of
repentance. They held forth a threat./1

The prophet Jeremiah received a burden about the way
the people used the word "burden." The passage is a bit
longer than what we generally quote, but well worth our
time. Don't go away. Read this:

  The Lord said to me, "Jeremiah, when one of
  these people, or a prophet, or a priest
  asks you, 'What burdensome message do you
  have from the Lord?' Tell them, 'You are
  the burden, and I will cast you away. I,
  the Lord, affirm it! I will punish any
  prophet, priest, or other person who says
  "The Lord's message is burdensome." I will
  punish both that person and his whole
  family.'"

  So I, Jeremiah, tell you, "Each of you
  people should say to his friend or his
  relative, 'How did the Lord answer? Or what
  did the Lord say?' You must no longer say
  that the Lord's message is burdensome. For
  what is 'burdensome' really pertains to
  what a person himself says. You are
  misrepresenting the words of our God, the
  living God, the Lord who rules over all.
  Each of you should merely ask the prophet,
  'What answer did the Lord give you? Or what
  did the Lord say?' But just suppose you
  continue to say, 'The message of the Lord
  is burdensome.' Here is what the Lord says
  will happen: 'I sent word to you that you
  must not say, "The Lord's message is
  burdensome." But you used the words "The
  Lord's message is burdensome" anyway. So I
  will carry you far off and throw you away.
  I will send both you and the city I gave to
  you and to your ancestors out of my sight.
  I will bring on you lasting shame and
  lasting disgrace which will never be
  forgotten!'" (23:33-40 NET).

The Lord called the false prophets and those who
followed them a burden. They took lightly the meaning
of the term "burden," made a mockery of it, so that the
Lord forbid them to use the word.

This is, first, a warning to call Bible things by Bible
words with Bible meanings and not to use terms lightly.

It is, second, a condemnation of irreverence in
spiritual things.

And, third, it calls attention to the need for
repentance among a people who disregard the message of
God and his will.

Such a burden will crush those who misuse God's words.
People who disrespect him will be thrown off and
discarded.

One need not go far to see the misuse and abuse of
words like grace, church, praise and faith. What
foolishness to twist God's words! Such people are "are
misrepresenting the words of our God, the living God,
the Lord who rules over all" (v. 36).

They willfully forget that it "is a terrifying thing to
fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:31).

It is a truth that God's faithful people must never
forget either.
__________
1/ See R.L. Harris, et. al., Theological Wordbook of
   the OT, 1421e.

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