The following Darrell Scott sermon is dedicated to all of the hypocritical Christians I’ve encountered and a bad—ahem—fig who “went into increase by acquiring what [I] had to let go of.” More about that in an upcoming chapter.
The 24th chapter of the book of Jeremiah begins by referencing the two deportations of Israelites to Babylon—the two exiles, as it were, into Babylon—before the complete and final destruction of Israel at that time. This was another way of the lord attempting to warn Judah and Jerusalem to change their ways before it was too late, but it was to no avail. A lot of us know this if not personally but socially: People are hardheaded. … And they don’t heed the admonition of the lord, they don’t heed the admonition of people, they don’t heed the admonition of those the lord has raised up to speak into their lives. They’re hardheaded.
He was trying to warn them.
Their captivity in Babylon was a divine judgment.
You have to understand, fidelity to the word of the lord is critical to enjoy a successful Christian walk and a successful life.
There are so many people these days who get out of the will of God so [easily]. The reverence and the regard and the respect for the will of God is absent from the church these days. That’s why the Bible asks, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the Earth?” Will he find commitment and dedication in this body of believers he has on this Earth?
So once again, because of their disobedience to the word of God, they were under divine judgment. They were displaced, dispossessed from the place of their promise, from their homeland.
[That being said] however, there were those among them who yielded to the will of the lord. They recognized and submitted themselves to the will of the lord and the word of the lord and yet they were taken into captivity along with the disobedient. Even though they worshiped the lord in spirit and in truth, even though they lived lives that were holy and acceptable to him, they still found themselves in captivity under the bondage of the enemy.
There were those who were notable among them. Daniel was one along with Shadrach, Meshach and [Abednego], Ezra, Ezekiel, Moredecai—they were all in the will of God, with the anointing of the holy ghost on their lives, but still they found themselves under the bondage of the enemy. …
Conspicuous among those who were left in Jerusalem [were] people who were adept at outward displays of religiosity, priests who were out of God’s will, and false prophets. The true prophets were in bondage; the false prophets weren’t. They had all the outward signs of spirituality—they had the material possessions and the material accomplishments that served as evidence of their relationship with God, but they were worldly in between religious activities. Oftentimes, people gauge how much they have [as a sign they’re right with God. If you have a nice car, you’re in the will of God; if you don’t have a nice car, you aren’t all right with God.] But that’s a lie from the pit of hell.
So the ones who were left entered into an alliance with Egypt. Egypt symbolized the world and the world’s system, and they were trusting in the security of their agreement with the Egyptians. … They were comfortable in their outward show of religion … [and] they boasted of their official religious positions and looked down with contempt upon their godly brethren who were taken into captivity. They looked down on those who had been deported, who were doing bad, and having a rough time.
Jeremiah, under the inspiration of the holy ghost, compares these two groups—those who were in bondage and those who were not—to baskets of figs. One basket was very good; the other basket was very bad. What is significant in this scenario is the fact that by outward appearance, the good figs were doing bad, and the bad figs were doing good. The good figs were the ones that lost their land, their home, their family, their possessions, and their freedom while the bad figs not only retained their possessions but went into increase by acquiring what the good figs had to let go of. To the unspiritual mind—the bad ones thought that since they were spared from the deportation and because [what happened to the others did not happen to them], they thought that because they were in increase while the others were in decrease, they thought that because they had become prosperous while the others had become destitute that that was a sign of their spirituality, and therefore the blessings of God were overflowing and abounding in their life. They thought that their not being taken into captivity, their escape from bondage was evidence of God’s approval of their lives.
“We must be doing something good because we’re not in a bad way like the others are. … I’ve got a good job, I’ve got a nice home, I’ve got good income, so God’s approval must be on my life. Despite my lifestyle, despite my carnality, despite my pride, despite my arrogance—because of the way I live and the things that I have and the work that I do, the favor of God must be on my life.”
So they ridiculed those who were in captivity. They ridiculed those who were having it bad. They looked down on those who were not as successful as they were. But in the eyes of God, even though they were doing good in the natural, they were the bad ones. They did not realize they had been left in Jerusalem and remained prosperous not because of their goodness and godliness but because of their ungodliness. I’ll make it plain: They didn’t know they were left there because in the plan and purpose of God, the enemy was going to return and utterly destroy them and completely wipe them all out. … They did not know that their time was up. There are a lot of people in the church/world today who waste a lot of time, not knowing they don’t have a lot of time to waste. … They didn’t know God left them there as a sign of his displeasure.
Sometimes, God will use bad to ultimately bring you to your good, or he’ll use good to bring someone else to their bad. They did not realize that in the mind of God, they were destined for destruction whereas their brethren were on the road to restoration.
“I might not have as much as I desire to have, and I might have lost a lot that I desired to keep, but I’m on my way back. I’m on the road to restoration.” Look at somebody and say, “Don’t judge me yet. Don’t write me off. Don’t look down on me, because God is up to something in my life. And the fact that I don’t have much doesn’t mean I’m not in touch with God. The fact that I don’t drive what others drive and live like others live does not mean I’m not in God’s will. Just because I’m still single or in the process of getting a divorce, just because I lost my house, just because I’m bound up right now does not mean God is not on my side. I might have suffered financial defeat or emotional or relational or mental defeat—I might have gotten carried into captivity by the enemy—but I still love God. I still hear from God, I’m still anointed by God, I still praise God, and I still worship God in spite of my bondage, in spite of my captivity, in spite of my issues and my problems and this drama. He knows where I am, and at my appointed time, he will bring me out.” Look at somebody and say, “I’m on the road. I’m on a divine road trip. I’m on the road to restoration. My bad is going to bring me back to my good.”
In the book of Jeremiah, the holy ghost said the ones who were doing bad were good, and the ones who were doing [well] were bad. It reminds me of [psalm 73:2]: “As for me, my feet had almost slipped when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” He said, “It almost caused me to backslide because I was looking at the bad people doing good, and it almost made me go back. It almost made me give up. It almost made me revert.”
How many of y’all know about reverting? You see these other people living large, you see these other people doing good, and you think, “If I just revert back to the way I was, I can do good as well.”
The fourth verse of the 24th chapter of Jeremiah said the word of the lord came to Jeremiah again. Look at somebody and say, “The word of the lord is going to come to you again. God is going to give you another word. He’s going to speak into your life again. He’s going to move on your behalf again.” Look at somebody and say, “God is going to bless you again, he’s going to deliver you again, he’s going to open up doors for you again.” The Bible says the word of the lord came to the man of God again. … God said, “I will acknowledge those who are in captivity but still praise.”
Your praise is going to cause God to reconsider your situation. Your praise is going to cause God to give you another look. …
But look at what God said.
God said, “I sent them out of this place. I sent them into bondage. I sent them into captivity for their good.”
You’ve got to understand that … everything that happens in your life is either caused by God or allowed by God. He does not cause sin, nor does he cause failure, but he does allow it.
But you’ve (also) got to understand that God does not work from what might have been, nor does God work from what should have been or could have been. God works from what is. He can put all the broken pieces of your life together again.
Can I give you an example?
A Persian rug, which is one of the finest rugs there is, is designed by one man but [woven] by many workers. One man designs it; then, he gives it to the workers to construct it. Sometimes, a worker makes a mistake and puts a wrong color where it should not be. The designer never throws the carpet away. He will stop the process. He will then inspect the carpet, and then he looks at the mistake. After careful consideration, he instructs the workers what colors to weave in. Colors that do not seem to match, colors that don’t seem to fit, but he knows what he’s doing. When it’s finished, he will have worked everything together so not even the most trained eye can see where the flaw was.
And that’s how all of the bad things in your life (will) work together for your good. All of the negative elements of your life—things that are bad all by themselves: the hurt and the pain, the mistake and the heartbreak, the heartache and the failure, the divorce and the breakup—God will weave it all together and cause it to work together for your good.
God said to Jeremiah, “Those who are in captivity? I did it. I did it. I did it. I sent them there for their own good. I sent Joseph into prison for his good. I sent Moses into the wilderness for his good, I sent Daniel to the lion’s den, I sent those boys into that furnace, I sent Jesus to Calvary for their good.”
Look at somebody and say, “I might be having it rough right now … but God said, ‘I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” He said, “I’ve got my eyes on you. I see your struggle. I see your distress. And I’ve set my eyes on you for good.”
Touch somebody and say, “It’s all right. It’s all good.”
God said, “I see what you’re going through, but I know where I’m taking you to. I see you in decrease; I’m gonna take you to increase. I see you in sickness; I’m gonna take you to healing.” … He said, “I’m designing something. I’m building something. I’m making something. I’m purposing something. I’m planning something good for your life. I know things are bad right now, but I’m gonna use that bad to bring you to good.” He said, “I know they’ve been taken into bondage. I know they’re in captivity. I know they’ve suffered loss, but I’m gonna bring them again to their land.”
You’ve got to understand the reason the Israelites are so committed to and connected to their land is because that land represents God’s blessings; it represents their inheritance.
God said, “I’m going to bring them again to this land.” In other words, he said, “I’m going to cause you to recover every single promise, every single possession, every single blessing that the enemy stole from you.” God told me to tell somebody, “You’re gonna get it all back. I’m gonna bring you back to your place of blessings, bring you back to your place of promise, bring you back to your place of divine provision, to your joy and happiness, to your peace and praise.” You have it bad, you had it bad, but God said, “The worst is over and you can get glad right now because I’m gonna use this bad time to bring you to your good time.” …
[And] he’s not going to be content with you just recovering what you lost. He’s going to build on it. He’s going to increase it. He’s going to multiply and magnify it. …
To break it down to a nutshell, he said you’re gonna get blessed, and you’re gonna stay blessed. He’s gonna bring you from destruction to construction. Everything the enemy thought he had destroyed, he said it would be regained and rebuilt and would never be destroyed again. You’re gonna get the house and keep the house. You’re gonna get married and stay married. You’re gonna get healed and stay healed. You’re gonna get blessed and stay blessed.
And God told me to tell somebody that it’s time for you to just go get your stuff. First Kings 22:1 says, “And they continued three years without war between Syria and Israel. And it came to pass in the third year that Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, came down to the king of Israel. And the king of Israel said unto his servants, ‘Know ye that Ramoth in Gilead is ours, and we be still, and take it not out of the hand of the king of Syria?'” In other words, he said, “It’s ours, but we ain’t been doin’ nothing to get what already belongs to us.”
You have a number of unpossessed possessions—things God already said were yours, and you’re letting the enemy hold onto it. You’re letting it sit idle. You’re letting it go to waste because you haven’t taken advantage of what God said was yours.