If you have a Bible, I want you to turn to Jeremiah 3:19, and then we are going to go through Jeremiah 4:4. It's the heart of God's Word towards men.
We are going to see a decision by men when it comes to sonship. We are also going to see the consequences of that choice. We are going to see that there is a chance for a second decision to be made.
In Jeremiah 3:19, God says: "I myself said how gladly I would treat you like sons."
I want to stop right there. Whether you are a believer or you're not; God wants you as a son.
"How gladly I would treat you like sons."
And then He goes on. He says what a father would say to a son.
"And give you the most beautiful land with the most beautiful inheritance of any nation. I thought you would call me Father, and not turn away from me. But like a woman, unfaithful to her husband, so you have been unfaithful to me, oh house of Israel."
Now, what's the result of turning down God's desire for your sonship in Him?
"A cry is heard in the barren heights, the crying and weeping and pleading of the people of Israel because they have perverted their ways and have forgotten the Lord their God. Return faithless people. Oh Israel, I'll cure you from backsliding. Yes, we will come to you, for you are the Lord our God. Surely, the idolatrous, commotion on the hills and mountains is a deception."
You see, there was a pull away from sonship, toward false sonship, false validation, and false acceptance. They can find sonship and identity for their masculinity in God as sons, or alternatively out in their culture. When you go get it in your culture, it creates a commotion of suffering.
Verse 24 says, "From our youth, shameful gods have consumed the fruits from our fathers' labor, their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters. Let us lie down in our shame and let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the Lord our God, both we and our fathers from our youth till this day we have not obeyed the Lord our God."
Obeyed in what? Obey in just being sons? Obey the Lord just through being a passionate son?
Here's what Jeremiah 4:1 says.
"If you will return, oh Israel, you'll return to me," declares the Lord. "If you put your detestable idols out of my sight and no longer go astray and if in a truthful, just and righteous way, you swear as surely as the Lord lives then the nations will be blessed by Him, and in Him. There will be glory."
Now, I want to pause there for a second.
"You come back," God says.
Instead of producing this blast zone of suffering, you begin to be a blessing. You can become a blast zone of blessing. Blessed sons are a blessing to others!
Do you realize that God's purpose for you is to be a passionate son and to experience His fatherly blessings? In passing those blessings to you, then through you, they are passed to the world.
When I pick up the paper, I see the curses that come from the lack of spiritual sonship: a lack of accountability, a lack of authority that's latching onto the fall of sonship out there in culture, and the suffering it creates.
I long for this moment when passionate sons, blessed by a passionate God, are blessing people passionately in the blast zones of their influence.
In Jeremiah 4:3 God says, "This is what the Lord says to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem." Notice the target audience here. At stake are the blessings of nations.
The target audience is not woman. That's not a chauvinistic statement. That's not a macho statement. For better or for worse, man has been given the mantle of leadership in families, communities and countries. It is true today, and it was true in Israel.
In Jeremiah 4:4, this is what the Lord says to the men of Judah and Jerusalem. "Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, circumcise your hearts, you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire because of the evil you have done — burn with no one to quench it."
Unmitigated, cultural adoption by cultures of men creates unmitigated suffering among people.
What is God saying? He certainly is not talking to the woman when He says in verse three: "Break up unplowed ground."
He's not messing around. Do you know how the farmer breaks up unplowed ground? Is that hard work or soft work? It is hard work. This means you've got to go after the hard issues. He is talking to an agrarian culture who understands what it means to break up the unplowed ground. It means that they don't plow the fields that are already cultivated.
What is the unplowed ground that He is talking about? He's not talking about the fields. He is talking about the spiritually unplowed ground of your heart.
Unplowed ground is unfruitful. It doesn't have crops planted so there has to be a softening. There has to be a transformation so that seed can go into the unplowed ground. He is talking about the softening of your heart, your willingness to be moldable and flexible, and to receive instruction as the son of God.
Remember the headline: "I will gladly treat you like sons." Well this is one of those conversations where God is saying: Son can I have a word with you?
"Break up the unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns." When do you sow among thorns? When one of God's men sows his masculinity and plants his identity into what culture says is a man. That's sowing among thorns.
It was a problem in Judean culture back then, and it's a problem today. Break up the unplowed ground in your life. That thing that just came to mind, start plowing it today.
Watch "Uprising," where men's expert and pastor Kenny Luck helps you to learn how God's men are joining an uprising in the Church.
Kenny Luck is the president and founder of Every Man Ministries. As the former men's pastor at Saddleback Church in California and current leadership pastor at Crossline Community Church, Kenny has found the proven way to improve men's ministries around the world. Sleeping Giant is this blueprint, and gives men the tools they need to lead and understand their own men's ministry. Watch Kenny's teachings at EveryManMinistries.com and start your men's group today!