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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, February 13, 2011

“How long wilt thou cut thyself?” (Jeremiah 47:5).

Jeremiah has been called the “weeping prophet.” He said, “My soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears” (Jeremiah 13:17). In the book of Lamentations Jeremiah said, “I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water” (Lamentations 1:16).

Jeremiah was called by God to be “a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). When he heard God say that, Jeremiah said, “Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child” (Jeremiah 1:6). But God said to him,

“Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord...Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms...” (Jeremiah 1:7-10).

In the first 42 chapters, we have a record of Jeremiah preaching judgment to his own people, Israel. He said,

“But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone...they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless...Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?” (Jeremiah 5:23, 28-29).

Then, in chapters 46 to 51, Jeremiah preached against the sins of several other nations – against Egypt’s sins, against the Philistines’ sins, against Moab’s sins, against the sins of the Ammonites, against the sins of Edom, against the sins of Damascus, against the sins of Kedar, against the sins of Elam, and against the sins of Babylonia and Chaldea.

Here, in our text, Jeremiah is preaching against the sins of the Philistines. William MacDonald said,

The Philistines [would soon] be crushed by the Babylonian invasion from the north. They [would then] be cut off from Tyre and Sidon, and their great cities, Gaza and Ashkelon, plunged into mourning, they [would be] struck by the sword of the Lord (William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990, page 1023; comments on Jeremiah 47:1-7).

This brings us to our text at the end of Jeremiah 47:5,

“How long wilt thou cut thyself?” (Jeremiah 47:5).

Literally, how long will you mutilate yourself? Dr. Gill said that they cut “their faces, arms and other parts of their body, mourning and lamenting their sad condition; the words of [Jeremiah signify] the dreadfulness of it” (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the Old Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume 5, p. 654; note on Jeremiah 47:5).

Here the prophet Jeremiah speaks to the Philistines who were about to be judged by God. And he says, “How long wilt thou cut thyself?” How long would they continue to bring God’s terrible judgments on themselves?

“How long wilt thou cut thyself?”

Spurgeon said, “The question is asked with little hope: as if the self-torturer would never [stop] but go on to mutilate himself without end” (C. H. Spurgeon, “The Tender Inquiry of a Friend,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 34, Pilgrim Publications, 1974 edition, p. 290).

“How long wilt thou cut thyself?”

I will apply this question to us tonight.

I. First, I will ask that question of our preachers.

“How long wilt thou cut thyself?”

I ask this question of pastors who have closed their Sunday evening services. What madness is this? Why have you mutilated your church by cutting out the evening service? Why have you cut yourself this way? Don’t you know what this did to the Methodists and Presbyterians – the so-called “mainline” denominations? They cut their Sunday evening services in the 1920s and 30s – and their memberships fell, literally by the millions, in the following decades! Now you are recklessly following their path. Where will it lead you? First, you will immediately lose one offering. Every pastor ought to think of that, knowing that your church will lose thousands of dollars each year by cutting out the Sunday evening offering. In these financially troubled times, hundreds of churches are closing for lack of funds. Cutting the Sunday evening offering will undoubtedly contribute to this tragedy. Then it will be said of you as it was of ancient Israel,

“O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself” (Hosea 13:9).

Second, it will turn your young people loose to go somewhere else. Those 18 and older will go out on Sunday night. Where will they go? Will they go to another church that is open on Sunday night? Will they learn strange doctrines there? Worse – will they go out and do something sinful on Sunday night? Third, you will lose the opportunity to hold a Sunday-evening evangelistic service. You will now have only one hour on Sunday morning, to teach your own people. You will no longer have an opportunity to preach evangelistic sermons to the lost. In a few years the loss of this evangelistic opportunity will decrease the number of people attending your church, just as it did to the “mainline” churches when they cut their Sunday evening services.

“How long wilt thou cut thyself?”

Then, too, I ask parents, Why don’t you go to your pastor and request that he reinstate the evening service because your kids need it? Don’t let them be cut off, at an early age, from the preaching of God’s Word, and the fellowship of the church on Sunday nights! Go and tell the pastor that your young people have, in fact, been excommunicated from half of the blessings that could be theirs. Tell him they need a lively Sunday evening service. No wonder that over 80 percent of the young people in our churches stop attending, never to return, between the ages of 18 and 25. They have nothing to do on Sunday night!

“How long wilt thou cut thyself?”

Yes, I’m preaching to the Internet. Nearly thirty thousand pastors read these sermons every month. Somebody needs to preach to you pastors. And I am asking you, do you have what it takes to turn your church around? Do you? Then it’s time for you to throw out your old sermon outlines and go to work preparing new sermons every week! Then it’s time for you to spend an hour each morning praying for God to show you what to preach! Then it’s time to reinvent your Sunday evening services. Get rid of the junk music. Lead the hymns yourself. Preach on Hell, on total depravity, on the Blood of Christ. Don’t let your church drift! Work your guts out! Preach till you sweat!

Get off the junk food completely. Don’t drink soda pop. Drink water! Drink green tea. Eat breakfast every day. No bacon. Eat oatmeal and egg whites. Get in shape! Start running and swimming. Do it every day. Lose 25 pounds – so you can preach till you sweat! Lead your church to victory!

“How long wilt thou cut thyself?”

Preacher, stop cutting yourself short and throw yourself into the work of God! Do what you started out to do!

II. Second, I will ask that question of the unconverted in our midst.

“How long wilt thou cut thyself?”

All right, I spoke to the preachers. Now I’m going to speak to you! Some of you are coming to our church because we have a birthday party and a meal. You’re coming because it’s fun. That’s not wrong, but it’s not enough. If you just come for the fun, you are going to go to Hell! Christ said,

“These shall go away into everlasting punishment”
       (Matthew 25:46).

That’s where you are going – into “everlasting punishment” in the flames of Hell. It’s time for you to start listening to the sermons. When I give you the printed sermon after the service, take it home and read it over and over again. Get serious! Start coming Sunday morning and Sunday night – and Saturday evening for Bible study and evangelism. Get serious! Don’t be satisfied with a meaningless life followed by an eternity in Hell.

“How long wilt thou cut thyself?”

I am now speaking to those of you who stubbornly and rebelliously refuse to turn from sin to Jesus. It must be very hard of you to sit here Sunday after Sunday and hear sermons which tell you that you have no hope. It must trouble you at times to hear Christ’s words,

“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

Has your rejection of Christ brought you peace and joy? Are you happy being lost? If you are not happy remaining unconverted, why don’t you “strive to enter in” to Christ? (Luke 13:24). Why do you cut yourself by not striving with all your heart to enter in to Christ? Why go on in sinful rebellion? Why refuse to come to Jesus? “How long wilt thou cut thyself?”

Others may think, “I need to be cut more. I don’t have enough conviction to come to Jesus.” It has always seemed strange to me that people will go to a medical doctor and will take whatever medicine he prescribes without arguing or questioning. But when they come to a doctor of theology they will put up one argument after the other, and not take the medicine. So, you think you need a more cutting feeling before you can come to Christ. I tell you to come to Christ now, but you won’t. You want more of a feeling. So you refuse the medicine and go on in your sin-sick condition. Some of you have already been convicted of sin. You have been convicted by the Holy Spirit many times – and yet you hold back from coming to Christ – and by holding back you cut yourself!

“How long wilt thou cut thyself?”

Joseph Hart said it well,

Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
   Bruised and broken by the fall;
If you wait until you’re better,
   You will never come at all...
(“Come, Ye Sinners” by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

Jesus says, “Come unto me” (Matthew 11:28). But you say, “I must first have deeper feelings and better conviction.” “If you wait until you’re better, you will never come at all.”

“How long wilt thou cut thyself?”

Come to Jesus now. Jesus, the Son of God, was cut to the bone in your place, when they stripped His back and flogged Him. When they crucified Him on the Cross, He was cut through the hands and feet with nails, in your place, to pay the penalty for your sins. Don’t put it off any longer. Come to Jesus.

“How long wilt thou cut thyself?”

Come to Him who was crucified to pay for your sins. Jesus says, “look upon me whom they have pierced” (Zechariah 12:10). Stop looking at yourself. Look upon the crucified Christ. Come to Him – and you are saved!

Stumbling on the mountains dark with sin and shame,
   Stumbling toward the pit of Hell’s [tormenting] flame,
By the powers of sin deluded and oppressed,
   Hear the [voice of Jesus], “Come to me and rest.”
Come unto me; I will give you rest;
   Take my yoke upon you, Hear me and be blest;
I am meek and lowly, Come [into my sight];
   Come, my yoke is easy, And my burden’s light.
(“Come Unto Me” by Charles P. Jones, 1865-1949; altered by the Pastor).

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at Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

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or you may write to him at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015.
Or phone him at (818)352-0452.

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Psalm 32:1-5.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Come Unto Me” (by Charles P. Jones, 1865-1949).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“How long wilt thou cut thyself?” (Jeremiah 47:5).

(Jeremiah 13:17; Lamentations 1:16;
Jeremiah 1:5, 6, 7-10; 5:23, 28-29)

I.   First, I will ask that question of our preachers, Hosea 13:9.

II.  Second, I will ask that question of the unconverted in our midst,
Matthew 25:46; John 3:3; Luke 13:24; Matthew 11:28;
Zechariah 12:10.