Read: Jeremiah 6:1-8:3
This section of scripture is anything but uplifting. As we look into the depravity of Israel, with an emphasis on Jerusalem, we see a people who are far from God moving away even farther and the prophesied demise because of their sin. The question I wrestle with is this: are we like these people? I can’t help but wonder how much we are like these people.
Jeremiah 6: Jerusalem Under Siege
Jeremiah prophesied about the invasion of Jerusalem, the holy city itself, its destruction as a result of great disrespect for the Lord.
As a well pours out its water,
so she pours out her wickedness.
Violence and destruction resound in her;
her sickness and wounds are ever before me.
The wickedness pours out of Jerusalem, their sin is so great and so obvious to the Lord. Even the remnant will be affected:
This is what the Lord Almighty says:
“Let them glean the remnant of Israel
as thoroughly as a vine;
pass your hand over the branches again,
like one gathering grapes.”
There are so few followers of God by this time. These are the chosen ones, the million that fled Egypt under the leadership of Moses becomes the remnant of the remnant. Here’s the sad reality:
Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?
No, they have no shame at all;
they do not even know how to blush.
So they will fall among the fallen;
they will be brought down when I punish them,”
says the Lord.
They are not the least bit ashamed. This is what they say: “I’m not ashamed anymore. This is who I am.” I’d love to say this is all about an ancient people, far in the past, one that doesn’t apply today, but that is not the case. We’ve created a culture that honors those who pave their own zealous paths and stray from that which God has ordained. So far from truth the lies become their new truth. This is the foundation of lies, but it will not go undetected and certainly not unchecked.
The bellows blow fiercely
to burn away the lead with fire,
but the refining goes on in vain;
the wicked are not purged out.
They are called rejected silver,
because the Lord has rejected them.”
Is this something I want? Far from it, but it is sad to see how far a people can wander when they reject the Lord and replace his ways with that of their own.
Jeremiah 7:1-29: False Religion Worthless
God is the God of reconciliation. He relentlessly pursues us. Time after time we read words like this in the Bible:
5 If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, 6 if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, 7 then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. 8 But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. Jeremiah 7:5-8
It seems we’re caught up in “trusting in deceptive words.” Lord, help us to hear your voice above the booming sounds of this world that seem to drown out your desires for our lives on earth.
18 The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes to offer to the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to arouse my anger. 19 But am I the one they are provoking? declares the Lord. Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame? Jeremiah 7:18-19
God gave us free will, the ability to choose who will will worship. When we so freely choose to pour offerings to other gods, I think he is truly sad. As we proudly gaze on our accomplishment, I can see the tear in my Father’s eye. He is not pleased or happy for wandering children, those who have denied the grace so freely offered.
26 But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their ancestors.’ 27 “When you tell them all this, they will not listen to you; when you call to them, they will not answer. Jeremiah 7:26-27
Even when we try our best to reveal the truth most will ignore the advice. Lord, help me to cross these paths wisely.
Jeremiah 7:30-8:3: The Valley of Slaughter
Unspeakable horror. There is no way anyone can attribute this behavior to that of God’s desire for his people.
They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire—something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind. Jeremiah 7:31
How can a people fall so far away? Perhaps this can’t happen in our modern society, at least not in the physical sense, but our minds can easily go far away from the love of God. Help us, Lord, to be aware of the evil that surrounds us and to stay far away.