Read Jeremiah 4-5
Jeremiah’s message is direct, blunt and forceful. He is trying to wake the people from their senseless state, God’s people, our ancestors. Hear his relentless words of persuasion that seem to fall on deaf ears:
“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.
Circumcise your hearts — permanently change your heart! Yes, it will be painful for a time, but the mark of God will be indelibly marked, you will not forget. When we circumcise our hearts we change from the inside out. In Mark 7:18-23, Jesus explains this clearly:
For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” Mark 7:21-23
Change me from within, deep within. Lord, I pray that you will remove all that which defiles us for we know you will uphold you end of the covenant, but we are hard-headed.
“My people are fools;
they do not know me.
They are senseless children;
they have no understanding.
They are skilled in doing evil;
they know not how to do good.”
God’s wrath will be swift. Those who listened to the false prophets will be swept away, they will not be able to hide their sin.
“Go through her vineyards and ravage them,
but do not destroy them completely.
Strip off her branches,
for these people do not belong to the Lord.
The people of Israel and the people of Judah
have been utterly unfaithful to me,”
declares the Lord.
“The whole land will be ruined,
though I will not destroy it completely.
Therefore the earth will mourn
and the heavens above grow dark,
because I have spoken and will not relent,
I have decided and will not turn back.”
Do not destroy the land completely…some will remain, though these people seem incapable of listening.
The title associated with chapter 5, “Not One is Upright,” aptly depicts the hearts and minds of those who ignore warning and flagrantly oppose God. “Although they say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ still they are swearing falsely.” (Jeremiah 5:2) They know how to act, the words and phrases to say, but their actions are far from sincere. They refused to repent and Jeremiah wonders if these were merely fools, but such was not the case.
Those who were reputed as wise, the ones who sat as prophets, had the hardest of hearts and refused to listen.
They have lied about the Lord;
they said, “He will do nothing!
No harm will come to us;
we will never see sword or famine.
The prophets are but wind
and the word is not in them;
so let what they say be done to them.”
Lord, I pray that our words are your words, the we will not be like these prophets, full of wind and no thoughts of you. It’s no wonder Jeremiah’s ministry was one of loneliness. History proves his words were accurate, but no doubt hard to swallow at the time.
“A horrible and shocking thing
has happened in the land:
The prophets prophesy lies,
the priests rule by their own authority,
and my people love it this way.
But what will you do in the end?
“And my people love it this way.” Let that sink in for a while.
This is Sunday morning. All across our country, people will make their way to churches as part of their weekly routine. Some will do this with great sincerity, some out of habit, most will visit church buildings because they “love it this way,” it is convenient. It’s easy to check the box, [_] Went to Church. But the heart was not circumcised. Change didn’t happen. Not because the Jesus didn’t show up, indeed, where two or more are gathered (Matthew 18:20) he is faithful, but did we who stand against this box-checking mentality do something different? Don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t think I have it all figured out, but at the very least, I hope to do more than just fill a position on Sunday morning. Lord, help us to be your church.
Thoughts about serving others
This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.
My prayer is for you to join me on this journey. Subscribe to this blog below to get an email when a new post is available.
Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.