I was flipping through the book of Jeremiah, and man, God was mad at the people of Judah. There are parts of this book that should probably be rated age appropriate, but it’s something we all need to read. Reading Jeremiah made me wonder why God allowed the Babylonians to level Judah.
That led me to look a little deeper into the Babylonian exile (587/6 BC) and read about how devastating it was for the people of Judah to have their city burned to the ground, see their temple destroyed, and be deported to a foreign land. Some scholars believe this changed the way that Jewish people worshipped God.
So what happened that would turn the wrath of God on His beloved people?
In Exodus 34:12, God said that mixing with other nations would become a snare in their midst. And if you go back and read Deuteronomy 7:3-4, God said mixing with other religions and people would turn His people from following Him, and He would destroy them quickly. How easily we forget when we are distracted by all the good times and don’t stay focused on God’s Word.
In short, God instructed the nation of Israel to not mix with other nations for a reason. Of course, God was right, the nation of Judah chose to put their faith in other gods and pretty much do whatever made them feel good. Well, they were warned.
God does everything for a reason. He knows how out of control humans can be. He knows the heart of man and how easily distracted we become when we think we can do better without His divine intervention in our lives. Honestly, we should read Genesis 8:21 and be thankful.
To add insult to injury…
If you read into the second chapter of Jeremiah, the Hebrews justified their sin with self-righteous indignation. Look at Jeremiah 2:23:
How can you say, ‘I am not unclean,
I have not gone after the Baals’?
My interpretation: Really? How can you say I’m a bad Christian? I go to church on Sundays. In the morning. Yeah, ok. This is going to get me to Heaven.
Anyway, we don’t have to read too far down before we actually read how angry God was with his people. Jeremiah 2:4-5 says,
Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the clans of the house of Israel. Thus says the Lord:
“What wrong did your fathers find in me
that they went far from me,
and went after worthlessness, and became worthless?
Wow. Nothing like being slapped with a Bible.
For the sake of time and point, this article is not going to be a deep study on Biblical history, but if you read the historical text in the Old Testament, you will see a pattern of the Hebrews agreeing to obey, then doing their own thing. Over and over this happened. I had to ask myself if I was that hard-headed. Yeah, sometimes.
So what’s your Baal?
The temptation to sin can be overwhelming at times. Technology has brought the world (other nations) closer together than ever before. Anything you want to read, hear, or watch is available 24/7. We are inundated with the world’s opinions on television, social media, and radio. If we don’t keep our head in the game, it’s easy to get caught up in mainstream thoughts and values and start to become preoccupied with things that really don’t matter, things that detract us from the truth.
That reminds me of the song that Pastor Greg tries (emphasis on tries) to sing in church – Be careful little eyes what you see, be careful little ears what you hear…
Back to my point, it was no different in biblical times, just different distractions. Losing focus is nothing new.
Lets be real with ourselves.
If you stop and catch some of the things that fly through your head, are you inherently hating on others and being judgmental? Are your eyes wandering where they shouldn’t? Or maybe, and this is a hard one, are you cursing people that you don’t even know (or maybe do know) who are driving too slow in front of you? What do you think is influencing this attitude of rage and discontentment?
If we listen to that little voice inside of us, we know what we should do. But because of negative social conditioning, we find it harder to have healthy thoughts and attitudes. The sad thing is, we’re doing this to ourselves, and this is not good. We need to do an honest moral inventory of what’s really in our hearts, try to figure out why we behave like this, and correct it.
It’s easy to just give up.
We have all at one time, or even now, let the sins in our lives keep us in an unrepentant state because we think it’s too late to ask God for forgiveness, and then forgive ourselves.
This point is made in Jeremiah 2:25(b),
But you said, ‘It is hopeless,
for I have loved foreigners,
and after them I will go.’
I looked up this snippet of a verse in one of my commentaries to make sure it meant what I thought it did, and I think it does. The JFB Commentary Critical on the whole Bible says this:
no hope—(Je 18:12; Is 57:10). “It is hopeless,” that is, I am desperately resolved to go on in my own course.
We give up. We just accept the sin in our lives, and this is a dangerous cycle to be in. When our actions go against our values, we become resentful and angry at ourselves. If left unchecked, we allow it to spiral into self-deprecation, low self-esteem, and more sin.
Quickly wrapping up
There are many lessons to be learned from the awesome and frightening chapters in the Book of Jeremiah, but the point I want to make is this:
It’s never too late to turn from the sin in your life. Even after the harsh rebuke in chapters 1 and 2, God still calls for His people to repent. Jeremiah 3:12–13 says,
Return, faithless Israel,
declares the Lord.
I will not look on you in anger,
for I am merciful,
declares the Lord;
I will not be angry forever.
Only acknowledge your guilt,
that you rebelled against the Lord your God
and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree,
and that you have not obeyed my voice,
declares the Lord.
And, Jeremiah 4:1-2 says this,
“If you return, O Israel,
declares the Lord,
to me you should return.
If you remove your detestable things from my presence,
and do not waver,
and if you swear, ‘As the Lord lives,’
in truth, in justice, and in righteousness,
then nations shall bless themselves in him,
and in him shall they glory
Let’s face it, it’s a lot of work to take every thought captive and stay humble. As difficult a task that may be, it has to be an exercise we practice daily, or for some of us, more frequently. Remember, we’re fallible humans who rely on our God for guidance and wisdom in our lives. We need to continually remind ourselves that we serve a God who wants us to succeed.
How much control over your thoughts and actions are you exercising in your life? Is a complacent or self-righteous attitude keeping you stuck in a place of feeling unforgiven? Do you need a reality check?
Information retrieved from:
Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Vol. 1. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997.
All scripture verses from:
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.