I’ve been in the book of Jeremiah and it is sobering. The Lord gave him instruction to warn the people of the wrath to come, to repent from their idolatry, to turn back to their Creator and to forsake the lusts and evils that they had embraced as “normal”, as part of their culture. Over and over Jeremiah is unheeded, and what I’ve been thinking about is how frustrating it might have been for him. After all, God told him to say the words, so why weren’t they “working”?
Or maybe it wasn’t frustrating at all. Maybe he was so in tune to the Lord’s will that just doing as was asked of him in itself was enough. I’ve read the book of Jeremiah before but this was the first time I realized that Jeremiah had spent decades warning his neighbors, telling them what the blessings of repentance and obedience were and what the wretched consequences of their continued wickedness was going to be. Can’t you just hear the offended responses? The angry spewing of “be loving, moron!” (oh the irony).
I’ve been wondering if Jeremiah had any friends other than his scribe. I wondered also if he were ever mad at God, a great sin in itself, while he sat in the bottom of a mucky well starving to death and for what? For doing what the Lord asked him to do. Did he discontentedly mull over the apparent injustice in that? The prosperity preachers were alive and well during that time as well, comforting the people with lies that God is a loving God who would never ever punish anyone for anything, so if Jeremiah was in the mud pit without a cent to his name, well, I guess he brought it on himself for not having enough “faith” in their false teachings.
Did Jeremiah ever want to just forsake the Lord and join the crowd? Was it ever a temptation to ignore the still voice of God and *la la la la* hands-over-ears and just eat, drink and be merry with the neighbors while suppressing the truth that he knew was right and true and holy? Or maybe the temptation was to just “live and let live”, knowing that he was right with the Lord so why rock the boats that were sailing so peacefully to hell (Lot, anyone?).
There are Christians today: preachers, writers, bloggers, teachers….today that push buttons, that speak loudly of sin and call it thus, and of the need for repentance, that don’t gloss over God’s holy indignation and righteousness just to elevate God’s love. The angels over His throne don’t cry, “Love, love, love” but:
…they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
God’s love of course is part of the gospel, so clearly seen here, the other side of the coin as it were:
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Today all these years after Jeremiah’s days, He is still “to come”. I am afraid we are much like the people of Jeremiah’s days, scoffing such things. And we tend to ignore the parts of the Word that speak such distasteful things as well, looking instead for anything or anyone who will tell us that we are “all” going to heaven, or even that no such place exists….or that a “loving” God would never send anyone to hell (or even that no such place exists…). Who wants to talk about such a downer?
As Christians it is good and right to question such theology that is wildly popular (such as “God is love and nothing else”), to take it to the Word, to test these ideas. Unfortunately, we often find that nothing has changed in the hearts from the days of the prophets to our present day. People in rebellion to God are still people in rebellion to God. But God isn’t sending any more prophets to speak to wickedness because Jesus was enough.
Hebrews 1:1-2 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things…
Be wary of what sounds good, what feels right, what your “heart knows is true.” Be discerning! So many popular ideas and books and preachers….are they Biblical? Speaking truth? Discernment grows as we spend time reading the Bible, and no book, preacher or devotional will ever come close to the teaching as time spent at the Savior’s feet in prayer and in reading Scripture (which He gave us to read for ourselves in a country where we could own one and LIVE! Praise God for His goodness!!). We’re such a sorrowful, pride-filled, make-it-on-our-own kind of people, though…
Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Jeremiah 7:24 But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Well, I do wonder about Jeremiah a lot these days. He knew the truth and spoke it. It hurt him, he suffered for it. But at the end of it all, when he with his own eyes witnessed God’s wrath pour out, he wasn’t feeling self-righteous or proud of being “right”. He wept. And I think that if we Christians had more of a heart for the lost people around us, we not only would be speaking up more, but we would be crying as well, lamenting the fate of the unrepentant sinner.
2 Peter 3:3-10 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
Heeded or not, culturally-blessed or not, befriended or not, Jeremiah obeyed and served the Lord. Will we? As it turns out, warning of the wrath to come IS the loving, compassionate thing to do.
Jude 1:22-23 And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire…
Pondering with you,