Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then do you come and stand before me in this house, which is called by My Name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations?
Jeremiah is my favorite prophet in the Old Testament; perhaps because I can feel his angst and frustration over the continued disobedience of his stiff-necked fellow Jews. He spent 40 years delivering the messages of God to his countrymen, only to be despised and persecuted. Although he frequently expressed his anger, he never lost his compassion or desire that the inhabitants of Judah would surrender to God's will in order to escape the coming calamity.
In today's featured Scripture, we actually hear from Jehovah God, Himself. He is angry -- not only because Judah continues to follow after other gods and their religions, but because they have the audacity to think that they are still "delivered" from their sin because they regularly attend services in the Lord's Temple! Does that sound familiar?
And God doesn't hold back with His accusations. He accuses them of stealing, and murdering, and committing adultery -- all sins, not only against the covenant they have sworn to with Him, but sins they have enacted against their neighbors and countrymen. They have boldly committed them with no thoughts of repenting or amending their ways.
He then accuses them of swearing falsely, which in that region of the world, and in that time in history, was an offense that all nations abhorred. To make an oath, and then break it, or lie under that oath, was not only a legal crime, but an immoral act of the highest degree. Sadly, today oaths are no longer valued as the solemn promise, invoking a divine witness, in which they were once regarded. A pledge, or word of honor, is easily dismissed and rarely kept.
And then YHWH condemns them for making offerings to Baal (who Matthew Henry called "a dunghill-deity") and going after other gods they don't even know. Basically, God is asking the people of Judah, "Will you exchange a God that you know, and whose power and goodness and mercy have been bestowed on you for over 13 centuries, for gods who are strangers to you and whose ability and willingness to help you is an unknown"??? Again, I ask you does that sound familiar?
How quickly have we seen the people of this nation (Believers and unbelievers alike!) be willing to accept the dictates of satanists, pagans, and humanists which run roughshod over the laws of this land; laws which originated in Biblical statutes and commands? How many communities and courts are now Sharia-compliant? What I think far too many people fail to realize is that these movements have real spiritual power behind them -- they are real spiritual "gods" that we, as a nation, have surrendered to in our attempts to compromise with the world.
Just look at how "the Church" in America has changed in just the last few years! Obviously, each church follows it's own doctrine and bylaws, but look how many have changed God's definition of "marriage" to mean something He did not institute. How many churches are willing to declare that other gods are on equal footing with YHWH? That they are all the same? How many churches have wittingly (or unintentionally) allowed members of Freemasonry to control their churches, or excused the immoral actions of their shepherds? How could we have so easily abandoned the rock-solid principles of our Father for the transient promises of acceptance by lowering our standards?
And then comes the most critical (and heart-breaking for me) assessment by God ... the audacity that these people had to come stand before Him in His Temple, which was His place of dwelling and called by His Holy Name, and to say, "But there's nothing to worry about ... we're the Chosen People; we will always be delivered from the consequences of our sins, and we can just continue to do these offensive things, as long as we follow our rituals." I know that it is an elaboration of what the Word says, but it is the essence of it.
And how is that any different from what we do today in His House? Oh, yes, we tell ourselves that by going to church every Sunday, carrying our Bibles to the service, dropping some money in the offering plate, serving on the committees, and proudly displaying our Christian crosses that we are displaying [to God] our worthiness to be "delivered" or "saved". But how many sin again, or begin to compromise with the world, within hours of displaying our "devotion to the Lord"?
Do we not think that God's House is a holy place? Has it become a refuge and shelter for unholy people who practice unchristian lifestyles under the banner of the Christian name? Nothing has changed since God made this declaration in Jeremiah's time... people of faith in the One True God still fall prey to temptations by other gods; they still steal, murder, commit adultery, and lie; and they still enter God's House thinking they can fool Him. But His discerning eye is as sharp now as it was then. We cannot deceive Him with dishonest devotion ... and He is just as angry about it now as He was then. But how many of us will consider the consequences of Judah's actions, and that our future holds the same ill promise of destruction and calamity, if we do not amend our ways? I pray that His remnant, which is growing stronger by the day, can effect real change across this land. If not, we stand to suffer from the same harsh lessons that awaited Judah.