No balm in Gilead, part two.

February 23, 2014.

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post about the section of prophecy that Jeremiah preaches to the people of Judah, recorded in chapter’s 7-10 of the book that bares his name. I would encourage you to read that post first to get the background to today’s post.

“So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you. And you shall say to them, ‘This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips.”
(Jeremiah 7:27-28)

God hates divorce, especially when it comes to spiritual divorce. In the second chapter of the book of Malachi, God expresses his hatred of this type of divorce through his prophet, saying that his people have divorced him. Jeremiah is speaking the same in these two verses. Notice how clear God is making it to his people that they are separated and that truth has died in their land. This is a scary thought, as this is the nation of Judah, who’s father’s were shown many great works and who had prophets throughout the centuries. They had left God. He implores them to return to Him, their King, but he knows that they won’t. If you are of the camp that God does not have emotions, I would invite you to read this story and tell me how you could think that a Father, more loving and righteous than we will ever be, would not lament over his children. We can see his lament throughout Jeremiah.

What is interesting to me, however, is when Jeremiah (on several occasions) is told not to lament over his people.

“As for you, do not pray for these people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you. Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven. And they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoker me to anger. Is it I whom they provoke? declares The Lord. Is it not themselves, to their own shame? Therefore thus says The Lord God: Behold, my anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, upon man and beast, upon the trees of the field and the fruit of the ground; it will burn and not be quenched”
(Jeremiah 7:16-20)

God was serious about this discipline. It is clear that He loved his people, and his heart poured out for them; that he wanted them to draw near to him. But The Lord is a righteous God, who can not mix with anything sinful and evil. Thus, Jeremiah was told not to try and intercede, because he would not listen. He would not listen because they would not turn from their ways. This was a sad revelation.

“Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: “Behold, I will refine them and test them,for what else can I do, because of my people? Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceitfully; with his mouth each speaks peace to his neighbor, but in his heart he plans an ambush for him. Shall I not punish them for these things? declares the Lord, and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this? “I will take up weeping and wailing for the mountains, and a lamentation for the pastures of the wilderness, because they are laid waste so that no one passes through,and the lowing of cattle is not heard; both the birds of the air and the beasts have fled and are gone. I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins,a lair of jackals, and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation, without inhabitant.”
(Jeremiah 9:7-11)

God does not hold back what he is going to do to his fallen people. But notice what he says here: Behold, I will refine them and test them… God would eventually lead his people into Babylonian captivity for a period of time, out of which he would save a remnant from which the messiah was to come, to overcome sin and bring salvation over death once and for all, backwards and forwards. This was his plan from the beginning.

As we concluded our study of these few chapters for now, I would encourage you to truly look at what this means for The Lord’s people today. God loves us so much, but he can not be mixed with anything unholy. Christ’s blood has made us holy; let us not defile ourselves with our former lust, and grieve the Spirit of God. Let our fate not be the same as Judah.

Suggested Daily Reading: Jeremiah 7-10

The Lord bless you and keep you.

-Walter

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