Flabbergasted. That’s me each and every time I read the Old Testament. I don’t understand how people who lived in the presence of real life prophets, messengers from God speaking to them words straight from the Father’s mouth, could be so blind. There seems to always be a tug of war, back and forth, hot and cold, all in or all out for the people of Israel.
If you were to just read chapter 14 of the Jeremiah, a non-believer or new Christian may think we have an angry God who is only out to get people when they don’t listen. “How unfair!” they say. Isolated passages are often taken out of context. People view his words from their entitled thinking that the people God created should be allowed to live however they want without consequence. I have to admit, though, even as a one who has studied the bible for years, there are plenty of times I read the words on the page and think, “This isn’t the Lord I have come to know and trust! I must be reading something wrong!” Sometimes the words seem harsh and unfair until you zoom out and read the backstory.
What really hit me this morning is that we are no different than the people of Israel. Messengers were sent by the Lord to speak his truth to them, warn them, correct them and turn their hearts back to him but they didn’t listen. Today, we have the Holy Spirit in our hearts but how often do we listen to His still small voice? God’s entire love story is about Him pursuing his children in love. Cover to cover, the theme doesn’t change and neither do the people! Just like our own young children, our listening skills and attention span are often short lived. When I read these words, I know they could have easily been written yesterday:
10-13 “When you tell this to the people and they ask, ‘Why is God talking this way, threatening us with all these calamities? We’re not criminals, after all. What have we done to our God to be treated like this?’ tell them this: ‘It’s because your ancestors left me, walked off and never looked back. They took up with the no-gods, worshiped and doted on them, and ignored me and wouldn’t do a thing I told them. And you’re even worse! Take a good look in the mirror—each of you doing whatever you want, whenever you want, refusing to pay attention to me. And for this I’m getting rid of you, throwing you out in the cold, into a far and strange country. You can worship your precious no-gods there to your heart’s content. Rest assured, I won’t bother you anymore.’ The MSG Jeremiah 16
Harsh but true words that can even be applied to my own heart. That’s why Paul said to the Corinthians:
5-9 Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. I hope the test won’t show that we have failed. But if it comes to that, we’d rather the test showed our failure than yours. We’re rooting for the truth to win out in you. We couldn’t possibly do otherwise. The MSG 2 Corinthians
So, I must ask myself these questions. In what areas of my life am I walking away from God? Where am I not following his commands? Is my faith built on works or on the truth of His promise? Am I listening the voice of the Holy Spirit or the voices of the world? He won’t relent until he has our whole hearts.
Dear Lord. Thank you for your word that speaks truth. May we approach your throne with a heart of repentance in those areas we have gone astray and listened to lies instead of your truth. Turn our hearts and minds back to you and help us to listen and obey as your Spirit leads. Thank you for your relentless pursuit of my heart despite my wandering. Amen.