Have you ever heard a parent say to their child, “If you don’t stop by the time I count to 3, you are going to be punished!”. Then they say, “One…. Two…. Two and a half…. Two and three quarters…… If you do this enough, the child will always stretch it out for as long as possible. But whether you are a parent or not, everyone has their breaking point.
It seems as this is how God parents Israel. And Israel is trying to get away with as much as they can in a short time span. God is so gracious. He gives us chances over and over and over again. He wants us to get it right. But He also sees the heart and knows who is giving him lip service and who is really trying to follow hard after Him. Israel is giving him lip service. And I feel like God is at His breaking point.
Jeremiah 11:10-14 (NLT): Israel and Judah have both broken the covenant I made with their ancestors. Therefore, this is what the Lord says: I am going to bring calamity upon them, and they will not escape. Though they beg for mercy, I will not listen to their cries. Then the people of Judah and Jerusalem will pray to their idols and burn incense before them. But the idols will not save them when disaster strikes! Look now, people of Judah; you have as many gods as you have towns. You have as many altars of shame—altars for burning incense to your god Baal—as there are streets in Jerusalem. Pray no more for these people, Jeremiah. Do not weep or pray for them, for I will not listen to them when they cry out to me in distress.
v. 15b They actually rejoice in doing evil!
Jeremiah is delivering the consequences of their behavior and asking Israel to repent and turn away from Baal and back to God. As Jeremiah is trying to get them to see the evil of their ways, as he is trying to actually help them, this is how they repay him…..plotting his demise!
Jeremiah 11:18-19 (NLT): Then the Lord told me about the plots my enemies were making against me. I was like a lamb being led to the slaughter. I had no idea that they were planning to kill me? “Let’s destroy this man and all his words,” they said. “Let’s cut him down, so his name will be forgotten forever.
Jeremiah then changes his tune and asks God to ‘drag these people away like sheep to be butchered! Set them aside to be slaughtered!’ (Jer. 12:3 NLT)
God knows the circumstances of every single event. He knows who did it, how it was done, when, and where. God knew Israel had a part in their own downfall, but God also knew that it was the “foreigners” who turned Israel’s head.
Jeremiah 12:14-17 (NLT): Now this is what the Lord says: “I will uproot from their land all the evil nations reaching out for the possession I gave my people Israel. And I will uproot Judah from among them. But afterward I will return and have compassion on all of them. I will bring them home to their own lands again, each nation to its own possession. And if these nations truly learn the ways of my people, and if they learn to swear by My name, saying: ‘As surely as the Lord lives’ (just as they taught my people to swear by the name of Baal), then they will be given a place among my people. But any nation who refuses to obey me will be uprooted and destroyed. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
Again, the Lord and His great mercy exceeds all we could ask or imagine. When God has a heart for something or someone, nothing can match the love that is in His heart for them. It is truly one of the great mysteries!!
Paul was having some of his own issues with some of his own converts.
2 Corinthians 12: 12-15 (NLT): When I was with you, I certainly gave you proof that I am an apostle. For I patiently did many signs and wonders and miracles among you. The only thing I failed to do, which I do in the other churches, was to become a financial burden to you. Please forgive me for this wrong! Now I am coming to you for a third time, and I will not be a burden to you. I don’t want what you have—I want you. After all, children don’t provide for their parents. Rather, parents provide for their children. I will gladly spend myself and all I have for you, even though it seems that the more I love you, the less you love me.
2 Corinthians 12: 21 (NLT): Yes, I am afraid that when I come again, God will humble me in your presence. And I will be grieved because many of you have not given up your old sins. You have not repented of your impurity, sexual immorality, and eagerness for lustful pleasure.
Yes, Paul was feeling the same pangs as God. The children, whom he took under his wing, and poured out all that he knew about Jesus into them, have converted back to some of their old ways. Paul was willing to give up all he had for them, but they were not willing to give up all they had for the love of Jesus. Where do we fall? Are we like Jesus and Paul willing to give up all we have, to pour out into others? Or are we like the members of Paul’s church and Israel, just trying to get away with as much as we can?
Father God, please help me! I do not want to break your heart. You have taken me under your wings, and I want to be worthy of this position. I never want to take you for granted, but I confess that I have, and ask for your forgiveness. There is none more worthy of me turning my life upside down for, because you have given me so much! Please help me to be worthy of such a great love. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!