Although more than 2500 years have passed since God instructed Jeremiah to prophecy to the kingdom of Judah, reading Jeremiah 17-20 quickly reminds me that, sadly, not much has really changed at all. It’s easy, especially when reading the Old Testament, to compare myself to “Heroes of the Faith”-Noah, Moses, David and, in the case of today’s reading, Jeremiah. And, while there’s nothing wrong with striving to be more like these godly biblical examples, I think I’d be wiser to compare myself to the nation of Israel. Usually, I am much more “stiff necked” (Jer. 17:23; 19:15) and “desperately sick” (Jer. 17:9)—just like Judah—than I care to admit.
Judah, at the time of Jeremiah’s message from God, was living in exile in Babylon. According to these chapters, they….
Trusted in their own strength
Harbored deceitful hearts
Stiffened their necks and did not listen
Made offerings to false gods
These descriptions sound awfully familiar to me. Just like Judah, I…
Place confidence in my own abilities rather than relying on God for wisdom
Hold on to offenses or “acceptable” sins
Disregard God’s commands or the Holy Spirit’s conviction in my life
Dig in my heels and do what Jennifer wants to do rather than what God is asking me to do
Worship at the “false gods”/altars of my hobbies, my family, my phone
And, just like Judah, in spite of being told repeatedly and knowing what is right, I do these things over and over again. I refuse to hear the words of warning from God’s word, choosing instead to continue in my sinful complacency. Jeremiah warned Judah over and over; there was no question about what would happen if they continued in their sin. But sadly, Israel didn’t listen, and God’s judgment was swift and sure.
Even so, Jeremiah with not without hope. He trusted that the God who had made covenants with Abraham, Moses, and David would keep His word and deliver Judah in spite of its wickedness and rebellion.
But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior
So my persecutors will stumble and will not prevail
Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous and probe the heart and mind
Let me see your vengeance on them
For, to you, I have committed my cause
Sing to the LORD, sing praise to the LORD
He rescues the life of the needy from the hand of the wicked.
Jer. 20:11-13 (NIV)
Father, thank you for the convicting example of Judah, and thank you for your grace and forgiveness that provide hope for reconciliation. Help me to learn from Judah’s failures and sins and choose to do what is right.