Click here for today’s reading http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah%204-6&version=NLT
There are two entries for today and I wanted to be sure you didn’t miss the other one <<<smile>>>>. The other deals with chronological events that occurred in Jeremiah’s times. (It’s short but most helpful.)
This was a hard read for me. Jeremiah could see everything the people were doing so very wrong. Jeremiah KNEW on a personal level that God simply WANTED HIS people to TURN BACK TO HIM so they would be the LIGHT to ALL other peoples. However, God has always given us the power to CHOOSE. CHOICE is a powerful responsibility. We each have FREE WILL. Back in Deuteronomy 30:19 we read “Today I have given you the CHOICE between LIFE AND DEATH, between BLESSINGS AND CURSES. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the CHOICE you make. OH, THAT YOU WOULD CHOOSE LIFE, so that you and your descendants might live! There are still only two choices…life=God and Jesus….death is anything else that takes us away from HIM.
Seeing these consequences unfold for Judah are is hard for me, because I do see much of our world and our country headed in the same direction. That doesn’t mean it is too late because GOD STILL WANTS US TOO CHOOSE HIM…choose life…today…in ALL you do. That is the good news so as you read this BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS in Jesus as you read what is before you. Know it was a strong Word for Judah and is still a strong word for us today to get us and keep us on the right track. It is also to help us to see the importance of SHARING HIM with others….you don’t have to preach a sermon….simply be a light to those around you. People notice how you live and the fruits of your heart and life.
CHAPTER 4 — We begin our reading today with yet another opportunity for God’s chosen people to TURN BACK TO HIM!!! The JUDGEMENT that is coming upon Judah and Jerusalem did not happen overnight…..it has been a LONG time coming. God did not react with a knee jerk reaction. We have been reading that God has been warning HIS people for YEARS. Remember…Israel went into captivity about 100 years prior to this point in the Scriptures and look how many people God sent to WARN Israel as a unified nation then Israel and Judah once they split. Judah SAW what happened to Israel…had even MORE warnings to TURN BACK TO GOD….but made NO changes. I point this out because our God is truly a loving God filled with love, grace, and mercy. We also witness HIS patience through all the warnings HE has given HIS children for a LONG time.
God does not take rebellion lightly…in any time or age. HE wants us to CHOOSE HIM and HIS ways above ALL things we could ever choose. However, rebellion, blatant mocking, disobedience, refusal to obey or heed the warnings grieve HIM. These things are not part of HIS character and HE will not tolerate it forever. HE gave HIS people a way out in the OT…to TURN BACK TO HIM AND HE gives us a choice today….to CHOOSE JESUS CHRIST as our Lord and Savior, still TURNING to HIM and following HIM with all our hearts. So since our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever…..HE STILL does not take rebellion, disobedience, unbelief lightly. I mean we all do these things but when we KNOW HIM….we have the privilege of being able to ask for forgiveness and KNOW HE will forgive us when we REPENT and let go of the sin.
Again…God is the same ….. yesterday….today….and forever. SOooooooo…..when you read today, did you see any of this as a warning for us in our present time? We have a loving God who gave HIS ONLY son for us that we may be saved eternally ANd so we may live the abundant life here on earth ….with HIM helping us.
“O Israel,” says the Lord,
“if you WANTED to return to me, YOU COULD.
YOU COULD throw away your detestable idols
and stray away no more.
THEN when you swear by my name, saying,
‘As surely as the Lord lives,’
you could do so
with TRUTH, JUSTICE, AND RIGHTEOUSNESS.
THEN you would be a blessing to the nations of the world,
and ALL people would come and praise my name.”
The scripture continues with words such as “plow up your hard hearts…..surrender your pride and power…..change your hearts…… cleanse your hearts…..FLEE Jerusalem because devastation IS COMING!!”
With all that is happening in our world today, IMHO, people are BOLDLY rebelling against God and REFUSING to hear the Word. Some examples of this are: seeking power and money and not God, wanting people approval over living by God’s laws, changing the laws in our country to fit “today’s modern lifestyles”….rather than seeking God’s Word, forgetting the poor, the sick, the widows, the abandoned children, abusing everything, mocking God….and the list continues.
Do I point out the current events of the world right now that line up with this prophecy? There were so many parts of the reading that remarkably line up with our world…TODAY!! If we believe the Bible from cover to cover (and I do…even though there are many things I don’t understand in my limited human mind and heart) then we KNOW…..there will come a day of great Judgement…the final judgement. However, in the meantime…..things are happening TODAY that show us judgement is falling on us.
The more we recognize this….the more we KNOW we can not live with any of our sinful habits…and the more we recognize we NEED God to help us overcome!!
OR do I focus on the prophecy before Christ was born??? BOTH applications are real and true.
These chapters describe the advance of the Babylonian Army that will destroy Jerusalem (605-586). It’s VERY clear in this chapter when God says, I am bringing disaster from the North (vs. 6)… It is also VERY clear that for the majority of the people in Judah and Israel that their “own conduct and actions have brought this upon you. This is your punishment. How bitter it is! How it pierces to the heart! ” (vs. 18).
In verse 4 we see the word “circumcise” used. We’ve seen this before….all the way back in Genesis. Circumcision was a physical, outward action to show that God’s people were “set apart” for HIM. As Christians, we are SET APART from the world and it’s ways. Our heart becomes circumcised when we choose to believe in and follow Jesus Christ. When we CHOOSE Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are lead by God to “cut away” the bad habits, the rebellion, the sin that entangles us ands separates us from HIM……all sin is “cut away” so we may be made more into HIS image. Sometimes God does miraculous cuttings and people are healed instantly from past sins….sometimes it is a lifelong journey, sometimes painful, as we begin to cut away the sins we lived in thus teaching us to cling more and more to HIM so we are aware of our weaknesses without HIM. And the more we surrender to HIM the more apparent HIS precious love, peace, patience, blessings, and favor become to us.
So WHAT is Jeremiah now preaching (still in verse 4 in KJV and NIV))? Circumcise your hearts! It once had a purpose, although an outward symbol there a was a day when the circumcision also changed hearts…it had a purpose. NOW….. in Jeremiah’s day….. Judah was simply doing it as a ritual….NOTHING about it dealt with the heart anymore. God is saying through Jeremiah, cut out what is not needed in your heart to be SET APART. It is important to remember that the SIN of Judah was RITUAL and to them RITUAL was the equivalent of RELIGION and showing others the RITUALS they HAD to follow. Whether it was Judah or us today…. RITUAL or RELIGION or TRADITION does not equal a DEEP abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. When the OUTSIDE does not match what is on the inside (Judah APPEARED to be doing the right things but their heart was NOT totally devoted to God. That was a sin “back in the day” and it is still a sin today in the eyes of God. God does not look at our appearance….HE sees our HEART!!
CHAPTER 5 — more details are given on the many ways Judah had turned from God and their hearts were not in relationship with HIM at all. YET….Jeremiah is commanded to “go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but ONE person who deals honestly and seeks truth, I WILL FORGIVE THIS CITY.” ONE PERSON AND GOD WOULD SAVE THE ENTIRE CITY!!!!!
Verse 5 states (in the KJV) — “How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses.”
Have you ever wondered why the Word often gives examples of adultery and harlots? Keep in mind that God created Marriage to show us what Covenant means. He did not create the Covenant to show what Marriage means!! (OK…go ahead and read that again incase I confused you.) IF we are CHRISTIANS we are in COVENANT with God. IF we are not CHRISTIANS we are not in COVENANT with God. We are His, but sleeping with everything else. We would rather be with our stuff, and our idols, and often with our fake doctrine that Satan has swirled up by twisting scripture, PROVIDING us WITH false prophets, and taking our attention away from spending time in the Word. So if Jesus is the Bridegroom, where does America fit in as a Bride? GO BACK AND READ VERSE 5 AND THEN SAY OUCH WITH ME….OOOUUUUUCCCCCHHHHHHH! BUT the good news is that we can CHOOSE Jesus. WE can be REDEEMED right now today…forgiven forever….and learn how to walk with HIM in TRUTH. in obedience, and learn HIS ways…step by step ….one day at a time. Remember God does not expect perfection…..He WANTS us to WANT HIM and CHOOSE HIM with ALL our hearts (same thing he wanted for Judah.)
God ALWAYS keeps his covenant. Look at 5:18 “I will not destroy you completely”. He will deliver the Messiah though Judah. HALLELUJAH!!!
God tells us WHY this is happening!!! ”And when people ask “why has the Lord our God done all this to us?” you will tell them “as you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your own land, so now you will serve foreigners in a land not your own” Do you wonder why many things are happening in our country and across the globe today? God has already given us the answer. Did you know the fastest growing religion in the WORLD today (including America) is Islam? Did you know that Christians can not pray at public events but people in NYC of the Islamic faith can STOP traffic once a year on Fridays and SHUT an entire street to PRAY PUBLICLY? Do you know God was angry at Israel because they killed HUNDREDS of their babies by sacrificing them to other gods so how do you think he sees the fact that in America THOUSANDS of babies have been killed since abortion became law. Do you wonder why seven states in the US have felt the need to prohibit Judges from considering “foreign laws” in their decisions such as Shariah law (Islamic law?) There are SO many other examples I could list, but I am sure you get the point…..but for many people who do not believe in Christ, or who feel the Bible is not relevant today, or who feel that we should do more than be tolerant of others in that we should adopt their lifestyles and vote for and think like they do concerning things they want or we are not being tolerant of them……..drawing us AWAY from the ONE TRUE GOD.
CHAPTER 6 — The rest of the reading is very clear. God gives us a VIVID picture for our minds to “see” what happens when HIS people do NOT REPENT. Again…rituals (anything that makes us appear to be in line with HIM BUT our hearts do not line up) have people simple go through the motions. These rituals can allow us to forget the important part that our heart must desire to live for God and no other. Simply going through the motions and performing rituals is not pleasing to God. PLUS….those rituals can grow into idols.
Repentance is KEY to these chapters. Confession is very different from REPENTANCE. Both are important but very different. Confession is acknowledging and confessing we did something wrong. Repentance includes confession because we must acknowledge to God what we did wrong and ask forgiveness for it but it is MORE than confession….it is TURNING COMPLETELY AWAY from our SIN, giving it to God, and totally surrendering “it” to him. This is where the circumcision comes in…because living without a sin we have allowed to grow in our hearts and lives for years it not easy. Sometimes things have to be cut out (not in the literal sense) in the spiritual sense. Sometimes this process hurts. BUT … GOD PROMISES to be with us, to give us strength, to BE our strength (the joy of The Lord is my strength.) So how is God using Jeremiah to speak to you, is there something HE is asking you to surrender to HIM and turn completely away from?
Sharing HIS love even with a heavy heart today,