Friday, April 07, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Jeremiah 7-11

Returning to the Book of Jeremiah in our scripture reading, I invite you to review an earlier devotion from the book, “God’s Warning to a Nation on the Brink of Destruction”, and put today’s scripture reading in its historical context.

Like most prophets in their generation, Jeremiah’s cry for his people to turn back to the LORD,  went unheeded by Judah.  The prophet faithfully declared the Word of the LORD for four decades; reviled by His people, he suffered the scorn of the nation’s leaders who persecuted and imprisoned him.  So it is in our United States; we live in a nation established on principles derived from God’s Word, but dwell in the midst of a people who have little tolerance for its truths.

Judah’s ministry to a nation facing the imminent judgment of God continues in Jeremiah 7.  The words Jeremiah was to preach at the gate of the Temple are frightening and foreboding.  The hypocrisy of Judah is striking.  In their wickedness, the people sacrificed their sons and daughters to idols (7:30-31), but continued the pretense of worshipping the LORD in His holy Temple (7:1-2, 4)!  They made of show of public worship, but the LORD exposed their abhorrent sins…oppressing orphans and widows, shedding the blood of the innocent, stealing, murdering, committing adultery, and offering sacrifices to idols while calling on the LORD to deliver them from the consequences of their sins (7:6-11).   The prophet warned Judah, “the land shall be desolate” (7:34).

In spite of Jeremiah’s warnings, the people continued in their wickedness and refused to repent of their sins and turn back to the LORD.  The sins of the people had no bounds and “every one from the least even unto the greatest is given to covetousness, from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely” (8:10).   Judah had become a nation that cried for peace (8:11, 15), but there would be no peace because they had rejected the God of Peace!  Summing up the imminence of God’s judgment we read, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” (8:19-20).

Jeremiah 9 records the “weeping” prophet’s lament over the sins of his people (9:1).  If permitted, Jeremiah would have rather dwelled in the isolation of the wilderness than in the midst of “adulterers” and wicked men (9:2).  A salient condemnation of Israel that is, in my opinion, relevant for 21st century believers, is this:

Jeremiah 9:3 – “And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant [strong; mighty; heroic] for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil [sin; wickedness; ] to evil, and they know [understand; acknowledge] not me, saith the LORD.”

With sin and wickedness abounding, one wonders why a statement of the obvious, the failure to be “valiant for the truth”, was necessary.

Is that not the fundamental sin, the spiritual flaw of many who profess to know and love the LORD?   Is that not the core issue of 21st century believers, Bible preaching churches and fundamental institutions?   You have not rejected God’s Word, but are you “valiant for the truth”?   Do you have the same passion for truth today you had burning in your soul a year ago?  Five years ago?  Ten years ago?

Do you remember the church singing, “Sound the Battle Cry”?   I remember sitting in the “preacher boy’s class” of Bob Jones University and the fervor of a thousand voices singing “Souls for Jesus is our battle cry; Souls for Jesus we’ll fight until we die!  We never will give in, While souls are lost in sin!  Souls for Jesus, is our battle cry!”

Let’s be honest; some reading this devotional commentary have lost their fervor!   At a time our homes, churches, schools, communities, and nation need watchmen on the wall, you occupy churches dedicated to entertaining the masses and sit under preachers more interested in “tickling your ears” than in reproving, rebuking, and exhorting with all longsuffering and doctrine (2 Timothy 4:2-4).

If you are among those who lament the decay of our society and the carnality of our homes, churches and schools…I suggest you look into your own heart and answer this question:  “Are you valiant for the truth?” (9:3)  If you are not…it is time to confess your sins and repent!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith