Daily Update #231
23 but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. 24 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. 25 From the time your ancestors left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets. 26 But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their ancestors.’
27 “When you tell them all this, they will not listen to you; when you call to them, they will not answer. 28 Therefore say to them, ‘This is the nation that has not obeyed the Lord its God or responded to correction. Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips.
It’s a tough message from Jeremiah today. But no less pertinent to our nation and us personally, for all that. Jeremiah has the unpopular task of calling God’s people to account. The Lord reminds his people of the covenant he made with them. Firstly, he saved them by rescuing them from slavery under the Egyptians. At Mount Sinai he spoke to the people he had redeemed, through his servant Moses, and gave them the law which was his clear instruction as to how to live. The message was clear, obey this law and you will live and it will go well with you. Sadly, the people went backward, became stiff-necked and did more and more evil. God gave them many, many chances to reform. He sent numerous servants, the prophets, to call people and warn them. Yet all of his patience and ample warnings have fallen on deaf ears. The verdict is stark.
This is the nation that has not obeyed the Lord its God or responded to correction. Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips.
If this sounds scarily familiar, it is because we are facing a similar situation. Fake news. People who insist on making laws which are in direct opposition to clear teaching in scripture. Stiff-necked people everywhere, convinced that they know better than our creator and sustainer, the Lord God. The powerful ride rough-shod over the weak and helpless, widows and orphans, aliens and asylum seekers, poorer peoples who we can and should support but who we reject.
So where next, what is to be done?
Jesus calls his church to be different. We are to be in the world, but not of the world. We are to be salt and light in those places where he has sent us. We are to be distinctive and counter-cultural, the aroma of Christ to those who are perishing.
The Lord God has a plan. He loves his creation and is calling his people. Later in Jeremiah we read about his plan in the famous passage which recounts Jeremiah’s visit to the potter’s house:
3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
5 Then the word of the Lord came to me. 6 He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.
It would be easy for us to become discouraged, just to withdraw into our holy huddle and not engage with our world. This would be against God’s plan. He is a reforming God, who will literally remould us into his newly created people. Our challenge is to be soft so that he can change us. Not to fall into the stiff-necked attitude of those around us but instead to be those who listen, hear, change, repent, return to God and seek to honour him at all times.
So let’s focus on how God is moulding us today. What shape is he making us into, so that we can be the best that we can be for him? How can we challenge others to acknowledge God’s sovereignty and to join us in this amazing journey of being reshaped into the people who will live forever and enjoy the new heaven and the new earth which will certainly come from God? Food for thought.
Tomorrow’s passages: Hosea 14, Mark 12:28-34