I finished three chapters this past week. I was hoping for more, but I had a few of those mornings this past week. The sad thing? I'm the only one here in the mornings. Yep, it was always my fault, apparently, and not the kids all those mornings when they were still home. Ah well...
These chapters are still prior to them relocating the Word of God. They had the temple, priests, Levites, a King turning them back to God, but no Word of God to go along with it. Jeremiah was prophesying to the people that they hadn't fully turned back to God despite the reformations Josiah had called for.
In Chapter 4 God was telling the people their own actions and deeds had called His wrath onto them. The evil was coming from their own heart.
In Chapter 5 He cries out to them, "and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this?" and warns them by saying, "As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve foreigners in a land that is not yours."
In Chapter 6 He warns them that terror, trouble, and war were coming to Jerusalem because of their oppression, violence, destruction, greed for unjust gain, dealing falsely, and rejection of the law.
I tried to put myself in that day and time. Imagine being part of Israel, seeing part of your people already taken into exile, and your King trying to keep that from happening by calling for reformations. At what point do you think we would have said, "Okay, we're good enough," and what were they comparing themselves to? What they used to be? Neighboring countries? But the people had become like those around them. Could they even see the evil they were doing? Josiah had too much on his plate, and nothing to guide him. Jeremiah knew that without the Word of God they couldn't be God's people. God kept telling the people, "not quite," and I can imagine me saying, "But what more?"
They claimed God when they needed Him, but they had strayed so far from where He wanted them to be. They had accepted the practices of those around them and eventually became just like those others. Their hearts were what God wanted. As long as they were comparing themselves to someone else, they looked pretty good. But when we compare ourselves to the Word of God we can see where we come up lacking.
It made me consider myself, and where I am. Have I become like others who aren't for God? Have I turned my back on God even though I claim Him? Is He ashamed that I am His representative?
The Law clearly shows me where I have failed, and if it weren't for God's grace and Jesus' death and resurrection I would have no hope. I complain, worry, fret, get angry and act, am prideful, hateful, fearful. Without the Word of God I wouldn't know which way to turn, or who God even is.
In Chapter 6 Jeremiah says, "Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk in it.'"
May I not be the one to turn away after such an invitation.