Our reading for this week is Jeremiah 43-47, the overwhelming thought kept coming back to me; even though Jeremiah kept telling them what was going to happen, the reason it was happening, they still refused to listen and return to the LORD. Matthew 13:13 is the title this week. Jesus spoke in parables for the same reason – the people hearing, couldn’t hear or see because of their blindedness and deaf ears to the Word of God.
I am a hearing aid wearer, I know what it means to be unable to hear. There are often times when I hear people say things that they didn’t say, or at least not what I thought they said. This means that I can get the wrong message because of my disability. Having a hearing disability is different that “not wanting to hear the message.”
With Jerusalem and Judah destroyed already by Nebuchadnezzar, and many taken into exile in Babylon; one would think the Jews would get the message. However, rather than listen to Jeremiah, they listened to their own words. Even though Jeremiah preached to them the “why” of their situation, they refused to repent and return to the LORD. The city lie in ruins, but rather return to God, they determine to go to Egypt of all places. God had delivered them from the slavery in Egypt – but here they are willingly going to return. This is significant, for in ministry I have found that believers will often return to the captivity that the Father had delivered them from. It doesn’t make sense that after given freedom, that men would seek to be incarcerated again. Going to Egypt is not the answer! Judah had developed alliances with Egypt, felt that they would be better offs there then in the ruins of Judah. But even though they saw the ruins, it never dawns on them that their sin of Baalism is the reason. So now that they have ruined the “Promised Land” they move on. Sin is like that – it is never content with destroying a single place or person, it wasn’t to engulf the entire world and families. It is clear that the women who serve the “queen of heaven” did so at the permission of their husbands. The entire family was involved in this cult worship. While reading this passage, I couldn’t help but think of today when people worship “Mother Earth” instead of the Father. Even though Judah had been scattered, and Jerusalem is an empty wasteland, the Jews come together to go down to Egypt. God is omnipresent – He knows where you and I go. He promises through Jeremiah, that the same result will occur in Egypt, that it did in Judah. Until the sin of rebellion and idolatry are properly reconciled with God, devastation, famine and sword will be used. Rather than repent, the people “bow up” and tell Jeremiah we will listen to our words.
The short chapter 45 is rich with truth. Baruch lamented because it seemed that God was adding greatly to the sorrow of the day. But the father reminds him that it is the sorrow of God over His people who refuse Him. God had enough. Even in Egypt, there would be few left. Those that “escaped” from Judah would meet their death there, very few would return. In Jeremiah 52:30, it list only 4600 people taken into captivity. From that remnant God would build Israel again.
In our current world situation, and most directly America, I struggle with trying to communicate to the “church” the great need for the people of God to repent and rejoice. When I think of the great devastation done to Israel and Judah for refusal to listen to God, I cannot but think that “our land” is being purged and judged because the “church” has lost is first love. We hear about all the problems in our own country, the world countries,; yet we will not be humbled. America is entrenched into a political abyss with the election looming. I watch “Christians” line up on either side of the political aisles. Rather than fall on our faces before God, we still are listening to our own words. I am familiar with the statistics of church decline and death – 800-1000 will close their doors this year just in SBC churches. Are we guilty of “hearing but not hearing, seeing but not seeing?” I think the hand writing is on the wall!! Daniel 5:25-28