For the past three decades or so, I cannot help but think of the United States when I read the book of Jeremiah.
When Jeremiah begins, sin had engulfed Israel for decades. God anoints the prophet Jeremiah with the message of impending doom if Israel does not repent.
Early in the book, God gives Israel an opportunity — turn from your wicked ways, and I will show mercy. Jeremiah 3:12, “Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever.”
For the next several chapters, Jeremiah writes the story of how God’s people continued with their sin. Israel paid no attention to God’s warning of judgment to come or God’s offer of forgiveness.
God seems beside Himself as He laments Israel’s complete lack of concern for His Word and their refusal even to feel guilt over what they have done. Read some of His Words from chapter six.
Jeremiah 6:10, “To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.”
Jeremiah 6:13, “For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.”
Jeremiah 6:15-16, “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD. Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.”
As Israel pays no heed to the prophet’s warning, there does come the point where the opportunity to avoid judgment passes. Jeremiah 8:20, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”
Eventually, God reaches His boiling point. He tells Jeremiah that if Moses and Samuel plead Israel’s case, judgment would still fall. Punishment would come four ways, death, war, famine, and slavery. Jeremiah 15:1-2, “Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth. And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the LORD; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.”
Remember, I said, when I read Jeremiah, it reminds me of America?
I do not know who said it, but something I heard when I was a teenager describes America very well, “Our great-grandfathers called it the Holy Sabbath. Our grandfathers called it the Sabbath. Our fathers called it Sunday, but we call it the weekend.”
America has run down the path of immorality, sin, and snubbing our noses at God for a good long time. Since the removal of the Bible and prayer from schools, someone could go from 1st through 12 grade four times.
Skim through the verses above. While you do so, consider the United States.
Questions that come to mind about my nation from the verses above:
Jeremiah 6:10 — How much delight is there in America when it comes to God’s Word? Bibles gather dust on shelves. People claim to be Christians, yet they stay home from churches teaching the Bible. Can we truthfully say as a nation, we love the Bible?
Jeremiah 6:13 — Covetousness, the quest for more, is integrated into the American psyche. One need look no further than Black Friday. Thanksgiving, a day set aside to give thanks to God, is being eaten up by Friday’s shopping hours inching further back into Thursday. Maybe we should change the American motto to, “Why give thanks to God when we can get 60% off.”
Jeremiah 6:15-16 — the fact that probably none of us can remember the last time we witnessed someone blush, even a child, shows we have long past this point.
Finally, we come to Jeremiah 8:20 and Jeremiah 15:1-2 and the following questions — If Moses and Samuel plead our case, would God listen? Is our harvest past? Is our summer ended?
Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in northern Parke County, Indiana. Webpage: www.preacherspoint.wordpress.com; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; address: 410 S. Jefferson St., Rockville, IN 47872; all Bible references KJV.