In the book of Jeremiah, the people of Judah are found going through the motions of worship, with words saying, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these” (7:4). Rather than what the temple was meant for, worshiping the Lord God, the people had relied on the temple as an idolatrous symbol, believing that as long as they went to the temple or that the temple was there, they would be okay. The word of the Lord through Jeremiah says for them: “Don’t trust in those lying words!” Don’t be deceived, believing that one can trust in a temple while at the same time not obeying the word of the Lord. Such was a false hope, a false sense of security. But do we see that same mentality today in our society, among our own even? “I came to “church,” just like the people would say, “I went to the temple,” but the issue was their heart wasn’t changed. Their conduct continued as before.
I was thinking how to relate this in what we deal with in our everyday life physically and I thought: the car! Without kids it was difficult at times to keep the inside clean, but WITH KIDS it is a CONSTANT TASK!
Kensi came home not too long ago and said, I went through the car wash, and I was elated! But when I opened the doors, the inside was still a MESS! I don’t know why I was thinking the inside would be cleaned just because she went through the car wash for the outside. The people of Judah were doing that, going to the temple, and although they would have an outward show of “religion,” the inside was a complete wreck! Jesus spoke about this to the scribes and Pharisees in the Gospels: “Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also” (Matthew 23:24-26).
For the people of Judah and even the similar mindset of many of our society today, that when they are NOT in the temple / “church” that they can carry on doing whatever they so please. God through the prophet Jeremiah expresses HIS EXPECTATIONS. The Lord says in verses 5,6: “For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt.” He is telling the people to amend, change, thoroughly do good by actually practicing justice, stop the oppression of the outsider, the ophans, the widows, stop shedding of innocent blood, stop worshiping idols!
In verses 8-10, the Lord says through Jeremiah to the people of Judah that they go out doing as they so please, making a list of sinful conduct that they were engaging in and then to come and stand before the Lord in this house which is called by His name! They would go before the Lord after worshiping idols and serving themselves to the things of the world. They would leave from temple to continue in such conduct. These same warnings were given throughout the OT and repeated in the NT. Jesus Himself would say in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (cf. James 4:4). They were not deceiving God, for the Lord saw everything and the message to change was clear! We need to keep that in mind (cf. Galatians 6:7,8). The people of Judah were reaping what they had sown. The Lord saw the hypocrisy of their ways, to which they made His house a den of thieves (cf. Jeremiah 7: 11). Interestingly, Jesus quoted this verse in Matthew 21:13 when He cleansed the second temple.
The Lord through Jeremiah even gives them a lesson in history and advises them in Jeremiah 7:12 to take a stroll down memory lane, for the people to go and look at what happened at Shiloh. Shiloh was the site of the tent of meeting and the ark of the covenant in the days of the judges. We remember the sinful conduct of Eli’s sons who were priests, Hophni and Phinehas, using their positions for personal profit, idolatry rampant. When the Philistines were coming up against the Israelites, they had the ark of the covenant brought from Shiloh in an attempt to simply use the ark as a good luck charm, which we know that the Israelites were defeated by the Philistines and Hophni and Phinehas died beside the ark of the covenant. The Philistines would capture the ark.
Jeremiah’s words should resonate with them from this very incident of their history, that you can gather in the temple, but that is NO SAFE HAVEN for you! My friends, just gathering here in a building, holding a Bible in our hands, does NOT mean we are SAFE! Calling ourselves “Christians” does NOT mean we are SAFE! It’s about OBEDIENCE to the word of the Lord (cf. Matthew 7:21; Luke 6:46; James 1:21-27; 4:4-10).
We know the importance of the command to assemble and worship! We must remember however that it’s not enough to just come and sit for a little bit and then go about our failing to apply and obey the word of God throughout the week. There are people that would say that using Jeremiah’s people as an example for today is stretching it. I mean there’s no BAAL here, no idol formed of gold, we’re not forsaking our children, being neglectful. I disagree, because there is a BAAL among us, our children are being neglected and sacrificed today. Ask yourself: “How much time was spent watching television, on the computer, on the smart phone, on the tablet, to other forms of entertainment that peaked the interest over God and His things?”
My friends, I am thankful when I see you here on Sunday’s and Wednesday’s, but what are we doing with God through the week? Are we like those of Jeremiah’s day who came and went failing to honor God in their daily lives? How much time and effort did we give for the world versus for God and His people? Unfortunately, my friends, what we see happening today is exactly what was happening in the days of Jeremiah, giving God the scraps, the left-overs. Such reminds me of what David said at the threshing floor of Araunah in 2 Samuel 24:24. David would not offer unto God something that which costs him nothing! For such would not be a sacrifice! What are we REALLY sacrificing? What are we REALLY giving to God?
Just the first 15 verses of Jeremiah 7 should really make us think. Don’t ever get the false sense of security that you can come to worship every Sunday, every Wednesday and think you are okay while continuing in sinful behavior/conduct through the rest of the week. The Lord saw it in the days of Jeremiah and called the people out and the Lord still sees it today. The call today is the same as we observed in our text, “CHANGE: Amend your ways!”
If the people of Judah wanted to dwell in their place, in that land that God gave their fathers, then they would need to CHANGE. My friends, if we want it to be well with us, and we want to live in that city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God, then we must diligently serve our Lord, here and out there, everywhere!
Something to think about! Have a great week! – DJ 😊