Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Just Waiting to Help
“At that time, saith the LORD, they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of his princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves: And they shall spread them before the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven, whom they have loved, and whom they have served, and after whom they have walked, and whom they have sought, and whom they have worshipped: they shall not be gathered, nor be buried; they shall be for dung upon the face of the earth. And death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue of them that remain of this evil family, which remain in all the places whither I have driven them, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Jeremiah 8:1-3)
It was prophesied that Josiah would destroy the jeroboam’s altar, emptying the graves of the priests and rulers and burning their bones on it as a show of the powerlessness of those gods. In II Kings 23:16 we find a description of his doing so. God is giving a similar prophecy about the Temple at Jerusalem and the kings, prophets and priests and people who have worshipped so many false gods.
According to historians, Nebuchadnezzar first conquered and took Jerusalem in 605 BC. Eleven years later, after repeated rebellions, the Babylonians destroyed the entire city, including the sepulchers to make sure there was no one hiding in them who might start another insurrection. The bodies were left lying on the ground like other refuse to show how powerless those other gods were to protect them. Many of the Jews committed suicide rather than be enslaved.
“Moreover thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD; Shall they fall, and not arise? shall he turn away, and not return? Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return.” (Jeremiah 8:4-5)
God had promised to keep Israel and make them a great nation. Time after time he warned that if the broke his covenant, they would be punished, but that when they turned back to him, they would be restored, and God cannot and will not break his promise. It made no sense for Israel to keep rebelling against God, clinging to their self-deception and refusing to obey his command. They had seen repeated proofs of His willingness to forgive and bless when they turned to Him.
“I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle. Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD.” (Jeremiah 8:6-7)
Nobody was willing to admit they were doing wrong or even second guess their behavior. They plunged ahead like a war horse charging into a battle. Even the migratory birds pay attention to the weather and things around them and know when it is time to migrate to escape winter storms, but the Jews didn’t pay any attention, even when God warned them specifically of his coming judgment.
“How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain. The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD; and what wisdom is in them? Therefore will I give their wives unto others, and their fields to them that shall inherit them: for every one from the least even unto the greatest is given to covetousness, from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 8:8-11)
The Jews considered themselves to be highly intelligent and know what God wanted. God had made his law for no purpose, and the efforts of the scribes to make exact copies was wasted. They followed the teachings of their leaders rather than God’s word. Because they have rejected God’s word their teachers have nothing to base their teaching on and have focused on their own success and advancement, they will lose everything they have. By convincing the people they will be blessed for what they are doing, they have temporarily overcome their concerns, but it will not last, and they will face the consequences.
“Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the LORD. I will surely consume them, saith the LORD: there shall be no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree, and the leaf shall fade; and the things that I have given them shall pass away from them.” (Jeremiah 8:12-13)
There was not even a sense of guilt when they violated god’s commands. As a result those leaders will be destroyed right along with the others who are destroyed. God will judge them, leaving no trace of the things they have done. They will lose everything God had given them.
“Why do we sit still? assemble yourselves, and let us enter into the defenced cities, and let us be silent there: for the LORD our God hath put us to silence, and given us water of gall to drink, because we have sinned against the LORD. We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble! The snorting of his horses was heard from Dan: the whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing of his strong ones; for they are come, and have devoured the land, and all that is in it; the city, and those that dwell therein. For, behold, I will send serpents, cockatrices, among you, which will not be charmed, and they shall bite you, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 8:14-17)
Why stay in the same place, and make no changes. God had clearly shown the emptiness and meaninglessness of what they were doing, making them miserable because of their sin. They had looked for something better and more satisfying and instead it had gotten worse. Their enemies had them surrounded and defeated them and now they would be betrayed by snakes among them that are only interested in harming them.
When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me. Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the LORD in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities? The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me. Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” (Jeremiah 8:18-22)
Like a father despairing over a runaway child, God is depressed with what is happening to Judah. They are being abused by people from other lands. He is left to wonder why they insist on doing what he warned them against, knowing it would upset him. Like the father grieving over the things the wayward child is suffering, God is frustrated and upset by what is happening to Judah. How can they persist and not listen or come for help? Don’t they understand that God can and will help them if they ask? Why won’t they ask?