Thursday, August 27, 2015

Like a Rock in Your Shoe

Jeremiah 32:28-44

“Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the Chaldeans, and into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and he shall take it: And the Chaldeans, that fight against this city, shall come and set fire on this city, and burn it with the houses, upon whose roofs they have offered incense unto Baal, and poured out drink offerings unto other gods, to provoke me to anger.  For the children of Israel and the children of Judah have only done evil before me from their youth: for the children of Israel have only provoked me to anger with the work of their hands, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 32:28-30)

God had made a covenant with Israel, and he has every intention of fulfilling that covenant.  Like any contract, the covenant listed the penalties for not fulfilling the terms by one party.  Because Israel had broken the contract, God was preparing to apply the penalties specified.   The Chaldean army that was surrounding and besieging Jerusalem would be victorious.  They would utterly destroy the city.  The Jews had offered sacrifices and burned incense to other gods on the roofs of the houses praying for those other gods to deliver them, instead of depending on God.   The very houses where they made the offerings seeking the other gods’ help would be burned to the ground. 

“For this city hath been to me as a provocation of mine anger and of my fury from the day that they built it even unto this day; that I should remove it from before my face, Because of all the evil of the children of Israel and of the children of Judah, which they have done to provoke me to anger, they, their kings, their princes, their priests, and their prophets, and the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.  And they have turned unto me the back, and not the face: though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction.  But they set their abominations in the house, which is called by my name, to defile it.  And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.” (Jeremiah 32:31-35)

The city of Jerusalem had been a constant source of irritation for God, like having a rock in one’s shoe from the day it was built.  The only cure was to remove it completely, because the rebellion and wickedness had become systemic.   The problems were not confined to one group but included the common people, the kings, the business leaders, the religious leaders, and the various tribal groups and families.  All of them had turned their backs on God, ignoring what He taught them.  They have deliberately set the idols in the very temple like a man setting a picture of his mistress on his shelf where his wife sees it every day.  They built altars to Baal and sacrificed their children in the valley of Hinnom in direct violation of the covenant they had made with God.  It had never been God’s plan that His Holy city should lead the nation of Judah into sin.   

“And now therefore thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning this city, whereof ye say, It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence; Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” (Jeremiah 32:36-40)

While Jerusalem would be delivered into the hand of the Babylonians as a result of a combination of military power, starvation and disease, God will not break his covenant.  He will gather the Jews from around the world, and bring them back to Israel, where they will be protected.  In that day they will be a people devoted to God.  In exchange he will reveal himself to them fully so that they want to serve him forever because they understand everything he does is for their good. 

Throughout history, people have believed that God’s laws were arbitrary and capricious, and were just a way of showing his power.  In writing the Book, Loving God and Loving Man, I was impressed with how every aspect of the Law was or man’s benefit.  If people would just follow that Law they would avoid most Health problems by preventing the spread of disease.  They would prevent psychological problems by not doing things that caused them to feel guilty or messed with other people’s minds.   As people begin to understand that, it will make a major difference in their attitude toward God, especially as they look back and see what not obeying cost.

“Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.  For thus saith the LORD; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them.  And fields shall be bought in this land, whereof ye say, It is desolate without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.  Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences, and seal them, and take witnesses in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the mountains, and in the cities of the valley, and in the cities of the south: for I will cause their captivity to return, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 32:41-44)

When Judah is no longer fighting him at every step and acting like a rock in his shoe, god will rejoice over them and want to do everything he can for them.  Just as he has brought evil things on them for their rebellion, he will do wonderful things for them when they obey him.  they will re-stablish their homes, buying fields as an investment, with an expectation of making a profit, because they all have their own land and not afraid it will be taken away.    

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