This is my second contribution to Newberry College’s series of devotional messages for this Lenten season. I hope you find it useful.
Jeremiah 11: 1-17 (KJV)
11 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord saying,
2 Hear ye the words of this covenant, and speak unto the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem;
3 And say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel; Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant,
4 Which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you: so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God:
5 That I may perform the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day. Then answered I, and said, So be it, O Lord.
6 Then the Lord said unto me, Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, and do them.
7 For I earnestly protested unto your fathers in the day that I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, even unto this day, rising early and protesting, saying, Obey my voice.
8 Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart: therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do: but they did them not.
9 And the Lord said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
10 They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers.
11 Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.
12 Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble.
13 For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to that shameful thing, even altars to burn incense unto Baal.
14 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble.
15 What hath my beloved to do in mine house, seeing she hath wrought lewdness with many, and the holy flesh is passed from thee? when thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest.
16 The Lord called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken.
17 For the Lord of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done against themselves to provoke me to anger in offering incense unto Baal.
The prophet Jeremiah has given his name to the word Jeremiad – a word meaning a complaint or warning, and in today’s text, we see why. Speaking through the prophet, God calls out His chosen people. They have fallen away from Him; they have broken the covenant with God, and God warns that broken contracts incur penalties.
This is a part of faith that we don’t like to think about much. When we fail in our obligations – to God or to his children among us – when we place our own comforts and pleasures above what we owe to God and to the instructions He offers us, there are consequences, whether they are as commonplace as an expanded waistline or as harsh as murder and war. When we ignore God’s instructions, we bring the penalties upon ourselves and participate in our own damnation. Jeremiah warns us of this, and calls us to repent. Will we listen?
Heavenly Father, we thank you for your love, and for the warnings that accompany that love. Please help us to heed them, and thank you for the sacrifice you have made because we sometimes don’t. In Jesus’s name we pray, Amen.