Scripture reading for August 6th: Jeremiah 7-10
Jeremiah is one of my favorite characters in the Bible. His call and ministry are unique. He is told to go and preach to his people and told up front that they will not listen! (Jeremiah 7:27) He is told on several occasions not to pray for his people because their sins have removed them from God’s grace, but he weeps rivers of tears for them anyway! (Jeremiah 7:16) (Jeremiah 9:22-23) He ministers for just over 40 years and is mistreated and threatened by his own people and their leaders. His preaching is straight and he uses some interesting object lessons to try to get the people’s attention! In today’s reading, he is told by God to go right to the gate of the temple of the Lord and preach to the people as they arrive for worship and sacrifice.
“Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord. This is what the Lord Almighty, The God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, and in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.” Jeremiah 7:2-7
These people were going through the motions of religion and were deceived! Jeremiah’s words struck to the heart of the matter without beating around the bush. We can use our religious activities to justify our own selfish lifestyles. God is not interested in religious activities unless they come from a heart that is humble, repentant and willing to listen to Him. Their trust was in their attendance at the temple. God called for a change in ways and actions that affected their daily relationships and walk with God. He cares about orphans and widows. He cares about the alien and the poor. His heart is broken when innocent blood is shed and people deal unjustly with one another. He hates adultery and lying because it is not loving and He is love. God wants His people to reflect His heart of love.
God is watching over His word and His people’s response to His word! He sees hypocrisy and desires repentance and faith. Jesus Christ went into the temple of the Lord and saw the same things with the money changers and traders. He quoted from Jeremiah: “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations, but you have made it a ‘den of robbers’.” (Mark 11:17) (Jeremiah 7:11) He then cleansed the temple! We need more preaching at the church door!