Daily Reflections July 12, 2017
Jeremiah 8 contains an enormous warning for God’s people. It is particularly relevant to our North American context.
Consider the description of the people of Judah found here: They are under God’s judgement because they are backslidden (v5). The faith that was alive and strong in previous generations has all but disappeared and religion has become a meaningless, passionless charade.
Even after being warned and rebuked, there is no repentance (v6). The entire nation is pressing further and further into rebellion and sin. The “wise men” have neglected the Word of God (v9). The “wisdom” that they offer is foolishness because it stands opposed to God’s truth. They proclaim, “peace peace!” but there is no peace (v11).
They are not ashamed of their sin. Their open rebellion against God doesn’t even cause them to blush (v12). Judah has become a kingdom that bears the title “God’s People” but this kingdom knows nothing of God – nor do they care to.
In verse 18, we find Jeremiah’s pastoral heart. He is devastated that his people refuse to listen. They will be carried away into captivity and their children will cry out:
“Is the Lord not in Zion? Is her King not in her?” (Jeremiah 8:19b ESV)
Future generations will wonder where their God is and why He hasn’t saved them from captivity. They will wonder how the people of God wound up in Babylonian bondage. The thought of this grieves Jeremiah.
Can anyone who is at all familiar with the North American church read this passage without seeing something of ourselves in Judah? Certainly, this is not true of all churches or of all Christians, but listen to these traits that bring about God’s judgement:
Persisting in unrepentant sin. Rejecting God’s Word and calling it “wisdom.” Preaching peace and prosperity to those who are sitting under the judgement of God. Unashamedly flaunting sin. Claiming to be “God’s People” while rejecting His Word and His rule.
I don’t pretend to have any insight into the immediate future, but I know that God doesn’t change. I suspect that, over the coming years, God will judge us and refine us through a variety of hardships. And while I know that God will do that which is right, I still find myself lamenting with Jeremiah. I can imagine the cry of the generations that will follow us as they ask, “Where is the God of our grandparents? When will He save us?”
Judah refused to repent and God humbled her by bringing the Babylonians to carry her away. My prayer for us as a people is that we would learn from God’s Word and that we would turn from our arrogance and rebellion today.
But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. (Isaiah 66:2b ESV)
Pastor Levi denBok
This chapter records the events of Tuesday of Passover week. It begins with a Parable of the Wedding Feast. This kingdom parable (about the rejection of the King) is directed against the Jews. Jesus teaches that God is the über-gracious King who invites the unworthy to his wedding feast yet his summons is met with disinterest and violence (see John 1:12).
God is a gracious King, but he is also the just Judge who responds in anger to those who resist his rule. God opposes the proud who obstinately reject Him. The King tells his servants to gather as many as possible for the feast. Because the Jewish nation rejected the Gospel invitation, it was offered to the Gentiles instead (see Isaiah 2:1-5).
Many are called but few are chosen. If we hear the voice of God we must honour him with repentance and demonstrate true faith with obedience. We must also be properly clothed in the righteousness of Christ and not trust in our own righteousness (Isaiah 61:10, 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Those who heard Jesus’ parable did not respond with repentance and faith. Rather, they attacked him with three loaded questions. Jesus decisively won the challenges, at least two of which were nothing but poorly disguised traps seeking to find grounds to arrest him.
Jesus silenced Jerusalem’s Jewish religious elite and in so doing undermined their power base. This showdown fuelled the leaders’ obsession to execute him. He knew he was headed for the cross, and as always, unapologetically spoke truth that cut through deception and pride. He was especially angry with those who claimed to be spiritual leaders yet led people astray. The crowds marveled at Jesus’ ability to navigate these political, theological and ethical landmines.
The first question came from the Pharisees and Herodians. It reeked of hypocrisy and malice. It was a political one and concerned the paying of taxes to Caesar. Jesus used the opportunity to teach that we ought to honour our rulers and obey God.
Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. (Matthew 22:21 ESV)
The second question came from the Sadducees (who didn’t believe in the resurrection) yet their question was a doctrinal one concerned with levirate laws and the resurrection (see Deuteronomy 25:5-10). Jesus used the opportunity to teach that they did not know either God or the scriptures.
The third question came from a lawyer, a Pharisee who wanted to know which of the 613 commandments in the Old Testament Jesus thought was the most important.
The fourth question came not from his opponents but from Jesus. Jesus is both the root and offspring of David, but they could not see that Jesus was both God and man, though ample evidence of his divine power had been shown to them. He stymied his opponents by asking them,
What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he? (Matthew 22:42 ESV)
Jesus used the opportunity to teach that as God, he was greater than David.
1. As an unworthy servant who has been invited to God’s Wedding Feast, how do you respond? Are you overflowing with gratitude and eager expectation or is there indifference in your heart?
2. In what are you trusting to be admitted to the Great Wedding Feast, your own merits or Christ’s righteousness alone?
3. In your questioning of God, do you seek to be justified in your own thinking or will you submit to the truth of God with a spirit of humility?
Associate Pastor Jody Cross