In preparation for studies planned for brethren in Vietnam early next month, I’ve been reading (and listening) through the Old Testament book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was a prophet of Judah who served from about 626 BC until sometime after 586 BC when the people of Judah were defeated and exiled by Babylon. Often called, the “Weeping Prophet,” Jeremiah frequently mourned his people’s sinfulness, lack of devotion to God, refusal to heed pleas to repent, and the inevitable judgment that was to result. The things that saddened Jeremiah as he considered God’s people of his day should sadden us, too, especially as we see the same issues among us. Consider the following:
- Little pleasure in God’s Word. The Lord had provided ample instruction and warning, but the people showed little interest. “Behold, the Word of the Lord is to them an object of scorn; they take no pleasure in it” (6:10 ESV). Today caring elders provide opportunities for the flock among them to benefit from both the preaching of God’s Word and its being taught in Bible classes. Yet, at times, those preaching and teaching find themselves asking with Jeremiah, “To whom shall I speak and give warning that they may hear?” Observe the attendance gap between our Sunday morning assemblies and our evening meetings – then weep with Jeremiah!
- Greed often prevails. Why is there so much spiritual indifference? The problem isn’t rampant atheism. We are just too busy! “From the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy…” (6:13) – greedy for money, for entertainment, for things. The more we have the more we want, and the busier we become. “Too busy” is the excuse of the condemned (Luke 14:16-24). Observe the misplaced priorities of many – then weep with Jeremiah!
- A desire to be pacified. ‘Why are you so negative, Jeremiah? It’s not like we’ve completely quit the Lord. Other prophets declare God’s love and peace, but you’re all warnings and judgment! They tell us that God won’t judge as you say’ (5:12). People tend to like soothing words of comfort rather than honest words of rebuke. The popular preachers are the ones who tell people what they want to hear (II Timothy 4:2-5), who cry, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). Observe the lack of appreciation for reproof and correction – then weep with Jeremiah!
- No shame for sin. As sin became common place, those in sin became less and less ashamed. The people became insensible to God’s displeasure as they made what-everybody-else-is-doing their standard of right and wrong. Jeremiah describes them, “Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not know how to blush” (6:15 NIV). Immodesty and immorality increase among God’s people whenever society becomes their gauge of what is appropriate. Observe how often Christians’ dress, speech and entertainment mirror that of the world around us – then weep with Jeremiah!
- Will not seek the old paths. The Lord held out a way for deliverance: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” (6:16). God’s Word shows the way of blessing. The past demonstrates that His way is best. “But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” Observe history repeating itself – then weep with Jeremiah!
The Lord Jesus gave His life to rescue us. How sad if God should still say, “I am bringing disaster on this people,… because they have not listened to My words and have rejected My law” (6:19). Are you weeping with Jeremiah?