Empty Gestures or Faith?
Father, I praise You that I live in Your presence now and forever. I come to be with You now.
Read Jeremiah 34:1-22
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (2 Tim. 2:12b,13).
Jeremiah was uncommonly brave. The message he had for his commander, King Zedekiah, bordered on treason, and this in the midst of a military campaign that was going disastrously wrong! The word of hope for the king’s own personal survival as a captive provides only minimal comfort. Both the king and his people knew that the prophet was speaking from God, however, and they realized that they deserved all that was happening to the nation because of their disobedience to the Law of God. They did something about it, belatedly releasing fellow Jews whom they were holding as slaves and should have set free in the year of Jubilee, but had not (Deut. 15:12). They evidently considered it an unnecessary gesture once the enemy withdrew, and so they took back their hapless slaves.
What they failed to appreciate, and where we too often miss the boat, is that God really cares for the most vulnerable people in society and holds to account those who oppress them. It was part of the covenant that Israel had made with him (14). The ratification of such covenants often included cutting a sacrifice in two (18,19; c.f. Gen. 15:9,10,17). Walking between the two halves was probably a symbol of commitment and a recognition that failing to keep the covenant would involve judgment. Pious platitudes and half-hearted gestures hold no stock with God. Israel was going to pay the full penalty for their willful refusal to heed the warning sent by the One who did not want them destroyed.
Thankfully, we live in the age of grace and we do not have to live under the sort of threat in vs. 18-20. The apostle Paul warns us, however, that we cannot continue in sin while expecting the grace of God to increase (Rom. 6:1,2)!
Meditate on this: what token gestures do we sometimes use today as substitutes for true obedience to God?
Gracious Lord, often I sing and speak way beyond where I am living. I pray for a genuineness between my outer profession and inner walk with You.
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