SAVE THE CHILDREN
Holy One, sometimes my circumstances can be overwhelming. Let my heart trust that you will see me through.
Read JEREMIAH 7:30 - 8:19
The Valley of Slaughter
30 “‘The people of Judah have done evil in my eyes, declares the Lord. They have set up their detestable idols in the house that bears my Name and have defiled it. 31 They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire—something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind. 32 So beware, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when people will no longer call it Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter, for they will bury the dead in Topheth until there is no more room. 33 Then the carcasses of this people will become food for the birds and the wild animals, and there will be no one to frighten them away. 34 I will bring an end to the sounds of joy and gladness and to the voices of bride and bridegroom in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem, for the land will become desolate.
8 “‘At that time, declares the Lord, the bones of the kings and officials of Judah, the bones of the priests and prophets, and the bones of the people of Jerusalem will be removed from their graves. 2 They will be exposed to the sun and the moon and all the stars of the heavens, which they have loved and served and which they have followed and consulted and worshiped. They will not be gathered up or buried, but will be like dung lying on the ground. 3 Wherever I banish them, all the survivors of this evil nation will prefer death to life, declares the Lord Almighty.’
Sin and Punishment
4 “Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says:
“‘When people fall down, do they not get up?
When someone turns away, do they not return?
5 Why then have these people turned away?
Why does Jerusalem always turn away?
They cling to deceit;
they refuse to return.
6 I have listened attentively,
but they do not say what is right.
None of them repent of their wickedness,
saying, “What have I done?”
Each pursues their own course
like a horse charging into battle.
7 Even the stork in the sky
knows her appointed seasons,
and the dove, the swift and the thrush
observe the time of their migration.
But my people do not know
the requirements of the Lord.
8 “‘How can you say, “We are wise,
for we have the law of the Lord,”
when actually the lying pen of the scribes
has handled it falsely?
9 The wise will be put to shame;
they will be dismayed and trapped.
Since they have rejected the word of the Lord,
what kind of wisdom do they have?
10 Therefore I will give their wives to other men
and their fields to new owners.
From the least to the greatest,
all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike,
all practice deceit.
11 They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
“Peace, peace,” they say,
when there is no peace.
12 Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?
No, they have no shame at all;
they do not even know how to blush.
So they will fall among the fallen;
they will be brought down when they are punished,
says the Lord.
13 “‘I will take away their harvest,
declares the Lord.
There will be no grapes on the vine.
There will be no figs on the tree,
and their leaves will wither.
What I have given them
will be taken from them.[a]’”
14 Why are we sitting here?
Let us flee to the fortified cities
and perish there!
For the Lord our God has doomed us to perish
and given us poisoned water to drink,
because we have sinned against him.
15 We hoped for peace
but no good has come,
for a time of healing
but there is only terror.
16 The snorting of the enemy’s horses
is heard from Dan;
at the neighing of their stallions
the whole land trembles.
They have come to devour
the land and everything in it,
the city and all who live there.
17 “See, I will send venomous snakes among you,
vipers that cannot be charmed,
and they will bite you,”
declares the Lord.
18 You who are my Comforter[b] in sorrow,
my heart is faint within me.
19 Listen to the cry of my people
from a land far away:
“Is the Lord not in Zion?
Is her King no longer there?”
“Why have they aroused my anger with their images,
with their worthless foreign idols?”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Bring to mind six children you know, from your family, your neighborhood, your church community. Pray for their protection and guidance this coming day.
Today we plumb the depths of darkness. The people of Judah, not content with installing foreign idols in the holy places (v 30), in a horrific perversion of the rituals instituted by the Lord, are now carrying out child sacrifice (v 31). No wonder today’s passage ends with the bleak echo of three voices over the charnel house of the valley of Hinnon: a distraught Jeremiah (8:18), a confused, deserted population (v 19a) and the almost despairing cry of a rejected God (v 19b).
I find these verses agonizingly relevant today. They provoke images of starving children with wide eyes and swollen bellies, of North African pre-teenagers huddling in tents beneath Paris underpasses, of Nigerian school pupils taken at best as hostages, at worst to be trained as child soldiers and sex slaves. Are these any less horrific than the child murders of Jeremiah’s time?
Jesus is very clear about the place of children in the kingdom of God. In Matthew 18:1–6 he explains that children demonstrate the essence of the kingdom itself (v 3). They are the model of simple faith (v 4) and are to be safeguarded and nurtured (v 6). Significantly, to adults he says that a child is to be received as if we are receiving Jesus himself (v 5).
Child sacrifice illustrates how far Judah has fallen from God’s direction. They have devised a horrific form of worship that had not even entered God’s mind (7:31). Maybe our attitudes to our children can be a useful guide to our closeness to his purposes.
Search for news stories about children. Respond to each child with the heart of Jesus. Actions as well as words are to be encouraged.
Lord Jesus, your love for children is so evident in the gospels. Show me ways in which I can express your love for children.
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