STATEMENT OF CONSEQUENCES
Lord, help me to walk each day in the fear of God.
Read JEREMIAH 5:14–31
14 Therefore this is what the Lord God Almighty says:
“Because the people have spoken these words,
I will make my words in your mouth a fire
and these people the wood it consumes.
15 People of Israel,” declares the Lord,
“I am bringing a distant nation against you—
an ancient and enduring nation,
a people whose language you do not know,
whose speech you do not understand.
16 Their quivers are like an open grave;
all of them are mighty warriors.
17 They will devour your harvests and food,
devour your sons and daughters;
they will devour your flocks and herds,
devour your vines and fig trees.
With the sword they will destroy
the fortified cities in which you trust.
18 “Yet even in those days,” declares the Lord, “I will not destroy you completely. 19 And when the people ask, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all this to us?’ you will tell them, ‘As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your own land, so now you will serve foreigners in a land not your own.’
20 “Announce this to the descendants of Jacob
and proclaim it in Judah:
21 Hear this, you foolish and senseless people,
who have eyes but do not see,
who have ears but do not hear:
22 Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord.
“Should you not tremble in my presence?
I made the sand a boundary for the sea,
an everlasting barrier it cannot cross.
The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail;
they may roar, but they cannot cross it.
23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts;
they have turned aside and gone away.
24 They do not say to themselves,
‘Let us fear the Lord our God,
who gives autumn and spring rains in season,
who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’
25 Your wrongdoings have kept these away;
your sins have deprived you of good.
26 “Among my people are the wicked
who lie in wait like men who snare birds
and like those who set traps to catch people.
27 Like cages full of birds,
their houses are full of deceit;
they have become rich and powerful
28 and have grown fat and sleek.
Their evil deeds have no limit;
they do not seek justice.
They do not promote the case of the fatherless;
they do not defend the just cause of the poor.
29 Should I not punish them for this?”
declares the Lord.
“Should I not avenge myself
on such a nation as this?
30 “A horrible and shocking thing
has happened in the land:
31 The prophets prophesy lies,
the priests rule by their own authority,
and my people love it this way.
But what will you do in the end?
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Verse 25 articulates a common theme which resounds today: being the architect of one’s own misery. Does this describe aspects of your life?
It is interesting to see how many regular prophetic themes are found in this short passage. First (13–17), things you say will come back to haunt you. The people have accused Jeremiah of being a false prophet—just a wind; so God will use him as a fire to burn them up. Second (18), the ray of hope still remains even in a desperate situation. Third (19), the punishment will fit the crime. They have served foreign gods in their own land, so they will become foreigners in another land—and in that context be slaves. Fourth, at the heart of their problems lies a lack of understanding of who God is and a lack of relationship with him (21–24). They neither know God nor fear him. Fifth, they need to recognize that their forthcoming punishment is only too richly deserved; they only have themselves to blame (25–29). They have lived self-serving lives, caring more about money than justice, and they haven’t cared as they should for the fatherless and the poor. Sixth and last, the leaders who should be setting the example are instead the center of the problem (30,31). Criticism of faithless prophets and priests may be in order, but the most devastating comment comes at the end: “and my people love it this way” (31).
Obviously, we are not Judeans living 2,500 years ago, but there are challenges here that those who today are in covenant relationship with God need to heed. Am I careful about what I say, particularly about those speaking God’s words? Do I seek to know God better? Do I care about the needs of the disadvantaged? Do I respond better to leaders who promise me health, wealth and happiness than to those who challenge me about my commitment to the Lord?
Consider if your lifestyle is in line with your profession. If it is not, what can you change? Ask the Lord to keep you from the dreaded disease of hypocrisy.
Lord, thank You for reminding me of the need to live my whole life in conformity to Your will and for Your help in doing so.