(Scripture references from translations as noted)
For weeks I read and studied the prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah. Those guys were truly hard core representatives of God! Not being a Bible scholar and pretty ignorant of Biblical history, makes it difficult for me to truly grasp so much of what they said – the deep understanding totally outside my realm of knowledge. However, it is easy to understand how much of what they have to say is warning after warning after warning of the hard times coming to the Israelites – God’s chosen people.
After God delivered them from Egypt and demonstrated His love for them repeatedly, you would think they would have more appreciation and loyalty to Him. There were so many miracles performed on their behalf, so many times they were delivered from their enemies, how could they ever turn their back on Him?
But, human nature being what it is (and always has been), has evil always lurking just below the surface and the Israelites turned away from Him. They intermingled with people from the surrounding nations that had no knowledge and/or regard for their miracle-working, loving God. Those other nations instead chose to mold and carve idols out of stone, wood and metals – cold, hard, unmoving, unloving pieces of nothing – to worship as their gods. The Israelites joined with them and gave themselves over to the reprobate actions they desired, prostituting themselves with those idols and calling it worship. Never looking back or considering their loving God.
There were many prophets in those days, but many of them were false prophets only speaking from their own evil hearts and telling the people what they wanted to hear. But Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah spoke only the words of God to them, repeatedly warning them about the evil they were living and the hard times they would endure if they did not change. Although the people laughed at them, ignored them, punished them, they never gave up. If God gave them words to speak – they spoke.
Jeremiah 4:1-4 (NLT) tells Israel what good could lay before them and warns them of what will happen if they do not follow what is asked of them: “’O Israel,’” says the Lord, “’if you wanted to return to me, you could. You could throw away your detestable idols and stray away no more. Then when you swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ you could do so with truth, justice, and righteousness. Then you would be a blessing to the nations of the world, and all people would come and praise my name.’” This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem: ‘Plow up the hard ground of your hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns. O people of Judah and Jerusalem, surrender your pride and power. Change your hearts before the Lord, or my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire because of all your sins.’” Then the verses that follow warn them of the upcoming judgment and destruction if they do not change.
Jeremiah wept, questioned and prayed over Israel. He even had the gall to complain at times. But he never failed to obey God and speak the words that were given to him for the people.
One story that truly amazed me revealed the audacity of those living their evil lives was when the king of Babylon moved to attack them, then they decided they should cry for help to the God they had deserted. Jeremiah 21:1-2 (NIV) says: “The word came to Jeremiah from the Lord when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur son of Malkijah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah. They said: “’Inquire now of the Lord for us because Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is attacking us. Perhaps the Lord will perform wonders for us as in times past so that he will withdraw from us.’” [Emphasis mine]
They did not come repentant, falling on their faces confessing their sins and asking for and seeking forgiveness. Instead, they had the shameless audacity to suggest that the Lord would save them by performing “a mighty miracle as he has done in the past.” (Jeremiah 21:2b NLT) Well, it did not work. Verses 3-7 detail what they are going to be up against.
This rather reminds me of stories I have heard that talk about people being “spare tire Christians”. As long as everything in their life is fine then they never think about their need for God. But when there is a problem – their life goes flat – then they want to pull God out, like that spare tire that we keep in our car trunk. They let Him solve the problem at hand, then put that spare right back in the trunk until needed again in a serious time of need. Instead, we should be “steering wheel Christians” – people that love and depend on their God to walk the walk every minute of their life.
We need to always stay aware of how we live our lives and how it can impact us, not only in the present, but in the future. Jeremiah 22:8-9 (NIV) says: “People from many nations will pass by this city and will ask one another, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this great city?’ And the answer will be: ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God and have worshiped and served other gods.’”
It is necessary that we keep God in our lives where He belongs – first and foremost. We cannot allow other people and things to become gods to us, letting their importance overshadow the importance of our God.
Do not ever let your life get to the place where you have the audacity to ask a favor of the God that you have pushed to the back of your life in order to live a life of sin, with no real intentions of changing your life. Instead, either repent and change your evil ways or better yet, just live a life of goodness with God first in your life – then you can use shameless audacity to ask Him to fulfill His blessings and favors in your life.
Written by Karran Martin – August 25, 2019