June 21, 2021
"I know, Lord, that a man’s way of life is not his own; no one who walks determines his own steps. Discipline me, Lord, but with Justice..."
“I know, Lord, that a man’s way of life is not his own; no one who walks determines his own steps. Discipline me, Lord, but with Justice – not in your anger, or You will reduce me to nothing. Pour out Your wrath on the nations that don’t recognize You and on the families that don’t call on Your name, for they have consumed Jacob; they have consumed him and finished him off and made his homeland desolate.” Jeremiah 10:23-25
In the face of the punishment, which is coming upon Judah and the surrounding nations, the least of all lessons Judah should have learned is that trusting in false gods will not deliver them. Moreover, since all the other nations were being judged along with Judah, it made no sense to trust in nations who trust in false gods!
What are these “gods” after all? They are pieces of wood, carved by skillful workmen, decked with silver and gold, clothed in violet and purple, fastened with a hammer and nails so they cannot move. In striking contrast is the “True God,” the “Living God,” the “Everlasting God.”
“But the Lord is the true God: He is the living and eternal King. The earth quakes at His wrath, and the nations cannot endure His rage.” Jeremiah 10:10
Yet, Judah will not trust in this living God. Therefore punishment is about to fall. The call comes to the besieged “daughter of Israel” to gather up a few necessary articles in preparation for a hasty flight and the painful journey to the land of exile. She cries out in anguish and remorse because her suffering is grievous, but she has brought it upon herself, and now it must be endured. It sort of reminds me of America during our present economic, and moral, and spiritual season.
Disaster is the result of the faithless rulers (shepherds) whose “flock” is now “scattered.” But long before the rulers were corrupt, the individuals were enticed to idolatry, to the point where virtually all of Israel was looking down the “business end” of God’s judgment. National idolatry always begins with personal idolatry. So likewise, national holiness begins when we, as individuals, set ourselves apart to know God's Word, obey it, and walk with Him daily.
In today’s passage, the prophet speaks for his people as he confesses that more than human wisdom is needed to guide Israel’s course. He prays that the coming judgment would be just, but ONLY just. That is, Jeremiah pleads that God’s judgment may not be in wrath to utterly destroy, but in a spirit of punishment with the intent of restoration.
Ah, if they (i.e., “WE”) we would have only remembered the children’s proverb:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths. Don’t consider yourself to be wise; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. This will be healing for your body and strengthening for your bones. ” Proverbs 3:5-8