Growing up in the northern mountains of Pennsylvania, my brothers and I would play outside after school each day. We had a large backyard and beyond that was a thickly wooded hillside. Various friends would show up and we would play games or run around in the woods. When it was time for dinner, my mother would walk out on the back porch and ring a large bell. All of the neighbors and our friends knew the meaning of the Hanes’ dinner bell – it was time for the three of us to go home. We were expected to listen (hear the bell ring) and then we were to promptly obey. Those were some of the “house rules.”
To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it. ~Jeremiah 6:10
Jeremiah (the weeping prophet) was chosen by the Lord and he was to speak every word the Lord commanded him. He was called to deliver an unpopular message. Ironically, there were false prophets who spoke words that tickled the people’s ears – led them to believe the condition of their society did not displease the Lord. The people did not like Jeremiah’s words and as a result, Jeremiah was despised and in danger throughout the years of his ministry.
“Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush… they will be brought down when I punish them,” says the Lord. ~Jeremiah 6:15
God’s people were given “house rules.” They were to obey His commands, love God, and walk in close relationship with Him. Jeremiah and other prophets were sent to proclaim the message of judgment to this wayward, stubborn, and rebellious people. It was God’s desire for people to hear the words of warning and turn from their sinful and disobedient actions – recognize sin, confess, and turn back to Him. Ultimately, God always judges the sinful behavior of His people.
The Lord said, “It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law. Instead, they have followed the stubbornness of their hearts; they have followed the Baals, as their fathers taught them.” ~Jeremiah 9:13-14
These are solemn words –
- they have forsaken my law
- they have not obeyed me
- they have followed the stubbornness of their hearts
Even with Jeremiah’s prophetic message, the people continued to walk in disobedience. They would not turn from their idolatrous worship, their hearts were stubborn and callous toward the Lord, and they would not obey His law. The span of Jeremiah’s ministry was over 40 years. God is patient and long-suffering. He waited for the people to hear the message and turn from their sinful ways.
Here are some questions I am asking myself as I read the book of Jeremiah:
- In what areas of my life is God trying to get my attention? Am I paying attention?
- Do I allow enough quiet space in my schedule so I can listen for God’s still small voice? Do I want to hear His voice?
- Am I walking in disobedience to any of God’s commands or laws?
- Where do I need to change and grow in my personal walk with the Lord?
Take time to worship the Lord. Ask the Lord to show you some specific areas in your heart and life that He would like to change. In obedience to Him, submit to His instruction and allow Him to guide and direct your choices.
Dear Father, I want to hear Your voice. Show me those things in my life that do not please You. I choose to open my heart and I ask You to come work in my life – change me, for Your glory. Amen.
No one is like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is mighty in power. ~Jeremiah 10:6