Israel was in a pickle with their God. He was still reasoning with His beloved people, and they were sadly not listening to Him, nor to His prophets who were speaking on His behalf
(I often speak to saints who are wondering how to speak to beloved Jewish friends – suggesting they offer to read Jeremiah 1-7 with the listening Jew. It is a clear and startling revelation of the heart, plans, and purposes of God towards His beloved, albeit stumbling Israel.)
1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
2 “Stand in the gate of the LORD’S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, all you of Judah who enter in at these gates to worship the LORD!'”
3 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.
Here they were, on their way into the temple to worship, and meanwhile God wanted them to amend their ways. To change. Instead, they were inclined to remain religious, justifying themselves by their activity (including worship) rather than by turning their hearts towards Him:
4 “Do not trust in these lying words, saying, ‘The temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD are these.’
So God tells them through Jeremiah what He had told them earlier, many times – that social justice and fairness, that loving the disenfranchised (as well as the “franchised”) was weighty on His heart. “The temple of the Lord” proclamation was not going to cut the muster.
He was not interested in their religious activity if there was no substance of relationship, either with Him, or with the people in need. Compare the following to the admonition and promises of Isaiah 58 – where the people were told to keep their fastings and sackcloth events, and instead do justice – the more honorable fast, a fast from self-indulgence:
Jer 7: Again
5 “For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor,
6 “if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt,
7 “then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever.
Wow what an amazing promise. It is apparent – even today (7/30/2013) as representatives of Israel sit in Washington DC considering bending and bowing to the sad thought of compromising and relinquishing yet more land to their terrorist neighbors, that there is apparently little divine authority on their behalf towards them fully owning and controlling The Land that is actually not THEIRS, but GOD’S:
1 And the LORD spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying,
2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to the LORD.
23 ‘The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with Me.
Of course, history has confirmed terrible failure by Israel to walk in its appointed destiny – and part of the results are illustrated by the struggles of today.
Jeremiah later laments and writes about Jerusalem’s destiny failure:
9 Her uncleanness is in her skirts; she did not consider her destiny; therefore her collapse was awesome; she had no comforter. “O LORD, behold my affliction, for the enemy is exalted!”
Meanwhile, God HAD (and always HAS) been offering blessing to His obedient people)
5 ‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.
6 ‘And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”
Man – THAT certainly Hasn’t Happened Yet for the Jewish nation (stay tuned: it will, eventually)
Happily, the story is not over yet, and God is still loving on His special people, dealing heavily with His special people, to accomplish His goals – goals that surely include the Jew. Faithful God!
Remarkable is this word from Jeremiah (later in chapter 7). God has never really been about the outer efforts of religion, although He has kindly provided them for man to walk in, and graciously accepts them as offerings when done with a clean conscience and pure heart. But here He reveals to them that the mighty deliverance from Egypt and the beginning of their sonship favor did not begin with the Mosaic Law of ordinances. It began before that – with a cry from heaven for holy relationship of the heart:
22 “For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices.
23 “But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.’
The promise of Him being the God of His people centers on us/them hearing His voice and obeying, and walking in that glorious place of ongoing intimacy.
He is not simply THE God WHO SPOKE. He is the GOD WHO SPEAKS
Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that CONTINUES TO PROCEED (that is the correct tense of Scripture) from the mouth of the Lord. (Deut 8:3, Matt 4:4).
Listen up. Can you hear Him?