In Jeremiah’s era, war was everywhere, and the little country of Judah was right in the middle of it. Reading about this, I find myself enmeshed in the smells, sounds, and colors of his day, the wildness of the people, the sin and disobedience they so willfully displayed. Through the clamor of screaming, shouting masses, I hear the wails of Jeremiah, but they did not or would not.
Misery abounded in the land for most of this time, and the people of God had brought it on themselves by deliberately dissociating with anything of Him. They whine at Him for help, but they don’t admit that He is God. They want to live the way they choose, but “just-in-case” they want His provision, too.
During one of their many times of rebellion, Judah cries out once more, “Has the Lord deserted Zion?” Hear their pitiful cries as they rail at Jeremiah, “Is He no longer king?”. Feeling as though they were left in a foreign land (foreshadowing, perhaps?) they are desperate.
The people continue to complain: “Spring and summer have come and gone, but still the Lord hasn’t rescued us!” Their cries were long and strong in the land. Jeremiah takes up the mournful plea, “My people are crushed and so is my heart. I am horrified and mourn. If medicine and doctors may be found in Gilead, why aren’t my people healed?”
Oh, Jeremiah knows; he knows why the people are not finding a comforting balm, or hands to apply that lotion to their sick and struggling land; he has begged, pleaded, and cajoled them to repent since he was in his twenties, yet he goes on. “I wish my eyes were fountains of tears, so I could cry day and night for my people… I wish I could go into the desert and find a hiding place…” he groans in anguish. This reminds me of scripture in Luke when Jesus wept for the city of Jerusalem because they did not know what would bring them peace.
Through all of this chaos, the people couldn’t hear with their ears or hearts. They ignored God’s voice spoken through His prophet, calling them home, through repentance. The people were so back-sliding in their sin the beckoning call could not penetrate their hardened souls. “Why,” God asks “did you make me angry by worshiping worthless idols?”
The Lord names their evil deeds and names His punishments, and in the middle of it all He speaks these words, “What I like best is showing kindness, justice, mercy to everyone on earth!” Then with a painful indictment He utters, “Your bodies are circumcised, but your hearts are unchanged.” Meaning everyone whose life is all outside, but they have no inside (spiritual) life.
Must I draw lines of comparison? Do I really need to lay down the twin paths, perhaps marked in red, of historical and current content in the lives of God’s people… of me?
I will just pose a few questions to myself ~ answers may be slow in coming.
Is “knowing” (having a deep, intimate knowledge, and desire for His presence) God paramount in my life?
Do I have idols (anything I allow to come between us)?
Do I repent (a deep need to be forgiven as I turn from my ways to His) with a true heart?
Do the wars (personal distractions) all about consume me… ever?
Do I seek my balm, my healing from sin, in Jesus Christ?
Is the cacophony and excitement of life all around allowed to take His place?
The old adage rings in my ears, “What goes around comes around!” So like the prophet of antiquity, I could weep for my country, my people, and… me, but though I am not perfect I know the One who is. I am a blessed one, for I have a savior of my soul, a redeemer who paid my debt, a liberator who set me free, a protector who laid down His life, and a knight in shining glory who fights my daily battles. He is my balm of Gilead, healer of body and soul.
To answer the above questions: yes and no! Yes, I long to dwell near my Lord, and no to any separation brought by my actions. These are my desires, my prayers; by touching His hand, seeking His strength, allowing His wisdom and His will, together we shall break the old bondage and “What goes around” will be wonderful, and “what comes around” will honor Him.
Thanks to Jeremiah for caring for his people and calling them to repentance, and the lessons learned for all generations. Thanks to the Holy Spirit who actively urges me to do the same.
I encourage you to browse awhile in Jeremiah 8 and 9, in particular, and allow the “living Word” to minister to you.
Old Testament scriptures quoted and paraphrased from Jeremiah chapters 9 & 8. Contemporary English Version.
New Testament scriptures paraphrased from Luke 19:41 New International Version.