Alex introduced in our first week of lent the idea that there is a way to live that seems good but leads to death. This week we are focusing on Jeremiah 5.
I encourage you to read chapter 5 this week. It gives a good overview of Judah’s true spiritual situation.
“The house of Israel and the house of Judah have been utterly unfaithful to me,” declares the LORD. They have lied about the LORD; they said, “He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine.” Jeremiah 5:11-12
The leaders: the priests, the kings, the rulers in Judah believed they were the chosen people of God, that they would be forever protected by God, never destroyed as a nation. (They conveniently forgot the earlier destruction of the northern country of Israel.) They believed that they could act in any manner they wished. God had promised punishment for their sins against him – many times — but had relented from actually bringing destruction to Judah repeatedly in the past. Why wouldn’t he relent again? Jeremiah records God’s answer to that sort of faulty thinking,
“Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: Should you not fear me?” declares the LORD. “Should you not tremble in my presence? I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it. But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away. They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear the LORD our God, who gives autumn and spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’ “ Jeremiah 5:21-24 NIV
This is the crux of the problem. The leaders of Judah and most of the people no longer feared the Lord. What does that mean? Deuteronomy lays it out clearly for us.
And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good? To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Yet the LORD set his affection on your forefathers and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations, as it is today. Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt. Fear the LORD your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. Deuteronomy 10:12-20 NIV
What about you and me? Do we fear the Lord? Do we believe everything will continue on as it always has? Will the evil and injustice in our world ever come to an end? How are we as followers of Jesus to behave in the world we live in today?
LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the LORD, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken. Psalm 15 NIV
Take another look at Jeremiah 5, Deuteronomy 10:12-20, and Psalm 15. Notice how they address the fear of the Lord. Ask God to show you how you might not have been fearing the Lord in your life and how He is asking you to do so in the future. Pray about it; step into that. May we all heed the warning to Judah to ”fear the Lord our God”.