Tomorrow I plan to change the subject and start talking about the Incarnation, so we’ll be on less of a “downer” then — but for today, I’m picking up where I left off on Friday.
Midway through last week, I had Jeremiah 5 on my brain. I looked it up and read it, not really getting the point of why it was on my mind, until I came to verses 20-31. At that point I took note that this was the important bit, but I still wasn’t making the connection. I didn’t make the connection all of Friday afternoon as I wrote my long post on the shift in role from shepherd to CEO through the establishment of the megachurch model. It was only later that I connected the two.
A Warning for Godâ€™s People
â€œMake this announcement to Israel,
and say this to Judah:
Listen, you foolish and senseless people,
with eyes that do not see
and ears that do not hear.
Have you no respect for me?
Why donâ€™t you tremble in my presence?
I, the Lord, define the oceanâ€™s sandy shoreline
as an everlasting boundary that the waters cannot cross.
The waves may toss and roar,
but they can never pass the boundaries I set.
But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts.
They have turned away and abandoned me.
They do not say from the heart,
â€˜Let us live in awe of the Lord our God,
for he gives us rain each spring and fall,
assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.â€™
Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings.
Your sin has robbed you of all these good things.
To this point (end of verse 25), God establishes his authority and tells his people that things are going badly because of their turning from him. He calls them stubborn and senseless. So far so good… but what’s really the problem for which he wants to call them to account?
â€œAmong my people are wicked men
who lie in wait for victims like a hunter hiding in a blind.
They continually set traps
to catch people.
Like a cage filled with birds,
their homes are filled with evil plots.
And now they are great and rich.
They are fat and sleek,
and there is no limit to their wicked deeds.
They refuse to provide justice to orphans
and deny the rights of the poor.
Should I not punish them for this?â€? says the Lord.
â€œShould I not avenge myself against such a nation?
A horrible and shocking thing
has happened in this land—
the prophets give false prophecies,
and the priests rule with an iron hand.
Worse yet, my people like it that way!
But what will you do when the end comes?
Wow. Evil is among us, those who “catch” people and keep them ensnared, who fill their homes with wealth taken for themselves.
Worse, they refuse to provide justice and deny any right to the poor.
The prophets and priests are corrupt, uttering misdirection and ruling with heavy-handed authoritarian ways.
Worse still, we like it that way. Why should we expect calamity to be withheld?
In my post on Friday (set aside 10 minutes to read it if you missed it) I asked,
Where did we get these shepherds today who love to flit from conference to conference and be pursued by those who come to them like a guru or a self-help book? It seems perhaps we’ve completely redefined what the church is supposed to be, turned it all on its head, made it all about us. This isn’t a new message… …and I know where we got those shepherds… we created them, just like the nation of Israel demanded a king.
Because we like it that way. God help us.
What shall we do, in response to my posts from Friday and above? Who is Jeremiah/God talking about when he refers to “wicked men” lying in wait? As I’ve outlined it here, is it applicable to Friday’s conversation?