In the days of Jeremiah there were many people who were devoted to the temple of the Lord. They were counting on that great building as a badge of merit that distinguished them from the other people groups of the nations around them. Surely Judah would be blessed by the Almighty because of the temple. But this was not to be.
God said, “Amend your ways and your deeds.” The Lord would not allow His people to continue to dwell in the Promised Land when they abused the poor and the widow, shed innocent blood, and worshiped false gods. He would not permit His temple to stand forever as “a den of robbers.”
Jehovah called the attention of Jeremiah’s hearers to earlier days and to previous places of holy worship. He invited them to look at what had become of Shiloh. Once it was a great center of worship. Now it was nothing but a ruin and a memory.
The Lord invited everyone to examine the evidence of their own rebellion. The people of Jerusalem were making cakes for the so-called “queen of heaven.” They poured out drink offerings to other gods. They were destroying themselves in their idolatry, and God would surely bring His wrath upon their land.
According to the Old Testament sacrificial system, the whole burnt-offering was to be completely consumed in the fire on the altar of the Lord, but here God said, “Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices, and eat the flesh.” He was telling them to consume this food themselves because He did not want their ceremonial gifts. When idolaters, oppressors, and immoral men did their religious rituals just right, the Lord was not pleased.
Jeremiah was told by God to speak all these words to His people, yet God informed His prophet that they would not listen. They were blinded by their idolatry. They had brought false objects of worship into the temple itself, as if they were doing nothing wrong. They had even burned their sons and daughters in a brutal system of child sacrifice.
The desperate worship of paganism can never bring any lasting help to anyone. The Word of God is our only rule for faith and life. We must not abandon the Scriptures or the Son of God.
Jesus is the incarnate Word of the Father. He demonstrated to us in person what the prophets spoke about through their inspired speech. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He is the temple of the Lord, and now we have become the temple of the Holy Spirit as Jesus and His Word richly dwell within us.
One day the confusion and heartbreak of our fallen condition will be behind us. Until then we look to Jesus, the Word who gave His life for us, and we listen to the Scriptures that speak to us from heaven. God is showing us what it means to follow Him and granting us the power to hear and obey.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord God Almighty, there is much evil in the land. We imagine that we will be safe in Your church because of our dedication to a sacrament or some show of religious worship or act of dedication. Yet we go on doing all these abominations that are against Your Law. You have spoken persistently, but we have not listened. Father, we need the intercession of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Please forgive us, O God, and hear the perfect prayer of the One who atoned for our sins. Though we violate Your commandments, we continue to cling to the hem of His holy garment. What else can we do? We resolve to obey you, but we keep on sinning. You know the truth about us. Our only hope is in Christ. We will listen to Your Word, and we will be attentive to Your discipline. What will you do to us when we forget our promises and fall asleep when we should be hearing Your voice? Surely we deserve to be food for the birds of the air, as our fathers were in the days of the prophets. Yet You are a God who will keep Your covenant, and You will magnify Your holy Name. Save us, O Lord.