As I continue my study of the Book of Jeremiah, my endearment for the prophet grows. I long to travel back in time and sit across from him, holding his hands in mine, looking into his sorrowful and fretful eyes and tell him, “I understand you.” I want to tell him, “I get it.” You see, Jeremiah was the last prophet God sent to the nation of Israel before He brought judgment against them. He was the last voice crying out to his countrymen for repentance, before God utterly destroyed them for their rebellion.
At that time, the people of Israel defined their relationship with God by their lukewarm religious effort, rather than any consistent personal pursuit of His presence. They were more-so Jews in concept, rather than Jews in actual practice. They had adopted many of the customs of their pagan neighbors, to the point that you couldn’t tell apart most Jews in that day from their pagan neighbors. Their worship of God consisted of a watered-down, perverted version of the actual precepts God had given them to live by. Similar to today, the way most Christians live their lives, you can’t really tell apart believers from unbelievers. Similar to many Christians today, the Israelites reasoned that they were part of the nation that God called His own, they were descendants of Abraham, they were God’s people, He would never bring judgment upon them, no matter how they lived their lives. But one of the problems with spiritual nakedness is that a person thinks they belong to God simply by association, rather than by personal relationship. And any personal relationship they might have with God consists mostly of outward religious acknowledgment, rather than any inward spiritual change.
2500 years later, Christianity has come full circle, right back to where our spiritual predecessors found themselves before their nation was utterly destroyed by God’s judgment upon them. Scripture tells us that Israel is to be an example to us, “Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did… Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor 10:5-12).
Jeremiah is called “The Weeping Prophet” because he not only knew of God’s impending judgment, but also because no matter how hard he tried, the people would not listen. Israel had become so used to being around sin, so used to compromise, that most of them couldn’t see any reason for them to repent. They lived busy, bustling lives that focused more on themselves than on God–which is idolatry in its most base form. They stopped putting God first and replaced Him with an image they had made up of Him in their own mind. A god that would not make them feel guilty or convict them of sin. They worshiped the image of God they had made up in their own mind, rather than Who God actually is– this is another form of idolatry.
At that time, the Israelites lived lives that were almost completely devoid of any real sense of God’s fearsome wrath toward rebellion and sin. And as history records, God finally gave them over to their idolatry and spiritual nakedness and by the time Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah in 586 B.C., the Israelites had resorted to cannibalism–eating their own children to stay alive–during the two-year long siege against Jerusalem. The last king of Jerusalem was forced to watch his own sons executed, before having his eyes gouged out so the last thing he would ever see was the death of his own sons.
I get Jeremiah because he was given the task of delivering an unpopular and convicting message that caused him mental and emotional anguish. Not only because of its dooming and negative quality, but also because his message made him despised by his own people. Jeremiah prophesied during a time that everyone did what they thought was right in their own eyes and his constant warning of judgment annoyed them. I get Jeremiah because he prophesied during a time in which his countrymen, those who were supposed to be his brothers and sisters in the Lord, saw him as their enemy simply because he spoke truth.
No one wanted to hear anything Jeremiah had to say because they had no desire to examine themselves or the way they were living their lives because their spiritual nakedness gave them a false sense of security. 99.9% of the people in Jeremiah’s day made excuses for why they allowed spiritual compromise into their life, rather than humbling themselves in obedience to God’s holy standard. It takes great humility and strength of character to pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me… point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23,24). Only about 0.01% have the humility and strength to pray such a prayer and submit to God’s answer. Be the 0.01%.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matt 7:14)
“You will be hated by everyone on account of My name, but the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matt 10:22)
“At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matt 24:10-13)
“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36) “For it is time for judgment to begin with the house of God, and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1 Peter 4:17,18)