My adult Sunday school class that I teach has been studying the book of Jeremiah during the month of September. The prophet Jeremiah was called by God to deliver some dreadful news to the people living in Jerusalem around 597-587 BC. The people of Judah had continued to commit grievous sins against the LORD. They pretended to follow God but in reality, they had turned away from God and were even worshipping other gods.
While we have learned much about Jeremiah and his calling from God, we nevertheless had difficulty understanding how God could use the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem and kill so many of his chosen people. We could come up with many other ways that God could have dealt with his people that would have resulted in fewer deaths. As human beings, we often think that we know better than God how events in our world should unfold. Jeremiah reminds us that the LORD is the same LORD who created the world that we live in. Jeremiah 33:2: “This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it – the LORD is his name.” Jeremiah reminds us that the creator of the heavens and the earth is firmly in control of the events of the world; he doesn’t need or require our help.
We want to “help” God make decisions that affect us because we don’t want to give up any control over our own lives. And many times, God will let us “help” him until we realize that our way was the wrong way. Then God will lovingly take us in His arms and lead us down the path that we should have been on to begin with. This is the process of how we strengthen our faith and learn how to place more and more trust in God – the same God who created the universe. God is still in control of this fallen, sinful, war-torn world that, like Judah, is turning away from God at an ever increasing rate.
God finally had enough of the sinful ways of Judah and he sent Jeremiah to prophecy about their coming destruction. Even though God plainly told the people that Jerusalem would be destroyed and many of them taken away into captivity, God also promised that one day there would once again be joy and rejoicing in Jerusalem. Jeremiah told the people that it was their sin that brought on this judgment from God. Because of their continued rebellion, God had to take action in order to one day restore them.
This study on Jeremiah has caused me to think about the current conditions in our own country and throughout the world. People are turning away from God in order to pursue the things of this world. We want more material things, we want to be noticed and we want to have it all without any sacrifice. Many of us want to be our own god because we think we know what’s best for ourselves and for others. How long will it be before God has enough of our sin and brings judgment and disaster upon us? If we continue to turn away from God, we risk God turning away from us.
I worry about the world that my children and their children are going to grow up in. God is not going to continue to allow us to turn our backs on Him and to deny his authority in this world that He created. The Apostle Peter writes, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). I’m just afraid that one day, God’s patience will have run its course and we will face the consequences of turning our backs on God.
God told the people of Judah, through the prophet Jeremiah: “I will hide my face from this city because of all its wickedness” (Jeremiah 33:5). My own personal prayer is that our country and this world will turn back to God and acknowledge that the LORD is the one who is in control of this world that we live in. I pray for God to forgive us of our many sins and to bring about a spiritual renewal in our country that will spread throughout the world. God has done this before and God can certainly do it again.
Jeremiah reminded the people of Judah and even us today to “Give thanks to the LORD Almighty, for the LORD is good; his love endures forever” (Jeremiah 33:11).