image by Max Hofstetter from Unsplash
"Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who make My people stray...[who] say 'Is not the Lord among us? No harm can come upon us.'
Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins...."
What ought to have been a beautiful declaration of faith and trust, of intimacy and closeness with God, was somehow so twisted that it became a condemnation. It's sobering, but an apt reminder.
Do we have false confidence in God's blessing when we are living unrepentantly in sin?
Do we turn a blind eye to the attribute of God's holiness and justice, and His command on us to live likewise as His people, and instead have an imbalanced emphasis on His mercy and His forgiveness?
Are we finding excuses not to address the sin in our lives, finding ways to mislead or distract our conscience?
Are we wanting to be Christian with all the benefits that entails, yet unwilling to give up our pet sins--in denial that they are sins, in denial that they are significant? Happy to be a status quo Christian, content to pay your dues in the form of external duties which promise the assurance and approval of others.
The temptation to ignore what seems like small, petty sins; to purposely not think too deeply, because once you give more thought to application you almost always end up being faced with a call to conviction, repentance, action.
God makes it clear to His people, in no uncertain terms, that holiness is crucial to Him and His people. He condemns the complacency and false assurance of the prophets, who did nothing to address the sin in their own life or in the lives of the people they ministered to. Destruction and judgment.
How do we know when we have twisted the truth in this way? What are the signs that we too, like Israel, have created our own version of a convenient, comfortable Christianity? Created, in essence, our own custom-made idea of God that doesn't challenge our desires and lifestyle--focusing on the attributes that we like, dismissing those that make us feel uncomfortable.
Truth will humble and challenge us, will spur us onto active change, will lead us back to God as the reason and solution.
This--versus complacency, false peace, corruption, flattery that feeds your vanity and self-reliance, condones materialism and greed, panders to what people like to hear, seeking always to be more palatable, not to challenge or push you out of your comfort zone. (v5-12)
We need to be wary, whenever our faith becomes too comfortable, too convenient.
If, each time our conscience pricks us, we always have an argument or excuse to brush that uncomfortable sensation away, and continue our lives without having to take any action.
If we assess others (especially our spiritual leaders and mentors) solely in terms of how good they make us feel about ourselves, and whether they say what we like to hear, if they get in the way of how we want to live our lives. Getting ingenious at finding Bible verses which can be interpreted to support what we want.
"Then they will cry to the Lord, But He will not hear them; He will even hide His face from them at that time, because they have been evil in their deeds."
God's judgment sounds harsh. But--like how Aslan's "not a tame lion"--He is a real God, not One that we can rewrite to suit our whims and moods. His holiness, His righteousness, His justice, are unchangeable and perfect. And thankfully so.
This comes right before the beautiful image of peace and contentment in chapter 4, the famous "everyone under his own vine and fig tree," (v 4) for God's people who "walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever." (v 5)
Walk. Not consult, when convenient; consider; get approval from.
Will walk. Present tense, with an indication of the future.
An ongoing, active relationship which is the basis for our identity, our purpose, our direction.
"For all people walk each in the name of his god--"
--the myriad idols and desires and passions that control us all--
"...but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God
Forever and ever."
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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