The Lord caused Jeremiah to bring a hard Word to His people. Some years before, God allowed Assyria to overrun and destroy Israel, the Northern Kingdom of this divided land. Despite that example of what happens when a nation rejects God, the Southern Kingdom of Judah followed in her sister’s footsteps. In fact, Yahweh declared in Jeremiah 3:11:
… “Faithless Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.”
According to God, Judah’s sins against Him had mounted to levels even beyond those that Israel previously committed. This, despite the fact that Judah at least had several righteous kings, whereas Israel had none! It got so bad in Judah that the Lord commanded the prophet in Jeremiah 5:1:
“Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem,
look and take note!
Search her squares to see
if you can find a man,
one who does justice
and seeks truth,
that I may pardon her.”
What does this remind you of? How about the conversation Abraham had with the angel of the Lord as he tried to convince God to spare Sodom? Were there even five righteous men in that wicked city? Here, God is asking whether there is even one in Jerusalem!
The reading today paints a miserable picture of a people gone completely rogue. Yahweh asks the operative questions in Jeremiah 5:7,9:
“How can I pardon you?
Your children have forsaken me
and have sworn by those who are no gods… “
“Shall I not punish them for these things?
declares the Lord;
and shall I not avenge myself
on a nation such as this?”
What is left to pardon? The people of the God over all of Israel, north and south, has been completely spurned by those who are supposed to be His. The children of the land have followed their elders into complete apostasy. They worship any god but the One who delivered them from the fiery furnace of slavery in Egypt.
God’s disgust had reached a point of no return. He had extended His mercy and grace time and again, putting up with His fickle people who loved to follow the gods of nations which had themselves proven useless. Through the prophets, Yahweh appealed to Judah for her to reconsider and turn back to Him, and been rejected, more than any human would have put up with. But how did the people respond to His way and His Words? In Jeremiah 6:16-17 they said:
… “We will not walk in it.”
… “We will not pay attention.”
Well, God can take a hint. They obviously wanted nothing to do with Him.
“I’ve warned you,” God says. “I’ve tried by doing everything I can to prevent disaster coming upon you.” Because they wouldn’t listen, He finally declares in Jeremiah 6:30:
“Rejected silver they are called,
for the Lord has rejected them.”
This declaration will lead to utter destruction for Judah.
The question becomes: Is there a parallel with America today? I would argue emphatically yes!
We are not the theocracy Israel was called to be, but we are a nation founded on Godly principles. That earned us much favor in God’s eyes and many blessings. Sadly, we have squandered all that. Just as God accuses Judah, we have caused our children to forsake the Lord. Although our gods have different forms than those of old, we have worshiped them as fervently as Israel did those made of silver, gold, and wood. The eyes of the Lord searching to and fro seek whether there is anyone righteous in our land.
What does He see? Only a remnant. The people as a whole have become Sodom and Jerusalem in our apostasy. We want any god but the God of the Bible.
“So be it,” says the Lord.
He knew from the beginning this falling away from Him would occur. How often did He give us grace to enable our hearts to turn back to Him? Many more times than we deserved.
But, just as Israel and Judah crossed the red line of no return, so have we in America. It’s why we can read in Scripture that men’s hearts will grow cold and rejection of God will reach a fever pitch. This has consequences. We will face them just as God’s Chosen People did of old.
We are the rejected silver now just as Judah was then.
Jesus foretold of this time in the Olivet Discourse in describing the rise of birth pains. In our case, wickedness would grow in men’s hearts to such an extent that God would allow them to give birth, i.e. to deliver, all the evil they had devised.
History surely repeats itself. The hearts of men are deceptively wicked and inevitably cause them to go to the very same low place. America is there. We are on a par with ancient Israel. Our punishment is at hand.
Thankfully, God values the remnant. Because of our faith and loyalty to Him as His children and the Bride of Christ, He will whisk us away before the worst of the worst of His wrath comes upon this world.
Take heart. The Lord our God is faithful. He has promised us deliverance, and He will make good on His Word.