I would rather have the whole world against me and have God with me than have the whole world with me and have God against me.
I’ve been going through Jeremiah in my daily devotions, and what I read this morning really hit me hard. In chapters 14-15, God pronounced judgment on his people because of their sin. The people were oblivious to the gravity of their situation, and, despite Jeremiah’s prayers, God wouldn’t relent (interesting side note: we often sing about how he won’t relent in his pursuit of our hearts as we consider our willing surrender. Here, he wouldn’t relent in judgment because the people turned away from him. That’s not quite as easy to sing about). From what I’ve gathered, God promised to be with Jeremiah if he remained faithful, but nothing could save the people from his hand. They’d run too far into unrepentant rebellion, and no prayer or sacrifice would keep them from the consequences of their sin.
I wrote the following poem in response to what I read. I was struck by how the people took God for granted, trusting in the comforting words of the false prophets rather than actually seeking the Lord. I’m afraid that we do that all too often ourselves. How easily do we give in to sin knowing that we likely won’t be physically enslaved because of our rebellion? Or how easily do we get lazy because we know that, even if we fail at everything, we’ll still probably have food and water for the dinner table? The people in this passage, however, were literally given the choice of judgment by pestilence, sword, famine, or captivity because of their persistent sin; God showed mercy and relented from wrath for a time, but they continued to rebel. I’m reminded both of the gravity of sin that we often forget, and of the massive blessing in the Gospel that we so often take for granted. Sure, we as Christians may not have to fear death and hell because Jesus has rescued us from that fate, but I’m afraid we’ve lost even the healthy fear of God and the appropriate outlook on sin because of our present comforts and securities. Although we may not have to face the wages of sin in the same way as the people in this passage, the holiness of God and the depravity of sin are still just as real for us as for them. This is not something to be taken lightly. We’ve been saved from the wrath of God, and that’s no small salvation.
I don’t know about you, but I know I don’t fear the Lord like I should. I don’t abhor sin like I should. I don’t discipline myself to pursue holiness like I should. But I also know that God has shown us grace and mercy. I know that he has saved us for more than what we often live for. I want to challenge myself, and each of us who know Jesus, to not settle for watered down views of God and sin, but instead to pray for God to open our eyes more and more to the reality of his truth. May we become, by his grace, men and women after his own heart.
Who can stand against your holy justice?
Who, O Lord, would dare to disobey
You, who set the universe in motion,
Standing to eclipse the light of day?
We have been so arrogant and foolish.
We have not embraced your gracious ward.
Now we face your righteous indignation:
Bondage, famine, pestilence, and sword.
Now we fall before you in submission.
Bankruptcy we find in lesser love.
We have set our hope upon your mercy.
Now we turn our eyes to things above.
Do not now abandon to destruction
Us, though we deserve your perfect wrath.
Bring us to the place of your redemption.
Lead us in your holy, perfect path.