What do you do when you are hurting? Where do you turn? Do you ever seek to find the root of the problem? Have you ever considered that you may be the problem or do you constantly find someone else to blame? During the days of Jeremiah, Israel had the same problem. The people of Israel were suffering and they were looking for someone to blame, at times even pointing a finger at God. Have you ever seen people do that? Have you ever blamed God for your current circumstances?
Israel began to ask, “how did we get here? Where did it all go wrong?” God raised up Jeremiah to take His message to them. One of the answers that God gives to Israel through Jeremiah is “here is where you went wrong and this is why all of these things are happening to you.”
I. Israel’s lifestyle was the root of the problem
In Jeremiah chapter 2, the first 8 verses, God explains through Jeremiah that the reason that Israel is hurting is because they once embraced God and were devoted to Him when they had nothing but Him in this world. They lived a lifestyle of total dependence upon Him. They were holy, different from the nations around them because they did not trust in themselves, they trusted in the Lord. Then something happened. God took them from nothing and gave them land and a name that was revered among the nations. Israel began to trust in themselves instead of in the One who made them who they were. Little by little, they departed from their relationship with God and they became empty as they chased after their vanity. Once they came to their senses and realized that things were bad, instead of returning to God, they stayed away from Him. They had become comfortable in their sins and because of that, the land had become defiled. God had given them everything and instead of being grateful, they turned to sin. Even the religious leaders, who pretended to know God and lead people in the ways of God, did not actually know God and lived their lives and ministered the way that they wanted. The political leaders were corrupt, lying to the people and misleading them. They were sinning against God openly. The religious leaders preferred to tickle the ears of the people instead of sharing God’s Truth with them. In fact, verse 13 of chapter 2 explains that there were two great sins that the people committed:
- they forsook God (turned away from His guidance and leadership)
- they tried to do things on their own (hew their own cisterns)
Instead of being a positive influence upon the nations, which God called them out of, they began to look to the nations and wanted to be like them (Egyptians and Assyrians).
Does this sound anything like what is going on in our nation today? Is our nation hurting? Have we tried to blame everyone but ourselves? Do we have religious leaders who do not know God yet continue to lead the people? Do we have religious leaders who tell the people what they want to hear instead of proclaiming the Truth of God’s Word? Do we have political leaders who sin openly against God and then lie and deceive the people?
II. Consequences of this ungodly lifestyle
God is a good God. He allows us free will to choose our actions. On the other hand, God is the One who chooses the consequences. He is good because He informs us of the consequences ahead of time and warns us so that we can avoid them. If we choose not to listen to Him, He is still ready to intervene on our behalf when we cry out to Him. Let us take a look at the consequences of turning away from God and trying to do things on our own. Israel began to experience natural disasters in the form of drought. The next disaster is an attack from external enemies. They are surrounded and about to be destroyed. God continues to give them chance after chance to turn it around by admitting their faults, returning to Him, and allowing Him to intercede on their behalf. The people would not listen to God’s message/warning. Some were seeking to make a profit from the misery and misfortune of others. They were oppressing the foreigners, the orphans, and the widows. Others were willing to listen to the lies of the false prophets, lies of false peace. To put it in common lingo, peace at any cost, even if it means compromising on your morals and standards.
Do we see any of this stuff happening in our nation today? The enemy may not be an actual nation but we do see the consequences of turning away from God. Families are falling apart. Children are being influenced by dangerous theories such as evolutions, relativism, and others. Human life is no longer precious. Foreigners are used for political gain. The poor are being manipulated for political gain. Women are being used for political gain. Teens and young adults are being overwhelmed with STD’s. Life seems pointless for so many. Depression is the disease of the 21st Century. We claim to want peace at all costs but we move further and further from it every day that goes by. Our morals and values are under siege and instead of looking to ourselves as the root of the problem, we do not listen to what God says and instead we try to figure it out on our own.
III. God is our solution
It is very simple. He has not left us alone to work out our salvation as the human race. Because of this mentality, we are in the shape that we are in. He is ready to intervene on our behalf if we will turn to Him, humble ourselves and admit that we cannot do it on our own, and finally attach ourselves to Him and become totally dependent upon Him. It is very simple yet so many refuse to do it because it means swallowing your pride. We are all very proud people, even to our own detriment. Once we turn to God, we must begin to practice His ways as revealed in the Scriptures. We must think like He does. We must view other people the way that He views them. We must allow Him to heal us and then take the message of His healing power to the people around us. These are all the things that God reveals to Israel through Jeremiah in chapter 7.