by Colleen Donahue
"Moral pollution works the same way as environmental pollution. The waste products of careless living work insidiously into the soil of thought and the streams of language poisoning every part of society." (Eugene Peterson, Run with the Horses p.3). Moral pollution had already destroyed Israel and was now on the way to doing the same in Judah. Ironically this destruction was happening during the reign of the good King Josiah.
After the long reign of wicked King Manasseh and a short reign of King Amon, a young boy came to the throne called Josiah. At a mid point in his royal career the law of Moses (which had been lost and forgotten) was found in the temple. Stunned by this discovery the priest Hilkah went to Josiah to read him the law. Josiah was so moved that he "rent his clothes" and humbled his heart to do all that God had said in this book. Josiah determined to follow and obey God with his whole heart and likewise determined that Judah would do so as well.
"And Josiah took away all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people of Israel, and made all who were in Israel serve the Lord their God." (2 Chronicles 34:33) With a new enthusiasm for God and His word Josiah imposed sweeping reforms throughout the land. The idols on the hills came crashing down, and temple services and rites were reinstated and strictly observed. Church and worship were popular and the people enthusiastically chanted "This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!" (Jer. 7:4) They were in the right place, saying the right words but THEY WERE NOT RIGHT!
Unfortunately getting rid of the evil did not make the people good. Everything looked right but the heart of sin within individuals had not changed. Therefore the well-intentioned reforms of Josiah were merely superficial. We can see many parallels in our culture today where image is everything and substance is nothing!
Into this picture we have God's messenger Jeremiah. He was to be the country's last warning before their destruction. How do you tell people that think they are good that they are riddled with sin and corruption and decay? We'll find out as we continue with .....
Day 1 Jeremiah protested what he saw as sin covered by outward reverence to God. The people boldly refuted this charge. Jeremiah 2: 22-23, 35
Day 2 This outward religious form is compatible with the real forsaking of God and atheism. Jeremiah 2:11, 13, 17, 19,32
Day 3 God laments the fact that Judah has followed Israel's example of idolatry. Israel never did return to the Lord and Judah only returned to Him in pretense. Jer. 3: 6-10
Day 4 God saw this religious pretense in Judah as abhorent and actually worse than Israel (who never intended to repent). Jeremiah 3:11 / Rev. 3:15-16
Day 5 Even as God spoke about "Faithless Israel" His loving heart yearned for his children. What did Israel need to do to be accepted by God? Jer 3:12-13
Day 6 If you are living in sin today and long to get right with God then you must do the same two things that Jeremiah instructed the people to do..... "acknowledge your guilt" and "return". How do you do this? Just as you committed your sins one by one so you must confess and acknowledge them specifically not in generalities. Joshua 7:20/ I Sam 15: 24/ Ps. 51: 3-4 / Luke 15:18
Day 7 What advice did God give the people for getting right with Him and finding true rest? Jeremiah 6: 16 With this same recipe we too will be able to get back onto the right road from that of sin.
Day 8 Even though God knows our sins it is important that WE know them and reject them. As we confess before God our hearts are humbled and broken. Job 42:1 / Joel 2:12-13 / 2 Cor. 7:10
Day 9 Our Father's heart is one of great mercy. Notice in the story of the Prodigal Son that it was while the son was still at a distance that .... "his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him." How anxious God is to receive us back!Luke 15: 20-24
Day 10 To the sinner that repents God promises pardon, life, comfort, answers to prayer and the Holy Spirit. Isa 55: 7 / Ezek. 18:21/ Ps. 34: 18 / 2 Chron.7:14 / Acts 2:38
Day 11 To the people of Jeremiah's day God wanted to be their Father- giving and doing good things for them. Jer. 3:14-19
Day 12 How did they respond to God? Jer. 3:20-21
Day 13 What was God's recourse to this faithless people? Jer. 4: 5-8
Day 14 Yet, even in stern warnings of judgement the desire of God to save His people comes through! Jer. 4: 1-4, 14
Day 15 God deeply laments harsh discipline and this lament is expressed through Jeremiah as he seems to see the whole picture unfold of the days ahead. Jer. 4:19-27
Day 16 Despite the judgement coming to the people, it is a judgement with hope. Jer. 4:27 / Jer. 5:10, 18
Day 17 God is much more anxious to pardon and forgive than we are to go to Him. This verse is one more example that God's heart isn't to punish and condemn. He loves us and wants to do good for us. Jer. 5:1 Day 18 But God cannot pardon you where there is no repentence. Jer. 5:3, 7-9/ Romans 2:5
Day 19 And He can see through our bluff. The right words and formalities and ritual cannot replace a right heart. Jer. 5:2 / Jer. 6:20/ Jer. 7:8-10
Day 20 For all of us that feel we are "pretty good" read what God says about man's heart. Jer. 17: 9-10
If the people were to receive judgement for their evil ways there was one group that was to be judged with even greater severity. Who and why?? Let's look at .... Judah's Leaders
Day 21 What did God have against them? Jer. 2:8/ Jer. 5:30-31 / Jer. 14:18b / Jer. 21:21
Day 22 Instead of speaking plain truth to the people regarding their sin and God's judgement, they spoke comforting words that were lies. Jer. 5:12-13 / Jer. 6:13-14
Day 23 There were no leaders that wanted to be unpopular. They had their careers to think about and were eager to get ahead. Jer. 8: 8-11
Day 24 "Shepherds" were one type of leader back in those days. Why did Jeremiah call them stupid? Jer. 10:21 We could substitute the name for a leader of our time and get the same meaning.
Day 25 When God is left out of life, especially by ones that rule, the destruction can be great. Jer. 12: 10-11
Day 26 The prophets and shepherds and scribes etc. were probably using words that sounded like a vision from God but what was it in reality? Jer. 14:14 / Jer. 21: 16-17
Day 27 In Jeremiah's description of the prophets and priests list what God has against them. Jer. 23: 9-15 Compare this with the description that Isaiah gave about 100 years earlier. Isaiah 56:10-12
Day 28 What judgement did God declare for these leaders? Jer. 14:15 / Jer. 23: 1-2, 15
Day 29 God knew that good leadership was vital to His chosen people and therefore in his future plans for them He had a new administration of leaders. Jer. 23: 1-6
In the meantime, Jeremiah was the only leader speaking God's truth during a time when God's truth wasn't wanted. Unpopular and even hated, Jeremiah teaches us what it is to stand alone with regard to men. Next time we'll focus in on Jeremiah's life and leadership in the midst of these dark days.
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