There is a prophetic rhythm in the Old Testament between judgment and grace, wrath and mercy. This chapter in Jeremiah is clearly in the groove of judgment: “This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel says: ‘Listen! I am going to bring on this city and the villages around it every disaster I pronounced against them, because they were stiff-necked and would not listen to my words.’”
Judah and Jerusalem had the Temple, the covenant, the promises. The problem was not that they had forgotten these realities because they continued to offer their sacrifices and attended much of their religious practice. The issue was that they sacrificed to other gods and practiced the ways of religions other than the worship of Yahweh. The ancient Jews used the worship of the one true God as a sort of rabbit’s foot to do whatever they wanted. They believed that since they offered worship to the LORD, the rest of their time and money was theirs to do with however they chose. They were wrong.
Jeremiah prophesied judgment on them for not giving their whole selves to God and for not listening to God when he repeatedly called them to repent from such proclivities. What we must continually grasp is that God is the Lord over all our lives, not just part of them. God cares deeply about everything we do and say. It is a travesty and offense to God when we have an attitude that we put in our time going to church and give a portion of money in the offering plate, and the rest of our lives is for us to with as we please. Everything belongs to God, not just the “religious” parts. This is a message not just for ancient people, but for all of us today who claim the name of God.
O God Almighty, all things belong to you, and you deserve my exclusive praise and adoration. I unreservedly give my life to you, body and soul, so that I will serve my faithful Redeemer, the Lord Jesus, every day in every way. Amen.