One of the dangers of the religious life is slipping into the view that possessing a certain thing protects us from all harm. Today’s Old Testament lesson is a classic example of succumbing to just such a danger. The ancient Jews in Jerusalem in the days of the prophet Jeremiah sincerely believed that because they had God’s temple in their city that this would protect them from any kind of attack from the outside. What is more, the people even thought that they could do whatever they wanted, since the temple was there to protect them.
Separated by centuries, we might see the folly in the Jewish thinking. Yet, we as Americans can so easily slip into the same mentality. When we think that we are so great that no one will ever take us over; when we sincerely believe that because we are a missionary-sending nation that God will protect us; when we buy into the notion that we can live however we want, but God would never judge the church that I attend and the group I am a part of; then, we have come under the same condemnation as the Jews of old, and we need to hear God’s Word.
“While you have been sinning, I have been trying to talk to you, but you refuse to listen. Don’t think this temple will protect you.” Jeremiah’s message to the people was: “Change your ways and start living right… Be fair and honest with each other. Stop taking advantage of foreigners, orphans, and widows. Don’t kill innocent people. And stop worshiping other gods.”
God does not show favoritism based upon whether someone is American, or not; whether one is a particular race, ethnicity, or gender. He will hold all people accountable. For whom God has given much, much will be required.
Holy God, you still speak today through your Word. Help me to listen well and pay attention to what you are saying so that I might honor you through humility and obedience for the sake of Jesus. Amen.