Lent 2022 – Look, See, Return

Listen to Jeremiah 7-9

Israel and Judah had set up for themselves a type of ritual system that made them asleep to their own sin. In Jeremiah 7, God says that they the people were coming to the house of the Lord chanting, “This is the temple of the Lord, this is the temple of the Lord, this is the temple of the Lord.”

“‘Do you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and follow other gods that you have not known? 10 Then do you come and stand before me in this house that bears my name and say, “We are rescued, so we can continue doing all these detestable acts”? 11 Has this house, which bears my name, become a den of robbers in your view? Yes, I too have seen it. This is the Lord’s declaration.

Jeremiah 7:9-11

Jesus would come 600 years later and say, “It is written, my house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of thieves!” Both Jesus and Jeremiah point out the fact that the people would come to the house of the Lord but their hearts were far away from God. They kept coming, bringing their sacrifices and their offerings. These people were going through the motions, keeping up appearances, but on the inside their hearts were dark. When God brought Israel out of Egypt, He did not speak to them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices but what He did say to them was very clear, “obey me and then I will be your God and you will be my people. Follow every way I command you so that it may go well with you.” But here we see that they didn’t listen, they didn’t pay attention to what the Lord had said, they were following their own advice, and their own evil and stubborn hearts. They were going backward not forward. I find it interesting that God tells Jeremiah plain out that when he speaks this to them “they’re not going to listen to you.” He tells him that truth has perished and it has disappeared from their mouths. God’s wrath was coming. Imagine how Jeremiah must have felt to know that all that he would speak would have no effect on them to make a change. Nonetheless, he was called to speak it.

There’s something really disturbing in this chapter. Sometimes people think when God’s wrath comes that it’s unfair. This is the Lord our God; The God of Justice, the Lord of all Creation, the One who is Sovereign and Supreme. People say things like: if God is good why would He destroy people? Our view is small and our ways are not His ways. Here’s the reason for this destruction that God sent Jeremiah to prophesy over them. Read Jeremiah 7:13: They have built the high places of Topheth in Ben Hinnom Valley in order to burn their sons and daughters in the fire, a thing I did not command; I never entertained the thought. They were sacrificing their children! Topheth is an Aramaic word meaning “hearth” or “fireplace” It is there that they practiced sacrificing children at this site as burnt offerings to Baal and Molech. This is what they had given their heart to. This was the god they were actually following. All of their trips to the temple of the Lord were for nothing, all lip service, and posturing. These “fireplace ruins” in The Valley of Ben Hinnom are still there to this day in Israel between the borders of Judah and Benjamin. An excerpt from an article in the Washington Post in 1999 said this about Topheth, “Still visible are the original, deep angular cuts into the flat scorched stone that held the infamous Tophet, pagan altars created hundreds of years before Christ. Tophet altars are said to be named for the noisy drum that devotees of the mysterious dark god Molech would beat to drown out the ghastly cries of children immolated in sacrifice in front of their own willing parents.”

The Lord said, “It is because they abandoned my instruction, which I set before them, and did not obey my voice or walk according to it. 14 Instead, they followed the stubbornness of their hearts and followed the Baals as their ancestors taught them.”

Jeremiah 9:13-14

Is this not a worthy cause for wrath?

“‘This is what the Lord says:

The wise person should not boast in his wisdom;

the strong should not boast in his strength;

the wealthy should not boast in his wealth.

24 But the one who boasts should boast in this:

that he understands and knows me—

that I am the Lord, showing faithful love,

justice, and righteousness on the earth,

for I delight in these things.

This is the Lord’s declaration.

Jeremiah 9:23-24

Again, as we read further and further into the book of Jeremiah. It is a hard word that Jeremiah had to carry. God is not interested in our posturing and playing. He sees what and who we are very clearly. We are a people whose heart are prone to wander. Lent is a space of grace to look, see, and return.

Where have we been posturing, just going through the motions? Where have we been proud of our giving, talents, gifts but our hearts have been far from understanding and knowing our God.

Thanks for Listening,

Starla

March 2 is the officieal start of Lent and the beginning of our 40 day fast.

Have you decided what that one thing you can’t live without is? I have. It pains me to do it.

But He is worthy of giving it up: Coffee!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.

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