You have likely heard the old saying about getting a taste of your own medicine. It means having something done to you that you do to others. We see a good example of this in Jeremiah 7:21-28. God was disgusted with the Israelites. They had provoked Him to anger. Now they would get a little taste of what it felt like to be provoked. Enemies would come upon them. They were no longer to be the object of Jeremiah’s cries or of his prayers. The protective covering that they had was removed because even the ordinary things of life were contaminated by idolatry.
The people were still very religious outwardly, but Jeremiah told them that they were being hypocritical. Several times Jeremiah said that they refused to listen to God. They practiced what is called “syncretism,” which is the combination of what otherwise would be two or more distinct religions. We are the same. We claim to believe in God, but often we act as if everything depended on us, our efforts, and wisdom, our ability to keep all the little planets of our concerns in perfect orbit around the great blazing sun of our inner control freak.
One of the greatest problems of our time is our isolation from each other and from God. We don’t want to ask for help, and we are afraid of being thought of as being “needy.” Some of us will walk in our own counsel right off a cliff rather than show our vulnerability to another human being, or turn to God in prayer. Jeremiah would agree with that assessment. The world tells us to follow ourselves and trust ourselves, but God tells that if we do that we will go backward and not forward. We are just as God made us, and that includes being needy. God made us to fit together. We are interlocking parts that hold Creation together. He wants the best for us, but like the Israelites sometimes we do not listen, even if we have heard the voices of the prophets, the disciples, God, and Jesus.
The key to Scripture is obedience to God. The Israelites did not want to hear that one day they would have to pay for their sin. They were stubborn. Today, we don’t want to hear that there will be a day of reckoning. We do not want God to have any deadlines. We want to continue saying “we are delivered” even when our ways are horrible mockeries of God’s ways. When God told Jeremiah to stop praying, His voice was heard only in the confines of Jeremiah’s heart. The voice of gladness, the sounds of mirth and celebration that God had intended their life to be, would be cut off. Jeremiah cut his hair and sat on the high place that should have been filled with wonder.
The whole thrust of Jeremiah Chapter 7 is that for sacrificial worship to be acceptable to God, we must come to the altar with yielding and believing hearts and a purpose to do God’s will. The Israelites failed to understand that they were a holy people, called out to a new life of total obedience to God’s will.
As He does frequently, God invited His people to remember the past. He told them that God would bring discipline on Jerusalem. The people had maintained the mechanical traditions of burnt offerings and sacrifices while forsaking God’s true commandment: “Obey My voice.” The nation had forgotten God after the death of King Josiah.
God wants us to be prosper. He wants us to be whole, balanced and growing and fruitful and fulfilling His purpose for our lives. We have to ask ourselves, “What do I desire? How am I acting on it?” He wants us to listen to Him and do what He says. Is that too much for Him to ask?
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p. 974)
- Guest, J., & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 19: Jeremiah, Lamentations (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1988; pp. 72-75
- Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles: 2005)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
- Lucado, M: The Lucado Life Lessons Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2010; pp. 1031-1032
- Rev. David Mainse, “Jeremiah 7:23.” Retrieved from www.100words.ca
- Molly Baskette, “Functional Atheism.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Pastor Ken Klaus, “Getting Better.” Retrieved from email@example.com