Patterned after the cultures around them, their way of living was exciting. No desire was unsatiated. It was sexy, gluttonous, bejeweled. Indulgent and recreational. It was utter freedom. Except for the resounding voices of the prophets who refused to be manipulated by duplicitous religious leaders who condoned the nation’s insincere worship.
Why couldn’t these messengers of doom just shut up? Or at least get in sync with the more polished, self-righteous leaders who spoke soothing tidings of blessings? No. They had to wail and harp and make a big to-do about God’s imminent judgement. It was totally unnecessary. They were God’s people, weren’t they? In covenant with a God of mercy. Why, they’d just come from His temple! How dare these prophets continue to wail about approaching calamity!
Since the prophets wouldn’t be silent, the people turned a deaf ear. It was easier to enjoy the pleasure of their sin, easier to listen to the smooth words of their religious experts, easier to ignore the unpleasant than to probe into their inner man with the sharp instrument of truth and lay bare their hypocrisy. Once exposed, it would require change, and change took too much effort. It’d necessitate separation and discipline and obedience to an invisible God. The notion was easily dismissed.
Discomforts usually are.
For Israel and Judah who faced awaiting destruction. For we who are content with the appearance of the spiritual at the expense of a real relationship with God.
God had repeatedly warned His people of their need to repent. Through His prophets, He explained that there were consequences to their sin. Not only would it bring division in personal relationships, stymie their purpose in the area, weaken their stance against enemy attack, and limit their blessings, it would also separate them from Him and all encompassed in Him. His protection. His provision. His advancement. And every other good thing He desired for His people. But they wouldn’t repent. They couldn’t value the everlasting and spiritual in their temporal, carnal state of mind. They didn’t see that disobedience to God opened the door to destruction. Loving sin, they loved its god and invited its reward: temporary pleasure and its subsequent total demise planned by the destroyer.
God’s will was never to ravish His people. He desired their good. His greatest longing was to be close to them, to unveil Himself, His holiness, and the riches of Heaven. His mercy extended repeated opportunities for repentance, but the people chose to continue in sin. Sin, which incessantly cried out, for wherever there is sin, there is its voice that demands punishment.
So, God removed the wall that had kept the enemy at bay. Without His protection, without His defense, they faced captivity, famine, and sword. He didn’t take a whip in His hand to punish His beloved, He simply withdrew His involvement in their lives, removing the connection His people had spurned. As one in sorrow turns from the casket of a beloved, an aching God turned His shoulder to the ones He loved, permitting the death they’d chosen. But He didn’t walk away. He didn’t abandon them. He remained beside them. Hurting with them and uttering the comforting words of a brighter future. He offered them hope, found in His steadfast, unchanging character and His ever-abiding love. God permitted their flesh to suffer in order to wound the hardness of their heart. Only then could they see that professed religion was not possessed relationship.
Then—and now—God calls for repentance from sin. Heeding truth and examining our hearts, we can avoid the full measure of what we deserve and receive the full measure of the grace God longs to give. Sin’s call for punishment can be silenced, and we can be restored to full fellowship with the holy and to total fulfilment of our purpose. Our eyes can be opened to see the world for what it is—the culture of the adversary who rejoices over our demise.
Turning from disobedience, waywardness, error, or distraction, we can behold God more intimately and enjoy the Sabbath of relationship with Him—an everlasting rest void of empty rituals and full of the riches God reveals of Himself and of Heaven.
Tip/ Tidbit: Don't go through the motions of religion. Enjoya real relationship with Him.