The People of Judah
16The Lord said:
My people, when you stood
at the crossroads,
I told you, “Follow the road
your ancestors took,
and you will find peace.”
But you refused.
17I also sent prophets
to warn you of danger,
but when they sounded the alarm,
you paid no attention.
18So I tell all nations on earth,
“Watch what I will do!
19My people ignored me
and rejected my laws.
They planned to do evil,
and now the evil they planned
will happen to them.”
20People of Judah,
you bring me incense from Sheba
and spices from distant lands.
You offer sacrifices of all kinds.
But why bother?
I hate these gifts of yours!
How do we do what’s right and good when tolerance, complacency, permissiveness, selfishness, moral decline, and pleasure seeking abound? How do we “discover the right route for our souls” (v 16, Msg) when even believers are lazy and content, congregate around preachers who tell them what they want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3), or worse, close their ears completely and refuse to hear (Jeremiah 6:10)?
Israel’s story is our story. Many of the sins that brought God’s judgment on the Israelites are the sins that afflict society today. And the divine solution, prophetically declared by Jeremiah, is for us to take the tried and true road (Jeremiah 6:16).
So how do we take the tried and true road? How do we restore/renew our relationship with God? How do we “find peace” when the world is crumbling (v 16)? This is what the Lord says:
- We must see our reality for what it is. Maybe we’re at a crossroads (v 16) and a choice must be made. If we continue along the road that we’ve been on, we’re headed for disaster (v 19), but if we “ask where the good way is, and walk in it, (we) will find rest for (our) souls” (v 16 NIV).
- We must pay attention to the prophets and preachers who are sounding the alarm (v 17). We must listen as individuals (v 17) and as the whole earth (v 18). Failure to listen will end in our ruin (v 19).
- Sacrifices and religious rituals mean nothing to God (v 20). Nothing short of wholesale repentance will suffice. Superficial external shows of penitence are unacceptable to God. We must change from the inside out. We must turn back to God with broken hearts (Joel 2:13).
There’s hope for the future – but we must decide what we want the future to be. If we take the tried and true road, we’ll live in peace. If we play games with God and show contempt for his Word, the end result is catastrophe.
Lord, at the crossroads of life you offer peace. When we follow your directions we find rest for our souls. Help us go your way and not our way. Amen.