We are living in epochal times – meaning a period of notable events that will change the course of world history. In epochal times, there is a tearing down of the familiar, and a building up of the new. There are many epochal events in our Bible but the most well recorded is the fall of Judah to Babylonian captivity.
The events of the conquest of Judah are in the book of Jeremiah. The epochal character of the book of Jeremiah is made clear from the start when God says to the prophet in Jeremiah 1:10 (NIV): “See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
In our present time, there is much we can learn from Jeremiah, about God’s plans and purpose. While there are a number of consequential lessons for all Christians and the world in Jeremiah, let’s tease out the most basic.
Jeremiah 44:7-10 (NIV) (shortened) states: “Now this is what the Lord… the God of Israel, says… Why arouse my anger with what your hands have made, burning incense to other gods in Egypt… Have you forgotten the wickedness committed by your ancestors and by the kings and queens… by you and your wives in… the streets of Jerusalem? To this day they have not humbled themselves or shown reverence, nor have they followed my law and the decrees I set before you and your ancestors.”
In the above Bible passage, some of the Jews who fled to Egypt, after Judah had been destroyed by Babylon, continued worshiping idols rather than repent. God reminds them how idol worship had a disastrous effect on Judah. King Manasseh for example is recorded to have sacrificed his own son and to have shed so much innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem from end to end (see 2 Kings 21:1-18).
Consequently, God chose to tear down Judah, using Babylon to get the job done. Rather than repent, we see from the passage above taken from Jeremiah 44 the sad report that: “To this day they have not humbled themselves or shown reverence, nor have they followed my law and the decrees I set before you and your ancestors.”
If the people’s arrogant hard-hearted response seems shocking, let’s think about our response to the epoch defining killing of George Floyd. Are we responding out of a spirit of reverential humility before God and a conviction that racism is unjust; or are we determined to maintain things as they are, God be damned!
Lord, empower us to do better than the fellows in Jeremiah 44, Amen!