Did you recognize part of today’s reading from the New Testament? Rachel’s lament is quoted in Chapter 2 of Matthew’s gospel. In the New Testament, such wailing took place as King Herod killed all young boys who might be the promised king from on high. Such a horrible moment in history!
It’s a powerful connection, especially when we remember that Rachel was Israel’s (Jacob’s) wife, and her children would be part of the twelve tribes of Israel currently in exile. How fitting the matriarch would be weeping to see how her children had turned from the LORD and been punished. As parents, we always want the best for our children.
The first thing that darted through my mind as I read this passage was recollection of a recurring nightmare I’ve had where everything looks different. It is my house and my block, but there is absolutely nothing else that is recognizable. Frightening. Did Jeremiah feel like his vision of the future was like a horrible nightmare?
This is one dream that was going to come true. All that he had known would one day be gone, desolate, empty, and in ruins. None of us want to imagine our lives being turned upside down like that. To speak to the magnitude of the destruction, don’t forget that all “towns lay in ruins, crushed by the Lord’s fierce anger.” God does this “on purpose.”
Righteousness is one of those “churchy” words that might seem off-putting if you’re not familiar with the simple beauty. When I see that word, “righteousness,” I immediately translate it in my head to be–“right with God.” But the meaning is so much deeper and richer than that.
For me, I prefer to be on God’s “good side.” I’d be deceiving myself if I thought I was able to do it all on my own. That’s what makes righteousness, in this context, to be such a gift. God gave us Jesus to make us right with God.
You may have noticed that you read verse 5:1 two days in a row. You’re not imagining things. This is one of Paul’s “transition” verses. In some translations, it begins “therefore. In New Living Translation (the one this post links to), it’s “so.” Same idea. What follows in this text is connected in reference to everything that Paul has said in the preceding section. In other words, “in light of what I just said, here’s how to apply it, and why it matters.
“So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” This doesn’t give us free rein to do whatever we want, because that would put us back in chains. But it is pulling on Paul’s preceding message of what we should be doing to stay free. To stay free, we must trust in Jesus as the way to salvation.
God has spoken. He will “sweep away” everything; “wipe humanity from the face of the earth”, “reduce” the wicked, “crush” and “destroy”.
This sounds serious. God was angry. I think as much angry, he was hurt and a bit perplexed. Sinfulness is a like a disease that infests and takes control. How could these people (us included) take all his blessings and still turn away, to worship other idols?
Idols. Ours today may not be Baal or Molech or even golden calves, but they are just same at keeping us from God. Money. Power. Success. I believe God desires for us to experience the good things in life, but not at the expense of a relationship with him.
Hypocrisy. We may say we are followers of God, but do we really follow? Going to church on Sunday does not make us a true follower. What happens on the other six days of the week? How are we prioritizing the most important relationship we have? This passage should be our wake up call to examine our hearts and minds and get right with God.
God’s anger is unleashed here on his people. Do we think we’re immune because of Jesus? While Jesus is our redeemer, we should not take for granted our “get into heaven free” card. If we are truly devoted, we will see the err in our ways.
Let’s be BRUTALLY honest. Are we being complacent in our sinfulness or are we truly repentant? What is keeping us from total devotion? Take time today to reflect on your goals and dreams. Where is God?
Let’s pray. Father, forgive me when I forge ahead on my own course. Forgive me for my selfish heart. I lack confidence right now and question every move I make. I feel crippled and lost. Wash away my fear and doubt. Help me to wipe away the tears so that I can see clearly the path you have set before me. I want my journey to be toward you and honoring to you along the way. Use me Lord as your light. Give me the words I need to say and the wisdom to know when to use those words. In Jesus’ name. Amen.