How brilliant! God uses Jeremiah remind the people to remember the covenant. It is clear from their behavior that they have not given much thought to this covenant in some time. Maybe ever! The people have no excuse, the answers to life found in the covenant aren’t hidden from them.
“Cursed is anyone who does not obey the terms of my covenant!” Do they even fear or tremble at the curse? Does being obedient to God “show up on their radar” as something they aspire to be better at doing? If so, then they still have a chance to be saved from doom.
I can’t get over the sheer number of animals sacrificed during this dedication ceremony. 142,000 cattle, sheep, and goats. I don’t think I can even fathom how much space they would take up, much less the time it would take. It makes sense the dedication took multiple days, even before the traditional Festival of Shelters was celebrated.
Getting caught up in the details can keep us from seeing the underlying message. Such numbers would suggest to me extreme devotion and a repentant heart. The magnitude of the temple’s importance in the lives of God’s people is also apparent. The grandeur of the temple would call for such a display. It sounds like everyone in attendance was blessed. I hope God was, too!
How can we even imagine what Jesus went through in these final hours. Pilate tried to set him free, but Jesus’ destiny had been set. You can read the whole chapter of Mark 15 for more of those details. It used to shock me how the people turned on Jesus. And while it is still shocking, I can see how God had to cloud their minds so that the cries of “crucify him” would be more than Pilate could bear. These outlandish charges would not warrant a death sentence.
But imagine how Jesus, that is God, felt hearing the angry cries, the chants calling for his death. Even though he expected to die, it had to be difficult to hear coming from the people who days before had been shouting, “Hosanna!” These were the very people he loved so much and would be giving his life for. The inner turmoil must have been agonizing. He couldn’t just blink his eyes and have it over with. He had to endure the cruelty of the cross for us.
Being a worship leader and musician, between the reading in Chapter 4 and today’s in Chapter 5, I can’t help but think of two songs. You can click to listen to Revelation Song and Worthy is the Lamb. Filled with wonder, awestruck wonder, indeed!
Again, we have more beautiful imagery. We see the scroll in God’s hands. That’s how books were written in those days. I understand a scroll could be up to 30 feet long. That’s a lot of words! But God’s scroll was holy and filled with truth. It was sealed with seven seals. Who was worthy to open it to reveal the future God had written?
Can you imagine the tracking system needed to keep track of every animal’s childbearing schedule? Maybe I’m the only one who is a little awed by this. I totally understand how the people were to honor God with their first fruits, and that easily translates into our world today with our salaries as well as the bounty from our land. But to me, a cow is a cow is a cow. Obviously, this Iowa girl didn’t spend much time on a farm. I’m guessing that just like we can tell our pets apart, farmers could tell their flocks apart.
That being said, it must still be quite a feat to remember if Bessie has had a litter before so that her first born can be set aside for the Lord. Did the farmers feel like this was a hardship? What if they made a mistake and missed one, or set aside a second born son? Maybe we sometimes feel like we are facing difficulty in keeping ourselves on track, living a faithful life, resisting temptation so we can live God-honoring lives. I’m pretty sure I’m missing the point Moses is trying to make here. We need to let go of details like this when they distract us.