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My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hole water.
— Jeremiah 2:13
A cistern is a huge underground jug used in desert areas to hold rainwater. If they leak, they are useless. Jeremiah gives five causes for ancient Israel leaving God. What is amazing is that America today is doing the same five things that Jeremiah discusses. Look at the relevance of this ancient prophet's warning.
1. THEY REFUSE TO LISTEN TO THE WORD OF GOD. “To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it.” (Jeremiah 6:10). Jesus repeats this in Matthew 13:14-15: “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.”
Peter warned us in 2 Peter 3:3-5: “You must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.” Romans 1:21-32 describes America today as there is continual effort to remove the Bible from all public places and all educational institutions.
2. THEY ARE OBSESSED WITH MATERIAL THINGS. “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit” (Jeremiah 6:13). Our culture rejects the wisdom of Luke 12:15 “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” The next six verses tell the story of the man tearing down his barns to build bigger ones to store possessions for himself. Then he dies, showing the futility of materialism. The warning follows “… this is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
As atheism grows in our country, people ridicule the message of 2 Corinthians 4:18-5:1: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built with human hands.”
3. THEY DELUDE THEMSELVES WITH FALSEHOODS. “They dress up the wounds of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). It has been said that when people do not believe in something, they will believe anything. We regularly report on scams in this journal. Some are religious, and some are material. Ancient Israel was seeking false things. Isaiah says, “For these are rebellious people; deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the LORD's instructions. They say to the seers, ‘See no more visions!’ and to the prophets, ‘Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things’ ” (Isaiah 30:9-10).
In the New Testament, we see this challenge faced by the early church. Acts 8:9-11 tells us of a man named Simon who used magic and sorcery to gain a following. In Acts 17:18-21 we see philosophers spending all their time listening to the latest ideas. In Acts 19:13-16 we see religious charlatans conducting exorcisms. All of this is happening in the same way today and seems to fit the prediction of 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12: “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refuse to love the truth and so be saved.”
4. THEY WERE NOT ASHAMED AND COULD NOT BLUSH. Jeremiah 6:15 says: “Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush.” What does it take today to make people blush — to be embarrassed by what is taking place? I seriously doubt that most Americans can blush.
In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul was confronted with a situation where a member of the church was shacked up with his stepmother. Paul said to the congregation that they were “proud” (1 Corinthians 5:2) meaning they made a joke out of it. Ephesians 5:12 tells us, “It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.” In America today the word “shameful” has very little meaning to most people. Why did Adam and Eve try to hide from God in Genesis 3? We have come a long way in a bad direction in twenty-first century America. Philippians 3:19 describes us well: “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.” In verse 18 Paul tells us, “many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.”
5. THEY REJECTED THE ONLY POSSIBLE SOLUTION. Jeremiah 6:16-19 tells them and us: “This is what the LORD says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said ‘We will not walk in it.’ … ‘We will not listen.’ … Hear, you earth: I am bringing disaster on this people, the fruit of their schemes, because they have not listened to my words and have rejected my law.” The “old paths” refers to what God has told us in his Word.
What can save America? As`+ we plunge deeper and deeper into the pit of disbelief and greed, will the people of faith take seriously the work that is before us? Right now we seem as a people to fit the condemnation of Revelation 3:15: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. … So because you are lukewarm — neither cold nor hot — I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Instead of being dictated to by the values of our culture, can we call people back to the standards of Jesus Christ?
Maybe like the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32 our country can “come to itself” and reject the values around us. The politicians and philosophers will not fix what is wrong with our world. The only possible solution is the teaching and example of Jesus Christ taught in our homes and congregations and lived out in the lives of his disciples.
© Rachel Lerch. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.
© Gustavo Frazao. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.
Scripture links/references are from BibleGateway.com. Unhighlighted scriptures can be looked up at their website.