Home > Jeremiah Was a Dragon-Man > Jeremiah Was A Dragon Man: The MO* of the People of God

Jeremiah Was A Dragon Man: The MO* of the People of God

​Sidenote: If you read the chapter, you might have noticed 8:13 and it’s similarities with Jesus words to the fig tree and its withering. In the Mark 11 text, Jesus words to the fig tree and its later withering sandwich Jesus’ activity and prophetic references in his outburst at the temple. I don’t think these two occurrences are just coincidence. I would love to hear/read someone else’s thoughts on the relationship of the Markan text to Jeremiah 7 & 8, in light of my last post. Please call me and tell me or blog about it and let me read it and link others to your blog. It could make for an interesting post for odd people like myself to read.  On to another part of chapter 8…

​”You shall say to them, Thus says the Lord:
When men fall, do they not rise again?
​If one turns away, does he not return?
​Why then has this people turned away in perpetual backsliding?
​They hold fast to deceit;
​they refuse to return.
​I have paid attention and listened,
​but they have not spoken rightly;
​no man relents of his evil,
​saying, ‘What have I done?’
​Everyone turns to his own course,
​like a horse plunging headlong into battle” (Jeremiah 8:4-6).

​I was struck by something in this passage similar to my thoughts in Playing the Whore Isn’t the Problem. The foundational concept in this passage is that it is standard for the people of God to fall and rise again, to turn away and to return. Israel’s many acts of rebellion, its repeated turning away, and its idolatry aren’t really all that surprising to God. Over and over again, even with the most vaunted and faithful characters, the people of God fall into sin and turn away from him. But then, His faithful ones get up and turn back.

​I submit this “returning after turning” is the most basic delineator between those who are God’s people and those who have rejected belonging to God and so God has rejected them. I suppose this idea is in line with a lot of what I’ve written about Jeremiah (thematic, who knew?). The issue is not sin, it’s the continuance in sin (3:7-8), the shamelessness (8:12, which parallels chapter 6) about abominations, replacing YHWH with idols (2:13), and the trust in the deception of the priests and prophets because they are telling Israel what they want to hear (5:31, 6:13-14, 8:10-11). Many in Israel are content (partially because of the previous list) with their perpetual backsliding and refuse to return to God, and so, they will become like Ephraim (7:15).

​So what? Well, I don’t really know, but I don’t see you coming up with any answers. I suppose I appreciate the simplicity. If you turn back toward Jesus (obviously this means a heaven of a lot more than a meaningless apology), you’re in. You are one of God’s chosen people. Many, many people (including me) have, at one time or another, wondered if they still belong to Jesus because they still struggle with sin, feel ashamed, have to keep turning back to Jesus, humble themselves before him, and ask for forgiveness. Ironically, it seems to me that according to words spoken through Jeremiah, these very things which cause people to wonder about their place in the kingdom of God actually confirm they are God’s children. The modus operandi of God’s people has always been to fall and turn from YHWH, then to get up and turn back toward Him, accepting His forgiveness, receiving His empowerment, and bearing His image a little better tomorrow than they did today.

​*I use the Latin phrase modus operandi sometimes. For some reason I think everyone knows what it means even though they don’t. The phrase in modern usage is often abbreviated MO, which is how I will write it in this post. In my understanding, the phrase roughly means, “standard mode of operation.”

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