Posts Tagged ‘repentance’

Jeremiah Was A Dragon Man: “Do I look pretty?” She asked the log.*

June 23, 2012 Leave a comment

One thing Jeremiah does consistently throughout his prophesying is explain in numerous ways the absurdity of following gods that are not gods. We’ve already heard Jeremiah say in chapter 2:
Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods?
But where are your gods that you made for yourself? Let them arise, if they can save you, in your time of trouble; for as many as your cities are your gods, O Judah.

We also saw in my last blog post how these gods, constructed with human hands, have no ability to sustain and enrich life.**

Now Jeremiah is revealing something else about the nature of these gods that are no gods:

And you, O desolate one,
What do you mean that you dress in scarlet,
that you adorn yourself with ornaments of gold,
that you enlarge your eyes with paint?
In vain you beautify yourself.
Your lovers despise you;
they seek your life(4.30).

These “lovers” are the false gods of Israel and Judah. Jeremiah (along with many other prophets) often uses terms like “lover” to describe the other gods of the Hebrews because he uses the marriage metaphor so often to describe YHWH’s relationship with Israel. So, this passage isn’t meant to describe merely a sexual relationship with the opposite sex; however, I suspect there are multifold implications present, as the worship of some of the gods included cult prostitution and with Babylon’s impending hostile takeover, intermarrying with those who sought other gods was an ever present danger. At any rate, what struck me about the nature of these other gods is what they require of their followers.

In the context of this prophecy, “every city takes to flight;… all the cities are forsaken, and no man dwells in them” (29), and Israel and Judah are still trying to bring pleasure to the very lovers that have brought them to this state. Even though these gods have been formed by human hands out of wood and stone and have no more power than a tree and a rock, people are still dressing up, hiding their imperfections, and trying to appear as beautiful as possible to be accepted by their lovers, hoping somehow these powerless things which care not for Judah will save Judah.

Their gods are not unlike our gods. We look to our gods to bring us salvation from what has broken us in our lives. We want them to provide for our sense of self-worth, for our contentment, for our happiness, for our wholeness, and heal us from brokenness. We make up these gods, they have no more power than a rock or tree to do what we want them too, but we still hope that if we can just be enough they will be for us what we need them to be. If we just wear the right clothing then maybe the opposite sex will notice us and we will feel desired. If we do well enough at our jobs others will appreciate us enough that we will feel worthwhile. If we hide this or that from others (and maybe ourselves), then we will feel good enough as a person. If we can seem more awesome, then that right person will come in and make us whole. If we drink enough, watch enough tv, have enough sex, play enough video games, then, maybe then we can be truly happy. It’s the same thing the Hebrews did – put up a façade in order to please gods who have neither the ability nor desire to help us, only the capacity to distract and destroy.

My God (and perhaps yours), is completely unlike this. The last thing YHWH wants is a façade. He doesn’t want us dressing up and pretending. He doesn’t want us to hide our sins, flaws, and imperfections. He is looking for an honest heart which acknowledges all of its evils and wrongdoings. YHWH is longing for you to be you, not for you to feel like you have to pretend to be someone else in order to receive the salvation, redemption, and restoration that you need. It is true that YHWH does want us to please Him, but He is not looking for us to please Him so He will accept us, take us back, and restore our lives. Our God wants us to please Him because we, in the middle of our sin, were taken back by him, healed, made whole, and accepted back into relationship with the perfect Father and Bridegroom who longs to be our constant source of life as it is meant to be.***

* The log did not respond.
** Broken Cisterns compared to the fountain of living water
*** See Jeremiah 3:11-4:4


Calling, Crying, and Cleaving

November 10, 2008 Leave a comment

I was reading through 2 Kings and something interesting struck me at 2 Kings 22:8.  The verse says, Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, ‘I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.’ He gave it to Shaphan, who read it. This finding was during the reign of king Josiah, who began his reign at 8 years old.  He then repented for all the sins of his fathers because the way that they lived was so opposite of what the Word of YHWH said.

Although Josiah was not the one that had begun the moral, ethical, and spiritual decline of the Israelites, he tore his robes (2 Kings 22:11), humbled [himself], inquired of the Lord (verse 13), and wept in [YHWH’s] presence (verse 19).  He recognized that God had been displeased.  The resurfacing of the Scriptures made it clear that the actions of the Israelites were disdainful and angering to God.  The very people God chose to worship Him and show the rest of the world who their marvelous and powerful God was were the people that were actively putting up temples and high places dedicated to new, more trendy, more physiologically pleasing gods.  The anger of YHWH and His actions of destruction is merely God being faithful to His side of the covenant – which is to bless obedience and punish disobedience, that Israel might not be ruined forever by her sin, but might repent and again live in the love of her Creator.  Josiah saw the promises of God in Scripture.  He heard and understood the covenantal relationship God chose to begin with the sons and daughters of Abraham.  It seems that it was clear to Josiah that the only natural response  of this good, just, loving, wonderful God to the sin of his sons was to remove his hand of blessing from Judah and allow destruction to come upon them.

Josiah’s response is telling of what he believes about reality and YHWH.  It shows us that he believes the Lord to be holy to the utmost degree, demonstrated by his unbridled humility and mourning.  He believes that God is keeping His covenant even when the Israelites.  He believes sin is damaging to both the generation of those that sinned and  to subsequent generations.  Most importantly, Josiah believed in a God that was forgiving and in a dynamic relationship with us.  Josiah believed that God might choose to stay his forthcoming wrath if Josiah made it clear that he was sorry for the sins of his forefathers and was repentant in both heart and action for his own continuing propagation of the sins of his father.  I think this belief in YHWH’s variability in responses toward us is key for any act of genuine repentance, pleading with sincerity, acts of humility.  I’ll probably have to write another blog post about that in the near future.

I think our hearts should break over the sins our fathers perpetrated and perpetuated through us.  I think our hearts should be broken over our own ignorance as we discover a new what living in obedience to God should look like and how our predecessors have handed down patterns of living that are oppositional to the way of Christ.   My soul aches over the ways the ancestors of our church have handed down theologies and ways of living that result in the formation of exclusivist groups that are about keeping people out instead of inviting people in.  I cry over the judgmentalism, hypocrisy, pride, consumeris, exclusivism, politicism, and selfishness that has been deeply rooted in the American church.  My familial predecessors have left a legacy of alcoholism, gossip, abuse, emotional ineptitude, arrogance, and soul concealment.  These sins that those before us have committed are worth weeping over because of the way they have dishonored our communal covenant with God.  The sin is worth repenting over because of the way it now manifests itself in us – in me.  As we come into more truth about who God is and how we are to respond, our ignorance of those that went before us begins to evaporate and we see their actions more clearly.  As we see our forefathers and mothers in a more clear light, our own souls are elucidated and we see that those things we might once have called personality traits or just the way we do things are actually sinful behaviors, attitudes, and mindsets passed onto us.

Let us repentantly correct the sinful legacy of those that went before us, careful to pass on to those that come after us a legacy of holy love.

Coming Up Next:
A Review of Max Lucado’s Cast of Characters

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