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God’s Word for You

Jeremiah 22:6-9

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, February 10, 2015

6 For this is what the LORD says about the house of the king of Judah:
You are like Gilead to me,
  like the peak of Lebanon.
Yet surely I will make you a wilderness,
  like uninhabited towns.
7 I will send destroyers against you,
     each man with his weapons.
They will cut down your choice cedars
  and through them into the fire.

God’s love for Israel and Judah was boundless. He would have done anything for his people, and he did spectacular things for them. He raised them up from a dead family, a childless elderly couple in a faraway land. He moved them to Canaan, promised them everything, and gave them the impossible child: Isaac. Everyone who came into contact with them was affected by God’s constant blessings: Those who had faith were blessed to overflowing; those who rejected God were annihilated.

But besides God’s love, there is God’s glory and holiness. Those who hate him cannot have fellowship with him, and his people turned away from him. So even though his love set them up like the tallest mountain peaks (towering above Gilead is Mount Hermon, always dominating the northeastern skyline of Israel, and in the northwest are the heights of Lebanon), he had to withdraw his loving hand when they turned away. Without God’s blessing, they would turn into a desert wilderness. The lush green of Canaan (and the “choice cedars) would give way to the grim, burned-out and stony wasteland of the Israel everyone knows today.

8 Many nations will pass by this city and will ask one another, “Why did the LORD do such a thing to this great city?” 9 And the answer will be, “Because they abandoned the covenant of the LORD their God. They worshiped other gods and served them.”

Jeremiah depicts pagans who easily understand what happened to Israel even if the Israelites themselves didn’t get it. Let’s listen in to a passing king whose young son is riding with him in his chariot.

     “What are all those big square rocks, daddy?”
     “Those are the ruins of cities, son. This one was called Jerusalem.”
     “Didn’t their god protect them? What god did they worship?”
     “They worshiped the LORD.”

     The father reigned in the team of horses and they walked through the rubble that used to be the old City of David. The boy spoke up again, “Why did the LORD do such a thing to this great city?”
     “Because they abandoned the covenant of the LORD their God.”

     “What’s a covenant, daddy?”
     “You’ve seen me make a covenant. Like when the king of Egypt and I agreed to trade our fruit for their grain.”
     The boy jumped in again, understanding: “I remember. He wore lots of gold and had funny paint on his face. You cut a goat in two and walked between the pieces together!”
     “That’s right. We promised to keep the treaty—the covenant—and if we failed, we would be cut in two like the goat. That’s what a covenant is.”
     “So these people failed to keep their covenant with the LORD, and he cut them in two and they died?”
     “That must be what happened. They worshiped other gods and served them.”

What’s obvious to pagans is sometimes hidden from God’s people. Why? Because sin veils our eyes and addles our brains. That’s why we keep listening to God through his word, praying for his guidance, and thanking him for his blessings. When we stumble, he forgives and lifts us up. But we keep thanking him, listening to him, and following him. That’s what it means to be a child of God.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.