To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ears are uncircumcised, they cannot listen; behold, the word of the LORD is to them an object of scorn; they take no pleasure in it.” (Jeremiah 6: 10)
Jeremiah was prophesying to the Israelites during the first Temple period at the beginning of the 6th century B.C. Yet, his words have bearing today, 2700 years later. Jesus Christ came as the Messiah of the Jewish people, and also as the universal Messiah. He came to save all those who received Him. (John 1:12; Romans 1:16). Jesus himself said that He did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it. (Mt 5:17) Thus, we cannot say that sin and its punishment belongs exclusively to the Old Testament. Because Jesus fulfills the Law, the prophesies of God’s judgment on the Chosen People are also relevant to the followers of Jesus Christ. Jesus tells us to count the price of following Him.
In Romans 1, we read that in giving sinners over to their sinful ways, Almighty God is already dishing out judgment. (Romans 1: 18-32) There is a long list of sins, and by the commission of those sins, those committing them are being brought to judgment. The sins themselves are linked to judgment. Judgment is not merely a consequence of sin, or a punishment for the sin. Sin is to be viewed holistically as part of the judgment. One may imagine the sin itself as a kind of trigger mechanism that brings a chain of horrors in its wake.
In chapter 7, Jeremiah provides a comprehensive list of the sins that are bringing judgment. The sins are non-political, but we know they are precursors of and an incitement of God to bring the Babylonian Captivity which would soon follow. They know the moral law, they have the Temple sacrificial system, they have the Torah (first five books of Moses), but they have turned against all that God has revealed to them. In a certain sense, even the Law was given by grace though in another sense it has been superseded by grace as a means of reconciling us with God. The Law did not originate in man, but was revealed from heaven.
Let’s look at the list of non-political sins that are going to have corporate socio-political and economic consequences for the entire nation. They are presented in great detail in Chapter 7.
1. Failing to execute justice. (v. 5) Do we not have convicted murderers like Nidal Hasan (Fort Hood massacre) and Dzhokhar Tzernaev (Boston Marathon massacre) in jail and not executed even though they have been convicted of mass slaughter and sentenced to die? Where is the justice? Do we not have high public officials who, despite their crimes, have been shown favoritism by the FBI and the DOJ and are still walking free and bad-mouthing 62 million sincere middle-class and working people as “deplorables”? Where is the justice? Do we not have nepotism in many governmental offices, a nepotism that was supposed to have been superseded more than 100 years ago by the exams of civil service? Where is the justice?
2. Oppression of the fatherless and the widows. (v. 6) Isn’t divorce and single motherhood a pandemic in the USA as the family collapses, especially in the black community? Unwed moms and no-fault divorce have swept family values out with the morning trash. Yet, where are the voices to restore families and reduce non-marital birthing of children? Phyllis Schlafly, when she was alive, wanted to revise the tax code to an earlier stage where deductions incentivized family unity. Where are the voices and efforts to restore fatherhood as an important role and not merely a biological deposit of some sperm? On TV, we have gone from “father knows best” in the 1950’s to reality TV where the Kardashian step-father, Bruce Jenner (who fathered six children with three different wives) eventually had genital reversal surgery, pretending that his maleness and fatherhood was all a mistake.
In the black communities, all we read about are “role models.” Fatherhood is of the past, and, with 75+% of African-American children being born out of wedlock, is being reduced to one-who-carries-and-ejects-spermatozoa. All one hears today among the social service-oriented professionals is teachers as role models, coaches as role models, sports and movie stars as role models, etc. etc. It would seem that “Honor your role model and your mother” has replaced God’s commandment.
Further, we now have legalized marriages between women where there are NO fathers, and between two men where fatherhood makes no sense since the essential complementarity with the mother is missing.
3. Shedding innocent blood. (v.6) God makes it clear that he is referring to child sacrifice being performed in Israel. With over 60 million abortions in the USA since Roe v. Wade in 1973, it should be obvious that we have returned to child sacrifice, but now it’s to a new idol, “women’s health.” It’s also seen as part of women’s equality and freedom. It is a theory of the person without the Ten Commandments defining the person. It’s the Ten Commandments-in-reverse: Thou Shalt Kill…unless conditions a, b, c, d, etc. obtain and you have good reasons for having a child, it’s the “right time” in your life, and sufficient financial and emotional stability is there to care for the baby.
4. Going after other Gods. (v.6) Also, related to this, families are baking cakes for the queen of heaven. (v. 18) In related manner, they pour out drink offerings to other gods. (v.18) It may seem shocking to some readers, but truth telling requires me to say that the today’s counterpart to this 2700 year old sin is worship and adoration of the Virgin Mary by the Roman Catholic Church. She is sometimes even referred to as the Queen of Heaven.
5. Stealing, murdering, committing adultery, swearing falsely, making offerings to Baal, and going after other Gods. (v.9) In short, they were turning their backs on the Ten Commandments. There is a proliferation of religions in the USA especially. One woman at a 7/11 in Tampa, FL told me about her love for and faith in Mother Nature. When I told her that “Mother Nature” was merely a poetic image of nature as nurturing and providing many of the conditions of our survival, and that Mother Nature as a person did not exist, she looked at me with disdain and disgust. All the cults and sects are an offense to our Holy God.
Despite the drop in violent crime since the 1990’s, the crime rate is still about twice as high nationwide as it was in 1960. Stealing and murdering are rife. And yet, as was noted even by the great writer Fyodor Dostoevsky in his book about his years in prison, The House of the Dead, during his 18 years in prison, not one person ever admitted to or repented of his crimes. They are lying in their teeth and before God that they didn’t do it. And lest someone think that was just in 19th century Russia, one of my friends had a prison ministry for a number of years in California, and told me that he never met one inmate who admitted guilt for the crime for which he was imprisoned. Every single one had some reason to mitigate their guilt!
As we look at this comprehensive list from the writings of Jeremiah, we know that these sins preceded one of the most devastating judgments from Almighty God. The judgment was known to Jeremiah ahead of time, just as the deliverance of the Israelites was made known to Moses. God has the right people at the right time to reveal His intentions. Looking at the intense presence in American society of these egregious sins listed in Jeremiah, it is obvious that a judgment on the scale of the destruction of the First Temple and the Babylonian Captivity is on the horizon for the USA.
Whatever happens regarding negotiations with North Korea, Iran, or even with the Arabs with respect to Israel – even if all these centers of tension are resolved favorably – as long as the above areas of sinful living continue to fester and direct our day-to-day lives, we can be sure that a cataclysmic judgment will follow. This writer writes this humbly and with no sense of joy. Even with very positive achievements on the political front, which I certainly hope will take place under our pro-active President, judgment on the scale of 6th century B.C. events in Jeremiah will occur.