‘’For you have as many gods as you have towns, O Judah.’’ (28b)
Some of the sins of Judah are itemised here. The big one was idolatry (26-28; 33 see 23-25), which was in other words, spiritual adultery. Everything else that was bad in the national behaviour flowed down from this (34) The people were having a string of ‘affairs’ with foreign deities. Notice again the mockery of such ‘worship’ in (27a). People want false gods who will endorse their false ways. But when they are in a crisis they want real help from the true God. In their hearts they know the truth that He is there (Romans 1:19-23; see also Psalm 19).
Another kind of idolatry is mentioned in (36, 37): that of trusting in human alliances rather than in the Lord Himself. Everything we place our ultimate confidence in that is not God will prove disappointing. We will be let down by our ‘gods’.
They did not respond to Yahweh’s corrective words spoken through the prophets. They were in rebellion. They sought to stifle that word by slaying the prophets who brought it (29, 30). They were caught in the prophetic headlights of God’s Word (26) and didn’t like it. At the end of this long process of course, they were to finally kill God’s Son. (Matthew 21:37-39). Isn’t it interesting how people get into a mess because they resist God (17), but then have the gall to blame Him (29)? And He had been so good to them (31, 32). Not only were they sinning against the light (29, 30); they were also sinning against sheer goodness (31, 32; see 5-7). The result was terrible injustice in the streets (34). The kind of god you worship will shape how you treat people. ‘’What an impressive start you made to get the most out of life. You founded schools of sin, taught graduate courses in evil! And now you’re sending out graduates – resplendent in cap and gown – except the gowns are stained with the blood of your victims! All that blood convicts you. You cut and hurt a lot of people to get where you are.’’ The Message. Having abandoned God they also deserted from His moral standards. They descended into immorality and even murder. They killed innocent people, even accusing them of breaking and entering when that was not the case (34). Yet they continued to try to justify themselves (35), which seems to be an almost universal trait.
There is something so contemporary about the words of (27b). People don’t want God for much of the time. They certainly don’t want Him to tell them how to live. But when they’re in trouble they run for the prayer ‘phone and dial ‘999’. In an emergency they expect blue flashing lights and sirens to move in their direction from heaven. ‘’All I ever see of them is their backsides. They never look me in the face. But when things go badly, they don’t hesitate to come running, calling out, ‘Get a move on! Save us!’ ‘’ The Message.
Prayer: Lord, forgive us all our idolatry. Help us to honestly face our sin, and fully turn to you and trust you all the days of this life.
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