‘’Do not trust in deceptive words…’’ (4a).
‘’But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.’’ (8)
When I was a child, and my mum called me in from play to eat at the table, I was told that first of all I had to wash my hands. I could not come to the table dirty; I had to come clean. That is God’s call here to His people.
We have a responsibility to ensure that everyone who comes through the ‘’gates’’ of the church to worship, hears ‘’the word of the LORD’’ (1, 2). Like Jeremiah and the other prophets, we who lead the church and preach at its services must stand in the counsel of the Lord. His word must first come ‘’to’’ us before it can come through us. Let’s ensure that God’s people are exposed to God’s Word, and not just our thoughts, opinions, anecdotes, jokes etc. If there is to be a ‘famine’ of hearing God’s Word, let it not be on my watch; in the place where I serve. If we do not help people encounter God’s Word, the chances are that we will be serving up ‘’deceptive words’’. False prophets may be popular (for a time) but they destroy people (and themselves.) At the heart of worship you have the hearing of hearing God’s Word. It’s not about guitars, drums and funky performances. Of course, musical instruments and voices can be wonderfully employed in the worship of God. But nothing we do in worship should be divorced from His Word.
However, God’s Word will not always be popular. In it He ‘’commands all people everywhere to repent.’’ (Acts 18:30). This message comes first to ‘’the family of God’’ (1 Peter 4:17). It starts with the church. But the human ‘messenger’ regularly gets ‘shot’. The next four chapters are made up of a series of messages that Jeremiah delivered at the ‘’gate’’ of the temple in Jerusalem, possibly in the latter part of Josiah’s reign. These messages of judgment, delivered in such a public manner, gradually caused the people to turn against the prophet.
God calls us to turn from all sin, and one of those sins is idolatry. The people of Jerusalem thought (deceptively) that because the temple was in their city He would always protect the place. The temple had become an idol for them. As someone said, they were worshipping the temple of the Lord and not the Lord of the temple. By repeating the words ‘’the temple of the LORD’’ in a mantra-like way they thought they could ward off danger (see Matthew 6:7). They were sadly mistaken. God calls us to turn away from all wrong-doing, and this includes a false trust in religious objects, buildings, places and rituals etc. Only through faith in Jesus and His work on the cross can anyone be rescued from ultimate danger. This truth will set you free if you receive it, but many messengers find they have to take a bullet for it. It is not universally popular. Many would prefer to keep playing in the mud and skip tea – however good it smells!
‘’Clean up your act – the way you live, the things you do – so I can make my home with you in this place.’’ The Message.
Pray: Lord, keep us always true to truth, as truth is true to you.