Jeremiah 9:3-9: The horizontal dimension.(click here for passage)
‘’…any theology that minimizes personal holiness and excuses sinfulness is not biblical theology.’’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘The Wiersbe Bible Commentary (Old Testament) p.1218. Jeremiah would not excuse the sins of his people. His message was one of repentance and judgment. The people he lived among were far gone.
These verses paint a grotesque picture of society torn apart by sin; a world in which people do well (in the short term) by lying (3b). And there is a degenerative aspect to sin – a downhill spiral. Things go from bad to worse. What kind of culture is it, when a prophet has to say: ‘’Don’t even trust your grandmother!’’? The Message. This is a world turned in on itself.
The truth is that sin separates. It separates people from one another. But in the first place it separates them from God. Twice in this passage, virtually the identical thing is said:
‘’…they do not acknowledge me…they refuse to acknowledge me…’’ (3b, 6b).
That lay at the heart of the problem. Something had gone wrong at the vertical level that was being worked out in the horizontal dimension of life. People estranged from God became more and more estranged from one another. Your relationship with God will inevitably be exposed in your treatment of others. (Consider Matthew 25:31-46 and Hebrews 6:10). It will splash over into your behaviour towards people. We cannot get away with saying that we love God when we are treating people badly. God is not deceived by such talk. (1 John 4:20, 21).
Our daily news is filled with stories of violence and cruelty; abuse and barbarism. In various ways we see people hurting each other. Wounds can be inflicted by lying words, gossip, slander and the like. It’s not always by bombs, bullets and sharp pointy instruments. Much of our entertainment industry is based around stories of people at odds with each other. There seems to be more and more ‘gutter’ television, featuring men and women being mean and nasty to others. This all points to a people disconnected from their God. Because they are separated from Him, in different ways they move away from each other.
There is much to weep over (1, 2).
‘’Never in history has there been more ribald hilarity with less to be funny about.’’ Vance Havner.
Prayer: Help me to live consciously in your presence, dear Lord; to be so close to you that I detest sin and treat others well.