Jeremiah 16:10-12 & 16:21
By Drew Zuverink
"When you tell these people all this (the terrible things that were going to happen to them) and they ask you, 'Why has the Lord decreed such a great disaster against us? What wrong have we done? What sin have we committed against the Lord our God?' Then say to them, 'It is because your ancestors forsook me,' declares the Lord, 'and followed other gods and served and worshiped them. They forsook me and did not keep my law. But you have behaved more wickedly than your ancestors. Therefore I will teach them - this time I will teach them my power and might. Then they will know that my name is the Lord."
The book of Jeremiah is kind of a sad and a scary book of the Bible. Quite a bit of it is about how angry God is with his people because they have forsaken him by turning to other gods. This makes God pretty darn angry and he says some pretty intense stuff about what he is going to do to them because of their disloyalty.
In our passage for today, the people of God ask why he's punishing them so severely. God responds by telling them it's because their ancestors, meaning their great grandparents, grandparents and parents, started a family cycle of unfaithfulness to God. Now the younger generation is following in their ancestors footsteps by worshiping other gods and breaking other parts of God's law as well.
There is no doubt that God has many reasons for why this upsets him so much, but I would like to focus on just one.
Think about what message it was sending to every other nation who knew that the Israelite's were God's chosen people. You see, every nation had different gods that they worshiped and Israel was unique in the fact that they only worshiped one God - Yahweh. When the other nations saw the Israelite's worshiping other gods besides Yahweh, they would have thought to themselves, "The Israelite's are actually just like us. Yahweh must not be that special if they are choosing to forsake him for other gods." The Israelite's were basically telling everyone else in the world, through their actions, that God is not that great.
Fellow people of God, we too are communicating just how valuable we think God is to the people around us. The way that we talk about God, if we talk about him at all, will let people know how highly we think of him. The time that we spend with him, communicates, especially to the members of our own household, how much God means to us. I don't know about you, but when I'm a parent, I hope that my children will know how much I love God by observing how much I love to do my devotions. The same is true for times of hardship. If I don't turn to God when I'm hurting, then I am telling, whoever might be watching, that God isn't someone who can comfort very well.
People are watching you, whether you realize it or not, and your actions are describing God's value to them. I am not encouraging anyone to fake anything. If you feel like your actions are describing a God that isn't all that great - maybe it's because you actually believe that. Take the time to deal with that on a personal level, do not try to fake anything, that doesn't do anyone any good. For the rest of you, if you feel like you really do believe that God is the most valuable thing in this world, but maybe you are afraid to show that to the people around you, don't be ashamed. Express your love for God as genuinely as you possibly can without worrying about what other people might think. There is no shame in letting others see just how much we love our God. He really is the best, let's act like it.