Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Just One Person

I am amazed at what the Lord asked of a young man like Jeremiah. He was commanded to speak judgment against God's people. First, please consider the types correspondent with today's church. Jeremiah was not sent to the pagans, but to those who already belonged to the Lord. Our heavenly Father's condemnation was being pronounced not upon strangers, but upon family. To properly apply this message then, we must consider it as being addressed to "we the church" not "they the world."

The Lord challenges His prophet (who was obviously hesitant to participate in bringing the wrath of God upon the Holy City), "Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city" (Jeremiah 5:1). One person? Surely Jeremiah ought to be able to find one person in a city full of God's people who can be found to deter the Lord's anger. Can't he? Just one person who deals honestly? Just one who seeks the truth of God?

There were many who claimed to be godly people. "Although they say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives,’ still they are swearing falsely" (Jeremiah 5:2). Houston, we have a problem! Again, these aren't the pagans. God's own people - who swore that they served Him - were liars. God was looking for truth, so He didn't listen merely to their words ... He examined their hearts.

"O LORD, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent" (Jeremiah 5:3). God - as a Father - worked diligently to correct His children ... but they ignored the spankings. They rebelled against His discipline. They would not admit that they were wrong. Isn't it amazing how good Satan is at what he does?

Jeremiah was bewildered. How could such a thing happen in the Holy City of Jerusalem? "I thought, 'These are only the poor; they are foolish, for they do not know the way of the LORD, the requirements of their God. 5 So I will go to the leaders and speak to them; surely they know the way of the LORD, the requirements of their God.' But with one accord they too had broken off the yoke and torn off the bonds" (Jeremiah 5:4-5).

I can imagine Jeremiah's reaction: "Oh, Lord, surely You don't mean that 'everyone' is unfaithful. Yes, it's true ... I've been preaching Your Word to the people for some time now, and they aren't accepting it. They aren't repenting ... but it must be because they just haven't been taught enough of the 'basics'. So here's what I'll do ... rather than preaching to the masses, I'll go and share Your message with the religious leaders. We'll call a special meeting ... I'll fill them in ... and surely they will be on board with this. After all, they are 'religious leaders'."

Jeremiah finally came to the realization that God knew what He was talking about. When He challenged the prophet to find just one person whose heart belonged fully to the Lord, He did so knowing that Jeremiah would not find such a person ... not among the 'common people' and not even among the 'religious leaders'.

Are we so blind today that we cannot - in the fear of the Lord - apply this to ourselves? What does God see when He examines the modern church? Does He see congregation members who are dealing honestly with Him? Does He see church leaders who seek the truth of God, rather than a truth of their own making by collective agreement?

"Should I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?" (Jeremiah 5:29). 

Doesn't sound like God was very happy with His children. They looked around amongst themselves and saw good religious people. They were happy and content with their lives. But what did God see among the people of Holy Jerusalem? "A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: 31 The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way" (Jeremiah 5:30-31).

Honesty and truth ... that's what God was looking for. He didn't find it. He saw religious people ... those who were serving and praising and ... and all for nothing, because their rebellious hearts were deceived. Yes, they loved having their own way. They loved hearing what they wanted to hear. But God asks a valid question by means of conclusion, "But what will you do in the end?" (Jeremiah 5:31). 

What will we do when we someday stand before a righteous Judge who has demanded honesty and truth? Will we tell Him of our regular church attendance, or our giving patterns, or the events we attended and/or worked? Will we remind Him of the songs we sang, or the prayers we said? Or will our pleas fall on deaf ears, because the One listening knows the truth and honesty of our hearts?

As God Almighty looks within the 'holy cities' we have built for ourselves, will He find that one person? And if He doesn't, what will He do in the end?