A horrible and shocking thing has happened in this land – the prophets give false prophecies, and the priests rule with an iron hand. Worse yet, my people like it that way! But what will you do when the end comes?
There is a trap that I often find myself falling into. I have the tendency to fall into a routine and blindly follow the same steps every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. I rarely deviate from this set path. Of course, there is nothing wrong with a routine. It is a healthy way for us to live. The planet more or less operates on a routine as the earth makes its orbit around the sun and the seasons change.
The danger is when things fall into our routine that should not be there. These things can be as simple as watching television or playing a video game more than we should, or they can be something more complex like erroneous line of thinking.
When I read these verses from Jeremiah, I cannot help but imagine that the people of Judah had allowed a false revelation about God to dominate their lifestyle. It probably started small. Somewhere along the line, people started missing the significance and the meaning behind their religious ceremony. They started to believe that adhering to such ceremony was the root of their safety and favor with God. So long as they kept up the show, remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy, God could not bring any charges against them.
That line of thinking slowly started to develop into a disease as they started cheating on their God with idols. They abused themselves with harsh religious rites performed for pagan gods. All the while, they maintained that semblance of connection with the God of their ancestors, and the figured that everything was okay. In fact, false prophets started cropping up, telling the people that they were okay. God would surely not punish them for they were adhering to the religion.
God, however, did not desire faithfulness to a religion. He wanted Israel and Judah to remain faithful to the one true God – the only one who could satisfy that need for a relationship with the divine. God knew that the people were only harming themselves by making these relationships with other gods. Throughout the book of Jeremiah, God compares Israel to a prostitute who expects to find a meaningful relationship by standing on the street corner.
It all started with the simple idea that religion was enough. It seeped into the routine so that the people could not recognize the harm they were doing to themselves.
Sometimes, I wonder if that has happened at all in the church today. Sometimes, I feel as though we adhere to a religion more so that we try to remain faithful to the LORD our God. We assume a few minutes in a quiet time and a few hours on Sundays and Wednesdays cuts it, but God wants something so much more than that. He wants us to find our all, our everything, in Him. Every minute of our days should be spent seeking out a meaningful encounter with the God who is, not the god we try to conform to and create.