“I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice.” – Jeremiah 22:21.
In this passage, the Lord is speaking through one of his servants, Jeremiah, to wake up a complacent community that had departed from their covenant with God and now found their comfort in sin, pride, and prosperity. In their prosperity, the Lord was warning them of dangers ahead, calling them to repentance, trying to teach day and night, and yet as always, they chose not to listen. Dire consequences are about to follow:
22 The wind shall eat up all thy pastors, and thy lovers shall go into captivity: surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness.
23 O inhabitant of Lebanon, that makest thy nest in the cedars, how gracious shalt thou be when pangs come upon thee, the pain as of a woman in travail!
Modern prophets also have been warning us in our prosperity–yes, even this troubled economy, hindered by unimaginable corruption and theft of a monstrous scale, is an era of remarkable prosperity and comfort relative to what much of the world has faced. They have warned us against the threats to our families and communities, threats to personal happiness and individual freedom (e.g., the enslavement of drugs, pornography, anger, and immorality), and threats to our souls and eternal destiny. But in our prosperity, we do not listen.
In the Lord’s mercy, in His undying love for us, He will continue to call us back. That’s what worries me.
It worries me because I fear he needs a humble people, a people who have felt the pangs of grief that bring us to turn our hearts back to God when the false gods we have been worshiping finally prove futile in the midst of affliction.
Jeremiah had a knack at being a bit gloomy. One can see why he wasn’t the celebrity of choice to entertain at big office parties. But he saw the big picture and could see the disaster ahead if his people didn’t change. Our most recent modern prophets do a great job of staying cheerful, for the most part, but we must not let their loving, cheerful personalities mute the solemn words of warning they provide. These are serious times and the dangers we face are far more serious than many think.
Put the pride down and turn yourself in–to the Lord. You’ll make things easier for all of us. It really is remarkable how one person’s decision to repent and serve God can change so many things and do so much lasting good. Let’s all get started (again) today.
This is the basic message of Christianity, though it’s hard to tell if you’ve been listening to some of those televangelists who teach the prosperous and the greedy that prosperity is the goal. It’s hard to hear the message of repentance in too much of what passes for preaching these days. But the early and persistent message of Christ’s mortal ministry was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17) and as Paul put it, God now “commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). This was the basic message of Christ and all the prophets and apostles of old: repent and follow God.
It’s just so much better to do it now, right now, in spite of our prosperity. Then there is a chance that we can turn that prosperity to good to truly help others and build up the kingdom of God.