The “tale” told in Jeremiah is a sad one. The people of Israel knowingly and willing worshiped gods that were not theirs. As we read their tale, they saw wealth, prosperity, and security as the gift of their gods, when it was God who protected them. Now that God is calling them to face the consequences of not being the People of God, they blame God for their circumstances. They were warned that their continued worship of other gods would be punished, but that there was another way. They were stubborn. They knew what was “right”. That old God didn’t mean anything to them.
If there had been one or two worshiping other gods, things might not have turned out the way they did. We can draw from the verses, however, that a large proportion of the population was worshiping these other gods, and most of the remainder were complicit in allowing it. In other words, it wasn’t just the worshipers of other gods that were in the wrong, it was the worshipers of God who did nothing who were wrong, too.
The consequences could have been avoided. Hosea’s words show that God is always open to repentant hearts. The requirement for repentance is often too hard for many…pride. There is another portion for whom repentance is hard not because of pride, but because they see themselves in such a poor light, that repentance is pointless, for God would never accept them.
1) Do you know someone that thinks too little of themselves? What can you do to show and explain the depth of God’s grace, mercy, and love?
2) In a multi-religion nation like the United States, we are not called as a nation for the purity of worship that the Israelites were called to. However, as a Christian body, we are. What are some tensions you have experienced, whether now or earlier, where purity of worship has been an issue? What is purity of worship?