My toddler is a master of destruction. Every once in a while, I can convince him to build a block tower or a sandcastle, but he much prefers that I build things, the taller the better, so he can knock them down.
That kind of systematic destruction comes to mind when I read today’s scripture. But Jeremiah is not describing child’s play. Rather, he prophesies a reversal of the Creation account in Genesis. Where once God brought forth something from nothing, the prophet now uses the exact same language to describe the earth’s return to “waste and void.” The light disappears, farms and cities are destroyed, even people and animals are gone. And where once God observed each stage of Creation and declared it good, the prophet now observes and laments each loss.
The reason for this destruction? God’s people are foolish (see Psalm 14) and are doing evil.
It is tempting to skip over this passage or use it to describe a wrathful God. But perhaps the prophet is describing the natural end to wrongdoing—the fact that, at some point, it all catches up with us. Perhaps the prophet is challenging us to see what we don’t want to see—like the ways our selfish consumption and wastefulness are destroying mountains, rivers, farmland, animals, and people.
As long as we refuse to see the consequences of our actions, as long as we ignore the ways we have contributed to devastation and loss, as long as we don’t stop to hear the earth weep and the people and animals cry out, we will not turn and seek the kingdom of God.
God, help me to see how my actions and lifestyle lead to the destruction of earth, water, air, animals, and vulnerable communities around the world. Wake me up so that I can learn to do good instead of cause harm. Amen.
Jeremiah’s warning of coming judgment continues. The children of Israel have become foolish, have ignored God, and have become good mainly at doing evil. God is going to respond to this situation. The psalmist describes the state of all who are foolish: They deny God and follow their own corrupt desires, including oppressing the poor. The author of First Timothy, traditionally Paul, says that this was also his former way of life. He has been foolish and ignorant, a persecutor of the followers of Christ. In fact, he had been the worst of all sinners; yet Christ has shown him mercy, not judgment. Jesus tells two parables to reveal God’s heart. Rather than neglecting the ignorant, the foolish, and the lost, God searches to find each one of us.
Read Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28. How do your actions show others that you know God?
Read Psalm 14. When have you, like the psalmist, felt that no one knows God? How did you have faith that God would restore God’s people?
Read 1 Timothy 1:12-17. Recall a time when you felt unworthy of Christ’s full acceptance. How has that experience made you more grateful for Christ’s mercy?
Read Luke 15:1-10. In a world full of death and violence, how do you rejoice when God finds one lost person?
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