As we continue preparations for our journey, we need to remember some basic assumptions about the relationship between God and His people that got them into the mess Jeremiah was writing about.
First, God chose Abraham and his descendants to be His people to tell the rest of the world about Him. The covenant God made while Abraham watched was with Himself, and was God’s gift to Abraham and his descendants.
This implied that the children of Israel were called for a purpose. God would watch over and bless His own, and expected loyalty and obedience on their part. They were not at liberty to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, however they wanted.
Second, God provided for His people. God had separated His people from the other nations and cultures during their exile in Egypt. God established His special holidays, festivals, and celebrations unique to Himself and His care of His people. God then led the Israelites out of Egypt to His promised land, sustaining and protecting them from the retaliation of the Egyptians, the years in the desert, and the land’s inhabitants.
As part of this provision, God established a holy place, a place set apart for His people to come and worship Him. The city of Jerusalem and the temple (also known as the Lord’s house) was where God lived among His people. Needless to say, for god’s people to drag in other gods, perform acts of perversion in His holy place, and set up other worship locations other than what God had established was outright rebellion against their Maker.
Third, God established Himself as their one and only God, the true God among all the other gods of the other nations and tribes of the world. Remember God’s first words of the Ten Commandments to the people of Israel:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
(Exodus 20:2-6 NIV)
The nation of Israel had turned their back on God, and had begun worship of many foreign entities like Baal, Asherah, Molech, just to name a few. But yet, when bad things started happening, the Israelites turned back to God for protection and provision.
Like the ancients, there are false gods all around us. They may have different names, like prosperity, power, individualism, and notoriety, but they still have the same goal – to displace God as first in our lives and give us the illusion that we are in control.
May we, as Christ followers, allow nothing and no one to come between us and God as our first and foremost love and relationship. Through Christ’s death on the cross, we have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Let us therefore honor Christ out of love and admiration for what He did for us.