Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Troubling Voice of Jeremiah

The figure of the prophet Jeremiah sits painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  He is portrayed as a downcast old man who has seen the fall of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple, and the destruction of the  Kingdom of  Judah.  With the fall of Judah, the promised land had been taken away from the people of Israel.  On either side of him stand two mourning women, mourning the fall of both the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah.  Jeremiah's sadness, no doubt, fueled by the insistent rebellion of the People of Israel and Judah.  His warnings went unheeded.  His pleadings only got him in trouble.  God had sent him to warn the people of Judah that they were now in danger, having pushed His hand away from them.  The people of Judah had embraced every sort of depravity and evil.  They engaged in the sin of syncretism: they worshipped the God of Israel on the Temple Mount and went into the Valley of Hinnom and worshipped multiple idols even though to do so was to break faith with God.

One might argue that Jeremiah was too late.  Things had gotten so bad, that his words of warning from God went unheeded.  I wonder if his words weren't meant for those who did hear and listen, even if they were a minority.  I wonder if his words weren't kept so that when Israel had finally been returned back to their land, they would remember and stay away from their former ways

I wonder if we are not in such a time ourselves.  Is there no perversion or sin not embraced by this society?  This did not happen over a small time, but over decades. We drove God from the public square and roundly mocked anyone who does believe in Him.  We have so devalued human life and family that we are watching butchery of unbelievable proportions in this country that we turn a blind eye to the trafficking of human baby parts.  The family is falling upon hard times through economic pressures, constant redefinition, and being treated as irrelevant.  Religion has been treated as a purely private matter that can be molded into whatever is comfortable.  Anyone who points this out is reviled and dismissed as a intolerant relic of days best forgotten.

Are things too far gone?  I don't know, but the troubling voice of Jeremiah needs to be ringing out again; calling us back from the brink of insanity.  That voice needs to be heard with clarity no matter how unsettling it is. 

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