“To hear or not to hear.” This, to me, is the message of Jeremiah to the nation of Israel. The leaders and people had abandoned the Lord and His word and expected the same prosperity and blessing to which they were accustomed. However, judgment came as the Babylonians swept down from the north and destroyed the cities and scattered the people. Even after all this, amazingly, the people interpreted these judgments only through the filter of their own imaginations. Instead of acknowledging the Lord and humbling themselves, they dug deeper into idolatry. Here’s their response to Jeremiah: “We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord! We will certainly do everything we said we would: We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and will pour out drink offerings to her just as we and our ancestors, our kings and our officials did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. At that time we had plenty of food and were well off and suffered no harm. But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine” (Jeremiah 44:16-18). So, the people left God completely out of their circumstances! They interpreted their extreme trials as coming from displeasing “the Queen of Heaven.” By not listening to the Word of the Lord, they totally missed His will for them. As I read this from Jeremiah, I wondered about the many ways our country turns a deaf ear to and misinterprets His voice speaking to us. We feel the discipline of COVID…. We experience the trials of hurricanes, fires, and floods, and we suffer massive social problems. Yet, we so easily blame other countries, climate change, politics, or racism for all our issues. Don’t get me wrong…. I am all for making steps to improve our world. But lets’ get it straight. We need to repent and get right with God. Nothing else we do will ultimately succeed if we ignore Him. If this Pastor’s Pen received a wide reading audience, I’m sure most Americans would mock and call my thoughts “simplistic generalities of a Bible-thumping fanatic.” It really doesn’t matter if people listen to me. My prayer is for the people of our nation to turn and hear the Word of the Lord. When we hear right, we rightly interpret the signs of the times!
Pastor Mark Boucher