Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘This is what the Lord says: Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.
Make your ways good. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, is again sent by God to tell His wayward people to return to Him and avoid disaster; they do not listen, keep on rejecting God, worshiping the Baals, sacrificing children to Molech, and they also plot Jeremiah’s downfall. Eventually God’s disasters come, the kingdom is defeated, the temple destroyed and the people are exiled into Babylon. God does not deal with idle threats, but neither are His promises idle. Israelites turned back to their God in exile and after a time the promised land was returned as God had promised, and just as had been promised in Eden Jesus came, took our suffering, died and rose again, destroying the power of sin, death and the devil. God’s promises are sure.
But what about you? The Ten Commandments teach us that our heavenly Father will punish those who break them to the third and fourth generation and will bless those who keep them for thousands. So do you listen to His words, to His promise to you? Or do you ignore His commands, His word for your life, that gives you life? The Hebrews turned from the one true God again and again they suffered because of their sins; for a time they lived God’s way, but again and again they turned from this narrow one and went their own way, the ways of the people around them. How often do you do the same? Do you consider your Lord’s will when you make a big decision? Consider all He has done for you when you eat your food and drink? Do you reflect on the wonder of His forgiveness for all your failures? How does the way you live everyday show you glorify Him and not anyone else?
Jesus says His disciples must give up on everything to follow Him (Luke 14:33), to live not for your parents, not for your spouse, your child, or even yourself; but rather to live only for Jesus. For the ancient Hebrews it was obvious when they worshipped another god, for us it is harder to recognise, but when you do not reject all this world to cling solely to Christ you break God’s commandments, refuse to listen to His word. This is the cost of discipleship, it’s easy to see why the Hebrews continued in their own ways, doing what they thought was right.
To walk God’s way, to listen and obey His words of command and promise, law and gospel, is to do everything for the glory of God. To repent. Paul writes of a good example, Onesimus, a runaway slave who name means useful, but turned out rather useless to his master Philemon. However Onesimus became a Christian, rejected his own selfish way and went to return to his servanthood. He gave up his freedom in this life to submit himself, not to Philemon, but to Christ. Now Paul doesn’t leave it there but also almost coerces Philemon to show mercy to his runaway slave, to treat him like a brother for Christ’s sake, to reject society’s standard and perhaps his own retribution against this criminal. To reject our own sinful ways and to follow God’s righteous way of forgiveness, peace, joy and love.
So what about you? Did you pay attention to the reading of Holy Scripture, +the different verses we use for the liturgy, to Christ forgiveness to you for all your sins? And will you live in the light of these truths, to truly listen to what God Almighty has told you, to reject the evil of this world, to live differently, to live as God’s people and to strive daily to lead a holy life, even as Christ has made you holy? How is your life different from non-Christians?
If people I knew from school saw me now they would easily see I am married and have a child by the way I speak and act. My life is now fundamentally different to when I was a high schooler, though I still cook, just now I’m cooking for Rehab and Nathaniel, not my brother Ben, the fundamental reasons have changed. In Baptism, in Holy Communion, in receiving the Holy Spirit and God’s grace your life has been fundamentally changed, is this wonderful truth reflected in the way you live each day or do you still walk in the ways of the wicked, abusing God’s gifts and His love? How, with the help of the Holy Spirit, could you change your life for the glory of God; and how can you encourage the rest of us to live in God’s way? That’s a take home question, to ask God and yourself.
An important question that ancient Hebrews rejected. They heard God’s dire warning, repent or face destruction, a promise of suffering, and they received it; but for you do not forget Jesus Christ has suffered for you, in Him is forgiveness and new life. You have heard God’s Word the truth of your evil and of Christ’s forgiveness and gift of new life, and agreed confessing it. So as we are renewed by His body and blood, live in that new life, in God’s good way.
And the peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts in Christ Jesus now and forever. Amen.