The Way Back
A daily devotion for August 6th
5 This is what the Lord says:
“What fault did your ancestors find in me,
that they strayed so far from me?
They followed worthless idols
and became worthless themselves.
6 They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord,
who brought us up out of Egypt
and led us through the barren wilderness,
through a land of deserts and ravines,
a land of drought and utter darkness,
a land where no one travels and no one lives?’
7 I brought you into a fertile land
to eat its fruit and rich produce.
But you came and defiled my land
and made my inheritance detestable.
8 The priests did not ask,
‘Where is the Lord?’
Those who deal with the law did not know me;
the leaders rebelled against me.
The prophets prophesied by Baal,
following worthless idols.
9 “Therefore I bring charges against you again,”
declares the Lord.
“And I will bring charges against your children’s children.
10 Cross over to the coasts of Cyprus and look,
send to Kedar[a] and observe closely;
see if there has ever been anything like this:
11 Has a nation ever changed its gods?
(Yet they are not gods at all.)
But my people have exchanged their glorious God
for worthless idols.
12 Be appalled at this, you heavens,
and shudder with great horror,”
declares the Lord.
13 “My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
14 Is Israel a servant, a slave by birth?
Why then has he become plunder?
15 Lions have roared;
they have growled at him.
They have laid waste his land;
his towns are burned and deserted.
16 Also, the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes
have cracked your skull.
17 Have you not brought this on yourselves
by forsaking the Lord your God
when he led you in the way?
18 Now why go to Egypt
to drink water from the Nile[b]?
And why go to Assyria
to drink water from the Euphrates?
19 Your wickedness will punish you;
your backsliding will rebuke you.
Consider then and realize
how evil and bitter it is for you
when you forsake the Lord your God
and have no awe of me,”
declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty.
20 “Long ago you broke off your yoke
and tore off your bonds;
you said, ‘I will not serve you!’
Indeed, on every high hill
and under every spreading tree
you lay down as a prostitute.
21 I had planted you like a choice vine
of sound and reliable stock.
How then did you turn against me
into a corrupt, wild vine?
22 Although you wash yourself with soap
and use an abundance of cleansing powder,
the stain of your guilt is still before me,”
declares the Sovereign Lord.
23 “How can you say, ‘I am not defiled;
I have not run after the Baals’?
See how you behaved in the valley;
consider what you have done.
You are a swift she-camel
running here and there,
24 a wild donkey accustomed to the desert,
sniffing the wind in her craving—
in her heat who can restrain her?
Any males that pursue her need not tire themselves;
at mating time they will find her.
25 Do not run until your feet are bare
and your throat is dry.
But you said, ‘It’s no use!
I love foreign gods,
and I must go after them.’
26 “As a thief is disgraced when he is caught,
so the people of Israel are disgraced—
they, their kings and their officials,
their priests and their prophets.
27 They say to wood, ‘You are my father,’
and to stone, ‘You gave me birth.’
They have turned their backs to me
and not their faces;
yet when they are in trouble, they say,
‘Come and save us!’
28 Where then are the gods you made for yourselves?
Let them come if they can save you
when you are in trouble!
For you, Judah, have as many gods
as you have towns.
29 “Why do you bring charges against me?
You have all rebelled against me,”
declares the Lord.
30 “In vain I punished your people;
they did not respond to correction.
Your sword has devoured your prophets
like a ravenous lion.
How can you say,Jeremiah 2:23-24I am not defiled; I have not run after the Baals?See how you behaved in the valley; consider what you have done. You are a swift she-camel running here and there, a wild donkey accustomed to the desert, sniffing the wind in her craving — in her heat who can restrain her? Any males that pursue her need not tire themselves; at mating time they will find her.
Do you see the picture? If you have ever worked among horses you know what he is talking about. Here is a mare in heat, lusting. A little later on, in Chapter 5, he speaks of lusty stallions who keep neighing after their neighbors' wives. God uses these vivid figures to awaken people to where they are. There is a wonderful frankness about the Scriptures which sometimes rebukes the Victorian prudishness we have fallen heir to and often exhibit in talking about some of these things. God intended us to learn from the animal kingdom. He gave animals a different kind of sexuality than he gave us, so that we might learn from them, might have a vivid picture of how we look when we start lusting after everything that comes along, and being available for any kick, any thrill, any drive, other than God himself. So God holds up this vivid picture. It must have meant a great deal to the people of Judah. They understood what an animal looks like in heat, how eager it is to be satisfied.
I remember a scene from my high school days in Montana, when I was working on a ranch up there. One day a group of people came out from town to go horseback riding. Among them were some school teachers, and one was my English teacher, who was somewhat of a prude. I remember that she was given a stallion to ride. When we were saddling up, the stallion got tremendously excited about a mare nearby. To this day I can vividly recall the bright crimson of her face as she sat on that horse and tried to restrain it, while everybody else tried to pretend nothing was happening!
This is the kind of figure God holds up and says,
That is what you're like That is you, lusting after everything that comes by, living for kicks, wanting to be satisfied some way. That covers everything from continuous, non-stop television, or endless golf, to the fleshpots of strip clubs, to heroin, to hate and violence. That is what happens when the heart begins to drift from God into degeneracy.
Father, thank you that you have called me to yourself. I do not understand that, but I am grateful. I pray that when I lust after other things I would come to that place where I would want to return to you; not merely as a sensation for this moment, but I would be faithful in carrying it out in the living of my life.
Life Application: 'From the best bliss that earth imparts we turn unfilled to Thee again.' Are we drinking from polluted streams which can never satisfy our soul's thirst for the Lord God, the fountain of Living Water?
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