Too Late?

Posted: April 7, 2014 in Jeremiah

Jeremiah 6, “Too Late?”

As my family can tell you, I hate being late.  One of the worst feelings for me is that realization that not only will I be late, but I’m too late to change anything about it.  Beyond appointments (which can be important), sometimes we can be late for deadlines, or we can miss opportunities.  Sometimes it’s just too late to fix damages, or do all sorts of things.

A question many people have is whether or not it’s ever too late to get into a right relationship with God.  Can you ever get to the point that God will not accept your repentance, no matter what you do?  Is “late” ever too late?

The answer to that might depend on what you’re trying to avoid.  It may indeed be too late to avoid certain consequences, but the good news is that it’s never too late to be reconciled with God if we truly humble ourselves in repentance and faith.  To be sure, some people have more hardened hearts than others – whether or not it is too late for them to humble themselves is another question.  But if they DO humble themselves, it’s never too late to repent.

That was the situation with the Jews, and specifically the city of Jerusalem.  For several chapters now, Jeremiah has recorded the oracles of God declaring the sin of the people, and proclaiming His coming judgment through the Babylonians.  The Jews had repeatedly provoked God to anger, and now they had reached the point that He would most certainly act.  God’s actions would be harsh, but they would be just.  What God would bring through the Babylonians would be what Judah most definitely deserved.

Yet did that mean it was too late for them to repent?  Did God even want His people to even attempt repentance?  And the answer is yes.  Even in the midst of assured judgment, God still appealed to the Jews to humble themselves and turn back to the old ways, and to heed His word in humility.  Obviously as God, God knew that they would not do it, but that did not stop Him from appealing to His beloved people in His grace.  All the world would know that God desired their repentance, even if it was too late to avoid certain consequences.

Too late?  Never!  (Praise the Lord!)

Jeremiah 6

  • God’s promise of punishment (vss. 1-8)

1 “O you children of Benjamin, Gather yourselves to flee from the midst of Jerusalem! Blow the trumpet in Tekoa, And set up a signal-fire in Beth Haccerem; For disaster appears out of the north, And great destruction.

  • Get out of town!  Sound the alarm!  Just as Paul Revere had his famous midnight ride proclaiming “The British are coming!” so does God tell Benjamin and Judah that “The Babylonians are coming!”  God commands the Benjamites to get out, and set the “signal fire” to warn the watchtower guards.  The Babylonian invasion was imminent, and it was assuredly coming with “great destruction.

2 I have likened the daughter of Zion To a lovely and delicate woman. 3 The shepherds with their flocks shall come to her. They shall pitch their tents against her all around. Each one shall pasture in his own place.”

  • It’s a terrible picture, but it is the one the Lord chose to give.  Like a beautiful woman unaware of her pending attack by violent shepherds, so is Jerusalem with the armies of Babylon.  They will completely surround the city and devour it.  It is a horrendous thought, but that is what would happen to Jerusalem.  The Jews were supposed to be the wife of God, and yet His beloved wife would experience violence at the hand of foreigners.
  • BTW, this is not the only time this would occur to Jerusalem.  Historically, they would be surrounded and overrun by the Babylonians and again by the Romans (on several occasions).  The Bible also tells us in the future that Jerusalem (and the whole nation of Israel) will be surrounded by enemy armies from the north (and elsewhere) in the war of Gog & Magog – and even after 1000 years of Jesus’ physical reign upon the earth after His 2nd coming, the city of Jerusalem will be surrounded by armies once more, this time led personally by Satan.  Yet unlike the sieges of Babylon & Rome, the Lord Jesus will protect His people and His city, and He will consume the ultimate enemy & cast him into the lake of fire.
  • During the days of Jeremiah however, the city would have a much different fate.  Here, the enemy would overrun them.  The city would not be protected by the Lord; God would actually lead the attack against them!  See vs. 4…

4 “Prepare war against her; Arise, and let us go up at noon. Woe to us, for the day goes away, For the shadows of the evening are lengthening. 5 Arise, and let us go by night, And let us destroy her palaces.”

  • Babylon speaks here in its eagerness to go to war against Jerusalem.  They speak “woe” against themselves, not because they are destined for defeat, but because they’re running out of daylight to wage their war.  They want as much time as possible for their destruction, and they were delayed in their attack for some reason.  Darkness will not stop them from their onslaught.  If they can’t do it at noon, they’ll do it at night.
  • And remember this is led by the Lord God.  See vs. 6…

6 For thus has the LORD of hosts said: “Cut down trees, And build a mound against Jerusalem. This is the city to be punished. She is full of oppression in her midst. 7 As a fountain wells up with water, So she wells up with her wickedness. Violence and plundering are heard in her. Before Me continually are grief and wounds.

  • Who is the Lord commanding?  The Babylonian army!  He goes so far even as to give them battle strategy against Jerusalem, telling them how to clear the way to the city & “build a mound” to get past the walls.  Where other armies failed to take the city, God would allow the Babylonians to be victorious, even directing their path.
  • Why?  Because Jerusalem “was to be punished.”  She had filled up on her measure of sin, committing “oppression” and a host of other “wickedness.”  This was not wickedness that the pagan Babylonians brought into the city; this was the wickedness that was already prevalent among the Jews.  As Jeremiah has seen many other times, the people of God acted no differently than the pagans who were without God.  They were just as evil and sinful, and thus deserved to be treated no different.
  • Note the picture.  Jerusalem is likened to a “fountain.”  Yet instead of bringing forth living water for the blessing of the world (as they were meant to do), they were filled to the brim with sin.  Again, remember that these were the people of God!  This wasn’t what was supposed to happen!  The Jews were supposed to be a witness to all the world of the righteousness of God.  Yet instead of showing His holiness, they showed “grief and wounds.”  They were spiritually sick – they were diseased, and they didn’t even know it.

8 Be instructed, O Jerusalem, Lest My soul depart from you; Lest I make you desolate, A land not inhabited.”

  • God still appeals for their repentance! Basically says, “Listen up!  Hear this instruction, or else you’ll be desolate.”  God would not abandon His promises to the Jews – after all, God had made them unconditionally, and though all others might lie, God never will.  God had promised to bring the Messiah through the Jews, and He would do it, no matter what.  However, that does not mean that God would always have His presence among the Jews.  They had abandoned Him in exchange for idolatry, so God would let His “soul depart” from among them.  They would no longer know the presence of God in the temple, and in fact they would be removed from the very place of the temple when God had them taken into captivity.  It’s the captivity God refers to when speaking of making them “desolate, a land not inhabited.”  The Jewish people would endure, but the Kingdom of Judah would cease to exist. (A prophecy fulfilled even to this day!)  IOW, the Jews would lose everything.
  • God speaks in conditional terms here.  “Lest My soul depart…Lest I make you desolate…”  NASB, “Be warned, O Jerusalem, or I shall be alienated from you…”  There’s an implication here: Jerusalem still had the opportunity to act.  It wasn’t too late to avoid some terrible consequences.  They might not be able to avoid all of the onslaught of Babylon, but they didn’t have to experience the abandonment of God.  They didn’t have to experience everything that they certainly would experience if they continued in their rebellion.  It may have been too late to avoid certain consequences, but it was never too late to repent and turn to the Lord!
    • It’s never too late!
  • God’s appeal to Judah (vss. 9-20)

9 Thus says the LORD of hosts: “They shall thoroughly glean as a vine the remnant of Israel; As a grape-gatherer, put your hand back into the branches.”

  • If Judah did not turn back to God, this is what they’d experience.  They’d be picked clean by Babylon.  It would not be a superficial battle; it would reach into every corner of Jerusalem (“the remnant of Israel”…what remained of the original 12 tribes).  Like a thorough day-laborer/gardener, God would instruct Babylon to reach into the farthest recesses to get every bit of fruit they could.
  • God’s judgment is thorough!  He leaves nothing undone.  That was true regarding the judgment of His people, and it will be true during the years of the Great Tribulation.  Not a single person will be ignorant of the reality of the wrath of God around them, nor unaware of their sin.
    • BTW – it’s also true regarding us.  The judgment experienced on our behalf was truly thorough.  Only it wasn’t experienced by us, but by Jesus.  God thoroughly gleaned Jesus upon the cross – not a single thing was left out that was due for our punishment.  Jesus took it all, and Jesus paid it all.

10 To whom shall I speak and give warning, That they may hear? Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, And they cannot give heed. Behold, the word of the LORD is a reproach to them; They have no delight in it. 11 Therefore I am full of the fury of the LORD. I am weary of holding it in. …

  • This might be the Lord God speaking, but it seems more likely to be Jeremiah.  The “word of the LORD” is in him, and he knows he is supposed to sound the alarm and warn the people.  The only problem is that there was no one listening.  God had desired that His people be warned, so that they would be without excuse…and they were.  God gave the warning, but no one paid attention. 
  • Why? “Their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot give heed.”  Because they had not humbled themselves before God, they COULD not heed the word of God.  As long as they remained uncircumcised in their ear (their heart/mind), they would not be able to understand the call of God to repentance.  God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.  Proud hearts are never repentant hearts, and simply cannot be.
  • Because they could not heed the word, they rebelled against the word.  It was abhorrent to them – “a reproach” in which they had “no delight.”  In essence, the designated people of God acted anything BUT like the people of God ought to have acted.  Psalm 1:1–2, "(1) Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; (2) But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night." []  This is what they should have been, but this is precisely what they were not.  (This is exactly what WE should be!)
  • Yet that did not stop Jeremiah from preaching the word.  He couldn’t hold it back if he wanted to.  As he would write later on, it was like a fire burning in his bones, and he couldn’t stop from preaching it.  He tried holding it on the inside, but he grew “weary” – it simply couldn’t be done.  What needed to be said was too important, and Jeremiah knew his own responsibility to proclaim what God had given him.
    • Our culture might abhor the word of God today, but the Church dare not stop proclaiming it!  We cannot hold it in.  It’s too important!  We bear too much responsibility & culpability if we hold it back.
  • Eventually the “fury of the LORD” would burst forth, and that’s exactly what God goes on to describe in the rest of vs. 11…

… “I will pour it out on the children outside, And on the assembly of young men together; For even the husband shall be taken with the wife, The aged with him who is full of days. 12 And their houses shall be turned over to others, Fields and wives together; For I will stretch out My hand Against the inhabitants of the land,” says the LORD.

  • Everyone will be affected, everywhere in the land.  Old, young, men, women, houses and fields.  Everyone would feel the weight of the wrath of God as the land would be overrun by the Babylonians.  The very things that God had given to Israel in grace (lands, houses), would be turned over to their enemies – exactly as God said that He would do. (Dt 28:30)
  • How bad would it be?  God said “I will stretch out My hand against the inhabitants of the land.”  We sometimes think of the hand of the Lord as a good thing – and it is, when it comes to grace.  But this particular terminology has been used before…in regards to Egypt (Exo 3:20).  Just as God stretched out His hand against Egypt, judging them through plagues and signs and wonders, so would God stretch out His hand against His own people.  This time, the method may not be overtly supernatural, but the power behind it surely was.  The Babylonians were brought in BY GOD, according to His will and desire. 

13 “Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them, Everyone is given to covetousness; And from the prophet even to the priest, Everyone deals falsely. 14 They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace.

  • Again, all had sinned: “from the least of the them to the greatest of them.”  None were without sin – none had remained faithful to the Lord.  Including the leadership of the people.  Even the servants of God (the prophets and priests) had sinned against the Lord.
  • Even worse than taking part in the covetousness, and the violence and oppression (vs. 6-7) is the fact that the priests and prophets misrepresented the Lord.  They lied about what He said regarding Babylon and the future of Jerusalem.  They promised “peace,” when peace did not exist.  They may have seemed to have “healed the hurt” of the people and made them feel a little better, but they caused far more harm than good.  They told the people what they wanted to hear, rather than the truth of what God truly said.
    • The Bible tells us the same things will happen in the last days, as people will want teachers to tickle their ears, rather than proclaim the true word of God (2 Tim 4:3).
  • God was not blind to the sins of the false prophets and priests, and He would deal with them. See vs. 15…

15 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed; Nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; At the time I punish them, They shall be cast down,” says the LORD.

  • It is amazing that they could do and say the things that they did as they misrepresented God.  They had no fear of God, nor any shame in their sin.
  • As a result, God promised to “punish them.”  Not just Jerusalem overall (though they would be punished), but the priests and false prophets specifically.  They would be held to a stricter judgment.
  • All of this is what God proclaimed to the Jews regarding their punishment, but God had something else as well.  He didn’t only proclaim their punishment, but their opportunity to repent.  Vs. 16…

 

16 Thus says the LORD: “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ 17 Also, I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not listen.’

  • This is the 2nd appeal from God in Ch. 6 for repentance.  Their punishment is assured, but God continues to reach out to His beloved people, telling them what they needed to do.  What was it?  They needed to turn around!  Stop walking in the wrong way, and turn back to the way that was good and true.  They needed to “ask for the old paths…and walk in it.”  IOW, they needed to remember how their Godly ancestors walked with God, and then do that.  Search the Scriptures for the ways of God, and then DO those things!
    • Turn back!  Look for the old ways – look for the things that God’s people did in past times of revival.  We need the same thing in our country today – in our churches today!
    • Even personally, we can do the same.  Is your walk with Christ listless?  Do you think you were closer to Jesus at an earlier time than you are now?  Think back to what you were doing then.  Go back to the basics of reading your Bible, praying, worshipping, and see what happens…
  • What would they find as a result? “Rest for your souls.”  Repentance brings rest!  Rebellion is hard work.  It’s laborious to strive against the Lord, and it’s completely unnecessary.  It’s when we repent that we find the rest that we so desperately need (and what God desires for us).
    • It’s quite possible that Jesus had this in mind when speaking to the Jews, inviting them to take His yoke upon them (Mt 11:28-29).
  • That’s what God desired for them, but that is not what they desired for themselves.  They refused God’s appeal.  God had warned them by the sound of the trumpet in Tekoa (vs. 1), and they closed their ears.  God had told them to walk in the old ways, and like a stubborn toddler, they refused to move their feet.
    • God will appeal to us to repent, but He will never force us to do it.  That choice remains our own.

18 Therefore hear, you nations, And know, O congregation, what is among them. 19 Hear, O earth! Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people— The fruit of their thoughts, Because they have not heeded My words Nor My law, but rejected it.

  • As a result of Judah’s stubborn refusal, God calls the “nations” of the world to bear witness against the Jews.  The Jews would be punished in full sight of all the peoples of the world, and the reason for their punishment would be perfectly known. …
  • Think for a moment how tragic this is!  Again, remember that the Hebrews were supposed to be an example to all the nations.  They were supposed to be a witness to the One True God among them, and what it meant to be a people of God.  The 12 tribes of Israel were supposed to point all the nations to God as they lived lives of purity and worship.  Yet just the opposite happened.  By this point in history, the northern 10 tribes had been all but completely destroyed, taken down by Assyria.  The northern kingdom had long since abandoned the Lord God, and had done so virtually from the very beginning of their separation from the south.  Now the southern kingdom of Judah was going through virtually the same thing.  All of God’s people were being punished by God.  The nations of the world were supposed to witness a people beloved and blessed by God; instead the nations witnessed a people that was sternly disciplined by God.
  • Why did it all happen?  God repeats that it all went back to how they did not heed His words or His law.  They had lived in persistent rebellion against the word of God that was revealed to them, either that which was spoken by the prophets, or that which was written down in the Scriptures.
    • To reject God’s word is to reject God Himself.  Obviously the pages of the Bible are just that: pages…ink & paper.  We do not worship the physical Bible.  But the truth contained within the Bible is the very revelation of God.  God has chosen to reveal Himself in three ways to the world: (1) through creation (general revelation), (2) through the Lord Jesus Christ (the incarnation), and (3) through the written word of God (special revelation).  We obviously do not worship the creation, nor do we worship the Scripture.  Jesus is set apart from all of that…He alone is God in the flesh.  But we cannot ignore the Bible and claim to know and to worship God.  This is how He chooses to reveal Himself and His will to us.  If we consciously choose to reject the truth of the Bible, then we are rejecting what God has revealed to us about Himself…thus we are rejecting God.
  • Because the Jews had rejected God, everything they offered to God was meaningless.  See vs. 20…

20 For what purpose to Me Comes frankincense from Sheba, And sweet cane from a far country? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, Nor your sacrifices sweet to Me.”

  • What they offered in sacrifices might have been expensive, but it was worthless.  It didn’t matter where their “frankincense” came from if it wasn’t offered in spirit and truth.  It didn’t matter how many “burnt offerings” they brought if they continued to shut their ears to God.  Why would God accept worship from someone who didn’t want to have anything to do with Him?  That’s not even logical.  Imagine someone coming to you asking for a gift, even bringing you a present, while at the same time was breathing out curses against you & insulting you.  It wouldn’t matter what they brought – you wouldn’t want anything to do with them!  That’s how the Jews were treating God.  Without loving obedience to God, their sacrifices (no matter how lavish) meant absolutely nothing. 
    • Samuel went through this same lesson with Saul, as Saul disobeyed the Lord God and lost his kingship…  1 Samuel 15:22–23, "(22) So Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. (23) For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”" []  Saul had tried to bribe God away from his disobedience with a half-hearted sacrifice.  It was a worthless sacrifice, and it availed him nothing.  Sacrifice soaked in rebellion is still rebellion.
  • God desire true worship!  God desires our whole hearts!
  • God’s commission to Babylon (vss. 21-30)

21 Therefore thus says the LORD: “Behold, I will lay stumbling blocks before this people, And the fathers and the sons together shall fall on them. The neighbor and his friend shall perish.”

  • When God says that He will “lay stumbling blocks before this people,” He does not mean that He will cause them to fall into sin.  That was what Jesus referred to when warning His disciples not to be stumbling blocks for those who would believe in Him.  The context here is different.  Here, Judah already acts as a people who do not believe in God as their God.  They are already entrenched in sin.  Thus the “stumbling blocks” that God brings will be the Babylonians, sent to stumble the Jews from their sinful ways. 
  • The work of God is always a stumbling block to the rebellious.  That was exactly Peter’s point as he wrote about those who rejected Jesus as the Christ: 1 Peter 2:7–8, "(7) Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,” (8) and “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed." []  Those who know the word, but are disobedient to the word, stumble over the word.  God does not stumble them into sin; it is their sin that causes their stumbling.  It is the stumbling that hopefully brings them to a place of repentance!  The whole idea is that we just can’t get away from Jesus Christ.  No matter where we turn, we will have to deal with the truth of His Lordship.  Either we will see Him as God, or we will be tripping over Him AS God.

22 Thus says the LORD: “Behold, a people comes from the north country, And a great nation will be raised from the farthest parts of the earth. 23 They will lay hold on bow and spear; They are cruel and have no mercy; Their voice roars like the sea; And they ride on horses, As men of war set in array against you, O daughter of Zion.”

  • Babylon is described in their fierceness.  That they would come “from the farthest parts of the earth” would seem to be a reference to the farthest parts with which the Jews were familiar.  The Jewish people were not exactly known as world travelers, and though Babylon (modern day Iraq) was not terribly far in comparison with Russia (for example), it still would have been considered the far-off reaches by the Hebrews.
    • However, the description does seem to leave open the possibility of a dual fulfillment.  Though the immediate fulfillment is plainly none other than Babylon, perhaps the same description would be able to be said of the future war of Gog & Magog, truly coming from the farthest reaches of the north against Israel. (Eze 38)
  • The whole idea here is one of bloody, merciless warfare.  The armies of the north will come in and fiercely ride against Jerusalem, and they will face a battle unlike the kind they had ever seen.  And they would grow greatly afraid as a result.  See vs. 24…

24 We have heard the report of it; Our hands grow feeble. Anguish has taken hold of us, Pain as of a woman in labor. 25 Do not go out into the field, Nor walk by the way. Because of the sword of the enemy, Fear is on every side.

  • There would be no place to hide from the enemy as the armies of Babylon surrounded the city of Jerusalem.  The people would understand how hopeless their situation was, and they would tremble with fear.
  • They could have feared the Lord in true reverence; now they would quake with terror at the Lord’s vengeance through their enemies.  God had given them the choice; they had brought this upon themselves.
    • Ultimately, that is the same truth that multitudes will have to come to grips with in hell.  God has repeatedly reached out to every single human being – He has given them the choice, and they are all without excuse.  Especially those who have heard the gospel of Jesus, and have stubbornly chosen to reject following Him as Lord.  Forever they will know of what they could have had, if they had only responded to the Lord God in faith and repentance.

26 O daughter of my people, Dress in sackcloth And roll about in ashes! Make mourning as for an only son, most bitter lamentation; For the plunderer will suddenly come upon us.

  • In that day, the people will finally humble themselves in “sackcloth and ashes,” though it will be too late to avoid the dreadful consequences of the “plunderer.”  The Babylonians will come, and the Jews won’t be able to do anything to stop it, no matter how much they cry out to the Lord.
  • That said, they still have every reason to cry out to the Lord in that day!  Even though it is too late to avoid the invasion, it is never too late to humble yourself in true repentance.  They might be enslaved to the Babylonians, but at least they would be reconciled to God.  Faced with the message of certain doom by a prophet who did not even give them any option of repentance, the people of Ninevah still humbled themselves after Jonah preached to them.  And amazingly, God responded in mercy!  (Much to the chagrin of Jonah!)  Who knows what God might do when people humble themselves and pray?  When repentance is true, done in faith, then that is something to which God always responds.
    • There are some people who have put off repentance all their lives.  They wanted nothing to do with God, and they scoffed at the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Now they face the end of their lives, and they might think it’s too late for them.  They believe that it would be hypocritical for them to place their faith and trust in Jesus now, after a lifetime of rebellion.  The only act that would be hypocritical is to know the truth of the gospel and never respond to it!  It is never too late to surrender one’s life to the Lord Jesus in faith!  It may be too late to avoid consequences – too late to repair past damage – too late for any number of things…but it’s never too late to be reconciled unto God.  Death is the only final deadline.  As long as we draw breath, there is still opportunity to repent.
    • That may be true for some listening – and it’s certainly true for some people who are constantly prayed for.  Never stop praying for your loved ones to repent and be saved.  Why?  Because it is never too late for them to repent and be saved.

27 “I have set you as an assayer and a fortress among My people, That you may know and test their way.

  • God seems to turn to Jeremiah at this point, addressing Him as “an assayer and a fortress.”  Part of Jeremiah’s role as the true prophet of God was to “test” the people.  Just as an assayer would test the purity of precious metals, so would the prophet test the purity of God’s people.  Of course, they weren’t pure at all…what Jeremiah would test would be how defiled they were away from purity.
  • That is by far the most common interpretation.  However, Jeremiah’s name is never mentioned in the actual text here.  Perhaps one possibility is that God does not assign Jeremiah as the assayer, but the Babylonians.  The whole context has been God calling the Babylonians forth to punish the people.  Perhaps this is God speaking to the Babylonians, telling them how He would use them to test the Jews – to purge out their sin, and bring them back to a place of purity through the wrath of God.
  • Either way, there is no doubt that God knew the true hearts of the people, and that they were far from Him.  Their false prophecies (vs. 14) meant nothing.  Their extravagant sacrifices (vs 20) meant nothing.  God knew the truth of their wickedness, and that truth was going to be revealed to all the world.

28 They are all stubborn rebels, walking as slanderers. They are bronze and iron, They are all corrupters; 29 The bellows blow fiercely, The lead is consumed by the fire; The smelter refines in vain, For the wicked are not drawn off. 30 People will call them rejected silver, Because the LORD has rejected them.”

  • As the assayer works, he finds that there is nothing salvageable.  Normally, silver that was mixed with lead could have the slag of the lead melted off and removed, and pure silver would remain.  However sometimes, there would be so much lead that the silver would not be able to be separated – it would be too mixed in to be any good.  Thus the silver would be rejected.  God judges that this would be the case with the Jews.  All had sinned, and all would continue in sin.  They would remain “stubborn rebels…slanderers…corrupters.”  They were all lead; no silver.  Despite God’s repeated calls for repentance, there would be none.  Thus they would all be judged, and they would all be removed.  The Babylonians would come, and the world would know that God had “rejected” His own people.
  • Thankfully it would not remain this way.  God would leave a remnant (as He always did), and eventually the Jews would humble themselves in repentance and be returned to the land.  Yet God had to take them through horrendous judgment for them to be brought to that place of humility.  They had the choice of the easy way or the hard way, and they chose the most difficult path possible.  (Isn’t that the way it so often is with us?)

Conclusion:
Even as judgment was on the doorstep of Jerusalem, God appealed to His people to repent.  They needed to take up the old paths, and turn back to the Lord.  They knew what to do – all they had to do was act upon it.  It was not too late to turn to the Lord, even if they would experience some very difficult trials in the meantime.  All they needed to do was repent!  Yet they refused to do it.  They shut their ears to the word of God, and they rejected the truth even while heaping up the appearance of religion around them.  They listened to ear-tickling prophecy, and gave extravagant shows of worship in the name of God, while having nothing to do with God.  God wasn’t fooled by it…He never is.

How much of this could be said of the last days in which we live? …

How much of this might be said of us?  Hopefully none!  Hopefully, our hearts remain humble before the Lord, as we seek Him in spirit and truth, responding to His word with faithful obedience rather than rebellion.  Hopefully, we’re staying grounded in the grace and the gospel of Jesus Christ, not turning away to sin and wickedness.  Hopefully we’re being faithful to preach the truth of the gospel to the generation that is lost and dying around us.

Hopefully we’re doing all of those things.  But if not?  If not, it’s not too late to start.  It’s never too late to humble ourselves and repent.  We may have lost years in the past, but we have not yet lost the opportunities in the present.  Take hold of what God has given you today.  Commit yourself to humbly responding to the call of God in whatever it may be, as He reveals it to you in His word.

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