Why They Turned Away from God
I’m sure that we have looked at the world around us, lamented over man’s inhumanity to man; the crime, the shootings, the hundreds of families that are now without retirement funds because the executives managing the company they worked for have proven themselves to be thieves. The hundreds of innocent children slaughtered in abortion mills every day, the sin of gambling that has become the gaming industry, no longer a shame to be hidden in the back alleys and undesirable sections of our city; not just tolerated as a evil that we haven’t quite gotten control of, but touted and honored by our chambers of commerce as one of the major attractions for this area; and we ask ourselves why?
I think we
can find some parallels in the Old Testament.
When we look at the city of
Read Jeremiah 6:10-16
the “weeping prophet” was sent to warn God’s people to return to the Lord. His pleas to them, his tears for their
rebellion, God’s warnings to them to repent fill the
books of Jeremiah and Lamentations. He
Jeremiah “CAN A MAID FORGET HER ORNAMENTS, or A BRIDE HER ATTIRE? YET MY PEOPLE HAVE FORGOTTEN ME DAYS WITHOUT NUMBER.”
They had forsaken God; turned to worship idols, ignored God’s laws and forsaken the teaching of their fathers and so have people today. People today have forsaken God for the idols of religions devised by man, turned to worship the idols of money, pleasure and self-satisfaction and counted the teaching of the Word of God as nothing.
Jeremiah 2:13 “FOR MY PEOPLE HAVE COMMITTED TWO EVILS; THEY HAVE FORSAKEN ME THE FOUNTAIN OF LIVING WATERS, and HEWED THEM OUT CISTERNS, BROKEN CISTERNS, THAT CAN HOLD NO WATER.”
They had abandoned the wells of the living waters of God and dug or hewed themselves out cisterns or wells that would not provide water, would not sustain their spiritual needs as Jesus promised the Samaritan woman (John 4) therefore Jeremiah describes them as broken, useless for any spiritual purpose.
Jeremiah 13:10 “THIS EVIL PEOPLE, WHICH REFUSE TO HEAR MY WORDS, WHICH WALK IN THE IMAGINATION OF THEIR HEART, AND WALK AFTER OTHER GODS, TO SERVE THEM, AND TO WORSHIP THEM, SHALL EVEN BE AS THIS GIRDLE, WHICH IS GOOD FOR NOTHING.”
Then sadly the prophet says:
Jeremiah “THE PROPHETS PROPHESY FALSELY, AND THE PRIESTS BEAR RULE BY THEIR MEANS; AND MY PEOPLE LOVE to have it SO: AND WHAT WILL YE DO IN THE END THEREOF?”
pattern of their departure, and their continued rebellion, is found in our text
given at the beginning, Jeremiah 6:10-16. In these verses, the prophet describes the
They Refused to Listen to the Word of God
Jeremiah “TO WHOM SHALL I SPEAK, AND GIVE WARNING, THAT THEY MAY HEAR? BEHOLD, THEIR EAR is UNCIRCUMCISED, AND THEY CANNOT HEARKEN: BEHOLD, THE WORD OF THE LORD IS UNTO THEM A REPROACH; THEY HAVE NO DELIGHT IN IT.”
God spoke. But the people refused to hear. They would not listen to the truth of God. Jesus spoke of his generation:
Matthew 13:15 “FOR
THIS PEOPLE'S HEART IS WAXED GROSS, AND their EARS ARE DULL OF HEARING, AND
THEIR EYES THEY HAVE CLOSED; LEST AT ANY TIME THEY SHOULD SEE WITH their
EYES AND HEAR WITH their EARS, AND SHOULD UNDERSTAND
HEART, AND SHOULD BE CONVERTED, AND I SHOULD HEAL THEM.”
When people refuse to hear God’s word, He cannot guide their lives, for He guides us through the word which he gave us.
Throughout history, man has often refused to listen to what God says. Peter wrote of some:
II Peter 3:5 “FOR THIS THEY WILLINGLY ARE IGNORANT OF…”
This willful ignorance of God’s word led the nation of
Isaiah 30:9-10 “THAT THIS is A REBELLIOUS PEOPLE, LYING CHILDREN, CHILDREN that WILL NOT HEAR THE LAW OF THE LORD: WHICH SAY TO THE SEERS, SEE NOT; AND TO THE PROPHETS, PROPHESY NOT UNTO US RIGHT THINGS, SPEAK UNTO US SMOOTH THINGS, PROPHESY DECEITS:”
There are still many who seem to think they know more about life than God does! But God made man (Genesis -27), and He has given man his purpose in life (Ecclesiastes ). No one can better chart the course of life for man than his Creator. As Jeremiah wrote,
Jeremiah “O LORD, I KNOW THAT THE WAY OF MAN is NOT IN HIMSELF: it is NOT IN MAN THAT WALKETH TO DIRECT HIS STEPS.”
When Jesus sent out the apostles, gave us our commission He said,
Mark -16 “AND HE SAID UNTO THEM, GO YE INTO ALL THE WORLD, AND PREACH THE GOSPEL TO EVERY CREATURE. HE THAT BELIEVETH AND IS BAPTIZED SHALL BE SAVED; BUT HE THAT BELIEVETH NOT SHALL BE DAMNED.”
When they preached the gospel, some considered it to be “FOOLISHNESS” (I Corinthians ) and many still do today. Notice the result:
“BECAUSE THAT, WHEN THEY KNEW GOD, THEY GLORIFIED him
NOT AS GOD, NEITHER WERE THANKFUL; BUT BECAME VAIN IN THEIR IMAGINATIONS, AND
THEIR FOOLISH HEART WAS DARKENED.
PROFESSING THEMSELVES TO BE WISE, THEY BECAME FOOLS,” v24. “WHEREFORE GOD ALSO GAVE THEM UP TO
UNCLEANNESS THROUGH THE LUSTS OF THEIR OWN HEARTS, TO DISHONOUR THEIR OWN
BODIES BETWEEN THEMSELVES:”
Romans 1:28 “AND EVEN AS THEY DID NOT LIKE TO RETAIN GOD IN THEIR KNOWLEDGE, GOD GAVE THEM OVER TO A REPROBATE MIND, TO DO THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE NOT CONVENIENT;” or right, or good or proper
When people refuse to be guided by the word of God, moral depravity has always been the result and will continue to be the result until the end of time.
They Were Obsessed with Material Things
Jeremiah 6:13 “FOR FROM THE LEAST OF THEM EVEN UNTO THE GREATEST OF THEM EVERY ONE is GIVEN TO COVETOUSNESS; AND FROM THE PROPHET EVEN UNTO THE PRIEST EVERY ONE DEALETH FALSELY.”
Avid desire for material gain often leads to immoral means of obtaining it. When people become obsessed with a desire for things, it’s like any other addiction; they will justify in their own minds almost any action necessary to fulfill those desires.
The folly of seeking earthly things is evident to all who will but open their eyes. Rich men die and leave their fortunes for others to fight over. And they lead empty lives, because man has a higher purpose than getting rich. As Jesus said:
Luke “AND HE SAID UNTO THEM, TAKE HEED, AND BEWARE OF COVETOUSNESS: FOR A MAN'S LIFE CONSISTETH NOT IN THE ABUNDANCE OF THE THINGS WHICH HE POSSESSETH.”
He then told the story of a man who spent his life getting rich, but left God out of his life. At his death, God asked:
Luke “BUT GOD SAID UNTO HIM, thou FOOL, THIS NIGHT THY SOUL SHALL BE REQUIRED OF THEE: THEN WHOSE SHALL THOSE THINGS BE, WHICH THOU HAST PROVIDED?”
For a man to spend his life, and soul, to gain only material things that are left behind at death is the ultimate of foolishness. Yet that seems to be the pursuit of the vast majority of people today, else the gambling dens would close their doors, the lottery vendors would go out of business, and the prisons would be empty of thieves.
The Bible says:
I Timothy 6:7 “FOR WE BROUGHT NOTHING INTO this WORLD, and it is CERTAIN WE CAN CARRY NOTHING OUT.” v10 “FOR THE LOVE OF MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL:…”
Matthew 6:19-20 “LAY NOT UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES UPON EARTH, WHERE MOTH AND RUST DOTH CORRUPT, AND WHERE THIEVES BREAK THROUGH AND STEAL: BUT LAY UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES IN HEAVEN, WHERE NEITHER MOTH NOR RUST DOTH CORRUPT, AND WHERE THIEVES DO NOT BREAK THROUGH NOR STEAL:”
For those who look to God for guidance, their eyes are not on this world or this life as Paul writes in:
II Corinthians -5:1 “WHILE WE LOOK NOT AT THE THINGS WHICH ARE SEEN, BUT AT THE THINGS WHICH ARE NOT SEEN: FOR THE THINGS WHICH ARE SEEN are TEMPORAL; BUT THE THINGS WHICH ARE NOT SEEN are ETERNAL. FOR WE KNOW THAT IF OUR EARTHLY HOUSE OF this TABERNACLE WERE DISSOLVED, WE HAVE A BUILDING OF GOD, AN HOUSE NOT MADE WITH HANDS, ETERNAL IN THE HEAVENS.”
But those who have denied God for earthly wealth do not look upon things above. If all we get out of this life is a grave, is life really worth it all? But we can “LAY UP TREASURES IN HEAVEN” and go and enjoy them there.
I Peter 1:3-4. “BLESSED be THE GOD AND FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, WHICH ACCORDING TO HIS ABUNDANT MERCY HATH BEGOTTEN US AGAIN UNTO A LIVELY HOPE BY THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST FROM THE DEAD, TO AN INHERITANCE INCORRUPTIBLE, AND UNDEFILED, AND THAT FADETH NOT AWAY, RESERVED IN HEAVEN FOR YOU,”
They Deluded Themselves With Lies
Jeremiah 6:14 “THEY HAVE HEALED ALSO THE HURT of the daughter OF MY PEOPLE SLIGHTLY, SAYING, PEACE, PEACE; WHEN there is NO PEACE.”
When people walk the wrong path, the devil makes it easy for them to believe that everything is fine and wonderful. But believing that does not make it true! That is Jeremiah’s message from God. And this message is still valid today. The apostle Paul writes of those who:
“AND WITH ALL DECEIVABLENESS OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS IN THEM THAT PERISH; BECAUSE THEY RECEIVED NOT THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH, THAT THEY MIGHT BE SAVED. AND FOR THIS CAUSE GOD SHALL SEND THEM STRONG DELUSION, THAT THEY SHOULD BELIEVE A LIE:” II Thessalonians -11
When truth is not accepted, error and lies will be. But Jesus still declares:
John “AND YE SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH, AND THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE.”
There are still religious people who have “ITCHING EARS” (II Timothy 4:3-4) and they demand preachers who will preach what they want. The Israelites had folks like that. They insisted that the prophet cry, “PEACE, PEACE,” even though God was telling them through the words of Jeremiah that due to their rebellion there could be no peace in their land. But lies don’t help us. If a man has cancer, telling him it is only indigestion will not cure it; neither will it save his life! Lies in medicine will not cure the sick patient; lies in religion, will not cure the sick soul.
The Lord tells us:
I Peter 1:22 “SEEING YE HAVE PURIFIED YOUR SOULS IN OBEYING THE TRUTH THROUGH THE SPIRIT UNTO UNFEIGNED LOVE OF THE BRETHREN, see that ye LOVE ONE ANOTHER WITH A PURE HEART FERVENTLY:”
Trusting and following false teaching will never save anyone. Many today teach salvation “by faith only” because it is what people want to hear. But God says:
James “YE SEE THEN HOW THAT BY WORKS A MAN IS JUSTIFIED, AND NOT BY FAITH ONLY.”
People are encouraged to “join the church of your choice,”
but God never taught that. And those in
man-made churches never even consider how that idea degrades Christ and the
blood with which He purchased His church.
Jesus tells Peter:
Matthew “AND I SAY ALSO UNTO THEE, THAT THOU ART PETER, AND UPON THIS ROCK I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH; AND THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST IT.”
And Paul tells the Ephesian elders:
Acts “TAKE HEED THEREFORE
UNTO YOURSELVES, AND TO ALL THE FLOCK, OVER THE WHICH THE HOLY GHOST HATH MADE
YOU OVERSEERS, TO FEED THE
Oh, the price that Jesus paid for our souls! But men in rebellion; ignore His teachings and in this day cry “peace, peace,” but they will find in the day of judgment that they will have no peace for eternity.
They Were Not Ashamed, Could Not Blush
Jeremiah “WERE THEY ASHAMED WHEN THEY HAD COMMITTED ABOMINATION? NAY, THEY WERE NOT AT ALL ASHAMED, NEITHER COULD THEY BLUSH: THEREFORE THEY SHALL FALL AMONG THEM THAT FALL: AT THE TIME THAT I VISIT THEM THEY SHALL BE CAST DOWN, SAITH THE LORD.”
After all that
I Corinthians 6:5 “I SPEAK TO YOUR SHAME. IS IT SO, THAT THERE IS NOT A WISE MAN AMONG YOU? NO, NOT ONE THAT SHALL BE ABLE TO JUDGE BETWEEN HIS BRETHREN?”
Why did Adam and Eve after having broken God’s commandment hide their bodies behind makeshift garments of fig leaves and then try to hide themselves from God?
Genesis 3:7-8 “AND THE EYES OF THEM BOTH WERE OPENED, AND THEY KNEW THAT THEY were NAKED; AND THEY SEWED FIG LEAVES TOGETHER, AND MADE THEMSELVES APRONS. AND THEY HEARD THE VOICE OF THE LORD GOD WALKING IN THE GARDEN IN THE COOL OF THE DAY: AND ADAM AND HIS WIFE HID THEMSELVES FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD GOD AMONGST THE TREES OF THE GARDEN.”
When they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they for the first time recognized that there was such a thing as evil. When they recognized evil they suddenly realized that their bodies were naked. That now had a different meaning than it did before and they were ashamed. When God came to walk with them as was his practice they knew that they had done wrong, and they were ashamed again to face their Creator.
We live in a permissive society. The immoral deeds of the stars of TV, movie, sports and even politics can be emblazoned across newspapers and magazines coast to coast with little effect on their popularity. Hardly anyone is ashamed for their misdeeds. We, as a people, have forgotten how to blush. The Bible says:
Ephesians “FOR IT IS A SHAME EVEN TO SPEAK OF THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE DONE OF THEM IN SECRET.”
But I think many people take pride in just how immoral they can be. And they flaunt their immorality on TV talk shows and magazine interviews. Again God says:
Philippians 3:18-19 “(FOR MANY WALK, OF WHOM I HAVE TOLD YOU OFTEN, AND NOW TELL YOU EVEN WEEPING, that they are THE ENEMIES OF THE CROSS OF CHRIST: WHOSE END is DESTRUCTION, WHOSE GOD is their BELLY, AND whose GLORY is IN THEIR SHAME, WHO MIND EARTHLY THINGS.)”
They Rejected the Only Possible Cure
Jeremiah “THUS SAITH THE LORD, STAND YE IN THE WAYS, AND SEE, AND ASK FOR THE OLD PATHS, WHERE is THE GOOD WAY, AND WALK THEREIN, AND YE SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. BUT THEY SAID, WE WILL NOT WALK therein.”
Here is revealed the only way back to God: “THE OLD PATHS.” When the Ephesian church drifted, Jesus told them:
Revelation 2:4-5 “NEVERTHELESS I HAVE somewhat AGAINST THEE, BECAUSE THOU HAST LEFT THY FIRST LOVE. REMEMBER THEREFORE FROM WHENCE THOU ART FALLEN, AND REPENT, AND DO THE FIRST WORKS; OR ELSE I WILL COME UNTO THEE QUICKLY, AND WILL REMOVE THY CANDLESTICK OUT OF HIS PLACE, EXCEPT THOU REPENT.”
That is what Jeremiah told
In the midst of all the “modern” things that surround us, we need to be constantly reminded of the need to go back to “THE OLD PATHS.” Those values of yesteryear are still to be exalted today - when a man’s word was his bond, when no one had to lock his doors and life and property were safe, and honesty and purity were so common they were taken for granted. These things are based on God’s word, and the morality which He reveals. And we need to go back to “the old paths” in religion. With hundreds of man-made churches and conflicting doctrines abounding we need to hear the words of Jude as he wrote to the first century churches:
Jude v3 “BELOVED, WHEN I GAVE ALL DILIGENCE TO WRITE UNTO YOU OF THE COMMON SALVATION, IT WAS NEEDFUL FOR ME TO WRITE UNTO YOU, AND EXHORT YOU THAT YE SHOULD EARNESTLY CONTEND FOR THE FAITH WHICH WAS ONCE DELIVERED UNTO THE SAINTS.”
The “OLD PATHS” of the gospel reveal that our Lord built only one church (Matthew ), which is the “ONE BODY” (Ephesians -23, 4:4), He adds the saved to that church (Acts ) and He purchased that church with His own blood (Acts ). The “old guide” is the inspired word of God (II Timothy -17), which gives us “ALL THINGS THAT PERTAIN TO LIFE AND GODLINESS” (II Peter 1:3). This Book reveals the “old salvation” (Mark ), the “old name” (Acts ; I Peter ) and the “old hope” (I Peter 1:3-5).
help us do better than
What about you, my friend? Are you a child of God having been born again of water and the spirit? If not, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, declare that belief through your confession before men as the Ethiopian did in Acts . Turn away; repent of your sins as Jesus tells in Luke 13:3. And also as the Ethiopian did take advantage of the nearby water to be baptized into Christ as us written in Acts , put on Christ and become a child of God. Or if you have sin in your life that you need to take to God asking for forgiveness; come in repentance, let us pray for you and with you for God to forgive you as we’re told in James 5:16. If you have need, won’t you come now as we stand and sing?
William L. Schwegler; August 11, 2002