INSIDE AND OUTSIDE RELIGION

INSIDE AND OUTSIDE RELIGION

Opening Prayer

Gracious God, your love, compassion, and peace inspire me. May they define who I am as I travel through the ups and downs of life.

Read :JEREMIAH 7:1-29

False Religion Worthless

7 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Stand at the gate of the Lord’s house and there proclaim this message:

“‘Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.

“‘Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury,[a] burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things? 11 Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the Lord.

12 “‘Go now to the place in Shiloh where I first made a dwelling for my Name, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of my people Israel. 13 While you were doing all these things, declares the Lord, I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen; I called you, but you did not answer. 14 Therefore, what I did to Shiloh I will now do to the house that bears my Name, the temple you trust in, the place I gave to you and your ancestors. 15 I will thrust you from my presence, just as I did all your fellow Israelites, the people of Ephraim.’

16 “So do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you. 17 Do you not see what they are doing in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes to offer to the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to arouse my anger. 19 But am I the one they are provoking? declares the Lord. Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame?

20 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: My anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place—on man and beast, on the trees of the field and on the crops of your land—and it will burn and not be quenched.

21 “‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go ahead, add your burnt offerings to your other sacrifices and eat the meat yourselves! 22 For when I brought your ancestors out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, 23 but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. 24 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. 25 From the time your ancestors left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets. 26 But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their ancestors.’

27 “When you tell them all this, they will not listen to you; when you call to them, they will not answer. 28 Therefore say to them, ‘This is the nation that has not obeyed the Lord its God or responded to correction. Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips.

29 “‘Cut off your hair and throw it away; take up a lament on the barren heights, for the Lord has rejected and abandoned this generation that is under his wrath.

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Footnotes

  1. Jeremiah 7:9 Or and swear by false gods

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Meditate

Picture the entrance door to your place of worship. Imagine friends entering. Pray for God’s peace and blessing on them today.

Think Further

Stepping through a doorway into a different land is a recurring theme in children’s (and some adult) literature. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis is a well-known example. In today’s passage, Jeremiah is told to station himself at the entrance of the temple in Jerusalem and to convey God’s command that those who enter must look back over their shoulders before looking forward to their worship. Behind them, in their daily lives, they are involved in injustice, racial and social prejudice, murder, idolatry, theft, adultery, and perjury. Then they intend, miraculously, to enter the temple and rejoice in their redemption, parroting words of praise and worship to the Lord. Two wildly contrasting worlds (v 11), which God deems unacceptable.

Jesus points out the same contradiction centuries later,1 but by his time the wickedness has entered even the temple courtyards themselves. Dishonesty and greed have become the norm. It’s not unknown today, whether we picture Mafia godfathers at the first communion of their children, the parroting of prayers for political gain or hypocrisy within the local church. For some, although thankfully not for all, what they do outside the doors of a place of worship belies what they express inside.

‘Walk in obedience to all I command you’ (v 23). That’s the starting point that God gives us as we gather inside to worship. It has been suggested that all churches should have written, on the inside of the doorway leading out into the life of daily work and daily relationships, the word ‘ENTRANCE’. What God asks of his people is to live out his principles of justice, truth, honesty, and love in a broken world. Faith in action is a seven-day activity.

Apply

Pray the words of the Lord’s Prayer as you would in church. Then repeat the prayer, meditating on what it means to your life outside your church community.

Closing prayer

Dear Father, you are the God who said yes to me. I say yes to you, Lord. Yes, in all my life, lived for your glory.

Last Updated on April 26, 2023 by kingstar

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