Where is Sin Taking You?

Kayla Ferris

Day: 4 | Plan: Great and Hidden Things

Today's Reading: Jeremiah 4

Jeremiah 4:1a (ESV) "If you return, O Israel, declares the LORD, to me you should return."

It is never fun to be the bearer of bad news. That's probably why the phrase, "Don't shoot the messenger" was created. Our prophet Jeremiah has some bad news: The nation's preference for idolatry and their promiscuity toward other gods has set their feet on a course bound for destruction. God has given Jeremiah the job to sound the alarm, to send out the warning and to show the people where they are headed.

When we read Jeremiah 4, it is important we keep in mind the bigger picture. As Psalm 145:8 says, "The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love." These characteristics of God are the same no matter what Scripture we are reading, even Jeremiah 4. God sent prophet after prophet to Israel and Judah, warning them of the consequences of their sin. In fact, just in Jeremiah's time, Judah had at least 40 years to repent and heed his warnings before Jerusalem was destroyed by the invasion of Babylon. God gave them numerous opportunities to repent.

Yet, the nation refused to listen. They refused the warnings of the prophets.

Sure, they occasionally said they were sorry, but their actions never changed. They obeyed God by practicing circumcision, which was an outward sign that marked them as the people of God. However, on the inside, their hearts were not any different than the surrounding idolatrous nations. (Jeremiah 4:4) From the beginning, God did not simply desire obedient actions. He wanted a fully changed and surrendered heart. (Deuteronomy 6:5)

Jeremiah saw that the heart of his nation Judah was not soft and yielding to the One True God. (Jeremiah 4:30) In fact, the people acted as if they didn't even know Him. (Jeremiah 4:22) So through the revelation of God, Jeremiah tells the people exactly where their sin is taking them. He details the Babylonian invasion from the north, an event that would eventually unfold just as Jeremiah said it would. (Jeremiah 4:7, 16)

Jeremiah saw that the consequence of their sin would be total destruction, and he uses powerful imagery to describe this. (Jeremiah 4:23-26) It is, in essence, the reverse of creation. The creation story in Genesis 1:2a says "The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep …" It was from here that God spoke light and land and plants and birds and man into being. Afterward, He declared it all very good. (Genesis 1:31) Let's compare this to where Jeremiah saw Israel headed. He says, "I looked on the earth, and behold, it was without form and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light" (Jeremiah 4:23). He goes on to describe the crumbling of the mountains, the absence of bird and man, and the once fruitful land a desert. God does not call this good. Instead, there is "fierce anger" (Jeremiah 4:26).

Jeremiah saw a glimpse of what life without God looked like, and that sight broke him. (Jeremiah 4:19) It should break us, too. God patiently calls us toward true heart repentance, not because He is an angry God, but because He is good. Sin takes us on a path far from our Creator. Far from everything good and right and how it was meant to be. Let's respect and cherish the warnings that keep us on the right path. Let's repent not simply with words, but with our whole hearts. The gate may be narrow and the way may be hard, but it is the only path that leads to life. (Matthew 7:14)

Prayer: Father God, You are gracious and slow to anger. You are so very patient with me. Yet, You love me too much to allow me to follow the path of sin, for You know where that ends. Please continue sending me warning signs along the way! Help me to heed the nudging of the Holy Spirit. Father, tend to my heart. I don't want to just look fine from the outside. I want a transformed and repentant heart. I want to follow You along the path of life. In Jesus' name, amen.

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