This morning my heart aches for our world. A mass shooting in a movie theatre in Colorado. More villages burned and bombed by their own government in the Nuba region of Sudan. Cancer. Broken families. Aborted babies. Wildfires. Drought. Flooding. Famine. Lost homes and jobs. Starving children. Hopelessness. Oh, what a hurting, dying world. We all need more of Jesus! And lots and lots of prayer.
I have been reading in 2 Kings about the fall of the nation of Israel. Assyria was given the victory over God’s people, and they were led away in captivity to foreign lands. Why? The author of this book, the prophet Jeremiah, tells us. His words brought tears to my eyes, as I could feel his pain and sorrow over Israel’s fall.
“Then the king of Assyria invaded the whole land and went up to Samaria and besieged it three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and carried Israel away into exile to Assyria, and settled them in Halah and Habor, on the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. Now this came about, because the sons of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up from the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and they had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD had driven out before the sons of Israel, and in the customs of the kings of Israel which they had introduced. And the sons of Israel did things secretly which were not right, against the LORD their God. Moreover, they built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. And they set for themselves sacred pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, and there they burned incense on all the high places as the nations did which the LORD had carried away to exile before them; and they did evil things provoking the LORD. And they served idols, concerning which the LORD had said to them, ‘You shall not do this thing.’ Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah, through all His prophets and every seer, saying, ‘Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments, My statutes according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you through My servants the prophets.’ However, they did not listen, but stiffened their neck like their fathers, who did not believe in the LORD their God. And they rejected His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers, and His warnings with which He warned them. And they followed vanity and became vain, and went after the nations which surrounded them, concerning which the LORD had commanded them not to do like them. And they forsook all the commandments of the LORD their God and made for themselves molten images, even two calves, and made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. Then they made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire, and practiced divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him. So the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; none was left except the tribe of Judah.” ~ 2 Kings 17:5-18
Long passage, I know. But did you catch the sorrow in your own heart? Today, this world is suffering greatly because of evil. We are rejecting God’s statutes and His covenant and His commandments and His warnings and His word. And His love and forgiveness.
“Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah, through all His prophets and every seer”. God is slow to anger. He gives us chance after chance, opportunity after opportunity, to turn from sin and turn to Him. He offers hope, comfort, healing, forgiveness, restoration, help, mercy, grace, and love.
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” ~ 2 Peter 3:9 (KJV)
However, He is also a God of His word. He warned Israel repeatedly what would happen should they choose to walk away from Him and follow after other gods. God is just and righteous and must keep His promises, the good and the bad.
Jeremiah had been sent to Judah, to warn that nation to turn back to God.
“It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.” ~ Jeremiah 36:3 (KJV)
But even after witnessing the fall and captivity of their kinsmen in Israel, Judah did not turn back to God, eventually falling to the Babylonians and being led into captivity themselves.
Our world still has time to turn back to God. Let’s pray! And live our lives in a way that points this lost and hurting world to the hope, mercy, grace and love of Jesus Christ!
“Say unto them, [As] I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” ~ Ezekiel 33:11 (KJV)
“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” ~ Deuteronomy 30:19 (KJV)