The Law, repentance and hypocrisy – and a quick note

Last week I know I was hoping to get back to writing these more regularly as we got into Jeremiah and Romans. My wife is roughly 8 months pregnant and is starting to run out of steam much quicker. Short answer is that the family has been taking more time of necessity. I need to get better at time management or just write faster.

Text: Jeremiah 7:1-15

For me Jeremiah has always been a scary book. One that cut to the quick in multiple ways. Maybe it is just that Jeremiah speaks to my fears more than the others.

There are fundamentally two types of religion. There is the religion of a law. That law could be the 10 commandments. It could also be the law of nature, the words of Mohammed, the path of the eastern religions, or any other system known by man. The other religion is a personal relationship with the living God.

Under that law, if you do x, it doesn’t matter how you do x, just that you do it. It all ends in some form of incantation – religion as magic. That is what Jeremiah levels at the people of Judah. They have turned their relationship with the God who gave them the land into incantations. Bobbing and chanting – “This is the house of the LORD.” Standing in that house, asking for forgiveness and yelling “We are delivered!” and then going back out and doing all the same things as if nothing changed. Under the law you can do those things, because it is all just a game. Say the right words, do x, and everything is better.

If you have that personal relationship, doing those things is a betrayal of the other person. Asking for forgiveness is not some incantation. It comes with costs for both people. God wants that relationship. He calls you to that relationship. As Jeremiah has God saying – “I called you persistently…” And here is the kicker. Even in the old testament, that land of the law, the law can’t save. Judah was doing the law. They did the appropriate sacrifices. They were in the temple. The sang the song of deliverance. They just didn’t want that personal relationship – Too tough. When God called, they didn’t answer. They did not live life as if the LORD was really there.

Do we treat prayer, worship and the church as incantations, or do we answer the call to talk with God? Tough question. Are we under the law, or do we have a relationship with the living God?