Day 177: God’s Word vs. Man’s Word

Jeremiah 44:24-30

Moreover Jeremiah said to all the people, including all the women, “Hear Yahweh’s word, all Judah who are in the land of Egypt! Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, says, ‘You and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and with your hands have fulfilled it, saying, “We will surely perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn incense to the queen of the sky, and to pour out drink offerings to her.”

“ ‘Establish then your vows, and perform your vows.’

“Therefore hear Yahweh’s word, all Judah who dwell in the land of Egypt: ‘Behold, I have sworn by my great name,’ says Yahweh, ‘that my name will no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, “As the Lord Yahweh lives.” Behold, I watch over them for evil, and not for good; and all the men of Judah who are in the land of Egypt will be consumed by the sword and by the famine, until they are all gone. Those who escape the sword will return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah few in number. All the remnant of Judah, who have gone into the land of Egypt to live there, will know whose word will stand, mine or theirs.

“ ‘This will be the sign to you,’ says Yahweh, ‘that I will punish you in this place, that you may know that my words will surely stand against you for evil.’ Yahweh says, ‘Behold, I will give Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies and into the hand of those who seek his life, just as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, who was his enemy and sought his life.’ ”

In this passage, God shows all of us where man’s real problem lies. On the surface, it would appear that the problem is that the people were choosing to worship “the queen of the sky” instead of God, but God exposes something else here. The people told God that they were going to keep their vows, but their vow was against the vow of God. The real issue is that the people were putting themselves in the place of God in their attempt to keep their own word. They were the ones who were choosing to elevate “the queen of the sky” and they were the ones who made a bad vow, so God told them that His vow is against them. As a result, the people would find out “whose word will stand, mine or theirs.”

These Jews had given up on God’s word and had chosen to believe in their own ideas about the “queen of the sky.” They never really talked to this “queen.” They were actually worshiping their own imaginations. They were trusting in their own ideas. Modern atheists today would probably mock this idea of worshiping some “queen of the sky” but they still have the very same underlying problems. They trust in their own faulty ideas and they even personify them. There are atheists who believe that “life will find a way,” but life in this sense is an evolutionary concept. It doesn’t have a mind. It can’t find things. They say things like: “science is atheistic,” but science is merely a set of tools that we use to learn things, it doesn’t have a mind. It can’t be an atheist! The concept of evolution teaches that somehow, randomness creates all of the good things that we enjoy but randomness is the opposite of creation in our experience. The idea that randomness can create, is applying a magical ability to a concept. It’s clear that atheists today are merely worshiping their own ideas and they vow to keep those ideas in tact at all cost. It is clear from this passage what God will do. God’s word will continue to oppose them until it proves to be true, just as God’s word opposed the remnant of Judah in Egypt.

Day 108: Following Their Own Word

Jeremiah 23:33-40

“When this people, or the prophet, or a priest, asks you, saying, ‘What is the message from Yahweh?’ Then you shall tell them, ‘ “What message? I will cast you off,” says Yahweh.’ As for the prophet, the priest, and the people, who say, ‘The message from Yahweh,’ I will even punish that man and his household. You will say everyone to his neighbor, and everyone to his brother, ‘What has Yahweh answered?’ and, ‘What has Yahweh said?’ You will mention the message from Yahweh no more: for every man’s own word has become his message; for you have perverted the words of the living God, of Yahweh of Armies, our God. You will say to the prophet, ‘What has Yahweh answered you?’ and, ‘What has Yahweh spoken?’ Although you say, ‘The message from Yahweh;’ therefore Yahweh says: ‘Because you say this word, “The message from Yahweh,” and I have sent to you, telling you not to say, “The message from Yahweh;” therefore, behold, I will utterly forget you, and I will cast you off, and the city that I gave to you and to your fathers, away from my presence. I will bring an everlasting reproach on you, and a perpetual shame, which will not be forgotten.’ ”

Making up a message from God is a very serious crime. According to what we read here, it will bring “an everlasting reproach on you, and a perpetual shame, which will not be forgotten.” Now, we know that this shame and reproach was paid for by Jesus when He died, but it demonstrates to us that what false teachers and prophets do is as serious as the sins that they claim to avoid. The sins of religious people are very serious because they claim to be speaking for God.

I’m a bit stunned about this since it seems quite different than it was when I was young, but we live in a very religious culture here in the United States now. By religious, I don’t mean that everyone believes in God or the gods. What I mean is that I am seeing what Jeremiah was seeing, that “every man’s own word has become his message.” People are making up their own truth about what God thinks, says or is. If they think Christianity is wrong about something, they simply revise it and continue to call themselves a Christian. Then they claim that everyone that doesn’t follow their ideas is not a Christian. No wonder Jeremiah couldn’t get along with anyone. Everyone had decided to listen to themselves and I can’t imagine a less unified culture.

I do have a word of encouragement for Christians, though. One of the blessings we have as Christians is that we have each other. In a day when everyone follows their own word, we follow God’s and when we do it, we do it together. We can have unity that shines like a light in the darkness. As we simply love each other, we will attract those who are seeking a way out of the violence and disunity of this world.