to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice *
September 09, 2019 – Monday
Jeremiah 32:16-23 NIV
16 “After I had given the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah, I prayed to the Lord:
17 “Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You.
18 You show love to thousands but bring the punishment for the parents’ sins into the laps of their children after them. Great and mighty God, whose name is the Lord Almighty,
19 great are Your purposes and mighty are Your deeds. Your eyes are open to the ways of all mankind; You reward each person according to their conduct and as their deeds deserve.
20 You performed signs and wonders in Egypt and have continued them to this day, in Israel and among all mankind, and have gained the renown that is still Yours.
21 You brought Your people Israel out of Egypt with signs and wonders, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror.
22 You gave them this land you had sworn to give their ancestors, a land flowing with milk and honey.
23 They came in and took possession of it, but they did not obey You or follow your law; they did not do what You commanded them to do. So You brought all this disaster on them.
At the time of this writing Jerusalem and Judah are under great attack by Nebuchadnezzar while Zedekiah, the king of Judah, has Jeremiah confined under guard in the courtyard in the royal palace. We learn this is the first fifteen verses where Zedekiah placed Jeremiah under house arrest because of his prophesies where he stated
3b ‘This is what the Lord says: I am about to give this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will capture it. 4 Zedekiah king of Judah will not escape the Babylonians but will certainly be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and will speak with him face to face and see him with his own eyes. 5 He will take Zedekiah to Babylon, where he will remain until I deal with him, declares the Lord. If you fight against the Babylonians, you will not succeed.’”
Not what any king would want to hear as a prophesy that says effectively not only will you not succeed if you resist, but you should surrender. Then something unusual is interjected – Jeremiah is instructed by God to purchase a piece of ground. Why? Likely to show a time would come when houses, fields, and vineyards would once again be possessed by those who would return. Even with destruction coming from the conquest of Judah, Jeremiah shows he believes the what God has shown him that they would one day return. Thus we have our first verse for today where Jeremiah has completed the purchase and now prays to God. In his prayer verses seventeen through twenty-two are praises to and of God. The very next verse is an indictment of Israel (first the northern kingdom and now the southern kingdom) for not obeying or following His law which resulted in the disaster they are now facing. Reading further into the chapter we find just how great their sins were against Him.
32 The people of Israel and Judah have provoked Me by all the evil they have done—they, their kings and officials, their priests and prophets, the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem. 33 They turned their backs to Me and not their faces; though I taught them again and again, they would not listen or respond to discipline. 34 They set up their vile images in the house that bears My Name and defiled it. 35 They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molek, though I never commanded—nor did it enter My mind—that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin.
Their sins were indeed great, even including child sacrifice to Molek. But note in the midst of this indictment He says I taught them again and again, they would not listen or respond to discipline. When they did not listen or respond to discipline, judgment came. This is not unlike what I sometimes observe in my own life and that of other believers where we go about our own way doing as we wish paying no attention to what God wants us to do. UNTIL. Until the discipline comes and then finally prayer becomes part of our lives – like the idea of ‘break glass in case of fire’ when we could have avoided it all if only we had listened.
Are we listening and changing our ways? Or do we continue to ignore what God says and doing whatever we decide to do? Questions to think and meditate on this week.
(to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice)
* Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)