to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice *
August 28, 2019 – Wednesday
Jeremiah 9:12-16 NIV
12 Who is wise enough to understand this? Who has been instructed by the Lord and can explain it? Why has the land been ruined and laid waste like a desert that no one can cross?
13 The Lord said, “It is because they have forsaken My law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed Me or followed My law.
14 Instead, they have followed the stubbornness of their hearts; they have followed the Baals, as their ancestors taught them.”
15 Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “See, I will make this people eat bitter food and drink poisoned water.
16 I will scatter them among nations that neither they nor their ancestors have known, and I will pursue them with the sword until I have made an end of them.”
Oddly, no titles for this chapter or this section. It could be that it is a continuation from chapter eight where some versions have a title beginning at verse eighteen such as Jeremiah Grieves (or Mourns) for His People and that grieving continues into chapter nine and through our verses for today. David Guzik provides the following title for the verses above The Cause and Result of Judgment Summarized which is very much spot on.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the verses above and the following six verses fits as well (emphasis added).
In Zion the voice of joy and praise used to be heard, while the people kept close to God; but sin has altered the sound, it is now the voice of lamentation. Unhumbled hearts lament their calamity, but not their sin, which is the cause of it. … . Hearken to the word of the Lord, and mourn with godly sorrow. This alone can bring true comfort; and it can turn the heaviest afflictions into precious mercies.
This verse 13 The Lord said, “It is because they have forsaken My law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed Me or followed My law provides the answer to the question asked in the prior verse 12 Who is wise enough to understand this? Who has been instructed by the Lord and can explain it? Why has the land been ruined and laid waste like a desert that no one can cross? We can also turn back to the following from chapter five for an answer as well 19 And when the people ask, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all this to us?’ you will tell them, ‘As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your own land, so now you will serve foreigners in a land not your own.’
It is nothing short of amazing how blind we are to our own sins as the cause of our own problems and or calamities. Like those in Jeremiah’s time we might ask how and why and what without ever examining our own hearts, but it is our hearts we need to examine if we wish to understand in most cases. C.S. Lewis makes this clear when examining the saying ‘hate the sin, but not the sinner’
“I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that I must hate a bad man’s actions but not hate the bad man: or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner. …I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life — namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things.”
I believe C.S. Lewis to be accurate in his analysis. Something to consider today and in the days ahead.
(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)