Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. – Jer. 7:3 KJV
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Prophet Jeremiah who was often called the weeping prophet was the prophet of the Almighty God to the Israelites in general but more specifically to Judah. He was known and set apart for this role by the Almighty God, as revealed in the scriptures, before he was formed in his mother’s womb, to deliver the messages of the Almighty God to the nations, a call which he tried to reject by giving excuses of being too young and lacking ability to speak – Jer. 1:1-6. The Lord however corrected him on that idea telling him to disregard his youthfulness and admonishing him to go to everyone that He sends him to, without entertaining fear and promising to be with him to rescue and protect him from any negative fallout from such acts of his – Jer. 1:7. He went further to strengthen him by touching his mouth and pronouncing a prophetic declaration over his life thereby appointing him over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” – Jer. 1:10. He turned out to be a bold representative of the Most High, making pronouncements that mainly highlighted the errors of the people and making them aware of the penalty of God for all those errors.
In the scripture that is the foundation of today’s Devotional, he was reported to have stood at the entrance into the house of the Lord, passing a message from the Lord to the people. He told of the need for them to amend their ways if they desired to dwell in the house of the Lord in particular and on the Land they inherited in general. The use of the word “amend” immediately exposes the fact that whatever the people were doing with regards to the worship of the Lord and their relationship with Him was not acceptable and needed to be adjusted. The changes they needed to effect may be minor but it was necessary for them to make such changes to be able to truly dwell in the house of the Lord. Again, to dwell in the house of the Lord will mean to be considered a permanent and bona fide resident of the house of the Lord. Although, King David had presented a long list of requirements that needed to be met by the one who desires to dwell in the house of the Lord (Psa. 15:1-5), here was Prophet Jeremiah expatiating on those requirements which have to be met for anyone to enjoy the reward of truly dwelling in the house of the Lord. It will not just be sufficient to regularly come to the house of the Lord, as the people were doing. They will need to carry out reforms of their ways and actions in the house of the Lord for Him to allow them enjoy the advantages of being permanent residents of His house. They will need to stop trusting in deceptive words that, merely being in the house of the Lord is sufficient insurance against evil – Jer. 7:4 This will remain falsehood for as long as they refuse to change their ways and instead continue to;
- Oppress foreigners, the fatherless or the widow – Jer. 7:6a. To oppress will be to inflict cruelty, or apply unjust treatment or exercise of authority on someone. In this case, the someone will be fatherless or a widow. These are groups of people that the Lord has always shown interest in – Exo. 22:22; Zech. 7:10. The role of a man, either as a father or husband is mainly protective and absence of such personalities in the life of a child or a wife leaves such vulnerable to attacks. The Almighty God desires that such exploitative advantage should not be taken by anyone who desires to be a recognised occupant of the house of the Lord. He detests deliberate affliction of pain on such people because the oppressor is aware that there is no one to defend such. In this situation, the man in reference may not be dead as mere absence of such a man in that location qualifies the child or the woman to be called fatherless or widow respectively.
- Shed innocent blood – Jer. 7:6b. To shed blood in the scriptures will mostly mean that life is being snuffed out. The Bible says blood is life of the flesh – Lev. 17:11. The Almighty God frowns at the shedding of blood as the land that continues to shed blood will always incur His wrath – Num. 35:33-34. The Bible says shedding blood pollutes the land and only the blood of the one that sheds the blood will be sufficient to atone the land after such act of pollution. This becomes worse when the blood that is shed is that of an innocent person. That means that the victim of such an act is not guilty of the accusation for which his/her blood was shed. This act of shedding innocent blood cannot be limited to physical killing of an innocent person as spiritual killing is also included. Most people have turned their tongues, positions of authority and similar advantages into tools for snuffing out life from innocent people. With acts of gossiping and back-biting and other oppressive acts, they have rendered innocent people dead whilst still alive, and have committed all these negative acts, right inside the house of the Lord and still expect to be considered as fitting to be so seen by the Almighty God. That expectation will definitely not be met as revealed by the Prophet Jeremiah.
- Follow other gods to their own harm – Jer. 7:6c. Many people today are regular attendees of the House of the Lord but actually serve other gods, some outside the House of the Lord but some right inside the House of the Lord. Just as it is very wrong to worship carved images or other spirit beings in a god-like manner, some have also chosen to make human beings like them gods, to whom they owe spiritual obligations of worship. For some, it could be their very spiritually gifted church leader or the financially enabled personality that is the financial pillar of the House of the Lord. None of these is acceptable to the Lord and just as revealed by Prophet Jeremiah, such people will be involved in such sacrilege at their own detriment.
Many Christians there are today who are involved in the above acts and right inside the House of the Lord. They are very regular in Church, with the belief that all they need to do is to be physically present to be acknowledged as true worshippers of God and so deserving to be so rewarded. Such acknowledgement may be true with men but not with the Almighty God, who it is that truly rewards such acts. It will simply not be acceptable to Him for anyone to be involved in such acts and expect to be rewarded like a devoted worshipper of the Lord. It may be impossible for men to see these negative acts of theirs but what does it matter as the one who is most important in such situations is able to see all acts done in the open and in the secret and He rewards accordingly – Psa. 139:1-24.
The one who is complaining of having negative experiences despite being a regular visitor to the house of the Lord will need to honestly assess his/her activities side-by-side all that is listed above. Such may discover that he/she has been involved in one or all of those activities. The solution will be to change and desist from self justification. Amending ways in such circumstances may just be all that is required for the reward of dwelling in the house of the Lord and worship to be received by such. May God help us to avoid all negative acts that render our worship worthless in Jesus name. Amen.