God gave Jesus to be the bride-groom and the church to be his bride. And so, when the bride takes off with a lover, it stings. In marriage we are set apart for each other, and so in our relationship with the Lord we are to be set apart for him. How’s that working for you?
3 This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and to Jerusalem:
“Break up your unplowed ground
and do not sow among thorns.
4 Circumcise yourselves to the Lord,
circumcise your hearts,
you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire
because of the evil you have done—
burn with no one to quench it.
18 “Your own conduct and actions
have brought this on you.
This is your punishment.
How bitter it is!
How it pierces to the heart!”
Jeremiah 4:3-4, 18
The Lord pleads with his people over and over to choose good and right and to please him. The world who does not know or does not follow the Lord (and never has) are guilty of unbelief. The family of God – the children of God – who are God’s own precious ones – if they stray and reject God’s ways, brings guilt and consequence of greater magnitude. It is terrible. It’s betrayal. Mutiny. Infidelity. Adultery. Why? Because God has given Jesus to be the bride-groom and the church to be his bride.
When the bride takes off with a lover it stings.
God’s pronouncements in Jeremiah 4 reflect this with respect to Judah and Jerusalem. Their conduct and actions toward God elicited his response. God will not be mocked. Rather, he will deal harshly with those who proclaim to be his own and then act with hypocrisy in the world.
So what about us? Are we in similar situations with respect to God? Are we close to God and following diligently or are we flirting with the lovers of the world?
Notice that God’s message here is to break up the unplowed ground and to not sow among thorns. That’s the image of how we can get caught up in this today. Circumcision is a cutting away of flesh as a ceremonial commitment of being set apart for God.
We aren’t good anymore at cutting away. We aren’t as good today at being set apart. We are so close to the world because we want to reach the world, yet we have a hard time being separate from the world. The things which used to set Christians apart from the world were often external and perhaps even what we would call trivial. Christians don’t play cards. Christians don’t go to movies. Christians don’t…
Christians now do most things that the world does in terms of entertainment and lifestyle. There is a morality and an ethic which we would hope carves us out, yet even that is less specific today than it was in previous generations.
Are we sowing among thorns? Are we not different enough? Should we break up the ground and weed out the thorns and invasive plants which threaten our crop of fruit?
What makes you different and set apart from your neighbour, Christian?
It may be time to cut away so that our hearts and lives are clearly God’s and so that our impact is not choked out by the thorns…