Reflections: Does God ever say, ‘That’s enough already!’

The crowds hushed slowly as the king’s announcement was read.

“Listen,” said the reader. “The king asks whether he has been kind to you.”

The crowd murmured a positive “yes.”

“The king also wants to know why you don’t live like you appreciate his goodness,” said the reader.

Voices rang out saying: “We go to the temple!” “We say our prayers over and over.” “We give offerings.” “He must understand that we just adjust his commands to fit the times.” “Anyway, we aren’t perfect after all.”

“Listen to the letter the king sent,” said the reader.

“I want you to stop killing people and oppressing foreigners. I want you to stop ignoring the needs of widows, or fatherless children. I want you to stop using words repeatedly thinking that they’re going to make me happy. You say all kinds of nice things about me but you don’t live it out. I brought you to this amazing land because I wanted to make you happy. Now, however, you break every rule in the book and you seek counsel from everyone but me.

I’ve warned you over and over and over again but you just ignore it. I’m watching your every move but, based on your disobedience, that doesn’t seem to matter to you at all. I know that you’re not perfect but there is no growth or even desire to grow.

Did you notice what I did to your neighbors because they refused to listen to my repeated warnings? Check it out! They are completely ruined. I’m warning you again because I don’t want to destroy you. However, I will if you refuse to change. My anger over your choices to ignore my teachings will lead to the destruction of everything; all your houses, animals, fields and people.

I’ve sent so many to explain my love and how I want to give you good things but you won’t listen or take anything to heart. They’ve also warned you to stop doing so many things that are detestable to me but you keep doing them anyway. It’s time for repentance! It seems that every generation is getting worse instead of better. There is no truth among you anymore.

It’s about time you took me seriously instead of treating me like a genie. Pretty soon, if things don’t change, there will be no laughter or joy or parties because everything will be destroyed.”

“This ends the letter from the king,” said the speaker. “Go to your houses and ponder its content.”

What I wrote above is a very, very rough paraphrase of Jeremiah 7 which I’ve been reading and listening to for several days. It’s pretty blunt isn’t it? Prayerfully, it causes us to think about our obedience (or lack of it) to the God who loves but also disciplines. I was also struck that, because of their continual disobedience, God told Jeremiah, the prophet and spokesman that he should not bother praying for the people anymore because no answers would come from God. “So do not pray for this people, nor offer any plea or petition for them, for I will not listen to you,” (Jeremiah 7:16). It seems true that God can get to the point that He has had enough! I would suggest reading through Jeremiah 7 a few times in order to gain a broader perspective of God’s character. Truly, our God is a God of love, but he also demands, as part of our relationship with Him, growth in obedience to him.

Helen and her husband, David, are members of Wycliffe Bible Translators serving from their home in Minot.