When God Says, "Enough!"
When God says, “Enough!”
“The Lord has rejected His altar, He has abandoned His sanctuary: He has delivered into the hand of the enemy.”
The people were confident of their protection. They were confident that God would continue to bless them just as he had in the past. They fell into the trap that we often fall into, and that is that we assume that the past blessings of God upon our nation will continue into the future and that we are exempt from judgment. This was the attitude of Israel. They developed a false sense of security. First, they thought God’s past blessings were the guarantee of his future protection. However, they fail to recognize that God had warned them that his blessings upon their nation were grounded in their obedience to his law. In Deuteronomy 9:4, God warned the nation of falling into the trap of thinking they were blessed with the land because of their unique position. But God had made it clear that He gave the land to Israel in the conquest not because of any favoritism but because of the wickedness of the people of the land of Canaan. Therefore, he warned them that if they adopted the sin, idolatry, and morality of the Canaanites, they, too, would provoke the wrath of God. God had set before them both a blessing and a curse in the Law. If they obey God’s commandments, they will enjoy his blessing. However, if they turn aside from God’s law, they will face judgment (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).
The second reason for their false sense of security is that if they performed their religious rituals, it would protect them from any judgment. They thought that as long as they did their religious activities and gave lip service to God, they would be accepted by God regardless of their sins. The same is true today. People think that if they go to church on Sunday and affirm Christian truths, they can ignore God’s moral law. God will love us no matter what. However, in both the Old and New Testaments, God makes it clear that genuine faith results in obedience to his word. The test of faith is not in what we say or confess but in how we live (see James 1).
The third reason they had a false sense of security is the false prophets. Instead of proclaiming God’s law, the false prophets proclaimed only peace and prosperity. Their message was false and misleading. The true prophet of God confronts evil by calling people to repentance and then assures the people that when repentance is genuine, salvation is available. A genuine spokesperson for God proclaims both justice and grace. They confront sin with the call to change. But these false teachers were only declaring what people wanted to hear. They promise prosperity without the confession of sin and the need to live in accordance with God’s word.
With a false sense of security, Israel continued to reject the law of God and ignored that the law promised both blessings for obedience and judgment for disobedience. Because Israel refused to listen to God and his law, they should not have been surprised when judgment came. In verse 17, Jeremiah affirms that even in judgment, God had been true to his word, that he was only doing what he had said he would do from the “days of old.” But even as Jeremiah laments the downfall of Israel, there is still hope that the people will turn from their sins. God’s grace is still available if they turn to him.
It is never too late to turn back to God. No matter how devastating our sins are, God offers grace in his mercy. Even as he brings the threat and promise of judgment, there is still the offer of grace for those who repent. Of course, there comes the point when a nation continues to reject God that God says, “enough is enough,” and he brings his judgment. But even then, there is still the offer of grace. Such is the compassion of a gracious God.