Then the Lord said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying: ‘Hear the words of this covenant and do them. For I earnestly exhorted your fathers in the day I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, until this day, rising early and exhorting, saying, “Obey My voice.” Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone followed the dictates of his evil heart; therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but which they have not done.'” (Jeremiah 11:6-8)
Obey My Voice
The longsuffering and patience of God are firmly established in the Old Testament. There is ample evidence the Lord had done everything He could do for the nation of Israel and yet they still chose to rebel against Him. At the time of the prophet Jeremiah, the final tribes of the once mighty nation of Israel were falling deeper into the excesses of idolatry and abandoning the word of God. Jeremiah would prophesy to the nation until the carrying away of Jerusalem captive to Babylon. He would experience persecution, rejection and weep many tears over the condition of the Beloved of God. When the final days of Israel appeared on the horizon, no one could say they had not been warned. God tells the people He had been warning them since their deliverance from Egypt many generations before. It had been more than eight hundred years since the Hebrew people were led out of Egypt by the hand of the Lord and constantly throughout those years the word of the Lord warned, cajoled, admonished and forbade the people from becoming like the nations around them. God had earnestly exhorted the Israelite fathers to do one thing: obey His voice! In the Law of Moses, the blessings of God were enumerated in great detail for the nation if they would obey the voice of the Lord. Jeremiah will twice ask the people if there was anything too hard for the Lord to accomplish. Their deliverance from Egypt was by His mighty power. The plagues that crushed the Egyptian nation were brought about by the word of God. When the Hebrews stood at the shore of the Red Sea with no escape it was the might of the Almighty that divided the waters and brought the people over on dry land. All the stories of the forty-year journey of Israel to the Promised Land declare the benevolent hand of the Father upon His children. The land of Canaan was destroyed of the enemies of God through the will of the Lord as the kingdom of Israel was established under Saul, David, and Solomon. Every part of the history of Israel testified to the power of God to deliver His people if they would obey His voice. They refused.
The grace of God is very clear. He will promise to deliver the people through His great power but that grace alone will not save them. Jeremiah weeps for the hearts of the people who have seen the glory of God fill the Temple and witness the wonderful works of His hand among the nations but they refused to do what God said to do. Every day, the Lord exhorted the people to obey and they refused. Everyone followed the dictates of their evil hearts to do as they pleased, live as they wanted and serve worthless idols to appease their pleasures. Judgment would come soon by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army. This would be in fulfillment of the promises made in the Law of Moses to Israel if they refused to heed His voice. God’s grace is found in the promises of blessings if the people obeyed but that same grace declares the wrath of God upon the people when they do not obey the voice of the Lord. Jeremiah tells the people God will bring the words of the covenant upon them. The consequence of rejecting the grace of God brings judgment. Repentance was the first word of the plan to save them and they refused to heed the word of the Lord. Salvation was centered upon the need to obey the voice of the Lord. Israel tried to have it both ways: they wanted to serve their idols and continue to serve God. They trusted in the lying words that whisper compromise. Coming to the Temple they would offer their sacrifices to the Lord and the other days of the week steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal and walk after other gods. The house of the Lord had become a den of thieves as they sought to rob God of His glory and He would have none of it. Obedience demanded a whole heart.
Jeremiah lived nearly twenty-five-hundred years ago but the message of the weeping prophet is as clear today as when first uttered to a rebellious nation. Many in the religious world are convinced of the grace of God but not convicted of obedience to the voice of God. Obeying the voice of God demands a faithful heart diligently seeking the will of the Lord in every part of life. Worship is not a go-to-church religion where a cloak of worship is adorned for sake of show and life is filled with the worldly, sensual and rebellious spirit of refusing to obey the voice of God. The Lord has earnestly exhorted through His written word for all men to obey His voice yet they refuse to obey or incline their ear. Everyone follows the dictates of their own heart which is evil. Salvation is not by grace alone. The redemption of the blood of Jesus is the favor and blessing of a merciful God who desires all men to be saved. However, this grace is invalid if a person refuses to submit to the will of the Lord. The children of Israel were blessed with all the favors of the Lord and they refused to obey His voice. He punished them because they broke the covenant. Refusing to obey the voice of the Lord will bring the wrath of God. Hear the words of the will of the Lord and do them.