For the children of Judah have done evil in My sight,” says the Lord. “They have set their abominations in the house which is called by My name, to pollute it. And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart. (Jeremiah 7:30-31)
Human Sacrifice By God’s People
In the days of Noah, the world was filled with such wickedness that every intent of man’s thoughts was continually evil. Noah and his family found grace in the eyes of the Lord because they believed in the grace of God and His mercy. Abraham was the father of the nation of Israel through whom the promised Seed of Christ would come into the world. The nation of Israel was the apple of God’s eye, His Well-Beloved, and His chosen vineyard. He had given Israel the Law through Moses with all the blessings of His love toward them if they obeyed Him. The history of Israel is testimony to the long-suffering of God, His love to save them from Egypt and give them a land flowing with milk and honey. Of all people on earth, Israel was the greatest nation.
It took Israel five hundred years to begin spiraling out of control, falling under the weight of sin as wicked as the days of Noah. Following the death of Solomon, Israel was divided into ten northern tribes and the remaining tribes of Judah and Benjamin. All the kings of the north were wicked, filling the land with the abominations of the nations around them. Kings like Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, destroyed the people of God with idol worship. The southern kingdom of Judah would have nineteen kings, with only seven kings spanning just over two hundred years that were good kings seeking the will of God. It was a turbulent time for God’s people; and that was the tragedy.
Reading the history of Israel in the books of the Kings and the Chronicles is a tragic story of immorality and wickedness. The prophet Jeremiah preached to the people of God during the reigns of Josiah, son of Amon, king of Judah and his son Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah, another of Josiah’s sons. What makes the story of Israel most disturbing is the depth of sin the people fell into and the darkness of sin that covered the land. Truth had perished from the land. The people of God offered their children as human sacrifices to gods. Jeremiah declared the word of the Lord against the people of God – the chosen, the redeemed, the nation with a covenant of God. These were not the heathen nations surrounding them. Israel was guilty of the same immorality and evil as the world. Sin had transformed the kingdom of God into the kingdom of evil. And these were God’s people.
To appreciate the impact of the preaching of Jeremiah, a modern-day twist helps to illustrate what can happen to God’s people. Today, the people of God are those who are in Christ, in the body of Christ, the church, the saved, and the redeemed. Christ shed His blood to set apart those who come to Him and dedicate their lives to the will of the Father. These disciples were first called Christians in the city of Antioch. Taking a view of Jeremiah’s word against Israel is like filling in the blanks with those who are Christians today. No one can imagine a day when a Christian father or mother would offer their child as a burnt offering – literally. And yet this is where the people of God found themselves, and if it can happen to Israel long ago, it can happen to God’s people today.
Offering a child as a burnt offering is the most heinous crime imagined. This seems to be beyond the comprehension of those in the church today. Reading the text of Jeremiah must be kept in the context that burning children alive as offerings were done by the people of God. Satan gained power over the nation of Israel and can gain control over the hearts and minds of God’s people today if they are not diligent to be on the watch. Sin is subtle and quiet, but it leads to the same roads. The Old Testament is a story of God’s people and how sin can destroy righteous lives. It must never be lost on the reader that the nation charged with idolatry, human sacrifice, immorality, wickedness, and total disregard for holiness was once the people of God. These things were written for our admonition.