Archives for posts with tag: Jeremiah

Around the Word smallWe live in an age of intellectual relativism and religious syncretism. The powerful opinion makers of this world are intent on one thing and one thing only — the standardization of a non-standard-based way of life, which is another way of saying the obliteration of any notion of right and wrong. The right/wrong construct, according to these heralds of modernity, is antiquated, being deservedly delegated to the dustbins of history.

Josiah, the last of the 5 kings of Judah before the nation was exiled to Babylon, lived in similar times. The religious establishment had almost completely obliterated the true worship of God from the land. The few remnants that still rejected religious syncretism were in hiding. It was not safe to exercise the right to contradict. From all appearances, Josiah was destined to be another puppet king, serving at the beckoning call of the religious apostates. But strangely, Josiah went the other way. How did that happen?

First, it happened because of his family’s influence. Not on his father’s side, of course. By the time Josiah began to reign, he had to undo 57 years of faithlessness led by his father and grandfather. But it is safe to assume that it was a different story on his mother’s side.

Josiah’s mother was Jedidah, a name meaning “the beloved of Jehovah.” His maternal grandmother was Adiah, a name meaning “the honored of Jehovah.” It is reasonable to infer that Josiah was tutored by his mother and grandmother. They, together with some close allies, nurtured a faith in young Josiah which would not be overcome by the moods of society.

In addition to that, Josiah had the great voices of the prophets Jeremiah, Zephaniah, and Huldah, who were also preaching against the evil Israel was committing at that time. The high priest Hilkiah, and especially the king’s scribe, Saphan, also played a huge role in the religious upbringing of young Josiah. Saphan’s family played a critical part all the way to the end, begging people to repent and return to YHWW. In Jeremiah 36:10, for example, we see Saphan and his family standing squarely with Jeremiah, at a time when Josiah’s son and successor had threatened to kill Jeremiah and as an act of defiance burned the scroll from Jeremiah that had been read to him (Jeremiah 36:23-24).

In a similar way, Paul reminded Timothy of his spiritual heritage when he said, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (2 Timothy 1:5).

What we see is that even in the worst age of relativism and syncretism, God always reserves for Himself a remnant that refuses to go with the flow and finds ways to challenge the establishment. Often, this challenge is soft and persistent like the rain dripping from a leaky roof; but often it is also bombastic and courageous, like Jeremiah’s letter to the king. Regardless of the approach, though, when God’s truth is under attack, the follower of Christ should not run to neutrality. That would be suicide.

Remaining neutral would be the equivalent of rejecting God, as we learn too well from Christ’s letter to the church in Laodicea: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16).

As we talk about Josiah this Sunday, please ask yourself this question: How is your spiritual temperature? And if it’s not “hot,” watch out for the divine spit!

Pastor Ivanildo da Costa Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

Get Real with God Blog

We live in a world of pain today. Everywhere we look we see misdeeds and misfits. Some of us have cried tears to last several lifetimes and yet there seems to be no end in sight. Evil is rampant and the devil seems to be dancing with the stars.

For some of us the pain is abject poverty. Some of us see the wasting away of children affected by diseases that could be cured with a cheap pill and we weep. Many of us protest against the horrors of human trafficking and others are angry at rampant corruption in a world driven by money. The moral landscape of America also anguishes many of us. Our children seem to be out of control. Kids are perishing from the lack of a true north and everywhere the palpitating heart of broken relationships rages.

Some colleges and universities across the country are finally sounding the alarm. For example, the president of Dartmouth College, a very prestigious Ivy League school, recently came out against the self-destructive culture dictating the behavior of many students on his campus. He cited the alarming number of sexual assaults where excessive drinking plays a part and spoke of “a general disregard for human dignity as exemplified by hazing, parties with racist and sexist undertones, disgusting and sometimes threatening insults hurled on the Internet.”

None of these things, except the Internet, were foreign concepts to Habakkuk, the Biblical prophet who lived around 600 B.C. and also struggled to make sense out of the ideological swamp he found around him, and especially in light of the fact that it appeared as if God didn’t care. Habakkuk grew up in a time when he saw devotion to God descend into the bottomless pit. The faithful reforms of King Josiah (2 Kings 22, 23) were only a memory and the land had now turned into a vast wasteland where everything and anything was permissible. As a highly materialistic society, they had not only learned to tolerate evil, they redefined the moral compass by calling evil good and good evil.

In the time preceding the reforms, there was even a hill outside of Jerusalem appropriately called “Hill of Corruption,” where every possible pagan deity had a shrine and some unspeakable acts of debauchery and debasing of human behavior were on display. Josiah’s reforms only lasted twenty years and soon the people reverted to their sinful ways. Now the godly in the nation were asking why God was choosing to be silent.

Habakkuk was not the only one who had a little trouble with God. Jeremiah also lived during the same time and he was not exactly quiet either. But Habakkuk was unique in that while the other prophets spoke about God to the people, Habakkuk spoke about the people to God. He was a pious man who couldn’t understand why a holy God could tolerate so much evil in the world. And like others who feared God, he also felt that it was unfair for him to have to swim in the swamp with the rest of the people.

Yes, the age old question… Sorry to disappoint you, Dr. Dawkins, but you didn’t invent the question about how a good God can permit evil in the world. Neither did Sam Harris or Christopher Hitchens (bless his soul) for that matter. You are just some of the most vitriolic questioners in recent memory. That is all.

Anyway, Habakkuk opens up a dialogue with God which is refreshing. He proves that God does not mind when we are brutally honest with Him. He proves that there is a proper context in which it is perfectly fine to go tête-a-tête with God and not feel ashamed. God does not appreciate when we shove our hard questions under the rug and pretend everything is okay. He invites a robust dialogue as long as we allow Him to continue to be God.

And these are some of the thoughts we will be exploring in the new series we are starting this Sunday – “Get Real With God – finding God through pain.” Hope you can join us in the discussion.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade