Den of Thieves
Jeremiah 7:11As the residents of Judah continued to disregard God’s law, reveling in idolatry and injustice, they believed they were safe from God’s judgment because of the Temple in Jerusalem. After all, the Temple was the holiest place on earth, God’s special dwelling place. Surely, the disobedient Jews reasoned, God would not allow his own Temple to be destroyed. So they took refuge in the supposed safety of the Temple.
But theirs was a false security. Through Jeremiah the Lord said, “Don’t you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the LORD, have spoken!” (7:11). Thus, even as the Lord once destroyed the Tabernacle of Shiloh, the center of worship in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, so he will do to the Temple in Jerusalem (7:14). He will use the power of Babylon to judge Judah, even ruining his sacred Temple.
Jeremiah 7:11 reminds us that we are not immune to life’s problems just because we are Christians. As a pastor, I have met with people who are angry with God because, for example, he has allowed painful things to happen in their family. They think that God should have protected them from such ills. But they haven’t considered how their own choices have contributed to the brokenness of their family. Their decision, for years and years, to invest all their energy in work and none at home comes at a heavy cost. But simply being Christians doesn’t inoculate us against all messes. Choices and actions have consequences, for us as well as for Israel. The good news for all of us is that God can redeem even the worst messes we make of our lives. In the process, we learn how to follow him more fully so that we might experience more of his blessings.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Have you ever been tempted to hide in a religious “den of thieves”? Have you ever engaged in behavior you knew to be wrong, expecting God to protect you from the consequences of that behavior?PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, nothing is more wonderful in life than having an intimate, personal, everlasting relationship with you through Christ. How blessed I am to be called one of your children!
Help me, dear Lord, never to presume that because I am one of your beloved, I can therefore engage in sinful behavior without consequence. May I never sin more so that your grace might abound in my life! On the contrary, because I belong to you and delight in being your child, may I desire even more to live according to your ways.
Thank you, dear Lord, for not giving me what my actions deserve. Thank you for your mercy. May the outworking of mercy in my life be a walk of holiness that honors you. Amen.