Because something is popular, a religious tradition, or “the way we’ve always done it,” doesn’t make it biblical. In today’s Old Testament passage, God condemns the nation of Israel for their false religion and idolatry. Centuries later, when a Samaritan woman met Jesus and pointed out what was popular in her religious tradition, He told her, “… those who worship [God] must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4.24)—spirit, with the right heart attitude, and truth, according to His commands. Let’s not be among those who have itching ears, wishing to hear only what we want to hear.
Jeremiah 7 & 8
I know I run the risk of offending some today. I pray that I don’t, but even more, I pray that those who are offended will dig into God’s Word and prayerfully seek the truth for themselves.
Itching Ears, False Worship & the Queen of Heaven
The prophet continues along the same lines as yesterday’s reading, even repeating some of the same phrases.
In chapter 8 Jeremiah again speaks specifically to false teachers, priests and prophets:
10 … Everyone is given to covetousness;
From the prophet even to the priest
Everyone deals falsely.
11 For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’
When there is no peace.
Once again he condemns them for giving a false assurance of peace in their relationship with God.
He also condemns the people themselves because they were listening to falsehood. Even though our leaders are responsible for what they teach, we are responsible to make sure what we’re hearing and learning lines up with God’s Word! Because something is popular or “the way we’ve always done it” does not make it biblically sound.
Many people form their theological views by listening to preachers and teachers whose style or messages they like without going to God’s Word for themselves. Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy:
2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables (2 Tim. 4.2-4).
Some things that are being taught by very popular teachers are not biblically sound; they are fables. God is not some genie in a bottle waiting to give us everything we want or keep us from going through difficulties.
It’s been said before, but He is more concerned with our character than our comfort and more concerned with our holiness than our happiness. This is not your best life now; this is where He is growing and maturing you into the likeness of His Son. As believers our best life is to come. This world is not our home. Our home is in heaven and the best is yet to come!
It’s not that God wants us beaten down and miserable, but He wants us to find our happiness, our peace, our contentment, and our satisfaction in Him. We will never find happiness in the things of creation, only in our wonderful Creator! As the psalmist invites us in Psalm 34:
8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
9 Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints!
There is no want to those who fear Him.
10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.
The Queen of Heaven & False Worship
Jeremiah 7 also addresses false religious practices:
16 “Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you. 17 Do you not see what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke Me to anger.
God said have no other gods before Me (Ex. 20.3), that includes the worship of saints and even the Virgin Mary. Jesus honored His mother as a faithful son should. He saw to it that she would be cared for after His death (Jn. 19.24-27), but He did not honor her as someone to be worshiped or who was greater than other believers. Luke 8.20-21: Continue reading