God’s heart was breaking! He looked with great sadness upon the people who had repeatedly rejected Him. Though He had freed them from slavery in Egypt, dried up the Red Sea for their escape from Pharaoh’s army, provided for them through the wilderness and led them into their promised land, their hearts were stubborn and unyielding.
Like a husband who loves his wife deeply, God cried for them to turn back to Him. Though they had betrayed Him over and over again, He was willing to take them back and restore them to their former place of glory, but they would have no part of it.
It wasn’t that they wanted a divorce. That might have made things easier. Instead, they wanted the privileges of having God’s name without the respect and character that belongs with it. When Jeremiah warned them of God’s coming judgment, they didn’t apologize or make things right, instead they got mad at Jeremiah. Had it not been for the intervention of a few men, the people would have killed the prophet right there inside the temple courts just like they had the prophet Zachariah years earlier.
The people falsely believed and stated that God would not bring judgment on Jerusalem because they were “God’s people.” They said, “Look the temple is here. The temple is God’s house. He will not allow it to be destroyed.” They said all of this while they were committing egregious sins involving idol worship, immorality and even child sacrifice. Some of it was occurring right there in God’s temple, yet they put their trust in the building instead of it’s Builder.
God spoke through the Prophet Jeremiah and uttered two powerful words, “Remember Shiloh.” (Jer 7:12) Those words may not mean a lot to us today but it spoke volumes to the people of Israel. They knew that Shiloh was the original resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. The tabernacle of God had been in that place from the time the people of Israel entered the Promised Land, until Solomon built the Temple. It was the place where David had reordered praise and worship and the Priests had made their sacrifices.
They also knew that God had destroyed Shiloh completely. It had become a barren place with nothing of value. Think about that, the holiest site in the world had become worthless. God was letting them know that He would do the same thing to Jerusalem and the Temple if they continued in their betrayal. After-all, there is only so much a husband can take.
Sadly, Jeremiah’s warning went unheeded and a few short years later Babylon invaded the city and burned the Temple along with other important buildings. The people were taken captive by the Babylonians and it would be 70 years before they were allowed to return.
Today there are many who conclude that America is safe from judgment because of the number of Christians, or churches or all the good it has done around the world. But God sees things differently. Our righteousness is like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6.) He is not impressed by our works, He is impressed by our love. And we all know that love is expressed through faithfulness.