(There was a glitch with the Blogger software, so I am reposting this essay. It appeared briefly, then for some reason it got deleted. God bless.)
What was the longest you’ve been angry at someone? How long did the argument last, two minutes, two hours, perhaps even two days? What would you say about over two hundred years? What could so anger God, that He would tell a nation that not only would He bring charges against them, but against their children’s children as well?
I was reading through the book of Jeremiah, making some notes for myself, when I happened upon a chilling verse, and as I began to ponder the question ‘what would so anger God?’ I realized that it is some of the selfsame things today’s church is guilty of.
Jeremiah 2:9, “Therefore I will yet bring charges against you,’ says the Lord, ‘and against your children’s children I will bring charges.”’
We know that God does not grow angry as men grow angry, and each time His anger is on full display there is ample reason. Because the people of Jeremiah’s time had done something, God was angry, and His anger burned with such intensity that not only was He going to bring charges against that present generation, but their children’s children as well. So back to my initial question, and the reason for this post, what could so anger God?
The first thing that angers God is formalism.
Jeremiah 2:5-8, “Thus says the Lord: ‘What injustice have your fathers found in Me, that they have gone far from Me, have followed idols, and have become idolaters? Neither did they say, ‘Where is the Lord, who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, who led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and pits, through a land of drought and the shadow of death, through a land that no one crossed and where no one dwelt?’ I brought you into a bountiful country, to eat its fruit and its goodness, but when you entered, you defiled my land and made My heritage an abomination. The priests did not say, ‘where is the Lord?’ and those who handle the law did not know Me; the rulers also transgressed against Me; the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.”
We must realize that during the time of Jeremiah, at least when God spoke this message to the people through His servant, the temple was there, sacrifices were taking place, the priests were going through the motions, and the ceremony, and the formality of it all, but never once did any of them ask, ‘where is the Lord?’ He wasn’t there! God was not in the temple even though it smelled of incense, and the sacrifices were plentiful, and the priests were decked out in their priestly attire, because formalism is a stench in God’s nostrils, pretend saints make Him angry, and try as they might to follow the program every day, God saw beyond the façade of their false worship to their hearts which were given over to idols and idolatry.
When God sent Jeremiah with this message, He did not say ‘go and whisper in the hearing of Jerusalem, make sure you don’t disturb them, make sure you don’t make them feel uncomfortable or ill at ease’, God said, ‘Go and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, when you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. Israel was holiness to the Lord, the firstruits of His increase.’
Go and cry, tell them I am angry, because I remember how they once were, I remember how they went after Me in the wilderness, how they were holiness to the Lord, how they loved Me, and now all that remains is ceremony and formalism and clanging cymbals that make me all the more angry. Cry in the hearing of My people, that I will judge them, and I am justified in judging them, righteousness demands that I judge them, for they were given much, and they loved Me once, and now they have gone astray, and followed idols and walked after things that do not profit.
God was beholding a fallen Israel, an Israel that had lost its moral standard, and He remembered their past, how they used to be, and their fall angered Him. ‘You were out in the wilderness, with no roof over your head, in a land that had no vegetation because it was not sown, yet you loved Me! In your poverty you loved Me! In your loneliness you loved me! In your affliction you loved Me! In your birth pains you loved Me! Then I led you through the wilderness, through a land of drought and the shadow of death, a land that no one crossed, and brought you into a bountiful country to eat its fruit and its goodness, and you defiled my land and made My heritage an abomination. That is why I am angry’, says God; ‘that is why I will bring charges against you, and your children, and your children’s children!’
The form was still there, but the substance had long gone, the substance had long disappeared and removed itself from the midst of Israel.
Isaiah 1:13, “Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me. The new Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies – I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.”
‘But Lord were you not the One who commanded us to bring sacrifices? Were you not the One who commanded us to keep the Sabbaths? Were you not the One who commanded that we call sacred assemblies?’
Yes, it was the Lord who commanded these things, but now He was sick of them, He could not bear them, they were an abomination to Him, for He could not endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Form without substance is useless. If all we have is the form, if all we have is the ceremony and the keeping of days, and the saying of a prayer, without true righteousness and holiness, without brokenness and humility before God, they are not only useless, but they stir the anger of God.
The second thing that angers God is when we think Him our puppet.
Jeremiah 2:27, “Saying to a tree, ‘You are my father,’ and to a stone, ‘you gave birth to me.’ For they have turned their back to Me, and not their face. But in the time of their trouble they will say, ‘arise and save us.’
It angers God when we think we can put Him in a corner, go about our own business, become idolaters in our deeds and actions, but still call upon Him in our time of trouble and say, ‘arise and save us.’
‘Leave us to the desire of our hearts God, let us do what we want to do, when we want to do it, let us pursue pleasure and earthly things, and mock your name, and despise your righteousness, but when we need You, You better show up.’
No, no dear friend, if you treat God like your puppet rather than Sovereign King and Holy Lord, if you freely offer your heart to idols and worthless things until you hit a snag, and have a mishap, and ‘need a miracle’ don’t call on God expecting Him to save you, let your idols arise and save you! Let the money you’ve been worshiping cure your cancer, let the car you’ve been coveting heal your marriage, let the pride you’ve been fueling bring you joy, God is not your puppet, you can’t just use Him as you see fit and put Him in a box the rest of the time.
God is either your God for all seasons, in your time of joy and your time of heartache, in your time of peace and your time of turmoil, in your time of plenty and in your time of need, or He is not your God at all. We can’t pick and choose the days on which we have fellowship with God, or communion with God, or obedience toward God. He is not the sunshine maker on rainy days and nothing more. He will not accept it, and it angers Him when men attempt to use Him as such.
We are not disciples, we are not worshippers, we are not servants of the most High God, we are profiteers, sycophants who stick around hoping He throws us a few bucks, and the minute He doesn’t we’ll just go on to the next one that promises us something for nothing, denying Him as though He’d never done a thing for us. Preach the truth? Not financially feasible, too little profit in it, so we become life coaches, and soothsayers and self-help gurus teaching you how to live your best life now. This is American Christianity in a nutshell!
‘I come to church so God will give me stuff! I raise my wallet toward heaven and shout, ‘fill it puppet’, and when you’re done go wax my car, then clear my acne.’
And you don’t think God is justified in His anger? And you don’t think God is justified in His judgment? You still think Him unfair, and heartless? Think again! It is we who have provoked the wrath of God, it is we who have fueled His anger, and we deserve to drink the cup of His fury, and the cup of trembling to the last drop.
The third thing that angers God is that we don’t own up to doing the first two things that angered Him. God sends His messengers and they cry aloud, ‘repent, turn away from your wickedness, turn away from your sin, turn away from your formalism, turn away from your idolatry’, and we turn around and answer ‘who me? You must be talking to somebody else, because I’ve never done any of those things.”
Jeremiah 2:33-35, “Why do you beautify your way to seek love? Therefore you have also taught the wicked women your ways. Also on your skirts is found the blood of the lives of the poor innocents. I have not found it by secret search, but plainly on all these things. Yet you say, ‘because I am innocent, surely His anger shall turn from me.’ Behold I will plead My case against you, because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’”
This is the attitude of the masses when confronted with the truth of God’s Word.
‘Must be for somebody else, because I haven’t sinned, I’m innocent!’
But you forget dear soul that God has you on tape, He’s got you on instant replay from the moment you were born to the moment you will breathe your last, and you cannot say you have not sinned.
Jeremiah 2:23, “How can you say, ‘I am not polluted, I have not gone after the Baals’? See your way in the valley; know what you have done.”
God sees, God knows, and God remembers, and it angers Him when we stand before Him and rather than fall to our knees in repentance, we lie to His face and say ‘it wasn’t me! Looks like me, talks like me, walks like me, but no, it wasn’t me, I’m innocent, I have not sinned.’
Therefore, this is why God will bring charges against us, and against our children’s children. Because we have a form of godliness, with exuberant ceremonies and lots of fanfare, but no Jesus in our midst, because we treat the King of Kings as some puppet whose strings we can pull with a prayer, and because we will not admit that we have done any of these things.
Judgment is upon us dear friends, and though we might not want to admit it is righteous and just. Know that it was difficult for me to write this message out; it tore at my heart, brought tears to my eyes, and drained every bit of energy from my fingers, but try as I might I could not get away from it, the verse kept returning to me insisting that it be fleshed out. Sometimes we must say the hard things, because only the hard things will suffice. This was one of those times, but the season for playing games with God is far gone, and we either worship Him as King and Lord, we either serve Him as Master and Savior, we either submit to His authority and will, or we will suffer His judgment long before the world does.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.