“A congregation that is not deeply and earnestly involved in the worldwide proclamation of the gospel does not understand the nature of salvation.”

Ted Engstrom

TODAY’S READING: Jeremiah 7–9

Jeremiah reminds us that the wise and mighty are those who know and glory in the Lord of the whole earth (Jer. 9:24). Often the emphasis of these verses is placed on the character of God (lovingkindness, judgment, and righteous, which are true) to the exclusion of the critical location: all the earth. Lest there be any doubt, the Lord said He will treat all peoples equally, whether Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon, and Moab, all from the farthest corners, those in the wilderness, all the nations (v. 26). Critical to understanding the book of Jeremiah is the guiding reality that Jeremiah was called as a prophet to the nations. Critical to understanding the Old Testament is the framing covenant: that Jehovah will be Israel’s God if they will be His holy and obedient people (7:23) and He will bless them so they will be a blessing to the nations. These are the parallel rails on which the train of Jeremiah glides. Jeremiah is a missionary prophet who bequeathed us a missionary message from a missionary God.

In this light we must read Jeremiah’s warning about both temple and house. Jeremiah, the country bumpkin, not enamored with the big city or the fancy temple, was told to stand outside the temple and warn people not to trust it for help. We can’t live like functional atheists (say we believe in God but live however we want) and then come to church to play the religious game. God hated that then, and He hates it now. In fact, He beckons us to sit in history’s classroom, go to Shiloh where He first set His name, and see what He will do to all spiritual gamers (v. 12).

The challenges to public worship in our day are well documented, but Jeremiah pried deeper. Worship of the “queen of heaven” (vv. 17–20) was apparently a family affair conducted in private homes and the ritual centered on a family cultic meal, not a congregational service.[1] We may cringe at how performance now drives our public meetings, but the real problem starts at home. Our cultural hypocrisy is that we indulge in the privacy of our homes what we disavow, yet demand, in public. Our private addiction to entertainment leads us to demand the same on public Sundays. It’s not wrong to lift our eyes to Jehovah on the weekends; it’s just hollow when we lift those very eyes to the filth from the queen of the heavens beamed into our televisions, computers, and phones at home. What might be most horrific is that we let those queens have the attention of our children for hours every day. We shudder that ancient Israel in their folly appeared to bring child sacrifice into the worship of Yahweh, yet we daily expose our own progeny to the fires and demons of hell.

To be missionary is to lift our eyes to Jehovah and His heart for His glory among all peoples and to train our children to look with us. To train our children to look anywhere else, publicly or privately, makes both Jeremiah and Jehovah weep.

[1] The Chronological Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008. 710.

Prayer Focus: Mozambique

Today’s Unreached People Group: Yao, Muslim
Population: 198,000
Language: Yao
Primary Religion: Islam
Evangelical: 1.0%
Estimated Workers Needed: 4

[Source: Joshua Project]

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