Jeremiah 2:6-8 “Neither said they, Where is the LORD that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, that led us through the wilderness… The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not…”
It was a privilege to preach our Sunday AM service this past week. I had six principles, and my topic was “Biblical Lessons on the Family”. I planned to be finished as usual, at 11:30 – which would give me about 30 minutes to preach. I preached through my first three points, and rushed through the final three, realizing that I had about five minutes left for three points. After the service, one of our good, faithful men, John, knocked on my office door. He had a rather somber look on his face, and asked if he could pray with me. Before he did, he asked, “if God gave you something from His word for us, why would you rush through the second half of it?” He said, “I know some people look at their watches, and others are on their phones, but some of us don’t come to church to get out.”
As I read through Isaiah and Jeremiah, I can’t help but draw a parallel between their day and ours. There were signs of outward revival. God’s house was full. God’s people said the right things. They were in church when the doors were open. They looked right, and even made the sacrifices they were supposed to make – giving, faithfulness, ordinances, and decisions for the Lord (Jer 3:10). However, the accusations from the Lord were condemning, to say the least. They were as an unfaithful spouse (a strong accusation in its context (Jer. 3). They had replaced Him for that which didn’t profit. They had exchanged God (the fountain of living waters) for a cheap substitute (broken cisterns). We see the heart of God as he remembers the relationship they once had with him – in holiness, kindness, and love. However, something had changed, and His people were about to suffer some very serious consequences. In Jeremiah 2:6-8, the Lord exposes a key reason for their demise: “Neither said they, where is the Lord… The priests said not, where is the Lord? and they that handle the law knew me not.” With their lips they honored Him, but their hearts were far from Him. Oh, they were in church, but they didn’t ask for the Lord. They were giving and making sacrifices, but they asked not, “where is the Lord”. They performed the ordinances, paid lip service, and talked the Christian talk, and yet I wonder if they knew that the Lord’s presence was no longer with them. They wouldn’t know, because they wouldn’t ask.
As I think of the state of our country, our churches, and God’s people, I can’t help but draw the parallel here. We come to church faithfully. We tithe, give to the Ezra, Gideon, and Bus funds. We sacrifice our time and talents during special events. And yet as we observe the state of Christianity, I wonder if God’s people are asking, “where is the Lord” in our lives, our families, and our churches. In church – we used to hear many messages about the asking for the Holy Spirit, and begging for God’s power, and seeking His presence in our lives and on our churches. But those are now far and few between. We have a great church. But as I sit in the overflow each Sunday morning I see people on their phones, and others, weekly, with that far-off look. But I’m not being condemning – because I’m also speaking to me. When the preacher goes five minutes over his “allotted time”, at times, I too begin to wonder if the conclusion is near. I’ve yawned during the song service, and sung the songs half-heartedly without a spirit of praise and adoration, and without asking for God’s spirit to be in the place. And I can’t help but wonder if the reason our country is the way it is, and our churches and converts are the way they are, is because we’ve stopped asking, “where is the Lord”? We wonder why we have the political choices we have. We wonder why our converts soon settle into their chairs each service without the Bible making much of an impact in their lives the rest of the week. Maybe they’re just like us.
As John sat across from my desk, I thanked him for being up front with me. I told him that one thing that challenges and appeals to me each year is when I go overseas, and see how those national believers have church. They don’t come to get out. They don’t sing the songs just to get to the preaching. They are there to seek the Lord. It’s refreshing. It’s challenging. It’s convicting. My prayer is that we’d get back to a place of asking God for his presence and His power on us, our families, and our churches. Because it seems to be seriously lacking in so many areas. And if not, I fear that serious consequences are coming our way, and the next generation may not survive it. We know that “the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:” Where then is His Spirit? Where is His presence? Where is His power in our lives? Maybe He’s waiting for us to ask, “where is the Lord?”