Here are a few disturbing questions about hearing and applying the Word of God from my morning quiet time:
We love to apply to ourselves the promise God made to Babylonian exiles in Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (NLT)
But why do we think that verse is any more applicable to us than v.17, which was written to the Jews left behind in Jerusalem? “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: “’I will send war, famine, and disease upon them and make them like bad figs, too rotten to eat.'”
Do we think we are more deserving of the first than we are of the second? Are we more more interested in feel-good promises than in hard-to-hear words of judgment? Do we prefer our Ahabs and Zedekiahs to the Lord’s Jeremiahs? (v.21)
And if we want to own v.11, are we willing to also accept the Lord’s declaration of v.19 — that both the exiles in Babylon and the left-behind residents of Jerusalem were under God’s judgment because they all had refused to listen to his prophets?
We must rightly handle the Word of Truth. Be careful of appropriating promises made to others in different times and circumstances. Be slow to dismiss difficult passages simply because you don’t want to think they are as applicable to God’s people today as in times long past.
And don’t forget: God exiled his people to Babylon because they turned a deaf ear to the cries of the poor — and even participated in the oppression of the weak.