by Dianne Eckermann
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But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward (Jeremiah 7:24).
Recently I watched a mother explain to her very young son why his behaviour of hitting another small child and running away across a busy road was dangerous. She told him how he had hurt others and how he could also hurt himself. At the end of her explanation, she asked if he understood. With all the stubbornness a three-year-old could muster, he angrily said ‘No!’. At that point, nothing more could be said to such a determined and headstrong little boy. He was refusing to listen.
Jeremiah would undoubtedly identify with this parent. Jeremiah was accustomed to the negativity of his people when he tried to tell them what God wanted. He knew they would not listen or pay attention to God. They would not even answer, but still, Jeremiah persisted.
Jeremiah lived in very turbulent times and saw Jerusalem destroyed by the Babylonians. He tried his best to communicate God’s anger to people who rejected his message and also rejected God. While the people rebelled against and rejected God, it was not God who had changed but the rebellious people. This passage might sound like a lot of Old Testament law as God asks for obedience. There is even a note of despair, ‘They went backward, not forward’. Even so, God remains attentive to the needs of the people, even when they are no longer attentive to him.
Just like the mother of the young boy knew that she had to talk to him to keep him safe, God persisted in sending Jeremiah to people, even though he knew they would stubbornly refuse to listen or pay attention. Despite this attitude – an attitude that in many ways can be seen in our current time – God’s love for his people continues always, and all we need to do is listen.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the many messages you give us through your word and ask that you help us listen to your truth. Amen.
Dianne has worked in varying roles in Lutheran schools and is currently Director of Leadership at Lutheran Education Australia. She lives in the Adelaide Hills with her husband Rob, two dogs, and several kangaroos who visit regularly. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, the company of her children and grandchildren and walking along the River Torrens Linear Park Trail.