Devotional Thoughts for Today
“In that day,” declares the Lord, “courage shall fail both king and officials. The priests shall be appalled and the prophets astounded.” 10 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God, surely you have utterly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, ‘It shall be well with you,’ whereas the sword has reached their very life.”
Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s I used to watch a TV show called Colombo. If you’re a millennial or younger you probably haven’t heard of it, but it was great TV for its time. Peter Falk played Colombo, a homicide detective with the LAPD. Colombo was assigned to investigate lots of crimes where the persons of interest were rich, Beverly Hills types—the kind of people who had enough money to cover their tracks and enough education to make them think that they could get away with what they did. In many episodes, the perpetrators were so confident during Colombo’s initial meeting with them that it seemed like they really did believe that their heinous crimes would never be found out. It was only a matter of time, however, before the excessively-clever-as-compared-to-the-way-he-dressed-and-groomed-himself Colombo started to sniff out clues that led to the unraveling of the perpetrators’ alibis and their eventual arrests. They were so sure that they had gotten away with it, that they were almost boasting, but the day of reckoning caught them unaware.
Similarly, the Israelites in Jeremiah’s day thought that they had gotten away with it. They were committing spiritual crimes against God left and right, but judgment never seemed to come. Their false prophets were even proclaiming messages of peace, declaring that war would not reach the city, that “it shall be well with you”—but they were deceived. The Babylonians were on their way and death would shortly be upon their doorstep. The people, however, went about their business, committing brazen acts of idolatry without any fear of consequences. It is not that God “deceived this people,” but rather, that they deceived themselves. Their misplaced sense of security would be their doom. Rather than repent for their sins because the God of the covenant promised both blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience, they walked straight into judgment completely unaware.
There are many sins that we put off dealing with because we seem to be getting away with it. Maybe you’re being less than honest on your tax returns, but the IRS has never come knocking. Maybe you’re sleeping with your boyfriend or your girlfriend, but no one’s gotten pregnant. Maybe you’re secretly watching porn at night, but you’re still serving at church and everyone still respects you. Maybe your mind races constantly with thoughts of anger, jealousy, lust, or vengeance, but no one knows what’s happening in your head and it hasn’t affected your work or schooling. We can deceive ourselves into thinking that these sins don’t have any material impact on our lives or our service to God, that “all shall be well”—but we’re wrong. Sin always takes its toll. And sooner or later it will catch up to us, maybe not in the form of an attacking army, but in lost intimacy with God, marital problems, or ministry without power. We do, however, have a choice. We don’t have to wait until the Babylonians are on our doorstep before we realize that we need to get right with God. We can take seriously whatever sin we are aware of, even those that “don’t seem to be hurting anyone,” and take proactive steps toward holiness.
Prayer: Dear Lord, help me not to ignore any sin in my life. Forgive me for minimizing in my eyes what is detestable in Yours. Grant me the conviction to deal with sin that I seem to be getting away with, knowing that I always walk before the face of God. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Hebrews 13
Lunch Break Study
Read Joshua 7:1-6: But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel. 2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and spy out the region.” So the men went up and spied out Ai. 3 When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the army will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary the whole army, for only a few people live there.” 4 So about three thousand went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, 5 who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water.
Questions to Consider
- How formidable was the city of Ai?
- Why did the Israelites lose the battle?
- What effect did Achan’s sin have on the rest of the people? What does this tell you about the nature and impact of sin?
- Ai was puny, especially compared to Israel’s army.
- The Israelites lost because Achan broke covenant with God. God had been fighting for Israel and now His favor was removed.
- Even though Achan did not involve other Israelites in his sin, nevertheless the entire nation was affected. The effects of sin go beyond what the eye can see and can affect the entire community.
What’s something in your life that you know isn’t right and need to begin taking it more seriously? What’s one step, no matter how small, that you can take to begin addressing it?