I am reading through the major Prophets in the Old Testament again, and am at the Book of Jeremiah at the moment. The following passage stood out to me when I came across it:
21 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices, and eat the flesh. 22 For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23 But this command I gave them, ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’ 24 But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. 25 From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day; 26 yet they did not listen to me, or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers.
27 “So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you. 28 And you shall say to them, ‘This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips.
It really is amazing how much effort the Lord expended on behalf of His people. They took every opportunity to turn their backs on Him, and yet He never gave up on them. No matter how horrific their crimes (and they truly were horrendous), He was always willing to save them. It got me to thinking about why God chose the Israelites in the first place. Why them, and not the Gentiles? This reminded me in turn of something that Jesus said during His Ministry:
21 “Woe to you, Chora′zin! woe to you, Beth-sa′ida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Caper′na-um, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”
Perhaps God chose the Israelites because of their stiff neckedness. Maybe the fact that they wouldn’t listen, and wouldn’t obey was part of His plan all along. I am curious if they were chosen as paradigm example of the fallen nature of mankind. Of how we can be guided and taught how to act righteously, and then throw that instruction away at the soonest opportunity. Part of me wonders if His plan all along was to demonstrate His infinite mercy and compassion- to showcase to all of us that no matter how much and how often we fail, no matter the depths that we sink to, He will always be there to carry us back to the fold, so long that in the end we desire to be found. If God has chosen some other people, they would have mended their ways. But He chose those who wouldn’t, so that the full extent of His Grace and mercy could be seen by all.
On a different note, Leane over at Finer Femininity passed on A Beautiful Prayer that I wanted to share with everyone:
“Holy Spirit, soul of my soul, I adore Thee.
Enlighten me, guide me,
strengthen and comfort me.
Tell me what I ought to do and order me to do it.
I promise to submit to anything that Thou requirest from me,
and to accept everything that Thou allowest to happen to me.
Just show me what Thy will is.”
Reading this prayer called to mind this passage by Saint Paul:
12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two shall become one.” 17 But he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
(1 Corinthians 6:12-20)
It is all too easy for us to forget that as Christians we carry a spark of the Divine within us. As we go about our day, the worries and anxieties of the world threaten to numb us to this truth. We are a temple of the Holy Spirit, and should always act with that in mind. Our lives should be a constant manifestation of the existence of that person of the Trinity. To do otherwise is at the very least to reject the great gift given to us. Even worse, if we aren’t manifesting the fruits of the Holy Spirit, then our fruits must have another source. That source can only be found in darkness. We have a choice- we can be a source of light to the world, or a source of darkness. Which shall we be?