Jeremiah has been writing down what God has to say about those who worship idols and realizes, I suspect, that he has wandered in his own life. Not that he has set up a physical idol — some statue to pray to off in a corner of his house — but that he has allowed something to usurp God’s rightful place. It is far too simple a matter for those who want to walk with God to find themselves with a pretender on the throne of their heart and life and there need be no statues for us to have set up an idol. All that is needful is that something else take God’s place in our lives. It is possible that Jeremiah examines himself and realizes that something is beginning to take God’s place; is becoming an idol.
Everyone needs to be corrected from time to time. Even prophets. Jeremiah’s request is that God correct him with justice and not with … anger. I find it fascinating that the prophet appeals to God’s justice instead of His mercy or His grace. We make a similar mistake today.
So many folks I come across want to impugn God’s justice. They think that God cannot be a just God if _______. And their own microcosmic focus is substituted for omniscience. I cannot think of an example of how ludicrous it is for us to think that we can see enough of the picture to impugn God’s justice. I have tried and am incapable of mustering an example of absurdity that extreme. Suffice it to say that we see so small a portion of the tapestry of what is going on that to condemn God’s actions is utterly absurd.
Or we think that God’s justice is a parallel to our own. We think that He adheres to our standards (or should) and go from there. This, also, is utterly absurd. God’s thinking is as far beyond human thinking (even the most enlightened) as the furthest reaches of space are from the surface of Earth (paraphrase of what God told Isaiah). Why would He arrive at standards reachable by inferior minds? It would tantamount to forcing a chess grand master to play according to the rules made up by a three-year-old. It is so ridiculous as to be baffling.
Yet we persist. Yet we malign the justice of God. Not Jeremiah. Jeremiah sees God’s justice as the stay that holds back God’s wrath. Jeremiah throws himself on the justice of God and asks God for just correction. The alternative, as Jeremiah presents it, is for God to correct in anger and to bring the prophet to nothing.
I need correction in my life. I know that there are areas in which I am failing miserably to follow God as He deserves. Like Jeremiah, I ask that God will correct me in justice. I want to walk the just; the right path. Like Jeremiah, I see my nation going after falsehoods; things which are not gods. I see a once great land descending into absurdity and infamy because we have forsaken the God Who made us great. Let me be corrected that my ways remain straight, regardless of how those around might walk.