By Femi Aribisala.
God did not send Jeremiah to unbelievers. He sent him to the “Christians” of his day. God told Jeremiah to stand at the gate of the Lord’s house and make a proclamation in the hearing of all those coming to church:
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Do not trust in these lying words, saying, ‘The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these.’” (Jeremiah 7:3-4).
Don’t think because you go to church every Sunday; that means you are going to heaven. Don’t think because you read your bible and pray every day; that means you are going to heaven. Don’t think because you pay tithes and give offerings; that means you are going to heaven.
Jeremiah stood by the door of the church, and he preached a message different from the one the pastor had prepared for that “Sunday” service. He did not deceive the people that their sins were not serious. (Jeremiah 8:11). He did not prophecy like Adeboye that “all shall be well.” He did not say: “Get ready, get ready to be blessed;” like T.D. Jakes. Jeremiah called the people to repentance and warned them about the impending judgment of God.
“Do you really think that you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and worship Baal and all of those new gods of yours, and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and chant, ‘We are saved!’- only to go right back to all these evil things again? Is my Temple but a den of robbers in your eyes? For I see all the evil going on in there. ‘Go to Shiloh, the city I first honoured with my name, and see what I did to her because of all the wickedness of my people Israel. And now,’ says the Lord, ‘I will do the same thing here because of all this evil you have done.’” (Jeremiah 7:9-13).
Judgment of God
What did God do to Shiloh? The temple of God used to be there, presided over by Eli and his wicked sons. Through little Samuel, God gave the prophecy that he would destroy this so-called house of God because of the wickedness of the Israelites. But the people did not heed the warning.
The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!
God brought the prophecy to pass with devastating effect. The Philistines fought against Israel, killing 32,000 Jewish foot-soldiers. The two sons of Pastor Eli were among the dead. Moreover, the ark was captured. When the pastor heard the news, he had a heart attack and died. His daughter-in-law was expecting a baby. When she heard the news, she went into premature labour; gave birth to a son; named him “Ichabod” (meaning: “the glory has departed from Israel”) and then she died.
God told Jeremiah: “Go and stand at the gate of the temple in Jerusalem and remind all those who come to church what happened at Shiloh. Tell them if they don’t change their ways, God is going to destroy the church again.”
Jeremiah ended his message with a heart-breaking lamentation. He said: “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!” (Jeremiah 8:20). That is a prophetic word and not just a historical record. In the context of today, Jeremiah’s words provide much-needed warning that: “We are Christians, but we are not saved. We are the children of the kingdom, but we are not saved.”
Desecration of the temple
What happened to the Jerusalem temple? The Babylonians destroyed it under Nebuchadnezzar; just as Jeremiah prophesied. (Jeremiah 52:12-15). It was rebuilt under the leadership of Zerubbabel. Herod further repaired and refurbished it. But all these were cosmetic. The people were not saved.
Jesus’ kingdom dynamics is expressed in the Jeremiah tradition. Jesus went into the refurbished temple and drove out all those who bought and sold there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of the dove-sellers. He then quoted Jeremiah: “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” (Matthew 21:13). Jesus prophesied that the temple would again be destroyed: “Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” (Matthew 24:2).
In AD 70, this prophecy also came to pass. The Romans destroyed the Jerusalem temple; burning it down to the ground. The gold in the ceiling melted and flowed down over the brickwork. In order to recover it, every brick had to be removed and scraped, just as Jesus foretold. Furthermore, the Romans slaughtered over one million Jews and cast their bodies into the fire at Gehenna; a rubbish-dump outside Jerusalem.
The modern temple
The angel said to John: “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10). What is happening in the temples and the churches of today? I don’t need to tell you. They are still the same den of thieves. But now we specialise in betraying Jesus with a kiss. Our churches are the citadels of money-doubling pastors. They are full of pickpockets screaming hallelujah. They are packed with fraudsters, shouting: “Praise the Lord!” Catholic priests are raping young boys. Anglican priests are practicing homosexuals. Christians persist in fornication, adultery and abortion.
Moses says God has been our dwelling place in all generations. (Psalm 90:1). But how do we live with God and indulge in internet pornography? How do we live with God and cheat and steal? How do we live with God and dine with the devil? How can we continue in sins and still fool ourselves that we shall nevertheless inherit the kingdom of God?
God cannot be mocked. When we were given the vision of God’s wrath in Ezekiel, the killing started in God’s temple, and the first victims were the sons of the kingdom. God said: “Kill everyone whose forehead isn’t marked. Spare not nor pity them- kill them all-old and young, girls, women and little children; but don’t touch anyone with the mark. And begin right here at the Temple.” (Ezekiel 9:5-6).
Few are chosen
Accordingly, Jesus warns: “Many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:11-12). Christians are today’s sons of the kingdom. But, alas, we are not the sons of God.
Don’t be deceived. Salvation does not come from answering an altar-call at the beginning of our Christian walk. It is attained at the end of our earthly relationship with God. Therefore, Jesus warns that: “he who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22). Salvation comes from bearing the fruit of righteousness. (John 15:1-8). This is achieved as we lay down our lives out of love for God, even as Jesus did. Jesus says: “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:35).