Absent God

Jeremiah 2:6 Neither did they say, ‘Where is the LORD, Who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, Who led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and pits, through a land of drought and the shadow of death, through a land that no one crossed and where no one dwelt?’

Jeremiah 2:8 The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ and those who handle the law did not know Me; the rulers also transgressed against Me; the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.

Israel had seen the works of God like no other people in history. He was intimately involved with them. From their exodus from Egypt, to their possession of the promised land and establishment of a kingdom and king, God was in their midst, making Himself known. The stories of God’s mighty works for His people were passed down from generation to generation. But at some point the stories were no longer a reminder of their inheritance as the people of God but were merely tales of the adventures of people from many years past. Perhaps God became to them like a character from a story book. Distant. Fictional. And here at hand were these idols, so seeable and touchable and convenient. Why spend all that time and effort seeking after a God they couldn’t see when there were already so many to choose from right in front of them? They had never personally known God’s presence so His absence really was of no consequence to them.

As God rebuked the people for their idolatry and reminded them of His works, He didn’t say “these are the things I did for your fathers”. He said “I did these things for you”. The things He did for the generation of Moses and the generation of Joshua, He did with the current generation in mind. He wasn’t just the deliverer of one generation that was in Egypt. He was the deliverer of every generation. Everything He was to those in years past, He longed to be for those in the present.

When Jesus stood up in the synagogue He read from the scrolls that the people heard every Sabbath. They were historical. Familiar. But He wanted them to know that they were a present reality:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18-19

Sadly, many preferred the familiarity and comfort of the empty religion at hand rather than the cost of knowing a present God.

We too live in a day when our New Testament history has been relegated to the status of story. The power of God and the presence of God are mostly extinct among the people of God. And we have not recognized its absence because we have never truly known its presence. Rather than asking “where is the Lord?”, we too have found it more convenient to embrace methods of worship that are at hand and convenient – our religious activities, our spiritual disciplines, and our moral uprightness, and to live without the His power and presence in our midst.

The God of miracles from the book of Acts has not changed nor lost His desire to move in miraculous power through His people and appear in supernatural presence among His people. He is just wanting for us to realize what we’ve neglected for so long and to care that we’ve lost it.

God help us.

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