Saturday of the Week of Lent II
Today’s readings: Jeremiah 5:20-31; Romans 3:19-31; John 7:1-13
“Declare this in the house of Jacob, proclaim it in Judah: ‘Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears but hear not. Do you not fear me? says the Lord. Do you not tremble before me? …But this people have a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and gone away’” (Jer 5:20-23).
The prophet Jeremiah proclaims judgment on God’s people. There is chapter after chapter in the book of Jeremiah declaring God’s wrath upon their faithlessness and unwillingness to fear God and His judgment. God will visit it upon them in the form of exile. These chapters of Jeremiah are hard to hear—especially if you were of the house of Jacob! But many would prefer not to hear about God’s judgment and wrath, thank you very much! Most would prefer to hear about God’s love, grace and mercy!
The promise of God’s love, forgiveness and restoration will come, but not until later. For the moment, God wants Jeremiah to make sure His people hear and heed his words—convicting them for failing to regard their God, failing to fear and tremble before Him, having turned aside and gone away.
Some people today don’t care for Lent very much, especially when there is a focus on sin, a call to repentance and, yes, maybe discussion of God’s judgment. Many prefer a more “upbeat” and “uplifting” message. In the same way, some don’t like Martin Luther’s words in the Small Catechism that we are to “fear and love God.” “‘Fear God?’ some say. I want to love God and know that He loves me, in spite of myself. I want a God who only wants love, not fear and trembling,” say the foolish and senseless people.
Lent provides us with a Biblically balanced season in which we hear about sin and judgment, but also about grace and restoration. We are called to fear God, but also to love Him, as He loves us. Truly, God’s judgment is an act of love as He calls us to repent and turn back to Him!
Prayer: Lord God, turn us back to you—as we fear and love you, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Lenten Response: Talk with a friend or family member about what it means to “fear and love God.”
Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David M. Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.
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