If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Joshua 11, Psalm 144, Jeremiah 5, Matthew 19. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Jeremiah 5.
Jeremiah was called by God to proclaim judgment to Judah, the Southern Kingdom. He is called “the weeping prophet” because he saw the judgment he prophesied happen and wrote a lament about it in the book of the Bible known as “Lamentations.” The reason for God’s judgment on Judah is that they did not worship God; instead, they turned after idols. Jeremiah talks about that in this chapter in verses 7-25, but the opening verses of this chapter look at the problem differently. In verses 1-3 God tells Jeremiah to search Jerusalem, capital of the Southern Kingdom, to find a truthful person. Verse 1b issues this challenge: “If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city.” But in verse 2 the Lord tells them that everyone he meets is dishonest. They may swear in God’s name to be telling the truth but they are lying. Jeremiah knows this to be true, but believes that the problem is confined to the poor who “do not know the way of the Lord, the requirements of their God” (v. 5b). He was confident that the leaders of Judah would know better. “Surely they know the way of the Lord, the requirements of their God” he said to himself in verse 5b, so verse 5a recorded his resolve to speak to the leaders to see if he could find that one honest man that would spare the whole kingdom from judgment. But, no. According to verses 5c-6, even the leaders of Judah had traded truthfulness for dishonesty.
Since the root problem was that Judah did “not know the way of the Lord, the requirements of their God” (v. 4), that they had “sworn by gods that are not gods” (v. 7b) and “‘have been utterly unfaithful to me,’ declares the Lord” (v. 11), why is there such a focus on telling the truth in the early verses of this chapter? The answer is that truth is an attribute of God. An untruthful person is showing the evidence of their unbelief; it is a measurable symbol of what they worship. The further a person or a society strays from God, the more untruthful they will become. Unbelievers do tell the truth at times; they may even be generally truthful in what they say. But people like us have an uncanny ability to lie to and deceive ourselves. We all speak sincerely at times about our beliefs but if we’ve chosen to believe something to be true that is actually false, we are not objectively truthful. Eventually whole societies are swallowed up in nonsense because they—collectively—have agreed to believe and to affirm what is false. Unless you know God, you can’t live a life of truth.
As Christians, we too struggle to be truthful. We sometimes deceive others purposefully and we often deceive ourselves. We do this when we make excuses for sin (our own or others) or give assent to what is popular even though it is unbiblical and often irrational. This passage should remind us that the God of truth that we worship calls us to reflect his nature in our lives by being truthful people as we grow to become like him. Jeremiah could not find a truthful man because he couldn’t find a man who really worshiped the Lord. Let us who know the Lord, then, choose to show the glory of God, the God of truth, in the honest, truthful ways in which we speak.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.