In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came from the Lord: “Thus says the Lord: Stand in the court of the Lord‘s house, and speak to all the cities of Judah that come to worship in the house of the Lord all the words that I command you to speak to them; do not hold back a word. It may be they will listen, and every one turn from his evil way, that I may relent of the disaster that I intend to do to them because of their evil deeds. You shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord: If you will not listen to me, to walk in my law that I have set before you, and to listen to the words of my servants the prophets whom I send to you urgently, though you have not listened, then I will make this house like Shiloh, and I will make this city a curse for all the nations of the earth.’” Jeremiah 26:1-6 ESV
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” Hebrews 3:12-15 ESV
Mr. Barry was visiting his dentist, and his dentist told him that his gums were in bad shape. The area of his gums around his teeth was red and swollen because Mr. Barry hadn’t been regular about brushing and flossing his teeth, and he hadn’t been to the dentist for a couple of years. His dentist told him that it wasn’t too late to do better. He should brush his teeth at least twice a day and floss them thoroughly every day as well. If he would do that, his gums would start to heal. But if he didn’t do that, his gums would get even worse, and in time he might even lose some of his teeth. But there was still time for him to change his habits and save his teeth.
Jehoiakim had become the king of the southern kingdom of Judah, and under his rule there was terrible violence and injustice. God’s judgment was about to fall, but the Lord spoke to Jeremiah to give his people an urgent warning. There was still time to repent and turn back to the Lord for forgiveness, and to follow God’s laws and ways. If the king and the people would do that, God would turn away the disaster that was about to happen to them. But if they continued to rebel against God, then the capital city of Jerusalem would fall under a curse that the whole world would see.
God continues to warn people about the final judgment, when the world will come to an end. Until the last day, there is still time to repent and to turn to God for forgiveness, but the time may be short. Even if Jesus doesn’t return for a long time, the day of death is coming to everyone who doesn’t live until Jesus comes. Punishment and separation from God forever will happen to everyone who lives and dies in rebellion against the Lord.
But we all are sinners, and we all fall short of obeying God’s law and following his will. None of us could ever have any hope of escaping God’s punishment, but our Heavenly Father loves us very much. He sent Jesus, our Savior, to take God’s full judgment for the sins of the whole world, and because of that, we are forgiven. We don’t have to fear God’s judgment, and God sends us his Holy Spirit to help us follow his ways. He gives us strength and forgiveness every day, and we can look forward to being with Jesus forever in his heavenly kingdom.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus, our Savior. Help us to follow your ways every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.