The wicked deny the reality of sowing and reaping. They believe that God isn’t watching, He doesn’t care, or even more likely (As the New English Bible translates this verse) that He really doesn’t exist. The affairs of life are really a 20 gal 6-7matter of chance. There are really only two kinds of people in the world. The first kind of person believes there is a sovereign creator overseeing the things of man and who holds us accountable for our conduct. We are rewarded for the good we do and suffer loss by the bad we do. This law of sowing and reaping is managed in the next life in an ultimate and completely just way. The judge knows the crime and the criminals intimately and can bring just reward and just loss to each soul. The second kind of person sees only the effects of chance upon the lives of people. There is no overseeing God working out a personal plan for each person. Rather, we are alone in the universe and make our own luck and our own chances. We get what we can take and get away with in this life. They live for the here and now with no thought for tomorrow.

The children of Israel who had God in their midst had become the second kind of person. They had a history of God working miracles in their lives but preferred not to see Him as relevant any longer. But Jeremiah brings the message of sowing and reaping to them from God. God reminds them once again of His presence, omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence. Jeremiah 5:12 says, “They have spoken falsely of the LORD and have said, ‘He will do nothing; no disaster will come upon us, nor shall we see sword or famine.” They saw themselves as exempt from the law of sowing and reaping.

Comedian and actor Chris Farley, of Saturday Night Live fame, was found dead in his downtown Chicago apartment on December 18, 1997. The Cook County medical examiner’s office later reported that he died of an opiate and cocaine overdose. According to Mark Caro and Allan Johnson in the Chicago Tribune, Farley’s problems with drugs were no secret, and his death at age thirty-three, though a shock was no surprise to his friends. In Farley’s obituary in the New York Times, James Barron quoted from a recent interview of Farley in Playboy: ‘I used to think that you could get to a level of success where the laws of the universe didn’t apply,’ said Farley. ‘But they do.’” Even though he had achieved fame and great wealth at an early age, Farley came to realize as he put it, “I am not exempt.” Sadly, his words proved to be prophetic.[1] They always do!

[1] Craig Brian Larson, 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers & Writers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002), 525–526.