God gave them a land flowing with milk and honey. He gave them a land with wells they didn’t dig, houses they didn’t build, and crops they didn’t plant. They were to be His people and He was to be their God. Yet they turned from 29 cats cradlethe great giver of good things to pursue the favor of other gods. They wanted success in this world or power of money or pleasure instead of the many blessings God had given them in life already.  Thus Jeremiah explains that God’s judgment is perfectly just because they are without excuse. God tells Jeremiah to be ready to answer the question honestly. Jeremiah 5:19, God says to Jeremiah, “And when your people say, ‘Why has the LORD our God done all these things to us?’ you shall say to them, ‘As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve foreigners in a land that is not yours.’”

I think Israel had deceived itself. They had rationalized their behavior by arguing that they observed the rituals and held on to the traditions of the past. Israel continued a religious ritual throughout their history but their lives followed after different interests. This is often the way some go to church today. They professed a kind of faith, but fail to live it. How could this happen? There were many rituals and rites that were performed in and around the temple, but they no longer pleased God because their hearts weren’t in it. God truly wants our heart more than anything else. They observed rituals but let the allurement of the world draw their hearts into more exciting and dangerous pleasures. They professed a faith that they failed to live by and their actions were observed as more important than their words. Isn’t this always the case?

Every father who ever heard Harry Chapin’s “Cats in the cradle” has given pause to the choices he makes in life. We say one thing, but often live by another. “When you comin’ home dad? I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son, we’ll have a good time then.” According to Ravi Zacharias, “The melodrama of this song was played out in Chapin’s own life almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy. I have been told that his wife, who wrote the words of the song, asked him one day when he was going to slow down the torrid pace of his life and give some time to their children. His answer was, ‘At the end of this busy summer, I’ll take some time to be with them.’ That summer, ironically and tragically, Harry Chapin was killed in a car accident. It is not possible to read that postscript of Chapin’s death and miss the larger point—that something was known, believed, and even ‘preached,’ but never lived. When we chase manmade crowns and sacrifice the treasured relationships for which God has made us, life loses its meaning.”[1] Thus the fall of Israel! By the way, “when you comin home?”

[1] Galaxie Software, 10,000 Sermon Illustrations (Biblical Studies Press, 2002).