As I carry on with my study of Jeremiah, I was struck by how timely today's verses were. I didn't want this post to be political, but this post is about pride. And if there is one person in the world who is an excellent example of someone who has an excessive amount of it, it is Donald Trump. His type of arrogance seems to be precisely what Jeremiah 9:23 is referring to.
Pride is a finicky thing. It can be exhibited as a feeling of well-being, like when you graduate from high school or college, for example. It can also be a feeling of joy, like when we take pride in the accomplishments of others - like our children. Every milestone they achieve makes us happy and excited for them and, yes - proud. These types of pride are not evil or sinful of themselves. One is based on completing something after working hard. It is a mixture of relief and satisfaction in getting the job done. The other is based on love and wanting the best for someone.
The type of pride God frowns on, however, is based on something totally different. We see and hear it almost every time Donald Trump speaks. It is a combination of arrogance and haughtiness. And yes, I realize the two are practically identical in meaning, but arrogance is excessive pride in oneself, combined with contempt for others. While haughtiness is a feeling of superiority over others, which is often exhibited by a person's demeanour and disdain for others.
Oh, that my head were waters,
Today while studying Jeremiah 9, I was struck by a few things. First was Jeremiah's obvious distress. He basically says that his eyes would be like a fountain of tears if his head were full of water. That's a lot of crying. He was known as The Weeping Prophet for a reason. This tells me a lot about Jeremiah, the person:
We looked for peace, but no good came
Today as I finished up my study of Jeremiah 8, I was struck by several things that made me feel the grief and agony Jeremiah felt when God warned him judgment was coming upon his people. He warned the people that God would deal with them harshly and soon if they didn't repent. However, the priests and false prophets were telling the people the exact opposite. They kept assuring them everything was fine. God would not judge them or harm them in any way because He loved them too much. This is the refrain of many modern-day prophecy teachers who say that God is a loving God and no one on earth will go to hell. They reject all verses in the Bible that say otherwise because they simply cannot accept that God is capable of divine wrath. By teaching this "no one goes to hell" or "there is no hell" theory, they are taking Jesus off the cross and making His death insignificant. Why? Because it was due to God's wrath over disobedience and sin that Jesus came in the first place. If there is no hell or no punishment to come in the hereafter, then why did Jesus come? So now these modern preachers say, Jesus saved us from all that. We no longer have to fear God because everyone is saved, and everyone wins. By doing that, however, no one feels the need to repent and turn back to God. Life just got easier - eat, drink and be merry - because it really doesn't matter what we do - God is a loving God who would never harm anyone, anyway.
In his day, Jeremiah was dealing with priests and prophets who said the same things. They were probably even telling people not to listen to Jeremiah as he stood at the gates of the temple every day, warning of impending destruction. To them, Jeremiah was just a crazy man preaching about the end of the world. And what does the world do with people like that? They tune them out and continue on their way - much to their detriment.
But what does the Bible say about people like that?
"Baruch At Hashem, Eloheinu Melech Ha'Olam, Asher Kideshanu Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu La'asok B'divrei Torah."
"Blessed are you, Hashem our G-d, King of the universe, Who has made us holy through His commandments, and commanded us to actively Study Torah."
The above is a blessing of the Torah that Jews pray every morning. I have been learning about Jewish prayers through Rabbi Gidon Ariel of Root Source. This morning the Rabbi said something in his lesson that really struck a chord with me. He explained that the Jewish people pray this prayer because they have a holy commandment (a task) to actively study the Torah. As a nation, the Jewish people should, therefore, actively be studying the Torah. The Rabbi then asked, "So, what happens if you don't actually learn anything? If it goes in one ear and out the other?" It then becomes, according to the Rabbi, a blessing that shouldn't have been said. For example, the prayer above is a commandment from God to the Jews to actively study the Torah. If the prayer/blessing is simply repeated without putting it into action, then you have said the whole blessing in vain.
I've recently begun to dig into the book of Jeremiah and realized once again how God really does have things in control. For example, in my last post, we discovered that God had a plan for Jeremiah's life before Jeremiah had even been conceived. Does this mean He also has our lives planned out in advance? If so, how much free will do we really have?
It is evident when you read the complete first chapter of Jeremiah that we have quite a bit of free will. True, Jeremiah was born into a family of priests, so his future was somewhat marked out for him. He also would have been trained on how to approach God and the laws of the Torah and the respect that comes with that. So, his upbringing likely prepared him for the role God had in store for him. But was he ever in the position to say no?