Jeremiah 5 & Matthew 19

Jeremiah 5

    Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem,
        look and take note!
    Search her squares to see
        if you can find a man,
    one who does justice
        and seeks truth,
    that I may pardon her.
    Though they say, “As the LORD lives,”
        yet they swear falsely.
    O LORD, do not your eyes look for truth?
    You have struck them down,
        but they felt no anguish;
    you have consumed them,
        but they refused to take correction.
    They have made their faces harder than rock;
        they have refused to repent.
    
    
    Then I said, “These are only the poor;
        they have no sense;
    for they do not know the way of the LORD,
        the justice of their God.
    I will go to the great
        and will speak to them,
    for they know the way of the LORD,
        the justice of their God.”
    But they all alike had broken the yoke;
        they had burst the bonds.
    
    
    Therefore a lion from the forest shall strike them down;
        a wolf from the desert shall devastate them.
    A leopard is watching their cities;
        everyone who goes out of them shall be torn in pieces,
    because their transgressions are many,
        their apostasies are great.
    
    
    “How can I pardon you?
        Your children have forsaken me
        and have sworn by those who are no gods.
    When I fed them to the full,
        they committed adultery
        and trooped to the houses of whores.
    They were well-fed, lusty stallions,
        each neighing for his neighbor's wife.
    Shall I not punish them for these things?
                                                                                                                                                                    declares the LORD;
        and shall I not avenge myself
        on a nation such as this?
    
    
    “Go up through her vine rows and destroy,
        but make not a full end;
    strip away her branches,
        for they are not the LORD's.
    For the house of Israel and the house of Judah
        have been utterly treacherous to me,
                                                                                                                                                                    declares the LORD.
    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.
    The prophets will become wind;
        the word is not in them.
    Thus shall it be done to them!’”
    
    
        Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of hosts:
    “Because you have spoken this word,
    behold, I am making my words in your mouth a fire,
        and this people wood, and the fire shall consume them.
    Behold, I am bringing against you
        a nation from afar, O house of Israel,
                                                                                                                                                                    declares the LORD.
    It is an enduring nation;
        it is an ancient nation,
    a nation whose language you do not know,
        nor can you understand what they say.
    Their quiver is like an open tomb;
        they are all mighty warriors.
    They shall eat up your harvest and your food;
        they shall eat up your sons and your daughters;
    they shall eat up your flocks and your herds;
        they shall eat up your vines and your fig trees;
    your fortified cities in which you trust
        they shall beat down with the sword.”
    
    
        “But even in those days, declares the LORD, I will not make a full end of you. 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.’”

    Declare this in the house of Jacob;
        proclaim it in Judah:
    “Hear this, O foolish and senseless people,
        who have eyes, but see not,
        who have ears, but hear not.
    Do you not fear me? declares the LORD.
        Do you not tremble before me?
    I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea,
        a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass;
    though the waves toss, they cannot prevail;
        though they roar, they cannot pass over it.
    But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart;
        they have turned aside and gone away.
    They do not say in their hearts,
        ‘Let us fear the LORD our God,
    who gives the rain in its season,
        the autumn rain and the spring rain,
    and keeps for us
        the weeks appointed for the harvest.’
    Your iniquities have turned these away,
        and your sins have kept good from you.
    For wicked men are found among my people;
        they lurk like fowlers lying in wait.
    They set a trap;
        they catch men.
    Like a cage full of birds,
        their houses are full of deceit;
    therefore they have become great and rich;
        they have grown fat and sleek.
    They know no bounds in deeds of evil;
        they judge not with justice
    the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper,
        and they do not defend the rights of the needy.
    Shall I not punish them for these things?
                                                                                                                                                                    declares the LORD,
        and shall I not avenge myself
        on a nation such as this?”
    
    
    An appalling and horrible thing
        has happened in the land:
    the prophets prophesy falsely,
        and the priests rule at their direction;
    my people love to have it so,
        but what will you do when the end comes?

(Jeremiah 5 ESV)

Matthew 19

    Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

    And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

    The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

    Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away.

    And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

    And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

(Matthew 19 ESV)

Matthew 19: When we have large amounts of wealth like most of us have here in the Western world, it is an extremely difficult thing to fully believe that we will be better off leaving what we have to faithfully follow Jesus. Jesus obviously understood the difficulty as He proclaimed this sort of sacrifice and commitment as pretty much impossible for those who are wealthy. However, He promises that for those who do abandon their abundance for the sake of faithfully following Him - they will receive a blessing that is much more valuable and the ultimate gift of immortality.
 
It is a truth that Jesus points out in His encounter with the rich young ruler, and one that I know all too well from personal experience: The more stuff I possess, the more difficult it becomes to give it all up. But it is equally true that no matter how much I obtain in this life, it will fail to provide me with any ultimate satisfaction. I will inevitably find myself continuously in a condition of wanting more. 

The rich young ruler felt that he still needed something more. Jesus offers him the eternal treasure found only in following Him, but like us at times, he failed to believe that this was a trade worth making. May God help our unbelief and enable us to shift our primary allegiance to Him and His Kingdom rather than ourselves and our kingdom. There is an unlimited abundance of satisfaction offered to us who follow Christ and the invaluable inheritance of immortality promised to us who persevere in faith.