Lenten Devotion by Rev. Dan DeBevoise
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices, and eat the flesh. 22 For in the day that I brought your ancestors out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to them or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23 But this command I gave them, “Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk only in the way that I command you, so that it may be well with you.” 24 Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but, in the stubbornness of their evil will, they walked in their own counsels, and looked backward rather than forward.”
“Did you hear what Sam said when the teacher asked him in class what he thought about the homework assignment? No, what’d he say? Let me tell you…..Are you kidding me? Did he really say that!?
Did you hear what the preacher said in her sermon about the woman the woman caught in adultery? No, what’d she say? Let me tell you…Well I can’t believe it. In her sermon? In church? Did she really say that?
Sometimes we hear things so unexpected or outlandish that we instinctively question their validity.
Have you ever asked, “Did God really say that?”
It’s hard to imagine but in Jeremiah’s day, the people had built “high places” where they conducted human sacrifice. God is so appalled by the people’s behavior that God says to Jeremiah, “I didn’t speak to them or command them concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices. But this command I gave them, ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk only in the way that I command you, so that it may be well with you.” (Jer.7:23)
Wasn’t there anyone among the people who questioned the practice and asked, “Did God really say that?”
Maybe that would be the faithful thing to do – to ask about the ways we think we are carrying out God’s will. “Did God really say that?” Blind acceptance isn’t faithfulness. It may simply mean we aren’t really listening to God at all. God tells Jeremiah, “So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you.” (Jer.7:27)
Jesus cried out in the temple, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38) It made people ask, “Did he really just say that?” Some people where highly offended; others said he was the Messiah. Even the temple police forgot they were supposed to arrest Jesus and left saying, “Never has anyone spoken like this.”
We should never hesitate to ask the question: Did God really say that? It may lead us to a deeper, truer understanding of who God is and what God wants from us and for us.
Lord, help me to read the scriptures again and again and again, listening and hearing ever more clearly what you say. Amen.”