Reading through the Bible together

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

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We had entertained people for dinner and I was helping to clean up the dishes. There were lots of dishes, so Karen was washing and I was drying and putting the dishes away. I picked up a crystal glass to dry it and you know already what happened!  It slipped out of my hand and crashed to the floor and shattered into what seemed like a million pieces. There was nothing else to do but to sweep it up, and throw the pieces in the trash.

Even though God’s prophet was being threatened and was pleading with the Lord for relief, God said “Go.” He had a message of judgment that He wanted to be given in such a way that it could not be misunderstood.  So God directed Jeremiah to “act out a parable.”

The elders of the people and the priests have enough respect for Jeremiah that they agreed to go to the place the Lord had directed, which was the infamous Valley of the Son of Hinnom, or Gehenna. The place that since has become symbolic for utter destruction as history continues to unfold. This valley was the place where apostate kings offered their own children as sacrifices to the demon gods Molech and Baal. It also was the trash heap where fire consumed the garbage of the city.

Overlooking this scene, Jeremiah pronounces the coming catastrophe and reviews the reasons. It is almost as if God wants them, and all who hear and read about it, to understand the depravity of His people. It is so abhorrent that He must declare the idea of sacrificing children as burnt offerings to Baal or Molech was so far from His character that such a thing would never even come into His mind. I can only conclude that the evil one had so blurred the lines that some of the people attributed these disgusting and cruel practices to the demands of their Creator!

The prophet concludes by smashing a pottery vessel created to contain liquids like water or oil--into so many pieces it could never be put together again. Then the prophet repeats again the charges against God’s people of abandoning Him and chasing after demon gods. He finishes the “acted parable” by declaring that the entire city will become like the defiled “Tophet,” a specific place in the Valley of Hinnom where the priest of Molech officiated over the live burning of children. The name “Tophet” derives from a word that means drums and one commentator suggests that drums were used to drown out the cries of the children as they were being sacrificed.

Can you imagine the procession of elders and priests walking back into the city after this experience with Jeremiah? Then the prophet repeats the message from God in the Courtyard of the Sanctuary so everyone passing by can know about it.

The hard part of this Scripture for me to understand is how did God’s people fall so far? How could this happen to kings, priests, elders, and people? There is something in the virus of sin that is so pervasive that without the power of the Gospel to intervene in our lives, the very fabric of our being decays from the inside.

“Thank you Heavenly Father for Jesus, and the power of the Gospel to turn me around. Amen.”



Dan Houghton 
Hart Research Center
California