I love game shows. Especially ones that involve some sort of puzzle or riddle that needs to be figured out. I believe that part of the genius of Wheel of Fortune is the fact that the people at home are "playing" with the actual contestants each night. We all know that moment of temporary joy when we figure out the puzzle before the people actually playing for something do. There is a sort of pride and sense of accomplishment in it. The other thing that we have all probably done when watching that show is make fun of the poor contestant who calls out a letter that the guy before him just called out. "I'll take a 'D' Pat." We talk to our TV's saying things like "Yep buddy, it's still not up there from when Jerry asked 15 seconds ago, but good guess", while we laugh and roll our eyes. What's funny is that even the phrase "Buy a vowel" has made it into our cultural communication as a way of saying, 'you don't have a clue what's going on', so we mock with those three little words people who seem lost, clueless, or are simply making really poor choices in life.
It comes as no surprise that Judah and Israel are still running from God and making poor choices but I found it very interesting the way today's reading started. In Jeremiah 3 we read a passage about how Judah, doing the same thing the guy who forgets and repeats the letter the previous contestant picked, failed to learn from the mistakes of others. Specifically, Israel. The opening passage for today read as follows:
6 During the reign of King Josiah, the Lord said to me, “Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there.7 I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it. 8 I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery. 9 Because Israel’s immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood. 10 In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense,” declares the Lord.
11 The Lord said to me, “Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah."
As we read earlier in the week, King Josiah was one of the greatest most faithful kings Judah ever had; there was none like him. Israel has been a train wreck that seems to keep getting worse as we have read but here we come to what could be and should be a shining moment for God's people. They have solid leadership, they have gotten rid of the idols and have found the book of the law again, (My question has always been, how does that thing keep getting misplaced? it seems that whenever there is a "revival" in the Old Testament, it is because someone "rediscovered" the book of the Law) and yet they have failed to learn a very important lesson from their sister, Israel.
It says there that Judah has witnessed Israel's demise in all its "glory" and yet they have no fear and they go out, despite seeing the consequences, and repeat the same things that got Israel into the position that they are in. They failed to learn from the mistakes of contestant number one. I'll take a 'D' Pat.
The final two lines should send shivers down our spins. It says that they did not return to the Lord with ALL their hearts but did so only in PRETENSE. And if you were to compare Israel and Judah side by side, Israel, a nation without faith at all, is said to be more righteous than Judah who knew the truth and was still unfaithful. Remember, they had the book of the law read to them. They had a king who abolished idolatry and led the people back to the Lord. But they only followed so far.
They saw the mistakes of those around them and began to rationalize. They began to look at the things that were against what God had asked of them, out of love and protection for them, as being ok.
Its good to take stock every so often and really (and I mean REALLY take stock) evaluate where our hearts are in relation to the Lord. Do we witness the mistakes of others, or ourselves for that matter, and decide to look past them as we set ourselves up to repeat those same mistakes? Or do we see what others have had to go through and what God has asked of us as being lessons learned, that we don't have to experience the heartache over, because we understood the truth the first time around?
I can't tell you how many times I have seen people repeat the same mistakes in their lives over and over, sadly expecting different results. In some ways it is why ___________ is an issue in our lives, our country and the world.
I want you to understand, I left that blank there on purpose. There are any number of words or phrases that could be used to fill in that blank, and for each of us it is probably something different and for different reasons. I left that blank on purpose so that you could fill it in. So that you could take a few moments and really take stock of some things in your life. Because I believe that for every one of us there is something we could fill that blank in with. But I can promise you this, pretense begins to be left at the door when we begin to deal with the things we tend to repeat over and again. It is when we begin to lay down those things that seem to repeat that we begin to see our hearts being drawn more and more toward God and His son Jesus Christ.
Taking a step toward making sure the past doesn't repeat itself is like us boldly asking to buy a vowel. We see what is coming and we are taking control of the truth and the answer/solution to the puzzle, instead of someone else muttering under their breath that we NEED "to buy a vowel".(which obviously means we don't have a clue) It is when we see things clearly that we can, with confidence, steer clear of past mistakes, whether they are ours or someone else's.
I don't know about you but I want to be someone who can boldly say, "I'd like to buy a vowel."