“Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents” (Jer. 19:4).
In this text we are given a few examples of the evils that had overtaken Judah. Besides forsaking the Lord, offering incense to “other gods,” and shedding innocent blood, they also “estranged this place.” The Hebrew verb there means “to make foreign,” “to make strange,” or to “profane.” Whether “this place” was the temple itself or Jerusalem, the text doesn’t say. The crucial point, though, is that the nation was to be holy, special to the Lord (see Exod. 19:5, 6), something different and distinct from the nations around them. But that’s not what happened. They lost their unique character, the distinctiveness that would have made them a witness to the world. They became just like everyone else.
What lessons are here for us?
“They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind” (Jer. 19:5).
Though the concept of human sacrifice was known in the ancient world, it was anathema to the Lord, who forbade the practice to the Israelites (Deut. 18:10). The phrase, translated above as “neither came it into my mind,” in the Hebrew reads, “it did not rise up on my heart.” This was an idiomatic expression showing just how alien and far from God’s will such a practice was. If we, sin-hardened, fallen beings find it abhorrent, imagine what it must have been like to our Holy God!
Nevertheless, over time, the power of corruption and culture so overwhelmed His people that they had degenerated into this horrific ritual. What a lesson it should be to us all about how easily we can become so blinded by the prevailing culture that we accept, or even take part in, practices that—were we connected to the Lord and in tune with His Word as we should be—we would never accept. We would, instead, be horrified by them (see Heb. 5:14).
Adventist Sabbath School Lesson for Adults Q4 2015 «Jeremiah» Lesson 6 – Symbolic Acts