When a Nation No Longer Can Blush - Jeremiah 6:9-13
God makes an interesting statement as He is reproving His people through the prophet Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 6:15 God says that although His people should have been ashamed of their actions and choices, “They did not even know how to blush.” Now for too many in our culture, the whole concept of blushing at certain behaviors is a long-lost memory, but I actually can remember early in my walk with God when He restored to me the ability to blush. Let’s take a brief look at God’s lament – and maybe try ourselves to recover from Him an ability to blush once again.
The reason a nation can no longer blush begins, strangely enough, in the pulpits of the land. It begins when men of God begin to value money and things more than they do truth and intimate fellowship with God through the Holy Spirit.
"For from the least of them even to the greatest of them, Everyone is greedy for gain, And from the prophet even to the priest Everyone deals falsely.”
What begins as false motives for men of God quickly degenerates into a false message to the people. They no longer can honestly preach about sin, because they are excusing it in their own lives so they can pursue things rather than pursue God. Thus they preach a message that is saying, “Peace, peace,” when the reality is there is no peace as long as sin is not exposed and dealt with as God desires for it to be.
"They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, 'Peace, peace,' But there is no peace.”
There is a brokenness that is among the people – there always is because of the Fall – and because man is not basically good – but basically sinful and selfish. That message, though, won’t bring the crowds. They need something far more positive – far more engaging to those who choose sin. They need to find a way to “superficially” deal with sin. So, they begin to proclaim that man is at peace with God – even when sin is not dealt with as God demands in His holiness. The problem is – there is no peace when sin is not confronted and repentance is not called for by the messengers of God. And what is the result of such theology, or the lack thereof? No more shame and no more blushing.
"Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done? They were not even ashamed at all; They did not even know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; At the time that I punish them, They shall be cast down," says the LORD.
God speaks of the abomination that they have done. What was their abomination? It was that they had left the true and living God – and made a god of their own – one who would justify however they wanted to live. Now before we think too harshly of the Israelites – we may want to note that this is something that has been repeated in the New Testament in Romans chapter 1. God’s wrath is revealed against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Three times in that first chapter we are reminded that they did not know the true God, but exchanged Him for a god of their own making. What was the hallmark of this new false god? No sin! At least no sin according to what is revealed by God in the Bible.
Let me define the word “blush” before we continue. To blush is to experience a reddening of the face due to a feeling of shame or a desire for modesty. The reason God says that they did not even know how to blush is because they had come to a point of utterly rejecting the morals or the Word of God. They were doing abominations – but no longer considered them to be that. As a result – they, and the culture in which they lived now considered what God to be an abomination to be normal fare. No reason to blush. No reason to feel any shame.
There is a false teaching that says Christians should not feel shame. But I find that hard to understand. If we are talking about undue shame, I agree. But if we are talking about having sinned against God – shame is normal – can I say, even good. It was a good thing after I received Christ that actions I would normally do before, now caused me to feel shame if I did them. It was a wonderful thing that seeing or hearing things suddenly elicited a response of blushing rather than a shrugging of the shoulders. The passage in Jeremiah shares more of the sad results of no longer being able to blush. There is a corresponding response to the Word of God that comes as well.
“Thus says the LORD, "Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk in it.' 17 "And I set watchmen over you, saying, 'Listen to the sound of the trumpet!' But they said, 'We will not listen.”
God says to them, “Ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls.” These “ancient paths” and the “good way” are nothing more than what God’s Word says to do – the way He commands for us to walk. But what is the response? “We will not walk in it.” God responds by saying to listen to the watchmen when they sound the trumpet. This is a reference to when a watchman was set upon the wall of the city. The reason he would sound the trumpet would be to warn of imminent danger. But the response again is that they will not listen. They will not respond to God because they have set themselves to disobey God’s Word. They do not regard it as authoritative – or of any real value to them. What God says is wrong – isn’t wrong to them. What God warns as being dangerous – is not even worthy of their attention. Thus what God calls “blush-worthy” and should cause us to blush in shame or a desire for greater modesty – is ignored. Those who have lost the ability to blush have few moral boundaries if any at all. To blush would involve seeing some moral behaviors – some sexual choices as wrong. To call something wrong in this society is the new reddening statement. But now the redness of face is no longer a response of shame or modesty. It has become the standard response to anyone who would dare to put some kind of moral or sexual restraint in place that limits our freedom to do or to be whatever we want.
What is the end of such a culture? What happens when any culture loses its ability to blush? God says what happens in the last verses of this section of Jeremiah 6.
"Therefore hear, O nations, And know, O congregation, what is among them. "Hear, O earth: behold, I am bringing disaster on this people, The fruit of their plans, Because they have not listened to My words, And as for My law, they have rejected it also.”
Disaster is the end of such a society. There is a disaster because they are ignoring a loving God whose restraints are in place because they guard us from destructive behavior. The very fruit of their plans is what they will receive. They refuse to listen to God’s words – the reject His law. All that is left is for that culture to begin self-destructing. Usually it won’t be immediate. Sin is, after all, enjoyable for a season. But in the end – the result is death – spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and yes – even culturally. That was what God was wanting to communicate to His people – not because he wanted to harm them – but because their very choices were harming themselves.
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