“We have sinned against the Lord. We waited for peace, but no good came; for a time of healing, but behold, terror!”
As I read them today, these verses from Jeremiah 8:14-15 jumped out at me. In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, I found myself contemplating parallels between Israel at the end of the 6th century B.C. and America at the start of the 21st century A.D.
While it is sometimes dangerous to draw straight-line relationships between situations we encounter in the Bible and those we face in contemporary life, some parallels appear to be more direct than others.
In Jeremiah, context tells us that Israel was being judged by God because they had forsaken a clearly covenantal relationship between them and God. America has no clearly similar divine calling and relationship, but the moral atrocities described in Israel are strikingly parallel to those of modern America. Listen, for example, to Jeremiah 5:27-29: “They have become great and rich. They are fat, they are sleek, they also excel in deeds of wickedness; they do not plead the cause of the fatherless, that they may prosper; and they do not defend the rights of the poor. ‘Shall I not punish these people?’ declares the Lord, ‘On a nation such as this shall I not avenge Myself?’”
We cannot say with any confidence that the bombings in Boston are from the hand of a holy God as a direct result of national sin. But what we can observe is that when divine judgment came upon the Israelites, their downfall was not ultimately a result of the conquest of an enemy from without. That conquest was, much like completion of a marathon, the culmination of many decisions, big and small, made long before.
Thus, Israel had already become her own worst enemy from within. As Jeremiah 8:15 suggests, Israel longed for peace and healing but persisted in forsaking and ignoring God, the only source of both.
In our own time, do we not also long for anything less than true peace and deep healing? But apart from sincere repentance and reconciliation with the God of peace and ultimate Healer we, too, have become our own worst enemies.
It is for this reason we Christians are called to run a different kind of marathon; a race of eternal importance. We must “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and . . . run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus” that we might please Him, follow Him, and make His name glorious. For He—and He alone—is the light of the world and hope of nations.