An Offer They Couldn’t Refuse

Bible Readings for the day: Psalm 115:12-18, Philippians 2:12-30, Jeremiah 2:31-4:9
Meditational Reading: Jeremiah 3:6-15
6  The LORD said to me in the days of King Josiah: “Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore?
Pastor's Ponderings Illustration7  And I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to me,’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
8  She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore.
9  Because she took her whoredom lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree.
10  Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but in pretense, declares the LORD.”
11  And the LORD said to me, “Faithless Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.
12  Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, “‘Return, faithless Israel, declares the LORD. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the LORD; I will not be angry forever.
13  Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the LORD your God and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree, and that you have not obeyed my voice, declares the LORD.
14  Return, O faithless children, declares the LORD; for I am your master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.
15  “‘And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.

As I read today’s Old Testament reading I remember the movie “The Godfather.”  Throughout the movie you would hear the phrase, “he made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.”  The implication was that the godfather made someone a disadvantageous offer that the person had to accept or they would “sleep with the fishes” (as another famous phrase from that movie went).

As I read God’s Word, my mind should be focused entirely on that Word!  But, let’s be honest, does that always happen?  No!  And, more often than not, God’s Word triggers other thoughts as well.  But Christian meditation on God’s Word engages the mind; it is supposed to engage the mind, unlike other meditation techniques in which we are supposed to empty the mind.  So, if you’re like me, and God’s Word triggers crazy thoughts (like “he made him an offer he couldn’t refuse”) don’t feel guilty about it; just continue to engage God in his Word for that his where he meets us.

But, believe it or not!, “he made him an offer he couldn’t refuse” sums up today’s Old Testament reading very nicely; the meditational reading is just one part of that offer that God made that couldn’t be refused.  Now, let’s be totally clear:  when the godfather made an offer that couldn’t be refused, the person was somehow forced into accepting that offer (whether they wanted to or not).  In contrast, God’s offer is one of love, forgiveness, and restoration.  It is an offer than would actually benefit the people involved!  That’s an important distinction!

The first thing to note is that this message came to Jeremiah during the reign of King Josiah, the last good king of Judah (the southern kingdom after the Davidic kingdom split after Solomon’s death); Josiah brought the people of Judah back (at least outwardly) to the worship of the true God.  God the Holy Spirit, working through Jeremiah, tells the people to look north, look north to their cousins and see what happened to them.  They had abandoned the worship of the true God and worshiped false gods, the very thing the southern kingdom (Judah) was doing despite the best efforts of King Josiah.

While Josiah’s heart belonged to the Lord and his reforms were from the heart, the people did not share in his love for the Lord.  The Lord warns the people (yes, even in the high point of the restoration of the worship of the true God!) that their hearts were not in that worship.  What befell the northern kingdom would befall the southern kingdom as well.  But that was not the Lord’s will!  He makes an offer to the people of Israel (the northern kingdom); he makes an offer to the people of Judah (the southern kingdom):  “Return to me.”  If the people (of both kingdoms) see their sin, repent of their sin, and turn to the Lord for his full and free forgiveness, then he will forgive them and restore them, restore them to their land and (more importantly) restore them to their status as his children.  The Lord “made them an offer the couldn’t refuse” but they did!

The people of Judah went along with King Josiah’s reforms; but, after he died in battle, they returned (had they ever really left?) to their old ways, they returned to the worship of the false gods and they returned to it with all of their heart!

The Lord makes us an offer we can’t (or at least shouldn’t!) refuse:  Acknowledge the sin in our own life; confess the sin in our own life; turn to the Lord and receive the free and full forgiveness he won for us when God the Son, Jesus, died on the cross and their paid the full and complete prices for our sins.  Trust in Jesus:  It’s an offer we shouldn’t refuse.

A prayer:  Lord God Holy Trinity, great is your love for fallen humanity; your love is so great that our Lord Jesus came into our world to die in order to forgive us.  In his death we are reconciled to you!  Thank you for forgiving us and restoring us as your loving sons and daughters.  May your love and forgiveness always be the center of our lives and may we always be committed to you!  In Jesus’ name we ask this! Amen!

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 585 South St. (Route 75), Suffield CT 06078 USA


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