701 Theology in 2010

This is the first of what I suspect will be a series of posts on the book of Jeremiah. I have been working through Jeremiah for a while now, and one thing that has stood out to me in the course of study has been God’s emphasis on the leadership of Judah in their decline. Over and over God condemns the “Prophets and Priests” for their rebellion against God and leading God’s people astray. God promised over and over swift and total destruction on Judah for their rebellion. However, amazingly, the prophets rejected the Word of God simply because it – in their minds – couldn’t happen. Allow me to explain.

Jeremiah prophesied from about 627 BC to about 580 BC, more or less. About 75 – 100 years before his time, God worked a miracle under the revival led by Hezekiah. II Kings 19:35-37 records the event for us. Assyria had been warring against Judah for some time, and Hezekiah had taken the situation to God for Him to deal with (vs. 1). God answered his prayer, and Assyria retreated in war with other nations. However, it was not long before they returned to finish their business with Judah. It was then that God destroyed the army by the Angel of the Lord. This event was foundational to the shaping of the theology of the Prophets and Priests in Jeremiah’s day. But they did not remember this event as the Salvation of the Lord. Rather, they simply saw it as the Invincibility of Jerusalem. They were steeped in the worship of Baal (Jer. 7:9), the Queen of Heaven (Jer. 7:18), and various other gods (ibid), yet they were convinced that peace and prosperity would continue in Judah (Jer. 5:12; 14:13; 23:17). So there’s the picture. Prophets and Priests are ministering both in the name of YHWH and in the name of many other gods, and promising peace and prosperity to Judah and Jerusalem because they have always been miraculously protected in the past. Therefore any prophecy against Judah and Jerusalem is blasphemous. This is the 701 Theology. Because we have seen miraculous protection and provision in the past, it must always go well with us, no matter what else happens.

And suddenly it becomes clear how 701 Theology reigns in 2010. How we have seen God bless. In terms of Fundamentalism, we have seen churches planted and grown, we have seen obedience rewarded, we have kept our doctrine pure. Yet where is God now? Where are we now? On a microcosm level, I have been obedient, I have seen God’s blessings in my life. Therefore I must be impervious to disaster. No chance shipwreck can happen to me. Remember 701, God? Remember how You delivered me then? And suddenly I don’t want to be confronted with my sin. Suddenly I want Preachers, teachers, and leaders who will encourage me, and give me messages of peace. And suddenly  I am a preacher. Suddenly I am a messenger. And I become a messenger of peace and comfort. Yet God is no longer giving a message of peace and comfort. My heart is in rebellion and idolatry, as is the hearts of all my people. God has removed His Peace: “I have taken away my pace from this people, saith the Lord, even loving-kindness and mercies.” (Jer. 16:5)

This is a warning; a warning of the quickness of deceit, the subtlety of rebellion, and the surety of the wrath of God in our own lives. And this is a call. A call to keep our hearts clear before God so that we do not become the Pastors, Teachers, or leaders who tickle the people’s ears, the leaders whose people “love to have it so.” Sever all ties in your mind with 701 Theology.

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