By Roland Worth, Jr.
Men are dreamers. When they turn their talents to writing, the result can be a great fiction. When they turn their talents to technology, the result can be a great leap forward in the living standards of mankind. But when men turn their talents of innovation to the field of religion, the result is apostasy and antagonizing God. God has spoken; His will is plain. When He has spoken no mortal man has the right to alter His law. God expects things to be done the way He has ordained them to be done and neither eliminated, altered, nor added to. Not one thing more and not one thing less will please God.
In the days of Jeremiah there were religious innovators in Israel who dreamed of changing the religion God gave Israel. Time and again the innovators carried the day and the dreams of men were translated into the religious practices of the day. Yet God despised it all and repudiated all their efforts. Let us note some of the things Jehovah revealed through just one of His prophets, Jeremiah.
1. Following their own desires rather than God’s will made Israel useless to God. “This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own heart and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this waistcloth, which is good for nothing” (Jer. 13:10).
2. Following their own desires in religion caused Israel to go backwards rather than forward spiritually. “But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their own evil hearts, and went backward and not forward” (Jer. 7:24).
3. Following their own desires resulted in Israel being punished with humiliation and disaster. “Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, or walked in accord with it, but have ,stubbornly followed their own hearts and have gone after the Baals, as their fathers taught them. Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will feed this people with wormwood, and give them poisonous water to drink” (Jer. 9:13-15).
4. Following their own desires resulted in Israel being sent into foreign captivity. “And because you have done worse than your fathers, for behold, every one of you follows his stubborn evil will, refusing to listen to me; therefore I will hurl you out of this land into a land which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods day and night, for I will show you no favor” (Jer. 16:12-13).
5. Following their own desires caused Israel to be disgraced in the eyes of her pagan neighbors. “But they say, ‘That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’ Therefore thus says the Lord: Ask among the nations, who has heard the like of this? The virgin Israel has done a very horrible thing” (Jer. 18:12-13).
6. A characteristic of a false prophet was the fact that he told people to do as they themselves wished. “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes; they speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to every one who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No evil shall come upon you’ ” (Jer. 23:16-17).
Rebellion against God is one revolution that is predestined to failure. God does not “hang the traitors” as human governments do; instead He has a place of wrath stored up for them that far exceeds the worst punishment that human ingenuity could ever devise.
Truth Magazine, XVIII:30, p. 2
May 30, 1974