48:1 “Hear this, O house of Jacob,
Who are called by the name of Israel,
And have come forth from the wellsprings of Judah;
Who swear by the name of the Lord,
And make mention of the God of Israel,
But not in truth or in righteousness;
2 For they call themselves after the holy city,
And lean on the God of Israel;
The Lord of hosts is His name.
I was going to skip this because I prefer to talk about good news and positive things but in good conscience I can't. These two little verses open up a dark truth that has plagued this world ever since Cain replaced the lamb on his altar with the produce from his garden. It was similar to what God asked and it was all done under the pretense of worshipping God but it wasn't.
What do I mean? It's easy to claim the name of God. It's easy to say we follow Him, love Him, serve Him etc... but the world is full of people who make these claims that aren't His. When Jesus was here He was quite blunt about it. In Matthew 7 these words are recorded: "21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you...'"
Being religious does not mean we are His. The nation of Judah proudly and arrogantly flaunted that they were the children of Abraham and the favoured of God yet they were desperately far from Him. When they spoke or taught about Him there was no truth or righteousness in them.
Yesterday my son Nathaniel was sharing with me what he learned at school about the Indian Act. He was horrified by the mistreatment of the aboriginals by Canada. I used the moment to remind him that at many points in history similar things were done all over the world, often in the name of religion. I pointed out the mistreatment of blacks in America by professed Christians, the mass killing of the Jews by professed Christians and the recent upswell of hatred toward Muslims by many professed Christians. He balked at the last one. He said Muslims are killing people. I agreed that SOME are but they are a minority and to label them all the same because of the extreme views and actions of a minority is how mass hatred of an entire people can begin. We talked about some extreme "Christians" and how they don't represent us even though to outsiders we carry the same label. I even admitted to him there are people who belong to our own denomination that have views I don't believe for one moment reflect Jesus.
Judah was a nation of false advertisement. They carried His name but not His character. May it never be said of any of us and let's be like Jesus in this way especially. Let's see every human being as an individual person and a child of God, rather than judge them by a label and pass on by or worse...