As the twisted and broken body of good king Josiah entered back through the gates of Jerusalem, slain upon the swords of Pharaoh Neco’s mighty army, Jeremiah knew what was about to befall his nation. Good king Josiah spent his few years of kingship restoring the nation of Israel to its worship of Yahweh. Over and against the traditions of his elders, the falsely assumed religion of his people, good king Josiah hacked to pieces the Asherah poles and the statues of the Baals. He carried them out of the the temple of Yahweh, deposed the pagan priests who were not priests, destroyed the houses of fertility-cult prostitution. He had the people read the Law and taught the Law. And he died defending his covenant land from an invading army, playing the man to the last.
But Jeremiah knew what course the nation would take after the mourning horns finally fell silent and the steady creep of decay consumed the body of their godly king. “Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but in pretense, declares Yahweh.” (Jeremiah 3:10)
Pretense. That’s was the nation’s religion.
When the leaders fell and the people in the pews were reliant to draw up the waters of worship from their own hearts all they found was pretense. The words were right. The forms were right. But the heart was distant and cold. What happens when the iPod falls silent and all you have is the quiet ticking of the clock and your Bible? What happens when there is no Piper or Washer or Chandler to enliven your emotions? What happens in the quiet hours when you must pray? Can you do it without the Valley of Vision in your hands? Can you sing without the band? Can you witness without the assignment?
Who lives your worship of God? Is it you, or are you a vicarious host for the Christianity of someone else that’s never sunk into your heart?