I have mixed religion with politics abundantly the past two weeks, finding answers to political issues in scripture and in gospel principles. I do not think that wrong. If the gospel is true, it applies to all parts of our lives. And, it applies to world problems as well as personal ones.
I happened upon this scripture tonight. "Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? (Jeremiah 23:23)
The verse strikes me. I can only wonder if it is saying that God is close and should be relied on for wisdom, and should not made to be far off and apart from the things going on down here on earth.
But, I also see in this same chapter a warning that I should not suppose to speak on behalf of the Lord. Am I doing that when I suggest what the Lord might have meant in Jeremiah 23:23? A few verses later, in verse 31, it says, "Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues and say, He saith."
Am I doing that? Am I using my tongue to say the Lord is saying something?
I back up one verse, to verse 30, and read, "Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words everyone from his neighbor." From that, I wonder if He is saying that we sometimes take what others are saying as gospel. We take gossip for gospel. Forgive, but if, our neighbor tells us the First Amendment means we should go out and buy guns, and if the First Amendment is inspired of God, then should we not go out and buy guns? Or is this an example of us stealing from God in that we let the gossip of neighbors define what God is saying? In the words of Jeremiah, we steal God's words, supposing to find them in the things our neighbor tells us.
Again, not having forgotten verse 31 so quickly, I realize that if it is I who interpret what God is saying, and set it forth as gospel, it is I who am using my tongue and saying it is what "He saith." So, I have a dilemma: I believe it right to apply the scriptures to my life and to our problems, but I do not want to suggest my interpretations are definitely correct, for that would be using my tongue to suggest they are God's words, and He says he is against our doing that.
And, while it might be wrong to put words in God's mouth, implying that the First Amendment is His injunction that we should go out and buy guns, and while it might be wrong to let our neighbors steal words into God's mouth in this manner, are you any better off listening to my thoughts on what the scriptures might mean? I, too, am nothing but a "neighbor." Listen to the logic I might offer, but know I am not blind to the fact I can be wrong, and will, at times.
So, while I wonder -- that is what pondering the scriptures is all about -- I do not know.
I return to 23:23. "Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar of." Again -- giving room that I might be wrong -- I wonder but what we make God a God afar when we do not try to apply His word to our problems, and that includes world problems.
Jeremiah 23 is largely about false prophets, and it warns against them. But, I wonder if verse 28 suggests that if we do, indeed, have an understanding of God's word, we should speak it, even though there are false prophecies, as well. They (the false prophecies) are like chaff, and the true words are like wheat.
Says the verse: "The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat, saith the Lord."
I am not a prophet, of course, but the second part of that ("he that hath my word") might possibly apply to me. (Forgive, if you suggest I am out of line for that. But, I think we all have a tendency to think we are right, and I am no different. So, yes, I think it possible I might be understanding God's word, I might have his word, some of the time.) So, "he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully." That would then seem to give me an obligation to speak faithfully. I might even should feel I have an obligation to say what I say.
All this comes in the name of pondering the scriptures, and to likening them to myself. Forgive me if you think I do wrong.