In Jeremiah chapter two and verse eight, God gives us the truest of indicators of a people and a priesthood gone astray, and let me remind you that as children of God, our calling is to be a kingdom of priests unto God. Therefore, this indictment of His priesthood is for all of Godís children to whom this applies. God said, "The priests said not, Where is The LORD? and they that handle the law knew me notÖ" (Jer. 2:8). The prophet records for us in this verse secondarily what I believe God says to us today primarily. He says that the priests donít know God. That is Godís indictment of the priests of Jeremiahís day, and I dare say it is His indictment of us today.
Donít think that you know God if you can never point to a day or a minute when He revealed Himself to you; when He unveiled Himself to you. No one who has never found God knows God, and I dare say that no one who has never sought after God has found Him. Oh, I know that He was found of those who sought Him not, but that revelation of God will put in the heart of a man or woman a deep cry for more of God. The true revelation of God will bring the sweetest of all songs sung by God to the heart of man, and the lyrics of that wonderful song are the words, "Seek ye My face." The heart of the person will join in with that painful melody of longing as deep calls back to deep with the surrendered words, "Thy face Lord will I seek." Donít think you know Him if youíve never found Him, and donít think youíve found Him without seeking. Because God hides Himself from prospective seekers, because He veils Himself in thick darkness, anyone who has ever sought God is well acquainted with this heart cryÖ "Where is The LORD?", and it is the lack of this cry in the heart of his priests that bring the awful indictment of God upon them as priests who have wandered far from God.
This is the great lack in the lives of those who know all the Christian stuff, but donít know God. This is Godís indictment of the priesthood today: They donít know God and they donít cry out, "Where is God?" Theyíve left off seeking Him and have sought the empty things of this world, including religion. Theyíve sought forms and formulas, books and teachings, but have not sought Him. We are a people who know all about a God we donít know, and we donít know Him because weíve never allowed that hunger, that desperate cry to fill our hearts and livesÖ "Where is God?"
God said to Jeremiah, "Go, and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith Yahweh, I remember for thee the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals; how thou wentest after me in the wildernessÖ" (Jer. 2:2). And again, "Thus saith Yahweh, What unrighteousness have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?" (verse 5).
You canít let someone else do your seeking for you. You canít know God through someone elseís experience. You canít find the knowledge of God from book, Bible, sermon, or CD. All you do as you continue to add these things to your life and continue to live like mere men is to further separate yourself from Him to whom you were espoused, and to further deceive yourself about your own condition as you store up for yourself firewood for the judgment seat. God hides Himself in thick darkness. He is the treasure beyond all treasures, and true treasures donít come cheep. If He cost you little, you donít really have Him. If the gold youíve stored up cost you little, itís not the real deal; itís fools gold. Nothing of value comes cheep. There are no bargain basement deals in the Kingdom of Heaven. If you are to truly know God, then that cry must first fill your heart till it consumes your every thought and every desire. That fire will burn in your heart to the point that you will begin to live like you have another world in sight. You will not live like other men, and just as certainly, you will not live like other Christians.
If you are to truly find God and know God, then you will know Hannahís pain. Elkanah, Hannahís husband, said unto her, "Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grievedÖ?" (1 Sam. 1:8). If you are to truly know God, you will know weeping, fasting, and grief of heart. You will know a passion for prayer that will take precedence over food, sleep, comfort, and ease, and incidentally, you will know misunderstanding, just as Hannah was misunderstood to be drunken by a backslidden priest. You will know disdain for the "innocent" diversions and entertainments to which other Christians give themselves as they "walk after vanity and are become vain." You will find grief in the very thing that brings joy to others, and if anyone catches a glimpse into your devotional life or the passion of your heart, you will also know Hannahís pain as your rival "provokes you sore" (1 Sam. 1:6), for they will brand you extreme, and will revile your "tendency to extremes" as unreasonable.
A person who has never known the cry, "Where is God" will never comprehend the extremes to which the fire of God will lead a person whose heart is filled with eternity. They are given over to vain things and are become vain. All they can see is wood, hay, and stubble. Wood, hay and stubble are above the ground. They "catch the eye", as Leonard Ravenhill used to say. Gold, silver, and precious stones are below the ground where no one but the miner can see them, so empty persons give their lives to the empty things that you can see of this world. The spiritual person gives himself or herself to the weighty things, the things of eternal value that can only be seen with spiritual eyes, and someone with spiritual vision is a misfit in this fallen world, as well as in the church, Iím ashamed to say.
They are misunderstood. They are a peculiar treasure to God. They live with another world stamped upon their heart and eyes. They are strange, extreme, out of place, and they are the salt and light in this dark world. They walk a halted gate from the pain of having one foot in this world and the delight of having the other foot in another world. They are crucified to this world of filth and decay, and this world is crucified to them. They view this world, as it hangs upon the cross to which their heart has nailed it, as a cursed thing, a dying thing, a vision of repulsion, and this world views them the very same way! They are crucified to the world and in the eyes of the world, and this world is crucified to them, as their affections and desires have been forever altered by the work of the cross of Calvary in their hearts. Their affections are set on things above, and not on things below, and that fact alone makes them foreigners in a strange land as they walk as pilgrims, as citizens of another world through a land that throughout history has seen them as misfits at best, and at worst, as dangerous extremists that endanger civilization and must, therefore, be exterminated. Oh God, the cry of my heart is "where is God?!" Because Iíve caught a glimpse of the cross and the glory that comes from its wonderful and terrible work, I am forever ruined for the status quo. Iíve a fire and a longing within that comes from seeing a potential that I have failed to reach.
A priest has but one occupation, and that is to go into the holy place and do service to God. Their life work is to say, as it were, "Where is God?" The High Priestís garments were laced at the bottom with bells and pomegranates. Recently, a friend of ours had a vision of a single pomegranate. The pomegranate speaks to me of the tremendous potential contained in the seed. It is a fruit whose meat is its seed, and it is crammed full to the rind with this potential. The ripened pomegranate can split open spilling its seeds from what appear to be wounds in a broken heart, and to me, a single pomegranate speaks of the single desire of David, who said, "One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after." It speaks to me of the single vision that Paul had when he wrote, "This one thing I do", and it speaks to me of the awesome divine potential that can come from the human heart that will break with this one desire and this one cry, "Where is God?" Where is God in my life? Where is God in my family? Where is God in my work or school or neighborhood or church? Where is that world-transforming power that the first church knew when the heathen testified of them that "These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also?" When, oh when, will the heathen know when we come to town? Where is God?
Thatís been my cry many times throughout my life, and it is becoming my cry once again as I see the need in my own heart first, and in the hearts of my family members second. It is becoming my heart cry as I look at the wickedness that ripens all around me as men become more and more wicked, and I cry out for the Holy Spirit to do what Jesus said He would do when He comesÖ to convince people to embrace Jesus as the answer to lifeís dilemmas and sorrows or as an escape from a hell theyíve never really felt they deserved? No, but rather, to convince people of their sinfulness, of His righteous standard, and of the judgment of a literal fiery hell that everyone deserves who violates His righteous standard by living their lives for themselves, instead of for the God who created them to be an offering unto Him. Where is God? Where is conviction of sin? Where is cleansing from sin? Where is God? Where is God? Where are you God?
As priests of God, have we strayed so far from God that we have learned to live without Him? Have we learned to find our joy in the pleasures and entertainment of this world instead of in prayer and in His word? Do we spend hours in front of a television or ballgame rather than spending hours in the holy place, where priests find their occupation, their purpose, and their delight? Have we gone far from God, have we gone after vain things, and are we become vain because of these empty pursuits? Are we full or are we empty? Do we have rivers of living water, or a drop in a thimble? I ask again, as priests of God, have we strayed so far from God that we have learned to live without Him, or are we completely discontent to go through life with so little when there are such abundant riches in Christ Jesus waiting to be obtained by those who are willing to cry? Let this cry fill our heartsÖ "Where is God?"