One of the more exciting events of my life was seeing this leopard on the Mara out hunting in a thunderstorm with a full moon rising. I remember the passage from Jeremiah asking if a leopard can change its spots and applying it to sinful people. Jeremiah is the great Lenten storehouse of material.
God knocked it into Jeremiah’s head that he was to be a gadfly, a pain, and a hammer on his people: the Lord appointed him to tear out and to pull down, to ruin and to destroy (1: 10). Some have described him as a wrecking ball who was to break down all of the achievements of man, so that the will and way of God might prevail. That is pretty much what the Law does when preached rightly. He was never to lighten up, water down or change his message. He got tough and the tone and content of what he said would and should cause folks feathers to be ruffled. He has been called the weeping prophet because what he said was true and it pained him to say it.
I found an interesting article from Dr. Alfred Von Rohr Sauer which is an evocative name for Missouri synod Lutherans. The article was written 3 years after I was born and it is fascinating because nothing has changed. The attitude of the people that he was to warn against was one which the modern pastor confronts every day: desertion and defection from the way of God. The Israelites had so many different ways of turning their back to the Lord that the prophet needed to be warning them about it constantly. And he used appropriate pictures. Israel exchanged her glorious God Jehovah for an Ersatzgott (2: 11 ). She forsook this Fountain of living waters and dug broken and filthy cisterns (2: 13) . The noble vine which God planted degenerated into a strange vine (2: 21). She was like a “dromedary in heart” who in insatiable sexual appetite went from one partner to another (2:23; d.5:4). The Lord had no trouble restraining the sea with a wall of sand, but He found that His people’s fickle hearts were unrestrainable (5 :23). Israel was to be as close to Jehovah as the girdle was to Jeremiah’s loins; but as the prophet’s girdle became unfit for wear when he left it in the river, so Israel became unfit for the Lord through her apostasy (13: 11). She was so used to doing evil that to change for the better would be as hard for her as changing an Ethiopian’s skin or a leopard’s spots (13:23). Judah’s estrangement from God was so deep-seated that it was engraved upon the table of her heart with an iron stylus and with the point of a diamond (17: 1).