God is LOOKING for our ‘INWARD BEAUTY’ and ‘HOLINESS’: "Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, 'We are delivered to do all these abominations'? Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it," says the Lord. (Jer. 7:9-11)
During the time of prophet Jeremiah, the most important place of worship was the Temple in Jerusalem that King Josiah had repaired and restored to its former glory (2 Chronicles 34-35). The people of Judah had foolishly assumed that they were safe from God’s judgment because God would never allow His temple to be destroyed. Wrong! They were putting false confidence in the building rather than trusting the One who dwelt there. They were hiding their sins behind mere outward religious objects and observances (Jer. 7:8–15, 21–27).
Jeremiah’s God-given message was straightforward: the physical presence of the temple was no guarantee that judgment would not come upon Jerusalem. This “temple sermon” in chapter 7 is a denunciation of an unholy and corrupt standard of living by people who held that the city of Jerusalem was indestructible because of the physical presence of the God’s temple (v. 4). But God made it crystal clear through His prophet that the city of Jerusalem and His temple will be destroyed (v. 14) unless the people repented and amended their ways (v. 3). God’s wrath against Judah’s sin could be averted only through a genuine repentance that would be reflected in their lives (vv. 5, 6).
In fact, the true safety of the people of Judah lay in thoroughly turning from sin and living righteously. God looked at the sins rampant in their lives (vv. 3, 9-10) and had strong words of condemnation about the double standards of the people. The care of the downtrodden and oppressed of society (the widow, the orphan, the poor, and the stranger) was of particular concern to the God of all mercies!
Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, whose views of outward religion were in conformity to this passage, used the words of prophet Jeremiah about the temple being “a den of thieves” (v. 11) when He cleansed His Father’s house (Matt. 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46). Merely formal religious attendance at God’s house was condemned through Jesus citing this illustration. This is a good reminder for us as believers that we should not only to practice righteous standards in our personal lives, but also to cultivate a social concern for others as well.
Let us never be satisfied with surface religion. We need to make sure that God ministers to our hearts and we obey Him from our hearts (Eph. 6:6). If we say that we are God’s people, then we must not only “worship” Him with our rituals, but with our day-to-day lives that is pleasing in His sight. Our external activities should develop our relations with God, intensify our acts of service to the less privileged, and enable us live differently than everyone around us. Always remember this: God is looking for our inward beauty and holiness!