Even the highest of offerings is less important to God than personal, day-to-day conduct.
Both the sacrifices and the commandments revolve around having a good relationship with God and drawing near to Him.
They are about being the people of God and nurturing the personal and private connection with Him. It is less about the outward performances that can be devoid of inward reality.
Yeshua essentially uses this same word that Jeremiah uses, derech, when He proclaims, “I am the Way [derech], the Truth and the Life.” (John 14:6)
In fact, the disciples of Yeshua originally were called People of the Way (derech).
When we follow Yeshua, He shows us the way in which we should go.
“For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.” (Psalm 1:6)
This week’s Parasha presents us with the choice to either follow our hearts, as society often pressures us to do, or to obey God.
Oftentimes, our own personal happiness is foremost in our minds; however, God is more concerned with our obedience, which leads to strength of character and holiness.
We sometimes contrast the seemingly greater emphasis in the Tanakh (Old Covenant) on law and obedience with the grace and mercy in the Brit Chadashah (New Covenant).
We must keep in mind however, that the New Covenant also emphasizes keeping His commands and proper attitude toward obedience as a demonstration of our love for God.
“This is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)
Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah) said, “If you love Me, keep My commands.” (John 14:15)
When we receive through Yeshua a new heart and a new spirit, we desire in our innermost being to walk in obedience and to please the Lord.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.… I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statues, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:26–27)
Jeremiah’s rebuke concerning the sacrifices does not imply that God despises the offerings that He Himself instituted. He is emphasizing the importance of understanding and knowing Him, and emulating His character.
“Let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.” (Jeremiah 9:24)
Even Yeshua presented offerings in the Temple.
But what, specifically, were the people of Israel doing that so offended God? They were following the detestable practice of the pagan nations to burn their children in the fire as sacrifices to false gods.
“They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire—something I did not command, nor did it enter My mind.” (Jeremiah 7:31)
For this terrible sin, God vowed to banish them into exile and make the Land desolate.
“I will bring an end to the sounds of joy and gladness and to the voices of bride and bridegroom in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem, for the land will become desolate.” (Jeremiah 7:34)
Despite the judgment that Jeremiah announced, he is often called the Prophet of Hope because even with all that came upon his people, he never lost hope in the mercy and loving kindness of God.
He understood that God would fulfill all His promises to His people.
The re-birth of the modern state of Israel, the return of the exiles, and the agricultural revival of the land itself is proof positive that our God is loving and merciful and that all His promises to Israel are true.
“Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria; the farmers will plant them and enjoy their fruit…. He who scattered Israel will gather them.” (Jeremiah 31:5, 10)