When the prophet Jeremiah wrote about the condition of his people, and told them why God was allowing them to be taken into captivity, he said it was because they had forgotten how to blush (Jer. 6:15). All of the calamity that was going to be poured out on them by the armies from the north (i.e. Babylon) was because of their rebellion against God. The list of their transgressions was long and ugly. In addition to their idolatry, they were guilty of all manner of gross immorality. Jeremiah refers to some of it in this chapter. Jerusalem was to be punished because she was full of oppression (Jer. 6:6). She welled up with her wickedness (Jer. 6:7). That means that the prevalence of wickedness was like an overflowing well. It was welling up, or gushing up, in violence and plundering! Everyone was given to covetousness (i.e. plunder) and dirty dealing (Jer. 6:13). They were all stubborn rebels, slanderers and corrupters (Jer. 6:28).
In giving this harsh description of Jerusalem, through the prophet Jeremiah, God told them the reason that they had come to this terrible condition. He had raised her up as a lovely and delicate woman (Jer. 6:2). But she had rejected the word of God and refused to hear the prophet’s warning of her condition (Jer. 6:10, 19). Jeremiah had been calling her back to the old paths (Jer. 6:16), but they refused to walk in them. Jeremiah had been set as a watchman to warn them of the danger (Jer. 6:17), but they would not listen to the warnings. Because they would not listen to God’s word, God would reject them (Jer. 6:20, 30).
Why would Jerusalem not listen to the warnings? How could they continue to say “peace, peace” when there was no peace? (Jer. 6:14). Jeremiah says it was because they had forgotten how to blush! (Jer. 6:15). They weren’t ashamed of their actions. All of the sins they committed against God they did out in the open and without any shame. They were not ashamed to slander and cheat each other. They were not ashamed of the violence they committed against each other. They were not ashamed of their fornication, lying, cheating, rebelling against authority, etc. The lovely and delicate lady (Jer. 6:2) had become a filthy and brazen harlot (cf. Jer. 2:20; 5:7; Isa. 1:21). All because she had forgotten how to be ashamed of sinning against God! They were a people who had forgotten how to blush.
We might point the finger at ancient Jerusalem until we flip on the news or read the newspaper and see how closely we resemble their deplorable state. Our young ladies parade themselves around in ways that would have made their mothers and grandmothers blush in shame. Our young men walk around with their pants under their rumps and rebel against authority in ways that would have made their fathers and grandfathers ashamed. Violence fills the land, being perpetrated by both young men and women. Those committing violent crime seem to get younger and younger every day! Fornication and adultery has become a source of pride rather than a shame and a reproach. Abortion fills the land with innocent blood! Are we ashamed? Do we blush with shame over the ever-widening gulf between the people and the word of God? No! Just like those of Jeremiah’s day, we say peace, peace when there is no peace! And if we don’t turn things around our fate will be the same as that of ancient Jerusalem (cf. Prov. 11:11; 14:34).
The one advantage we have is that the prophet’s warnings to those people have been written down and preserved for us by the Holy Spirit. We have the Bible and we can listen to the warnings before its too late. We have to be a people that listens to the word of God, not like ancient Jerusalem that had become so corrupt they could not give heed to it (Jer. 6:10).
Have we become a people who have forgotten how to blush? I pray not!