In the children’s movie, Monsters, Inc., there comes a point when the long and close friendship of the two main characters, Mike and Sully, is strained. The young human girl, “Boo,” whom they have befriended, needs help getting home and saving from wicked monsters who would hurt her. But as Sully prepares to go out into a blizzard, Mike angrily tells Sully he will not join him. He turns his back to him to bring that point home and remains in that position until Sully has departed. By turning his back, Mike emphasized that he would not participate in Sully’s noble and vital mission and was rejecting Sully’s friendship.
God tells us that His people of old did something very similar: “And they have turned unto me the back, and not the face: though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction”(Jer. 32:33).
God had been “rising up early and teaching them”; that is, He besought them again and again, earnestly, and persistently. God continually showed His care and concern for Israel. Yet, they responded by ignoring God’s prophets and following other gods. God called this “turn[ing] unto me the back.” Turning one’s back on another shows unconcern for the other person, at best. Often, it is a sign of spite and utter rejection.
This is precisely what Israel’s actions showed about their attitude toward God. But what about us? Are we turning to God our backs or our faces? As a nation, we are increasingly encouraging atrocious wickedness, including the murder of unborn children and the legal sanctioning of sodomy as marriage. Our nation publicly ignores God and His Word. In contrast, George Washington’s Thanksgiving proclamation reminded us, “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.” The church, Christ’s bride, body, and kingdom, intended to continue the mission Christ began, has, in many places, been overcome by worldliness and compromise. Instead of seeking the favor of God, they turn their backs on Him to seek the plaudits of men (cf. John 5:44; Gal. 1:10). Just as Mike rejected participation in Sully’s mission and rejected his best friend’s friendship, the church does the same to God. It all begins with each of us. Let us be sure we are not turning our backs to God and let us turn to Him our face. “Turn us again, O God of hosts, And cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved” (Psa. 80:7).