Jeremiah 8 KJV

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Well, when that army comes, many who are living will die. We saw that in the last few verses. But in addition to consequences for those who are alive at that time, there will be consequences even for those who are dead. We see this in Jeremiah 8:1-2 where we’re told that all of the bodies of the people who committed idolatry in the Valley of Ben Hinnom and had subsequently died would be exhumed.

8:1 ¶ [At that time/When that time comes], saith the LORD, they shall [bring/dig] out

the bones of the kings of Judah, and
the bones of his princes, and
the bones of the priests, and
the bones of the prophets, and
the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem,

out of their graves:

2 And they shall spread them before

the sun, and
the moon, and all
the [host of heaven/stars/celestial bodies],

whom they have [loved/adored], and
whom they have served, and
after whom they have [walked/gone/paid allegiance], and
whom they have sought [i.e., guidance], and
whom they have worshipped:

they shall not be gathered, nor be buried;

they shall be for [dung/manure] upon the face of the earth.

How fitting that the gods whom the idolaters worshipped in life would stand as motionless and silent as they always did when the idolaters lived and worshipped them.

So, when Babylon comes, the bodies of those who live will be killed. The bodies of those who have died will be exhumed. And all of that mess would be scattered on the ground in a very ignoble and undignified way.

Jeremiah 8 KJV | Exile

But there would be some in the group of the living who would not die, but rather continue to live. They wouldn’t die when Babylon comes, but rather they’d be exiled – sent out of the land of Judah. It would be a small group, but there would be people who didn’t die at the hands of Babylon. And we learn of their mindset in Jeremiah 8:3.

3 And death shall be [chosen/preferred] rather than life by all the [residue/remnant] of them that remain of this evil family,

which remain in all the places whither I have driven them, [i.e., God will leave some alive, but it will be hard for them]

saith the LORD of hosts.

Those who would die would have no choice. And those who lived would have no choice but to be sent away from Judah. And life would be so hard for them that they would prefer to die if they had the choice.

Jeremiah 8 KJV | A Break

Now, once more we have a change of subject starting in Jeremiah 8:4. I know that as I study through this material and prepare to present it, I get to points where I can hardly keep on whatever particular thought is being presented. Like here, I’ve been describing dead bodies and death and bones being dug up and people preferring to die rather than living – and it’s all getting very heavy for me! I don’t want to think about it anymore. I want a break.

And it seems like God shares that sentiment – or at least he graciously stoops to meet the abilities of his people to hear of such non-stop awful news.

I think additionally, God is wanting to vindicate himself. We hear of all the horrendous things he’s going to do to his people and we can start to feel like he’s too severe. We might think – “But God, is it really that bad? Are you sure you can’t give them a little more time to repent? Do your people really deserve this kind of harsh severe treatment?

Well, the Lord gives us a break and he answers those questions in Jeremiah 8:4-7. When it comes down to it, he has given his people all sorts of time to repent, but they absolutely refuse to do it.

Jeremiah 8 KJV | Time and Refusal to Repent

4 Moreover thou shalt say unto them,

Thus saith the LORD;

Shall [they/men] fall, and not [arise/get up again]?

shall [he/one] [turn away/go the wrong way] [shub], and not [return/repent/turn around] [shub]?

The answer the Lord is looking for in Jeremiah 8:4 is “no”. No, if people fall they get back up. If someone takes the wrong turn and goes the wrong way, they’ll notice and turn back to the right way.

Jeremiah 8 KJV | Fallen

Well, then, Jeremiah 8:5-6…

5 Why then is this people of Jerusalem [slidden back/turned away] [shub] [by/in] a [perpetual/continual] [backsliding/apostasy] [meshubah]?

they hold fast [i.e., to their] deceit, they refuse to [return/turn back to me] [shub].

6 I [hearkened/have listened] and heard [i.e., listened very carefully],

but they spake not [aright/what is right/honestly]:

no man [repented/regretted] [nacham – console/repent ½ and ½ in KJV] him of his wickedness, saying, [What have I done?/I have done wrong!]

every one turned to his [i.e., own wayward] course, as the horse [rusheth/charges/charges recklessly] into the battle.

It’s only natural to change course and correct your way when you’ve strayed directionally. Then the question God wants to know is why is Judah not changing course away from their sin and toward him? It’s unusual and contrary to what should be happening.

Jeremiah 8 KJV | Contrary to Animals

And it’s contrary – this lack of change in direction is contrary to even the way that animals act, according to Jeremiah 8:7.

7 Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her [appointed times/seasons/time to move on];

and the [turtle/turtledove] and the [crane/swift] and the [swallow/thrush/crane] [observe/recognize] the time of their [coming/migration];

but my people know not the [judgment/ordinance/requirement] of the LORD.

Animals know when it’s time to move on – when it’s time to change course and change direction. But these very people of Judah who were made in God’s own image and had that as an advantage over the animals – they didn’t correct their course from serving sin to serving the Lord sincerely.

Jeremiah 8 KJV | Wise?

And yet, even though the people of Judah were proving themselves to be even more senseless than brute beasts, yet they claimed to be wise. And it’s that claim that God refutes in Jeremiah 8:8-13.

8 How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us?

Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain.

And that last statement is saying either the pen of the scribe made the “Law” into a lie by the lies the scribes were writing or that the scribe writes in vain because people won’t listen.

Either way, the Law is rendered useless, either by the behavior of the one who copies that Law or by the unwillingness of the people to listen.

Jeremiah 8 KJV | Religious Leaders

I tend to think it’s the former – that the scribes and religious leaders are lying and thereby nullifying the effect of what they’re copying because of their ungodly behavior and teaching, primarily because this section seems to be a rebuke to the religious leaders of the day as we’ll see in the next few verses – starting in Jeremiah 8:9.

9 The wise men [are/will be] [ashamed/put to shame],

they [are/will be] [dismayed/dumbfounded] and [taken/caught/brought to judgment]:

lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD;

and what wisdom is in them?

With no true wisdom from above any so-called wisdom that the wise men supposedly possessed was all fiction. It was worldly wisdom, not true wisdom.

Jeremiah 8 KJV | Unwise

And therefore, the Lord would need to deal with these unwise wise men as he says in Jeremiah 8:10.

10 Therefore will I give their wives unto others,

and their fields to [them that shall inherit them/new owners]:

for every one from the least [i.e., important/significant] even unto the greatest is [given to covetousness/greedy for gain],

from the prophet even unto the priest every one [dealeth falsely/practices deceit]. [cf. 6:12-15]

Jeremiah 8:10 starts with the punishment for these supposed wise men. What they have – the good things that God had given them – would be taken from them and given to others.

And then the Lord gave one part of the reason for this punishment. Not only had these religious leaders nullified God’s Law through their lawlessness. But they also were greedy for gain and lied in order to obtain the objects of their desire. That’s what the Lord revealed in Jeremiah 8:10.

Jeremiah 8 KJV | Reasons for Punishment

And the Lord continues to offer reasons why he needed to punish those unwise wise men in Jeremiah 8:11.

11 For they have healed the [hurt/brokenness] of [the daughter of my people/my dear people] [slightly/superficially],

saying, [Peace, peace/everything will be alright] [shalom shalom] [i.e., emphasis]; when [there is no peace/everything is not alright].

Let me observe a few things about this verse.

First of all, notice the statement “peace, peace”. There’s a place in the book of Jeremiah where the people say “The Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord”. I told you that they did this to emphasize the Temple and its importance and the faith they were putting in it. And repetition in Hebrew often communicates emphasis. I told you that when something was repeated twice in Hebrew, it was in order to emphasize the thing. And I never gave you any proof. But here’s some proof. Peace, peace! they say. The emphasis of the religious leaders of Judah right before the judgement of God fell on them was peace.

This sounds like what we’re told in 1 Thessalonians 5:3. They’ll be saying “peace and safety”. And that’s when sudden destruction will come. The Day of the Lord! Out of nowhere!

So, that’s the first thing I wanted to lead us in observing.

Jeremiah 8 KJV | Sounds Similar

Second, we’ve heard this before. Jeremiah 8:10-12 is very similar to Jeremiah 6:12-15. I’ll read them both.

KJV Jeremiah 6:12 And their houses shall be turned unto others, with their fields and wives together: for I will stretch out my hand upon the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD.

13 For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.

14 They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.

15 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.

KJV Jeremiah 8:10 Therefore will I give their wives unto others, and their fields to them that shall inherit them:

 

for every one from the least even unto the greatest is given to covetousness, from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.

11 For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.

12 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.

I don’t think we need to make much of the fact that these two groups of verses are very similar. It’s the same author – God. It’s the same messenger – Jeremiah. It’s the same group of people – Judah. And it’s the same message – I need to punish you for your unrepentant sin. So, you can expect the message and even the way in which it’s stated to sound fairly similar along the way.

Jeremiah 8 KJV | Next

Then we’ll just read Jeremiah 8:12 without much comment and then end with Jeremiah 8:13.

12 Were they ashamed when they had committed [abomination/such disgusting things]?

nay, they were not at all ashamed,

neither could they blush:

therefore shall they [fall/die] [among/just like] [them/others] [that fall/who have died]:

in the time of their [visitation/punishment] they shall be [cast down/brought down/brought to ruin],

saith the LORD.

13 I will surely [consume/snatch away] them, saith the LORD:

there shall be
no grapes on the vine,
nor figs on the fig tree, and
the leaf shall [fade/wither];

and the things that I have given them shall pass away from them.

As Job said, the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. The Lord had given much to his sinful people. And just as it was his gracious choice to give those things, so too is it his prerogative to take them back. And that’s just what he promises to do here. To take the good gracious gifts he’d given the religious leaders — as well as everyone else because — they refused to look past the gifts, to the giver of those good gifts.

Jeremiah 8 KJV | Defeat for Deceit

And now in Jeremiah 8:14-9:26 we have this message: Defeat for Deceit. God will threaten Judah with defeat. And one major factor the Lord points to for sending that defeat is their deceit.

Jeremiah 8 KJV | Sober Warnings

And as you may remember – and if you don’t remember then you can at least imagine – that God has been issuing some pretty sobering threats to the people of Judah.

And that’s why the people in Jeremiah 8:14-15 are portrayed as despairing.

KJV Jeremiah 8:14 [Someone, the people?, says…]

Why do we sit still?

assemble yourselves,

and let us enter into the [defenced/fortified] cities,

and let us [be silent/perish/at least die fighting] [damam – KJV silence, cut off, cut down] there:

[for/since] the LORD our God hath [put us to silence/doomed us/condemned us to die] [damam],

and given us [water of gall/poisoned water] to drink,

because we have sinned against the LORD.

15 We [looked/waited] for [peace/good fortune], but no good came;

and for a time of [health/healing/relief], and behold [trouble/terror]!

So, as always when we see the people being portrayed in this book as saying or doing something – especially when it seems to contradict everything we know about them – then you just have to wonder if the Lord intends us to think that they actually said or did what is being reported.

Or is the Lord wanting to give the people an example of how they should respond?

Or is he simply portraying the people as saying or doing something just to heighten the urgency and terror of the situation? I think that’s what he’s doing. Using the people’s statements to highlight the impending terror of the situation.

So, here’s how that would work. The message of the book of Jeremiah is Submit to God’s Authority and Live. In particular, in this section from Jeremiah 7-10 the people need to submit to that authority by Practicing Ritual from Righteous Hearts and Lives. But they refuse.

And that’s why so much of these four chapters is given to God threatening his people. He wants them to turn from their sin. And he’s using all sorts of means to communicate the impending danger they face if they refuse to repent – if they refuse to turn from their sins.

And here’s one more way that God is communicating the urgency – the Lord is portraying a time when the people will flee to their fortified cities because of an unnamed foreign enemy which is invading their land. They will likely die in those cities at the hands of the enemies. And this is all happening because of thein sin.

Jeremiah 8 KJV | Suspense Mounts

And the suspense mounts as the people are alerted to the coming of this enemy some time in the near future in Jeremiah 8:16.

16 The snorting of his horses was heard from Dan [far north]:

the whole land [trembled/quakes/tremble with fear] at the sound of the neighing of his [strong ones/stallions];

for they are come, and [have devoured/are coming to destroy] the land, and all that is in it;

the city, and those that dwell therein.

Jeremiah 8 KJV | Opposite of Personification

Now, in Jeremiah 8:17 the Lord uses a literary device that’s the opposite of personification. Personification is the assigning of human qualities to something that is non-human. The Sun in the sky being compared to a strong man who runs in a race – that’s personification. But in Jeremiah 8:17 the Lord represents this coming conquering kingdom of Babylon – comprised of humans – as if they were animals. Snakes, in particular.

17 For, behold,

I [i.e., the Lord] will send [i.e., an enemy that will be like] serpents, [cockatrices/Adders] [tsiphngoni – adder, viper, cockatrice], among you, which will not be charmed,

and they shall [bite/inflict fatal wounds on] you, saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 8 KJV | Reaction

And so, based on the defeat which is promised to Judah at the hands of this foreign enemy, I think we have Jeremiah reacting in Jeremiah 8:18-19 to the future reality of this coming enemy.

18 When I would [comfort/heal/cure] [hapax legomenon] myself [against/beyond] sorrow, my heart is faint in me.

19 Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people [because of them that dwell/(nothing)] in a far country:

Is not the LORD in Zion? is not her king in her?

So, Jeremiah says that he has tried to comfort himself in the midst of these really troubling realities.

Do you know what that’s like? To try to find some comfort in the midst of the chaos that seems to be enveloping your nation?

Jeremiah knew what that was like. And he wasn’t very successful at it. That’s what he says in Jeremiah 8:18. It didn’t help to try to comfort himself.

Why? Jeremiah 8:19 has Jeremiah recounting that his people are lamenting that the Lord has seemed to abandon them. And remember, this is the section – Jeremiah 7-10 – where the people are making such a big deal about the Temple being among them and how that was going to ensure that they could keep sinning without any consequences. Somehow that Temple was going to provide protection for them. After all, thought they, the Lord surely wouldn’t destroy his own Temple!

And here they are in Jeremiah 8:19 again focusing on the Lord being in their midst. But here they’re portrayed as being disillusioned. They had hoped for the Lord to protect them. After all, he was in their midst – he was “in Zion”. He was “in here”. But here they are – under siege by the enemy. And the enemy is winning. And it’s all because they’ve sinned against the Lord and would not repent.

And that’s why Jeremiah is unable to comfort himself. The people would still clutch their vain hope that they could sin all they wanted because the Lord was in their midst. When in reality it’s the exact opposite. The closer the Lord is to a people, the more holy he requires them to be.

Jeremiah 8 KJV | Reason for Defeat

And actually, the Lord cuts to the chase at the end of Jeremiah 8:19 where he breaks in and reveals the big reason the people would experience this defeat at the hands of their enemies.

Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with [strange/foreign] [vanities/idols] [hebel]?

The Lord isn’t looking for an answer as if he didn’t know it already. He’s directing the people back to the real reason that they were in trouble. They provoked him to anger with idols.

Jeremiah 8 KJV | Self-Pity

And instead of really dealing with their sin – like the kind God just pointed out – the people are shown as engaging in a kind of whimsical self-pity in Jeremiah 8:20.

20 The harvest [in the spring] is past, the summer is ended, and we are not [saved/delivered].

And because of the people’s ignoring God’s threats and instead engaging in this whimsical self-pity and not really dealing with the issue, Jeremiah responds.

And the way he does is very informative for us. We live in times like Jeremiah’s. We live in the midst of a society that rejects God and refuses to repent. We live in times marked as best I can tell by chastening from God. How should we respond to these things?

Jeremiah 8 KJV | Response from the Porphet

Jeremiah does two things. First, he genuinely mourns his people’s situation. He’s not like Westboro Baptist Church and glorying in the destruction of his people. Jeremiah certainly wouldn’t have been amongst the idiots that picket funerals these days. He genuinely grieved for his sinful fellow-citizens. That’s one way we too should respond. We’ll get to his second response in just a little bit. First, let’s read Jeremiah’s response of genuine grief for his people’s situation in Jeremiah 8:21-9:1.

21 For the [hurt/brokenness] of the daughter of my people am I [hurt/broken];

I [am black/mourn/go about crying and grieving];

[astonishment/dismay] hath [taken hold on/overwhelmed] me.

22 Is there no [balm/medicinal ointment] in Gilead; is there no physician there?

why then is not the health of the daughter of my people [recovered/been restored]?

Jeremiah 7 Summary

Jeremiah 7:1-26

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As we enter Jeremiah 7:1-26 we’ve finished a major section of the book of Jeremiah that ran from Jeremiah 3:6 to Jeremiah 6:30. So now we pick up a new major section which runs from Jeremiah 7:1 to the end of Jeremiah 10.

Jeremiah 7 Summary | Change of Scene

You can see that the scene changes in Jeremiah 7:1-2 from what we had at the end of Jeremiah 6.

7:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from Jehovah, saying,

Stand in the gate of Jehovah’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say,

Hear the word of Jehovah, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship Jehovah.

And the main message is to come. But this sets the scene.

The place is the Lord’s house – the Temple in Jerusalem. And actually, Jeremiah is ordered to stand in the gate. Not the Temple building itself, though perhaps as the priest that he was, he could have entered the Temple. But that’s not where he’s commanded to go at this point. Right now, he’s ordered to the gate of the Temple court.

And this concept of the Temple is prominent in this section. In short, we’re going to see that the people had put their trust in the Temple and in the sacrifices that went along with that system. All the while, they were flagrantly disobeying the Lord and couldn’t care less what he wanted from them in any other area of their lives. They were attending to at least some of the rituals associated with the Lord and his system of worship, but they had no concern for righteousness. They were careful to offer sacrifices, but had no care or caution when it came to their own sin.

So, I think you could title this section – which will span from Jeremiah 7:1-26 something like Righteousness Over Ritual.

That’s the Lord’s message to Judah. Yes, he commanded the rituals. The rituals aren’t superfluous. But that’s not his main aim. His main aim is righteousness in his people. And if he needs to choose between ritual and righteousness, he’ll take righteousness.

This is also his message for us today as New Testament Christians. When I first gave this message to the adults in my church, I was giving it to a group of people who are not ashamed to identify with Christ. They sat in our Adult Sunday School class. They could have been sleeping-in or doing something else. But there they were! That shows some dedication, for which I was and am thankful. They show a willingness to endure sound doctrine. I mean, at the time of this writing, they are currently enduring what will probably turn out to be a year-long series in one of the saddest books in our Bible (Jeremiah , of course!). They’re at a church that emphasizes the Scripture over entertainment. We’re conservative in our music and lifestyle. We’re fundamental and Baptist in our doctrine and practice. I mean, we’re certainly trying to do and think and believe right as best we know how!

But even for us, we need to consider ourselves in light of this message of Righteousness Over Ritual. And by ritual – for us at least – I mean external marks of obedience. The ritual is called-for. But it needs to flow from an internal righteousness. If you don’t have the latter – the righteousness, God doesn’t – and you don’t – benefit at all from your ritual.

So, may the Lord himself help us at my church and you as you read this to practice the ritual from righteous hearts. And may he increase that reality everywhere this message is heard.

Jeremiah 7 Summary | Message in the Gate

Now, here’s the message that the Lord gives to Jeremiah as he’s in the gate of the Temple. It begins in Jeremiah 7:3.

7:3 Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel,

Amend your ways and your doings,

and I will cause you to dwell in this place.

So, the Lord of hosts – YAHWEH Tsebaoth – the Lord who commands hosts of armies, both heavenly and earthly – the Lord who therefore rules over all – this Lord is commanding his people to practice righteousness in order to remain in the land.

And we know from previous chapters in Jeremiah that Judah’s residence in the land was under serious threat. The Lord has on numerous occasions so far in this book threatened his rebellious unrepentant people with expulsion from their land for their sin.

So, God here is giving Judah an opportunity to remain in the land. And we’re not given a time reference in this section, but maybe we’re still in the reign of Josiah like we’ve been since Jeremiah 3:6.

So, there’s still hope! Judah could still remain in her land. But they needed to repent of their sin and practice righteousness.

They needed to change their ways and doings – how they were living and what they were doing. If they did, they could remain in the land.

Jeremiah 7 Summary | Temple of the Lord

But as it was, and as we see in Jeremiah 7:4, the people had dispensed with the righteousness and had clung to the ritual.

The Jews needed to change their ways and doings – how they were living and what they were doing. If they did, they could remain in the land.

7:4 Trust ye not in lying words, saying,

The temple of Jehovah,
the temple of Jehovah,
the temple of Jehovah, are these.

What does it means when they repeat this phrase “the Temple of the Lord”?

Well, it probably wasn’t the refrain in pre-exilic Judah’s brand of Christian rock music.

In Hebrew, when something was said twice in a row it usually communicated emphasis. So, when it was said three times consecutively, the emphasis is even more heightened.

Think of what that means then in Isaiah 6:3 – “Holy! Holy! Holy! is the Lord of Hosts”. And Revelation 4:8 – the four living creatures say “Holy! Holy! Holy! if the Lord God”. What’s the emphasis there? It’s the Lord’s awesome unsurpassed holiness.

Now, the Lord’s holiness is an emphasis you want to have in your mind’s eye. But what the people of Judah were emphasizing was instead the Temple. The ritual. The building. The external edifice. That was their focus and emphasis. That was – in their mind – their ticket to a judgement-free existence.

Their thinking regarding the Temple – which we’ll see more explicitly later – was basically, “Well, God will never destroy us! After all, we have the Temple in our midst. And he wouldn’t destroy his own Temple, would he?” Therefore, the people felt the liberty to ignore the Lord’s threats through Jeremiah.

But the Lord himself – who was speaking through Jeremiah all the threats that they were ignoring – in Jeremiah 7:3 tells them that this confidence they had was unfounded and dangerous. The words that expressed confidence in a total lack of danger solely because of the presence of God’s Temple in Jerusalem were lying words. They were false, and so was the foolish confidence they expressed.

Jeremiah 7 Summary | Righteousness

Then in Jeremiah 7:5-7 the Lord reiterates the kind of righteous conduct that would allow them to continue to live in the land and not be exiled by that ominous threatening nation that he’s mentioned before.

7:5 For if ye thoroughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye thoroughly execute justice between a man and his neighbor; if ye oppress not the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your own hurt: then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, from of old even for evermore.

God said that he would allow the people to continue to live in their land if they changed their ways from abusing each other and the Lord to loving God and loving their fellow-man.

Jeremiah 7 Summary | Abuse

But there’s a reason why God needed to tell the people to change their ways from abusing each other and God. That’s because that’s exactly what they were doing. That’s what they were engaged in.

And the Lord confronts them in Jeremiah 7:8-11 about this abusive, unloving, and sinful behavior of theirs.

7:8 Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit.

And the big lie that the people believed was that Ritual could make up for their lack of Righteousness.

7:9 Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods that ye have not known,

That’s the lack of righteousness in Jeremiah 7:9.

7:10 and come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered; that ye may do all these abominations?

And there’s the ritual in Jeremiah 7:10. And it’s that ritual in their minds that was justifying their ability to continue on being unrighteous.

Well, what does all of this indicate about the mindset of the people concerning the Temple? God makes a suggestion in Jeremiah 7:11.

7:11 Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it, saith Jehovah.

The Lord has seen it. The Lord saw Judah’s unrighteousness. He saw their empty meaningless ritual that was an attempt to make up for their lack of true righteousness.

And he still sees this kind of thing today. Have any of us been abusive to others this week and actually consoled ourselves with the fact that we’re coming to church on Sunday?

Have we all but abandoned the Lord and placed other things before him in our hearts – and instead of repenting and turning back to him with all our hearts, we are satisfied with the thought of attending church?

Church attendance won’t do anything for us if we’re not truly righteous. And none of us will behave truly righteous unless we have received the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

But if you have received that righteousness by trusting in Jesus, then live it out. And don’t focus on ritual over practicing the righteousness that you’ve been granted for Jesus Christ’s sake.

Jeremiah 7 Summary | Shiloh

Now, the Temple in Jerusalem was not the only or even the original place where God ordained to have his people worship him. Before the Temple, there was the Tabernacle – the tent where the people would meet with the Lord. As you recall, that tent was moved around in the wilderness before Israel entered their land promised to them.

Then when they finally entered the land the tent found a somewhat permanent spot in a city called Shiloh, which was north of Bethel and south of Shechem, in what would become the northern kingdom of Israel. That’s recorded in Joshua 18:1.

It’s in Shiloh where in the time of the Judges the sons of Benjamin took – literally – wives for themselves in a practice that if it wasn’t kidnapping, I’m not sure what it was.

It was in Shiloh that Eli’s sons practiced their immorality and other profanity.

It’s in Shiloh where the Israelites of old started to treat the Ark of the Covenant as a good luck charm and were soundly defeated by the Philistines because they forsook righteousness and tried to substitute that with ritual.

Shiloh is under discussion in Psalm 78:60. In that psalm of Asaph, the author in Psalm 78:60 tells us that the Lord “forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh”. And the Lord did that when according to Psalm 78:61 he “… delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy’s hand”. In other words, the Lord abandoned Shiloh when he sent northern Israel into captivity.

And of course, by the point of his sending Israel into captivity, I imagine that no one was using the tabernacle – if it was even still standing. All of the internal holy objects like the ark of the covenant and the table of bread and such were moved to the Temple in Jerusalem a long time ago.

But the point is – the fact that a holy object – like the Temple – was in the city of Shiloh did not exempt it from the Lord’s destruction. The Lord destroyed Shiloh as he exiled his people in northern Israel. The fact that the Tabernacle was there or had been there did not prevent that punishment.

Jeremiah 7 Summary | No Good

And that’s the lesson that God is trying to teach these folks in southern Judah who have emphasized ritual over righteousness.  All their confidence for avoiding God’s punishment is wrapped up in the presence of a holy building in their midst. God declares to them that it won’t do them any good in Jeremiah 7:12.

7:12 But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I caused my name to dwell at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel.

Again, what did God do to Shiloh? He cast his people out of it. And that was a judgement on them for their wickedness – a wickedness very similar to what Judah was practicing.

Jeremiah 7 Summary | Like Israel

And so, because the sin that Judah was practicing was very much like the sin that Israel practiced, the Lord tells Judah in Jeremiah 7:13-15 that the punishment that they’ll receive will be very similar to what Israel faced.

7:13 And now, because ye have done all these works, saith Jehovah, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not: 14 therefore will I do unto the house which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. 15 And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim.

Jeremiah 7 Summary | Shocking Command

In light of this, the Lord commands Jeremiah to do something that I think – if we’re actually paying attention – will shock us in Jeremiah 7:16.

7:16 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me; for I will not hear thee.

This is instruction to Jeremiah from the God who in the New Testament tells his people to “pray without ceasing” – to pray “and not faint” – to “pray for them which despitefully use you”.

Further, this is instruction to Jeremiah from the God who in the Old Testament told his people to pray. And even back then, the command was clearly – “love your enemies!”

So, how does a God who commands his people to pray for those who are their enemies and abusers – how does that same God command Jeremiah the prophet here to not pray for his fellow-Jews?

I have to think that God is telling Jeremiah to not pray to God to relent concerning his punishment. I don’t believe that God would have discouraged Jeremiah for praying for the true repentance of the people. I think what God is not wanting to hear is any sort of request for his judgement to be stayed.

The Lord didn’t want another episode like he had with Moses after the people committed idolatry when Moses was on the mountain receiving the 10 Commandments. Remember how Moses plead with the Lord – not actually that the people would repent. Moses did not pray that the people would turn from their sins and to their God. He prayed that God would turn – as it were – from his anger and determined judgement. And the Lord heard Moses’s request at that time.

But God does not want Jeremiah to petition him to turn from his anger. God is now insisting that Judah themselves turn from their determined plans – their plans to continue sinning against the Lord. If they won’t relent, neither will God turn from his determined plans of punishing them. And God doesn’t want Jeremiah to pray to him to the effect that he would turn from his burning anger against his people. It’s the people themselves that need to turn from their sin.

Jeremiah 7 Summary | Justification

And it’s as if God anticipates the kind of pensive reaction that I think all of us experienced when we considered Jeremiah 7:16. He’s anticipating that people might take issue with the seeming harshness of that command to not pray for God to turn from his burning anger against the people.

So in Jeremiah 7:17-18 God stoops to our level and gives more justification of his unwillingness to relent of his punishing his rebellious unrepentant people.

7:17 Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead the dough, …

To enjoy some good family time together? To strengthen the bonds of their family and pass on helpful information and knowledge from generation to generation? Is that why the kids are getting the wood and the father is making the fire and the women are kneading the dough? It sounds like a holiday get together!

But alas, the people are doing these things for totally idolatrous reasons. They are doing all of this – end of Jeremiah 7:18…

… to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.

So, the result of all of this nice warm family time is just about the most unwholesome thing the Lord can imagine. Idolatry.

They’re making bread for the so-called Queen of Heaven, who was probably some false goddess – I’ve heard maybe this is the Ashtoreth from the Canaanites. She was the goddess of love and fertility.

And the result of this idolatrous behavior – really, almost the purpose of the behavior in God’s mind – is the provocation of his own holy character.

Jeremiah 7 Summary | Idolatry Hurts

And yet, is God really injured by this behavior? Is it he himself who is going to experience damage and loss due to it? Or is it – as Jeremiah 7:19 declares – the idolatrous people themselves who will suffer loss and irrevocable damage?

7:19 Do they provoke me to anger? saith Jehovah; do they not provoke themselves, to the confusion of their own faces?

Yes, it’s always we who lose out when we offend our holy loving Father in heaven. God surely is offended. But we are the ones who are really harmed in the process of turning from him to other and worthless things.

Jeremiah 7 Summary | Consequences

And because the people wouldn’t repent of their idolatry, God would have to bring to pass what he says in Jeremiah 7:20 – unless, of course, they turned and repented.

7:20 Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, mine anger and my wrath shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched.

Jeremiah 7 Summary | Lesson

Then in Jeremiah 7:21-26 the Lord gives the people – through Jeremiah – a history lesson concerning rituals and righteousness.

Jeremiah 7 Summary | Eat Flesh

7:21 Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel: Add your burnt-offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat ye flesh.

That’s a mouthful. So, let’s try to digest it. … Yes, pun intended.

Most of the sacrifices in ancient Israel allowed for the one who was offering them to eat at least some of the sacrifice. The one exception was the burnt offering. The people were not to eat any of what was offered as a burnt offering.

But, God here in Jeremiah 7:21 is actually telling the people to eat the burnt offering along with their other sacrifices. Why? That’s a violation of his express commands!

I think the Lord is being sarcastic here. I don’t know how else you can interpret this.

And the point to his sarcasm is to reveal the people’s hypocrisy in their keeping the ritual while abandoning the requirement of righteousness.

In other words, the people as we’ve seen had no concern for keeping God’s moral commands. They were idolaters. They committed fornication. They abused others who were less powerful than they.

But at the same time they were spending money on sacrifices. They were apparently keeping feast days and all of that.

It’s not a bad thing that they were sacrificing to God. Again, that was commanded. But the bad thing was that they were offering sacrifices from hearts that were hard and disobedient and totally unconcerned about anything else that God wanted from them.

And so, God tells them, if you’re going to thumb your nose at the parts of my Law that are most important and try to keep some aspects of the rituals that I’ve set up for you, you might as well forget about the rituals.

This is Jesus and the Pharisees, isn’t it? You give a tenth of your herb garden. You should! But you’ve neglected the weightier matters of the Law. God wrote it all. But some parts – even in God’s mind – are more important than others. And only Pharisees and the rebellious Jews of Jeremiah’s day don’t see the distinction. Let’s not be like them.

Jeremiah 7 Summary | History Lesson

And really, this problem extended back beyond even the days of Jeremiah and the rebellious people of Judah. It went back to the very founding of the nation of Israel, as the Lord reveals in Jeremiah 7:22-23 as he continues his history lesson.

7:22 For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt-offerings or sacrifices:

In other words, that’s not all I told them about. The instructions concerning the sacrificial system weren’t the top priority in God’s mind. They weren’t the first thing he told the Israelites about. It was never his deepest longing for them – to kill and burn animals. He wanted them to do that. He did. But he was after something more foundational than that – Jeremiah 7:23.

7:23 but this thing I commanded them, saying, Hearken unto my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people; and walk ye in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.

Look at that last statement! Why does God want us to obey his voice and walk in a manner worthy of himself? So that your life would be miserable? So that you’ll miss out on all the “fun” this life has to offer? No! He wants it to be well with you! He wants things to go well for you.

Jeremiah 7 Summary | Historical Disobedience

And yet despite the Lord’s best intentions for his people, even back to the days of Moses, Jeremiah 7:24 had been the case with them.

7:24 But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.

Jeremiah 7 Summary | Multiple Messengers

And it’s not as if the Lord hadn’t tried to turn the people back from their sin throughout their history. God sent them his messengers time and time again, as he says in Jeremiah 7:25.

7:25 Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day, I have sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them:

Jeremiah 7 Summary | Deaf Ears

But the people didn’t listen to God’s message through his messengers according to Jeremiah 7:26.

7:26 yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff: they did worse than their fathers.

By the way, the people didn’t listen to the prophets. But God can say that they actually didn’t listen to him. Since the prophets were giving the people God’s message, when they rejected the words of the prophets they were rejecting the words of the Lord.

And as a result, they ended up sinning worse than their fathers.

May the Lord help us to pursue righteousness. May he lead each one of us reading this to receive the righteousness he offers through faith in his son, Jesus Christ. Then may he help us not to forsake any right rituals – any external marks of obedience. But may he help us to cultivate the righteous heart from which any acceptable ritual would flow.

 

Jeremiah 7 Summary | Won’t Listen

And now in Jeremiah 7:27 the Lord turns his gaze toward Jeremiah – his current messenger – and relates the sad news that these people too – sons of their descendants – will not listen to him either.

7:27 ¶ Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them;

but they will not hearken to thee:

thou shalt also call unto them;

but they will not answer thee.

Jeremiah 7 Summary | Orders

Nevertheless – whether the people would listen to him or not – Jeremiah’s orders were clear – Jeremiah 7:28.

28 [But thou shalt say unto them/So tell them],

This is [a/the] nation that obeyeth not the voice of the LORD their God,

nor [receiveth/accept] correction:

And here’s one major result of the people rejecting the Lord’s correction.

[truth/faithfulness] [emunah – KJV 49x –  faithfulness 18, faithfully 5, faithful 3, faith 1, truth 13, truly 1, verily 1, office 5, stability 1, steady 1; 49] [is/has] [perished/nowhere to be found in it],

and [is/has been] cut off from their mouth [i.e., they don’t even profess it anymore].

The word “truth” is the Hebrew word emunah. It appears in the Bible 49 times. In the King James Version it’s translated about 15 times as something having to do with “truth”. So, “truth” here is a legitimate translation of this word. But 27 times the word is translated as something having to do with “faithfulness”.

I think either word applies in this instance. When people reject God’s word – which is truth – then surely truth will perish from them. And when a people turns from truth, you can be pretty sure there will be no more faithfulness among them. If there’s no absolute truth, then what’s the purpose of being faithful – of truly keeping your end of the bargain with others?

And the situation in Judah at the time was such that this reality of truth or faithfulness wasn’t even on the people’s lips anymore. They didn’t practice faithfulness or truth. And they at this point weren’t even pretending that it was the case with them. They weren’t even claiming that they were being truthful or faithful.

And I can’t help but reflect that one of the major trends in our own nation as we’ve slid from God’s word and ways has been an increase in divorce. You’ve heard the statistics. You can’t think of a better display of faithfulness than a marriage relationship. That’s exactly why, when a culture disowns God’s word and truth, faithfulness – as manifested in marriage covenants – will cease to be the reality with many people.

Now, does God sit idly by as this kind of thing happens? As people reject his word and — as a result — faithfulness all but disappears from a society?

Jeremiah 7 Summary | Punishment

Well, God surely was patient with Judah and Israel before that. But there comes a time when God must act. When there has to be some reckoning for sins and rebellion like this.

And that’s why God encourages lamentation and mourning from Judah in Jeremiah 7:29. Because justice is coming. God’s vengeance is coming. He must punish a people who continues to reject him and reject faithfulness to one another. And it won’t be a pleasant experience for those who oppose the Lord.

29 [i.e., So mourn.] Cut off thine hair [Mic 1:16; Job 1:20], O Jerusalem, and cast it away,

and [take up a lamentation/sing a song of mourning] on [high places/bare heights/the hilltops];

Now, cutting off one’s hair was a sign of mourning. We see that being done other places in Scripture, like in Micah 1:16 and Job 1:20. In both references, a reason for the mourning was a loss of children.

Well, why are the people encouraged to mourn here? End of Jeremiah 7:29.

for the LORD hath [i.e., decided to – “scheduling perfect”] rejected and forsaken

the generation [of/that has provoked] his wrath.

So, God has rejected those who had provoked his wrath. And that called for mourning.

The people of Judah had provoked him by their refusal to listen to his message of coming punishment and by their lack of faithfulness, among many, many other reasons. But those are the reasons given thus far in this section.

Jeremiah 7 Summary | Reasons for Punishment

But there’s more. And that’s what God points to in Jeremiah 7:30-31. More reason for God to punish the people, which is why they were commanded to mourn. And the extra reasons that God gives as to why he needs to punish them both relate to idolatry.

30 ¶ [For/I have rejected them because] the [children/sons/people] of Judah have done [evil in my sight/what I consider evil], saith the LORD:

they have set [i.e., up] their [abominations/detestable things/disgusting idols] in the [house/temple] which [is called by my name/I have claimed for my own], to [pollute/defile] it.

Now, this could be speaking of what Judah had done before Josiah’s time and what they still are inclined to do, or this could be after Josiah’s time when idols were reintroduced to the Temple after his death. Either way, we know that the people of Judah had a proclivity – especially toward the end of their existence in the land before the exile – to put idols in the Temple of the Lord.

Jeremiah 7 Summary | Pagan Idolatry

And as if that aspect of their idolatry isn’t distasteful enough, we have probably the crowning impropriety of their pagan idolatry. Catch that – the pagan idolatry of the entity that should have been God’s holy people, his nation of priests. In Jeremiah 7:31 I think we have what most of us would be most jolted by regarding the idolatry of the people.

31 And they have built [the high places/places of worship] of Tophet, which is in the valley of [the son of/Ben] Hinnom,

And I’ll get to the shocker in just a moment, but I want to say a few things about what we just read.

According to Joshua 15:8 and Joshua 18:16, the area known as the Valley of the son ofBen in Hebrew — Hinnom was on the border right between the land granted to Judah and the land granted to Benjamin. And this valley as far as I can tell was very close to Jerusalem. It seems that the hill upon which Jerusalem was situated sloped down into this very valley.

Well, the people ended up building high places there. These were places set up by the Canaanites for their worship before Israel’s occupation of that land. God commanded Israel to destroy these places when they entered the land back in Joshua’s time. Unfortunately, they did not destroy those places, but rather used them sometimes to worship the Lord, especially earlier on in Israel’s history in the land. But the former pagan practices associated with those places often became part of the worship of the true God. And for this reason, God was not pleased that they didn’t break these things down.

But here in Jeremiah 7:31 we’re told by God that the people had actually built such high places. It’s as if the people didn’t inherit these ones. They built them themselves. Or if they didn’t build them brand new, then they took what existed already and built them up.

Now, two wicked kings – not simply the people, but kings themselves – who reigned before Josiah are recorded in Scripture as having practiced idolatry in the valley of Ben Hinnom – maybe even on these very high places.

2 Chronicles 28:3 tells us that Ahaz practiced idolatry here. Then his grandson Manasseh – who was the father of Josiah, by the way – in 2 Chronicles 33:6 is recorded as doing that same thing. [Ahaz > Hezekiah > Manasseh > Josiah].

And in this place, these kings and the people practiced idolatry. And part of that idolatry was what is referred to as “passing their sons through the fire” as we have it here in Jeremiah 7:31.

[to/so that they can] [burn/sacrifice] their sons and their daughters [in the/by] fire;

Now, there’s a slight possibility that that practice wasn’t as awful as it sounds. But most likely what that involved was burning their children to death to please their deities.

Well, how did God feel about that? End of Jeremiah 7:31.

[which/that is something] I commanded them [not/never!],

neither [ever] came it into my [heart/mind].

Jeremiah 7 Summary | Threats

And because of this horrendous wickedness on the part of the people to both commit idolatry against the Lord and even the murder of their own children, the Lord once again threatens the people with certain destruction in Jeremiah 7:32-8:3. And by means of this destruction he will finally be done with having to endure the wickedness of this place called Tophet in this valley of Ben Hinnom.

32 [Therefore, behold/So, watch out!], the [days/time will soon] come, saith the LORD,

that it shall no more be called Tophet,

nor the valley of the son of Hinnom,

but the valley of slaughter:

Well, why is it going to be called the Valley of Slaughter? End of Jeremiah 7:32 and into Jeremiah 7:33.

for they shall bury in Tophet, till [there be no place/they will run out of room].

33 And the [carcases/dead bodies] of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall [i.e., will be left to] [fray/frighten] them away.

When God sends Babylon to judge his sinful people for their rebellion, there will be a lot of dead people. And the result would be a lack of places to bury them. So, the people would need to use their unclean idolatrous worship center to bury the unclean corpses. It’s fitting.

And in fact, there would be even more corpses than could be buried in the Valley of Slaughter (a.k.a. Ben Hinnom). And that’s why the birds and animals are prophesied to be eating the remaining bodies.

And that slaughter will be so extensive and overwhelming that there won’t even be enough people around who could scare those animals away from the bodies. So many will die that the dead won’t have anyone to bury them.

Jeremiah 7 Summary | Invasion Pictured

And you know that if that’s the case, then the picture in Jeremiah 7:34 of life in Judah after this invasion is no exaggeration.

34 Then will I cause to cease
from the cities of Judah, and
from the streets of Jerusalem,

the [voice/sound] of [mirth/joy], and
the voice of gladness,
the voice of the bridegroom, and
the voice of the bride:

for the land shall [be/become] [desolate/a ruin/a desolate wasteland].

Now, the wording of this verse might sound very familiar to you. If so, that’s because a similar statement is made several other times in Scripture. So, I’d like to reference a few verses that sound very similar to this one.

Jeremiah 16:9 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will cause to cease out of this place in your eyes, and in your days, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride.

Jeremiah 25:10 Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle.

I won’t read it, but Jeremiah 33:10-11 use similar words as well, but actually in that chapter God is promising a time when these things will be reversed. In other words, God is saying there that he will restore the people to their land, and then they’ll hear these sounds of the bride and of mirth and such.

But the reference that we all might be more familiar with is Revelation 18:21-23.

Revelation 18:21-23 ¶ And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. 22 And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; 23 And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.

So, God here in Jeremiah 7:34 is using the language of utter destruction. And again, all of this because of Judah’s unrepentant sinning. And also, all of this by means of an invading army that will later be revealed as Babylon.

Jeremiah 6 Summary

Jeremiah 6

In this Jeremiah 6 summary we’ll study the entirety of Jeremiah 6:1-30.

And that means that we’re finishing up the section in Jeremiah that started back in Jeremiah 3:6 and ends with Jeremiah 6:30.

In our first post in this section we saw God comparing the sins of both Israel and Judah. He concluded that Israel was less guilty and then proceeded to call them to return to him.

And that was a glorious message because we saw God’s merciful heart toward his rebellious people. But then the next two sub-sections have dealt mostly with the punishment that God would have to bring on Judah for their lack of repentance.

And we saw that this change from God’s displaying his mercy toward his repentant people … to … God displaying his wrath against sin caused Jeremiah to accuse God of deceiving the people.

But God ignored Jeremiah’s protest and just continued to give him a message of judgement for his unrepentant people.

And it’s the same message that we have today in this post. We end this major section with more warnings of impending doom for failing to repent of sin.

The Lord starts Jeremiah 6:1 by giving a message to the tribe from which Jeremiah descended – the tribe of Benjamin.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | One Tribe & Three Cities

In that verse, we have one tribe and three cities mentioned.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | The Tribe

The tribe is Benjamin. It was one of the two tribes left to David’s sons in the southern kingdom of Judah after the split with the northern ten tribes after Solomon’s death.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | The Cities

The cities are Jerusalem, Tekoa, and Beth-Hakkarem.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | Jerusalem

Jerusalem was of course the capital city of Judah.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | Tekoa

Tekoa was also a city in Judah and the significance of God naming that city here is perhaps because the name Tekoa sounds like the Hebrew word translated as blow (takang). In this city (Tekoa) they were to blow (takang) the trumpet – which is probably a reference to signaling to everyone that they should retreat from the coming enemy.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | Beth-Hakkerem

And lastly, Beth-Hakkerem was also a city in Judah whose name meant something like “House (Beth) of the (Ha) Vineyard (Kerem)”. Beth = house. Ha = the. And Kerem = vineyard.

And I think it’s significant that the Lord in Jeremiah 5 was speaking of the enemy coming to the walls of Judah and pulling off branches or vines. Vines are found in a vineyard, of course. This city is the House of the Vineyard. Do you see the significance of the Lord mentioning it here?

And in this city the sons of Benjamin were to light a signal fire. This action probably refers to indicating to all of Judah that they were to flee from their territory – just like the trumpet being blown in Tekoa was to indicate.

So, the people of Benjamin were commanded to flee from these three cities and alert everyone else to the fact that they all needed to flee.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | But Warriors Don’t Flee!

But hardy warriors don’t flee!

Exactly. But these people were no longer hardy warriors.

According to Jeremiah 6:2, the strong men of Benjamin were more like defenseless daughters. And when your best and hardiest warriors are like defenseless daughters who themselves need to be defended, you’re in trouble!

Jeremiah 6 Summary | Why the Need to Flee?

And the reason that the men of Benjamin are advised to flee like defenseless daughters is found in Jeremiah 6:3.

Now, this doesn’t sound very bad. Shepherds, flocks, tents, feeding – those concepts don’t elicit much fear – taken at face value.

But something clues us in to the fact that God isn’t speaking of literal shepherds and their peaceful activities. These shepherds are said to pitch their tents against her round about. That’s a strange way of describing the activity of shepherds. It sounds more like the aggressive action that a king would perform with his army against a city they were besieging.

Add to this that the term shepherd can be used to refer to rulers, poetically. And I think the picture that emerges is one of military leaders besieging the nation of Judah. And that reality is poetically portrayed as shepherds pitching tents and feeding flocks.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | The Plan of Attack

Now, it’s as if we go from a bird’s eye view of those shepherds or military commanders in Jeremiah 6:3 to now zooming in and looking over their shoulders as it were to hear their actual conversation in Jeremiah 6:4.

So, the Babylonian commanders are telling their troops to prepare to attack Judah. They plan the attack for about noon.

Then we have some group of people reacting negatively to this attack in the rest of Jeremiah 6:4. In other words, they lament that it’s getting late.

Now, I originally thought this was Judah speaking in Jeremiah 6:4. I thought they were lamenting the coming enemy.

But now I think it’s much more likely that what’s recorded in Jeremiah 6:4 is the speech of the enemy itself. We saw that they’re pictured as intending to attack at noon. But alaswoe unto us, they say – we haven’t been able to get there on time!

Well, that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that the enemy isn’t able to get to Judah in their own timing. Because, as strange as it sounds, God is with the enemy in order to punish his unrepentant nation. So, they’re easily able to change their plans in Jeremiah 6:5.

So, OK, if noon didn’t work, let’s just attack at night! That’s the idea.

The enemy will have a great deal of flexibility and liberty. And that’s because God is with them and has commanded them to attack his rebellious nation. He says that in Jeremiah 6:6.

Again, in other words, the Lord is commanding the enemy to come and be his means of punishing his sinful people.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | Why God is Sending the Enemy

And as we’ve seen several times already in the book of Jeremiah, the Lord doesn’t leave it a mystery as to why he’s sending judgement on his people. He’s needing to deal with their sin.

And it’s that sin and the way it’s provoked the Lord to send this punishing nation to Judah that God highlights in the rest of Jeremiah 6:6-7.

So, the Lord is still focusing on the sins that Judah is committing against her fellow men. He highlights oppression which is a sin against men, rather than directly against God. Oppression (or extortion as it’s sometimes translated even in the King James Version) is abuse of one’s fellow man, usually involving force or fraud.

So, God is communicating that he’s concerned not just for Judah’s sin against himself only, but he’s also grieved over men abusing their fellow-man.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | Sin Like a Fountain

With that in mind, the Lord portrays the people’s sin poetically in Jeremiah 6:7.

This makes me think about the artesian spring that’s a few miles southeast of our church’s building. That fountain has been casting out her waters since 1895 when it was hand-dug. You can’t stop it. It’s effusive. It gushes. It’s non-stop, 24-7.

And that’s a wonderful thing. But what isn’t wonderful is when a man’s sin is like that – effusive, gushing, non-stop. That’s how God portrays Judah’s sin and the sin he’s discovered in Jerusalem. It doesn’t end. It’s non-stop.

And the Lord end Jeremiah 6:7 by continuing to highlight the non-stop nature of Judah’s sin.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | Repent While There’s Time!

Now, the Lord has been speaking of the coming enemy as a certain reality. But Jeremiah 6:8 seems to make it clear that there was still time to repent. That option was still available to Judah at this point under Josiah’s reign.

So, God is warning Judah of impending doom if they don’t repent. That’s why he’s sending them these dire and sober warnings through Jeremiah.

And the warnings continue in Jeremiah 6:9.

Because the enemy will come and thoroughly glean the remnant like a grape vine, leaving hardly anything, God gives a command to Jeremiah in the rest of Jeremiah 6:9.

I think what God is telling Jeremiah in Jeremiah 6:9 is that in light of the enemy’s eventual coming because of the sins of Judah, Jeremiah must snatch them before the enemy does. But Jeremiah’s snatching of people will be for their reclamation, rather than their destruction.

So, that’s God’s word to Jeremiah – go and try your best at reclaiming these people who are destined for destruction because of their sin and lack of repentance.

Well, Jeremiah apparently ponders that command. And then in Jeremiah 6:10-11 he responds with several concerns he has. And most of those concerns relate to the people being unwilling to hear God’s word and turn from their sin.

In other words, God is giving the people a chance to repent (Jeremiah 6:8). He then tells Jeremiah to try his best to bring them back to the truth (Jeremiah 6:9). But Jeremiah is pretty sure it won’t work – and not because there’s something wrong with the Lord or with his commands, but because there’s something wrong with the people.

So, Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 6:10 that there isn’t anyone who will listen to him. God told Jeremiah to try to glean some of these people like grapes – to win some of them to the way of truth before the enemy comes and gleans them to their destruction. But Jeremiah feels like he’ll have a hard time getting anyone to even pay attention to him!

Now, if the text here gave me any reason to think that Jeremiah was being disobedient I would quickly think that way. Because I’m hearing God give a command and I almost sense some pull-back on Jeremiah’s part as if he’s not really willing to do what God told him to do. But the text doesn’t give me a reason to think that Jeremiah was disobeying or dragging his heels. And in fact, throughout this book we see Jeremiah going where God commands and saying what God tells him to say. So, I don’t think that Jeremiah is being disobedient here.

The fact is, Jeremiah wanted the people to hear God’s word. He wanted the people to delight in it. But instead, he knew that the people took offense at God’s word and didn’t enjoy it at all.

And because that was the people’s reaction, Jeremiah is angry  and expresses that emotion in Jeremiah 6:11.

Jeremiah can’t stand the people’s hardhearted reaction to God’s word. He is full of God’s wrath. He can’t hold it in anymore.

And so God breaks in and responds to the sentiments that Jeremiah just expressed at the end of Jeremiah 6:11.

Now, in the King James Version, the first three English words of this sentence are a translation of a Hebrew infinitive. It ends up being translated into English as, I will pour.

The question is whether that Hebrew word is really an infinitive or if it’s an imperative. The Hebrew text (BHS) and grammar (Holladay) I consulted said it was an imperative. If it is an imperative, then the three English words become one English word – Pour.

Whether it’s to be translated as I will pour or simply Pour, it does seem most appropriate to me to attribute these words to the Lord rather than to Jeremiah.

So, the Lord is joining in with Jeremiah in his anger and frustration over the hardness of his people.

The Lord says here that if the people continue in their hardhearted ways, the consequences of their sin will affect everyone. Here in Jeremiah 6:11 God’s anger will need to be poured out on children and young men – the youth. It will come to both husband and wife—perhaps those who are middle-aged. And just as it will fall upon those two age groups it will also fall upon old men.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | A Total Reversal

And when that happens – when God’s wrath is poured out upon his people – there will be a total reversal of things for Judah.

Remember back to the book of Joshua. Israel entered into the land of Canaan. The Canaanites’ houses and fields were turned over to Israel.

But that turn of events will be completely turned on Judah as the enemy comes and drives them out of the land (Jeremiah 6:12).

And once again the Lord sees fit to explain the reasons for his punishing his people in Jeremiah 6:13.

Everyone was greedy. Everyone.

And that included even the religious leaders of the day (Jeremiah 6:13).

The religious leaders were dealing falsely. They were lying. The content of their lie is exposed in Jeremiah 6:14.

One of the most dangerous things for God’s people is when their religious leaders lie to them. If God has given those leaders a message of warning and danger, then the worst thing those leaders can do is to pretend as if just the opposite is the reality. And that’s just what Judah’s religious leaders were doing. They were in essence putting a tiny bandage over a third-degree burn.

And as shocking as this all seems to us, Jeremiah 6:15 reveals that Judah and her religious leaders didn’t think it was a big deal.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | God Begs the People to Repent

Next, in Jeremiah 6:16-17 we see God extending himself and practically begging his people to turn from their sin. Their response is blunt refusal.

This sounds like a good idea. Yes, find those tried-and-true ways. Walk in well-established paths. Follow the Lord down his way for you. And the wonderful promise is rest. Who wouldn’t want that?

Well, in a word, Judah (end of Jeremiah 6:16). Their response is so matter-of-fact. Just a blunt refusal of God’s begging them to turn from sin. It was for their own good. But they didn’t want it.

But God kept doing good to those people as recorded in Jeremiah 6:17. These watchmen are likely prophets who sounded the trumpet of warning to God’s people. Warning them to turn from sin and its consequences. Listen, he begged!

But what does God get? Another blunt refusal.

So, God declares disaster upon his people in Jeremiah 6:18-19. So, here again we have the threat of the coming enemy for the people’s lack of repentance.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | Disobedience But Sacrifice?

And yet at the very same time – and this is amazing, but it’s so true to fallen human nature – the people – the rebellious people of God who want nothing to do with actually following and obeying God – they will still offer worthless sacrifices to him in Jeremiah 6:20.

And God tells them the obvious – he doesn’t want the sacrifices. He doesn’t want the animals and the expensive incense and whatever else. He wants your heart!

The people were apparently being extravagant in their offerings, even! Sheba is somewhere in Africa, maybe around Ethiopia. They were bringing these rare and expensive elements from far-distant lands to sacrifice – supposedly – to the Lord.

Now, isn’t that just about the greatest disconnect you can imagine? Spending all sorts of money and time acquiring things to give to God – when the most important thing to him is your heart, your will, your affections – and you’re not willing to give that to him?

And God tells us how he thinks about that in the last part of Jeremiah 6:20.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | The Coming Nation

And once more, God brings the discussion back to the reality of the coming destroying nation in Jeremiah 6:21-23.

But, what is the identity of the stumbling blocks? The Lord reveals that in Jeremiah 6:22.

So, again, big frightening army … against … a weak helpless fearful defenseless daughter. That’s the picture God is trying to get across to his sinful people in hopes that they’ll repent.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | The Daughter Speaks

And this helpless daughter that is Judah is represented as speaking in Jeremiah 6:24-25. And she’s afraid. That’s how the people should have responded. And perhaps they did. But they certainly didn’t repent.

Now, let me point out a phrase in Jeremiah 6:25. It’s fear on every side in English. In the Hebrew it’s Magor Misabib. This Hebrew phrase is transliterated in Jeremiah 20:3 where Jeremiah assigns a new name to a false prophet. That name is Magor-Misabib. You can see it there in your English version. In addition to what we’ve just considered – Jeremiah 20:3 and here in 6:25 – this Hebrew phrase appears in Jeremiah 20:10, Jeremiah 46:5, and Jeremiah 49:29. It also occurs once in Lamentations 2:22. And once it’s used in Psalm 31:14.

In Jeremiah though, it’s a reality that just hangs over Judah’s head for as long as Jeremiah ministers to them. They’re under this dark cloud of impending doom for their sins and lack of repentance. And this Hebrew phrase Magor Misabib is just about the best summary of what Judah faces for their abuse of their God.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | How to Avoid Terror on Every Side

But again, they could have repented and avoided the unpleasant reality of facing terror on every side! That’s what Jeremiah urges on them one more time in Jeremiah 6:26.

Jeremiah is pleading with his own people as God’s ambassador. Evil and destruction is coming. So turn, please! For your own sake!

Then the Lord turns to speak with Jeremiah in Jeremiah 6:27. Jeremiah is to know and try the way of the people from his position of strength as a tower and fortress.

And God lets him in on what he will discover about his own countrymen in Jeremiah 6:28.

And then to end Jeremiah 6, God compares the people to metal in Jeremiah 6:28-30. Judah is all as hard as brass and iron, but unfortunately they’re not as pure – rather, they’re corrupt.

When the Lord says that the lead is consumed that apparently refers to a practice of adding lead to the molten metal in order to remove impurities (NET Bible).

And yet, though the lead is consumed, the metal (of Judah) isn’t refined at all. No impurities have been removed. So, the Lord says he needs to reject them.

Jeremiah 6 Summary | Looking Back and Ahead

So, that ends this major section that started back in Jeremiah 3:6.

Next , Lord-willing, we’ll start into the next main section where the Lord emphasizes a theme that we just saw him start to develop today in Jeremiah 6:20. Namely, Disobedience Outweighs External Religious Devotion.

Jeremiah 5 Summary

In Jeremiah 5:1-2 God declares that there isn’t a single man whose righteous life would move him to turn away his wrath against Judah.

So, Jeremiah takes God up on this challenge. And what he discovers in Jeremiah 5:3-5 is that all Judah – from the greatest to the least of them – refuse to repent.

The Poor and Ignorant Refuse to Repent

In Jeremiah 5:3, Jeremiah agrees with the Lord that the people of Judah have generally refused to repent. Then in Jeremiah 5:4-5 Jeremiah reaches the conclusion that the poor and foolish don’t know the Lord. That’s why they refuse to repent.

But maybe – just maybe! – the well-to-do – the great people of the land – know the Lord and are willing to repent!

The Great People Refuse to Repent

But the rest of Jeremiah 5:5 has Jeremiah relating to the reader that there is none that do good. No, not one. There is none who seek God. They have all gone astray. From the least to the greatest. Economic and social standing have nothing to do with whether one is godly or not – whether one is repentant toward the Lord or not.

The Enemy Is Terrifying Like a Wild Animal

And we end this section with God saying that because of the wholesale lack of repentance on the part of Judah that he will need to send the enemy to punish them. And he compares the enemy in Jeremiah 5:6 to wild animals and the fear that they incite.

So, that ends our study of Jeremiah 4:3 – 5:6. Refusal to Repent Necessitates God’s Punishment.

In Jeremiah 5:7-9 God declares that Judah’s spiritual and sexual immorality call for his punishment.

The Lord gives with a rhetorical question that’s intended to justify his threatening of punishment for Judah in Jeremiah 5:7.

Judah’s Immorality

Why — you ask — is God not willing to pardon Judah? Because that nation was committing both spiritual and sexual immorality (Jeremiah 5:7).

Spiritual Immorality

First, the spiritual immorality or idolatry that called for punishment (Jeremiah 5:7).

Sexual Immorality

Now God addresses the sexual immorality that Judah was practicing which called for punishment (Jeremiah 5:7-8).

Sins Against Men

And this is the start of the Lord focusing not only on the sin that Judah was committing against him but also of the sin that they were committing against other men. Until now it seems that God was focusing on the first tablet of the 10 Commandments, so to speak – the “Love God” part. But especially in this sub-section that we’re studying today the Lord starts to bring into focus the second tablet of the Law – the part about “Loving One’s Neighbor”.

Hebrew Word Play

Now, also worthy of noting, in what we just read, I think there’s a word play in the Hebrew. The people swore (shabang) by false gods. But it was the Lord, the true God, who fed them to the full (sabang). The people should have been swearing by (shabang) the one who was feeding them to the full (sabang)… But alas, they didn’t.

And God ends this three-verse section with a rhetorical question intended to justify his punishment of Judah (Jeremiah 5:9).

What’s the answer to that question? Yes, the Lord is justified in punishing Judah for their spiritual and sexual immorality.

Now, having reached that conclusion, the Lord in Jeremiah 5:10 actually addresses his means of punishing his immoral people – this coming enemy that we’ve heard about previously…

In Jeremiah 5:10 the enemy is commanded to go up upon the walls of Judah.

Since this word walls is used only once in the Old Testament it’s difficult to know what that’s referring to. So, that’s where in Hebrew poetry — which this is — you can look at the parallel statement and try to gain some insight.

What is a Battlement?

In this case the parallel statement reads battlements in the King James Version (KJV). But that word battlements is used three times in the Old Testament.

In the KJV, that word is used…

  • Once as plant
  • Once as branches
  • Once (here!) as battlements

As the saying goes, one of these things is not like the other. And that one thing is battlements, which it’s translated as here.

So, I’d say this word translated battlements has something to do with plants or branches or horticulture.

What are Walls?

So, branches or something to do with horticulture is what’s in view here in this parallel statement. And in light of that, walls back in the beginning of Jeremiah 5:10 is probably speaking of walls of some horticultural product – or even walls upon which horticultural activities would take place.

For this reason, some translations say vine rows or vineyards – walls, yes – but not in the sense of concrete or brick or stone. No, in this context it’s probably speaking of walls of grape vines or something like that.

Pulling Out Vine Branches

So, then the reality behind the poetic expressions is that God is commanding the enemy to destroy Judah. And poetically, God is picturing the destruction like someone coming along and pulling out branches from rows of grape vines.

Limited Destruction

But notice that this taking of branches – this destruction – is again not a complete one. God will not allow the enemy to completely destroy his people.

And this decision of whether or not to completely destroy his own people is totally in God’s hands. It reminds me of God’s words to Satan in the book of Job. In the case of Job, God wasn’t displeased at all with Job like he is here with Judah. But when it comes to God’s ability to limit the chastening of his people – whether that comes in the form of Babylon in Jeremiah or even Satan himself in Job – God is in full control.

Why All the Destruction?

And the last thing I want to point out in this verse is the reason for the destruction. Why does God issue a command to the enemy here to destroy the branches that represent Judah – his very people?

Well, precisely because they are not his people! They are not the Lord’s. Those branches are not his, he says. So, pull ’em out!

As the apostle Paul would state later in the timeline of history, all Israel is not Israel.

This was one problem with the Old Covenant given under Moses. Most of the people who were in that covenant with God still needed to actually know God. They didn’t automatically.

And that’s one of the blessings of the New Covenant. Every single person who has entered the New Covenant automatically knows God.

Next Up: Denying God’s Truth

But as it was, so many in Judah were not true Jews. And they demonstrated that fact by engaging in activity like we see in Jeremiah 5:11-13 where the people are portrayed as outright denying the truthfulness of the kinds of threats that God has been issuing them.

In Jeremiah 5:11-13 the people of Judah deny the truthfulness of God’s threats.

Treachery Against the Lord

This behavior has been an ongoing thing (Jeremiah 5:11). Judah now – and Israel before they were exiled – all were treacherous toward the Lord.

What that Treachery Looked Like

And we’re told what that treachery looked like in Jeremiah 5:12.

The people denied the truthfulness of God’s warnings – warnings of sword, famine, and general evil or destruction.

Who Encouraged Judah’s Treachery?

How bold of Judah! How ignorant! Why were the people so confident that the threats that God was making wouldn’t happen?!

The answer is in Jeremiah 5:13 where we’re told about a particular group that was encouraging this denial of God’s threats.

Next: God Vindicated

Throughout the book of Jeremiah we see that the people mostly ignored and disbelieved God’s threats. But in the end, we know who was vindicated. The Lord’s threats came to pass.

And that’s what the Lord says basically in Jeremiah 5:14-18. Though the people don’t believe God’s words, those words will still come to pass.

Despite Judah’s denying God’s warnings to them, in Jeremiah 5:14-18 God declares that his threats which he was giving through Jeremiah will surely come to pass.

Jeremiah 5:14 contains a metaphor that I think we’ll benefit from studying.

Fire + Wood = Burning

God says that Jeremiah’s words will be like fire that burns up the people to whom he will speak who are pictured as wood.

This portrayal of both Jeremiah’s words and the people is poetic or metaphoric.

Jeremiah never literally breathed out fire. The people were flesh and bone – they were not literally wood. Jeremiah’s words never literally burned the people alive and consumed them.

The concrete images of fire and wood are supposed to heighten the reality of the threat that is posed by the Lord to his unrepentant people.

The people were to picture Jeremiah’s speaking these threats to them. But instead of words that you can’t see or feel, God wants his people to picture blazing hot, painful, dangerous fire proceeding from Jeremiah’s mouth hurtling in the direction of his wicked people.

And he wants the people to picture themselves – not as flesh and bone – but as dry wood just ready to ignite with the faintest hint of heat.

And God wants the people to picture that fire meeting with that dry wood and he wants them to picture an ignition that will completely burn them to death.

And if they understand the meaning behind the metaphor then they will realize that the threats that Jeremiah is speaking from the Lord are not idle. God’s words will surely come to pass.

The Coming Enemy

And the content of those threats which are veiled in metaphor is that the people need to repent or face a literal enemy that will come and destroy them.

Now, it’s the reality of the coming of that very enemy nation that we just spoke of that God comes back to in Jeremiah 5:15-17. The people don’t believe it’s going to happen. God says it will surely happen! They’re coming!

And God hasn’t yet told the people the identity of this nation. We know it’s Babylon and so that removes a little of the suspense that Judah surely would have felt if they even so much as listened to God’s warnings. But they don’t know who it is. And here in Jeremiah 5:15 God is describing this unknown nation.

Here’s how I think the people should have responded, whether they did or not…

This enemy is far away! Gasp! Who could that be?!

The coming enemy is strong and ancient! Oh no! Who is it?!

This nation speaks in a foreign language. You won’t be able to figure out what they’re saying.

And they’re strong and deadly – Jeremiah 5:16.

And this nation is insatiable and they will take or destroy everything you have – Jeremiah 5:17.

So, this is a terrifying description of what’s to come for Judah if they don’t repent. This mysterious coming enemy is strong, deadly, insatiable, and ultimately unidentified. And the indented result of all of these descriptions of this enemy is meant to scare Judah out of their hardheartedness so that they would turn to God and he could relent concerning his planned punishment.

God Will Not Completely Destroy Judah

Now, in light of those momentous and severe threats, you would think that when the enemy does eventually come, Judah will be completely destroyed. But again in Jeremiah 5:18 we have God issuing a totally gratuitous promise to his rebellious people. God himself will see to it that this enemy nation will not fully destroy Judah.

Next: Answering Contentious Questions

Now, amazingly despite the Lord’s mercy that we just saw in Jeremiah 5:18 and his dire warnings before that, the Lord reveals to Jeremiah that the people of Judah will still contend with the Lord! What they should be doing is repenting! And yet, they would rather contend with the Lord.

And so the Lord tells Jeremiah in Jeremiah 5:19 how to answer the people’s contentious questions about why the Lord is threatening his people. They’re not going to be asking these questions to gain information. They will be asking to both 1) impugn God’s righteous character and 2) to try to exonerate their own corrupt character.

In Jeremiah 5:19, God tells Jeremiah how to answer the people’s contentious questions concerning God’s promised punishment for their refusal to repent of their sins.

The Justice of God’s Judgement

Do you see the justice behind God’s reasoning? He responds to the people’s abuse of him in kind.

You invited strangers into your land and you served them when you should have been serving me!

Now I’m going to let you go so that you can keep serving those foreign or strange gods. But you’re also going to be serving a foreign enemy and you’re going to be forced to do so in a foreign land – not your own.

You’ve loved strange things. So you’re going to get strange things.

Politics As Unusual

Can I talk about our current political climate for a moment? I’m publishing this post in the USA on the night of “Super Tuesday” where it looks like Donald Trump is going to win most of the GOP states’ primaries and go on to be the nominee of the Republican Party for the presidential election this year. That’s just to give a little background to what I’m about to say.

Our nation as a whole loves violence and protests and general disorder. We as a people hate authority. We buck it at every turn. We love our own way. And we violently oppose any restrictions to whatever we feel like we want to do.

So are we surprised when that’s the way in which our public officials conduct themselves? As bullies and name-callers? As uncivil as you can get? Without decency?

We’re getting what we as a people want. And I think a number of people are discovering that this is really not what they want.

Next: Judah Doesn’t Fear God

OK, back to the Bible.

Now, God gets to the root of Judah’s problem in Jeremiah 5:20-25. Namely, they don’t fear the Lord.

In Jeremiah 5:20-25, the Lord reveals Judah’s true problem. The people don’t fear the Lord.

Here’s another way to state Jeremiah 5:21. Hear this, you who don’t hear! They don’t – or won’t – hear, but they must!

Now, the main question that God knows the people desperately need to hear and answer and face is posed in Jeremiah 5:22. Do they fear God? They should. But they don’t.

Fear the One Who Controls the Sea

Then God gives just one impressive reason to fear him in the rest of Jeremiah 5:22. God controls the sea and even the sea level. It doesn’t move without his permission. He determined how far it would go and where it stops.

And the lesson to learn from that fact is – Should we not fear and reverence and hold in awe this kind of powerful God?

And yet that’s not the only point God is making here – that we should fear him because he’s so mighty and sovereign. Yes, he does have all authority. And like the message of the book of Jeremiah teaches, we must submit to God’s authority and live.

God Controls His People, Too

But, here’s the other point that God’s making in Jeremiah 5:22. God can control something as uncontrollable as the sea with its roaring and raging. But did you know that there is an aspect of his creation that is even more difficult to control – and yet will and must be controlled?

That uncontrollable aspect is known as God’s people – Judah here (Jeremiah 5:23)! The sea obeys God but his own people didn’t.

Fear the One Who Feeds You

God continues to highlight Judah’s lack of reverence for himself in Jeremiah 5:24. Why should they fear the Lord according to this verse?  Here’s one more reason besides his control of even the most uncontrollable parts of creation. Because he gives you food.

You don’t eat if God doesn’t want you to. God could not send another drop of rain anywhere on the earth and all of his creation would completely perish in a very short time and they couldn’t do a thing to stop it.

Now, thankfully God doesn’t do that. But he could. So fear him! Reverence him! He is both mighty and gracious. He is sovereign and good. He is severe and kind. Fear him!

Why God Sometimes Withholds Good Things

But his people apparently hadn’t been receiving these good gifts like they once did and like the Lord wanted to give it to them. They apparently hadn’t been getting the rain that they needed or the harvest that they so desperately needed. Why? Jeremiah 5:25. Judah’s iniquity and sin caused God to withhold good things from them.

Next: The Identity of the Sin

But what iniquities? What sins?

Sin against God usually doesn’t stop with sin against God. When a person’s heart is set against the Lord, his heart will usually be set against those made in the Lord’s image.

All of the Old Testament Law and Prophets is this one message – Love God, Love men. The two tablets of the 10 Commandments were – Love God, Love Men. And when the Love God dimension is ignored, the Love Men aspect of God’s commands will also typically be jettisoned.

And that’s what we see evidence of in Jeremiah 5:26-29. Highlighted in these verses is the people’s sin against one another. And it’s these sins – as well as those against the Lord – that are contributing to God’s withholding good things (rain, harvest, etc.) from Judah.

Jeremiah 5:26-28 expose the people of Judah for sinning against one another. Again, this is one reason why God had to withhold good things from them.

What Else Can God Do?

And because this is how the people were behaving toward those who are the neediest and weakest in their society – with deception and fraud and injustice, God again asks what else he should be expected to do to these people besides what he writes in Jeremiah 5:29.

It’s as if God is telling the story of all of the evil that his people are engaged in. And then he turns to us and as it were opens it up for the audience. What do you guys think about this? I mean, have you seen what my people are doing? Surely there’s not a person listening to this who thinks this is right and doesn’t deserve punishment! We’d all agree that yes punishment is called for.

Next Up: Where Were the Leaders?

Well, the question that needs to be posed is where are the religious leaders of Judah for such a time as this? Surely, where God’s professing people are wild and rebellious, it’s the job, duty, and responsibility of the religious leaders to confront their sin. The people surely have their own will and they might not listen, but God calls the leaders of his people to be his spokesmen and to tell the people what the Lord wants and requires of them.

So, then it comes as no surprise concerning what God expresses in Jeremiah 5:30-31 to end Jeremiah 5. God is appalled at the fact that the leaders who were to guide and inform his people’s religious experience were lying and deceiving.

Jeremiah 5:30-31 reveals why the situation in Judah during Jeremiah’s time was so bleak. The people were following their religious leaders – but these leaders were ungodly and false.

Jeremiah 5:30 gets us ready for some horrible news. What is it?

Lying Religious Leaders

Jeremiah 5:31 says that the prophets and priests were doing their own thing. They weren’t guiding God’s people as they should have. They were doing wrong and God is calling them on it.

The People Love It!

But how do the people feel about what their religious leaders are doing? Jeremiah 5:31 says that the people can’t get enough of it!

They love religious leaders who hand out rules based on their own authority. I mean, it’s not like they’d want God’s rules – which can be so restrictive!

And the people love to hear lies. Because it’s not like they’d want to hear God’s truth – which again can be so restrictive and humbling.

A Remarkably Modern Problem

In our day this is why the bookshelves in Walmart are filled with Joel Osteen. This is why Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland and TBN and the whole entire false prosperity gospel have a large following. This is why the Romans Catholic Church is filled with members and why every other fake false man-made religion flourishes.

People love to hear lies. They don’t want God’s truth. They don’t want the narrow restrictive way. They don’t want to say no to themselves.

The message of Christ – that we must lose our life in this world and take up our cross – is not appealing. It doesn’t tickle the ears. It doesn’t boost the ego. It’s not living our “best life now”.

Watch Yourself

And you and I will fall into that trap if we’re not careful. Let’s not be like the Pharisee who thanked God because he didn’t do certain things that were evil. We are just as susceptible to falling – apart from the Lord’s constant help. We must humbly receive the word implanted as James says. Humbly receive God’s instructions, even when those instructions are uncomfortable for you.

God’s Take on Lying Religious Leaders

Well, the people loved false prophesies and man-made rulings. But how does God feel about it?

The end of Jeremiah 5:31 says that there’s judgement coming. There’s an end in sight.

For Jeremiah and his people, the judgement was coming in the form of Babylon. That nation was going to come and decimate the population and leave the land of Judah desolate. And that nation was coming because God needed to deal with his unrepentant people.

We too know that judgement is coming. It’s appointed for a man to die once and after that is the judgement. Let the fact that judgement is coming cleanse you of a desire for your own way. What good does listening to false religious proclamations do for you when the show is over and you stand before the Lord? You and I need God’s proclamations. We need to know and do God’s will in our lives. We need to trust Jesus to save us from that coming judgement for our sins. And we need to tell others about the way of escape from eternal punishment.

God help us! May he help us to – as the message of the book of Jeremiah states – Submit to God’s Authority and Live.