Explaining the Book

Bible Study Guide

Jeremiah

Jeremiah 11 Summary

We hope you enjoy this free digital Jeremiah 11 summary. Now, when we open to this chapter we enter into a brand new section in Jeremiah, so I won’t go into any background. Instead we’ll dive right into the text.

There are two words that I think pretty-well describe this two-chapter section of Jeremiah 11-12. They are Covenant and Conspiracy.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | Covenant

The Lord begins Jeremiah 11 speaking of the covenant he made with Israel in Jeremiah 11:1-5.

KJV Jeremiah 11:1 ¶ The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,

2 Hear ye the [words/terms] of this [i.e., Mosaic] covenant,

and speak unto the men of Judah,

and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem;

3 And say thou unto them,

Thus saith the LORD God of Israel;

Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant,

4 Which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron [i.e., -smelting] furnace, saying,

Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you: so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God:

5 [i.e., In order…] That I may perform the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it [i.e., the land] is this day.

So, the Lord starts off this section by reminding the people through Jeremiah of the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. He reminds them of the positive aspects of that covenant. He delivered them from Egypt which country is compared to a hot sweltering iron-smelting furnace. And he promised to bring them into a land flowing with milk and honey – prosperous and pleasant. What’s more, the Lord would be their God. And all they had to do was obey his voice.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | Positive Response

And such words elicit a positive response from Jeremiah at the end of Jeremiah 11:5.

Then answered I, and said, [So be it/Amen!], O LORD.

And that’s how it should have been for all the people of Israel. A positive response to the Lord’s covenant with them.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | Reminder of the Covenant

But as we’ve seen through this book so far that’s not how the people had reacted to the covenant. So God wants Jeremiah to remind them again of the stipulations he laid down concerning this covenant in Jeremiah 11:6-7.

6 ¶ Then the LORD said unto me,

Proclaim all these [i.e., following] words in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying,

Hear ye the words of this covenant, and do them.

7 For I [earnestly/solemnly] [protested unto/warned] your fathers in the day that I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, even unto this day, [rising early/again and again] and [protesting/warning], saying,

Obey my voice.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | Obedience

So this is what it comes down to. Obedience to God’s commands. It seems simple, but it proved to not be so.

8 Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart:

And this disobedience calls for some form of punishment.

Therefore I [will bring/brought] upon them all the words [i.e., of punishment] of this covenant, which I commanded them to do; but they did them not.

Now, the words of a covenant serve two functions at least. First, it sets forth the blessings for keeping it. And second, it stipulates the punishment for breaking it.

So far then we’ve seen the Lord highlight his covenant with his people. He’s brought it to back their remembrance through Jeremiah and has warned of the punishment for breaking it.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | A Conspiracy

Now, the Lord – still considering the covenant – turns to address a conspiracy on the part of the people. And this conspiracy is twofold. First, it’s a conspiracy against the Lord to break his covenant. And second, it’s a conspiracy against Jeremiah to kill him.

9 ¶ And the LORD said unto me,

A [conspiracy/plot to rebel] [is/has been] found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

10 They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, [which/who] refused to hear my words; and they [i.e. Judah] [went/have gone] after other gods to serve them:

the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | Punishment

And as we’ve already considered – this kind of covenant-breaking requires some sort of punishment.

11 Therefore thus saith the LORD,

Behold, I will bring [evil/disaster] upon them, which they shall not be able to escape;

and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.

12 Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense:

but they shall not save them at all in the time of their [trouble/disaster].

13 [For/This is in spite of the fact that] according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah;

and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to that [shameful/disgusting] thing, even altars to burn incense unto Baal.

So, the Lord will punish his covenant-breaking people. And their response will be to turn – not to the true God who’s bringing the punishments – but to the false gods who can’t help them.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | Verse 14

See our Jeremiah 11 14 Commentary article.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | God is Sad

This thought of judgement and God’s refusal to turn from it seems to make the Lord remember his relationship with his people and kind of lament what they were in the past when compared to what they now are in Jeremiah 11:15.

15 What hath my beloved [i.e., people] to do in mine [house/temple],

seeing she hath [wrought/done] [lewdness/vile deeds] with many [or the vile deeds are many],

and the holy flesh is passed from thee?

when thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest.

Can the sacrificial flesh take away from you your disaster, So that you can rejoice?”

Can your acts of treachery be so easily canceled by sacred offerings that you take joy in doing evil even while you make them?

Let me point out a few things here.

First, the last part of this verse is difficult to grasp from the Hebrew. And I think the way the KJV translates this is just as good as any alternative translation. So, I think it’s saying that since the holy or sacrificial flesh has passed away from them – maybe in the sense that the Lord isn’t accepting it of them anymore – that’s one reason they have no right to be in the Lord’s temple – his house. And then the last thought is the Lord saying that when the people do evil they rejoice.

And even though this verse is essentially a rebuke to Judah telling them that they have no right to enter into his house because of their sinfulness – notice how the Lord describes those for whom this verse applies. They’re “my beloved”.

And God’s not being facetious here. This is how he feels about the very people whom he needs to punish.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | Israel’s History

And one reason for God using this terminology “my beloved” is his history with this people as his chosen people. So, he reflects a little on their history together in Jeremiah 11:16.

16 The LORD [i.e., once] called thy name, A [green/thriving] olive tree, [fair/beautiful], and of goodly fruit:

And it’s for that reason that the reality spoken of next is so jarring. God plants this tree of his people – fruitful and beautiful. And then…

with the noise of a great [tumult/roar] he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are [broken/worthless].

Jeremiah 11 Summary | Trees

Why? People don’t usually plant a tree and then just turn around and burn it. Because…

17 For the LORD of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, [Why?]

for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done against themselves to provoke me to anger in offering incense unto Baal.

So, idolatry is the reason given here to explain God’s burning the green, thriving tree he once planted.

Now, think back a little in this message. We were introduced in Jeremiah 11:9 to the concept that the people were involved in a conspiracy. As we look back over the subsequent verses of Jeremiah 11:10-17 and consider what this conspiracy involved in regard to the Lord, we see that the people’s conspiracy toward God consisted basically of idolatry. They went after other gods. That breaks their covenant they made with the Lord.

We don’t usually think of covenants on a daily basis. But one covenant that affects all of us regularly is the covenant of marriage. In a marriage covenant, the basic idea is that each partner will be faithful to the other. Once one of the parties starts brining other people into that relationship, the covenant is broken. You’ve broken that covenant.

And in a similar way that’s what Israel was doing to God. God kept his end. He was faithful. He wasn’t bringing other peoples into their covenant relationship. But Israel was bringing all sorts of other and false gods into the picture. And that was a problem. And God here identifies it with the term, “conspiracy”.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | Plot to Kill

But it’s not the Lord alone who is the recipient of Israel’s conspiracies. Jeremiah too, as God’s messenger, is also a target of their conspiring. And while the people couldn’t literally physically harm God with their conspiracies, their plans for Jeremiah were indeed deadly.

Jeremiah starts talking about the Lord in Jeremiah 11:18.

18 [And/Moreover] the LORD hath [given me knowledge of it/made it known to me], and I know it:

So, the Lord made something known to Jeremiah. We’ll find out what it was soon. And now Jeremiah starts talking to the Lord.

then thou shewedst me their [doings/deeds].

Jeremiah 11 Summary | Suspense Mounting

What doings? What deeds? He’s going to keep the suspense going for a little while longer.

19 But [i.e., before this] I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter;

So, Jeremiah had no knowledge of what he’s about to express in the next statement.

and I knew not that they had [devised/made] [devices/plots/plans] against me, saying,

So, the people were conspiring against Jeremiah as well and here’s what they were saying of him.

Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof,

and let us cut [him/Jeremiah] off from the land of the living,

that his name may be no more remembered.

So, Jeremiah himself is pictured as a tree — just like Israel was earlier. And these men planned to enact a similar fate for him as the Lord had declared upon them.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | Prayer to God

So, the people of Israel have conspired to kill Jeremiah. And so Jeremiah turns to the Lord with this great concern of his in Jeremiah 11:20.

20 But, O LORD of hosts,

that judgest righteously, that [triest/examines] the [reins/feelings] and the heart,

let me see thy vengeance on them:

for unto thee have I [revealed/committed] my cause.

So, Jeremiah actually asks for the Lord to punish those conspirators who were threatening his life.

Jeremiah 11 Summary | God Responds

And the Lord responds in Jeremiah 11:21-23.

21 ¶ Therefore thus saith the LORD of the men of Anathoth, that seek thy life, saying,

Prophesy not in the name of the LORD, that thou die not by our hand:

22 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts,

Behold, I will punish them:

the young men shall die by the sword;

their sons and their daughters shall die by [famine/starvation]:

23 And there shall be no remnant of them [i.e., no one will survive]:

for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their [visitation/punishment].

So, get that. Men from Anathoth were trying to kill Jeremiah. Anathoth was where Jeremiah lived and grew up. This was his home town. And it was a town mostly inhabited by priests – men whose career it was to understand God’s word and teach it to the people, among other duties. And these men were conspiring to take the life of one of their very own.

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