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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,
2 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; 6 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: 7 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 of — Ben 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.