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Jeremiah

Jeremiah 9 KJV

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So, as we saw from Jeremiah 8, Jeremiah was genuinely filled with sorrow for his people. He wasn’t callous to their plight. He grieved for them.

Jeremiah 9 KJV | Grief

9:1 Oh that my head were [i.e., a well full of] waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears,

that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!

And yet, that was just one way he reacted to God’s judgement on his sinful people. He wasn’t just sorrowful for them. Jeremiah was also filled with a sense of wanting to escape them.

Jeremiah 9 KJV | Escape!

Do you ever feel like that when you read the news and see what’s going on in this country? You just want to get out of here! Well, that’s actually something Jeremiah engaged in as well in Jeremiah 9:2.

2 Oh that I had in the [wilderness/desert] a lodging place of wayfaring men;

that I might [leave/desert] my people, and go from them!

Why would Jeremiah want to flee from his people? It seems like at this point the Lord breaks in and actually finishes Jeremiah’s thought in the rest of Jeremiah 9:2-3.

Jeremiah 9 KJV | The Lord Speaks

for they be all adulterers [i.e., spiritually and physically],

an assembly of [treacherous/disloyal] men.

3 And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies:

but they are not [valiant/prevailing] for the truth upon the earth;

for they proceed from evil to evil,

and they [know/pay attention] not me,

saith the LORD.

Now, at this point we get the second main concept of this section. We’ve seen the first. It’s “Defeat”. The people would be defeated by that so-far unnamed enemy, which we’ve been told about already.

But now we’ve just seen the second concept of Jeremiah 8:14-9:26. It’s “Deceit”. Right? – the people according to the Lord are using their tongues like deadly weapons. They use their strength to lie and not to tell truth. And they just get worse in this regard.

So, the message of this section is Defeat for Deceit.

Jeremiah 9 KJV | Deceit Denounced

And the Lord continues to denounce the people’s deceit in Jeremiah 9:4-6. And actually, here he’s going to issue a warning to the people to not trust one another because of that very issue – their deceit and lies.

4 [Take ye heed/Be on guard] every one [of/against] his neighbour,

and trust ye not in any brother:

for every brother [will utterly supplant/deals craftily/will cheat] [Jacob, he will Jacob],

and every neighbour will [walk with slanders/tell lies].

5 And they will deceive every one his neighbour,

and will not speak the truth:

they have [taught/trained] their tongue to speak lies,

and weary themselves to commit iniquity.

6 Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit;

through deceit they refuse to [know/pay attention to] me,

saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 9 KJV | Melting

And because of the people’s continual deceit, what else can the Lord do besides what he says in Jeremiah 9:7-9?

7 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts,

Behold, I will [melt/refine/purify] them, and [try/assay/test] them;

for [how/what else] [shall/can] I do [for/because of] the daughter of my people?

8 Their tongue is as an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit:

one speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in heart he [layeth his wait/sets an ambush].

9 Shall I not [visit/punish] them for these things? saith the LORD:

shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? [c.f. Jer 5:9,29]

You know, earlier we saw that Jeremiah was grieved for his people’s punishment at the hands of God. And we noted that that was a good and honorable response.

Jeremiah 9 KJV | God Grieves

But you might be wondering if God would do something similar. And amazingly, he does in Jeremiah 9:10-11. God – the one who would need to punish his deceitful people – actually pictures himself as weeping and wailing and lamenting the destruction that he will need to bring on his people through the coming enemy.

10 For the mountains will I take up a weeping and wailing,

and for the habitations of the wilderness a [lamentation/dirge/mournful song],

because they are [burned up/laid waste/so scorched], so that none can pass through them;

neither can men hear the [voice/lowing] of the cattle;

both the fowl of the heavens and the beast are fled; they are gone.

11 And I will make Jerusalem heaps [i.e., of ruins],

and a [den/haunt/home] of [dragons/jackals];

and I will make the cities of Judah desolate,

without an inhabitant.

Jeremiah 9 KJV | Sarcasm

And in light of all that’s been said I feel like Jeremiah 9:12 is a little sarcastic. It’s at least a bit overdone – and I think that’s on purpose.

12 ¶ Who is the wise man, that may understand [ie why] this [ie has happened]?

and who is he to whom the mouth of the LORD hath spoken, that he may declare it,

[for what/why is] the land [perisheth/ruined]

and is [burned up/laid waste] like a [wilderness/desert], that none passeth through?

Here’s why I say Jeremiah 9:12 is a little overdone by the Lord. How much wisdom does one really need to figure out why God is judging his people? I mean, the Lord has just spent a significant amount of words laying it out very clearly. Hey, there are over 40 more chapters of this to come still! I mean, it’s pretty clear why God needs to send this foreign army to invade and destroy his people.

And so I think it’s a little – I don’t know – sarcasm? overstatement? – that God calls for a wise man. A man who can really figure things out. He – and surely anyone who did so much as listen to this prophecy – would surely be able to tell us why God is needing to punish his people!

Jeremiah 9 KJV | Spelling it Out

And in case they couldn’t find a wise man – or, again, anyone who just opened his ears and listened – who could discern why the Lord was needing to punish his people, the Lord just spells it out one more time in Jeremiah 9:13-14.

13 And the LORD saith,

Because they have [forsaken/rejected] my law which I set before them,

and have not obeyed my voice,

neither walked therein;

14 But have walked after the [imagination/stubbornness] of their own heart,

and after Baalim, which their fathers taught them:

That’s why God needed to punish his people. Disobedience and idolatry in addition to the deception we heard about a few verses ago.

Jeremiah 9 KJV | Exile

Now, we’ve heard that there will be defeat for the people’s deceit. And that defeat includes a foreign army coming and destroying them. But even worse, that defeat includes exile, according to Jeremiah 9:15-16.

15 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel;

Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with [wormwood/bitter food of suffering],

and give them [water of gall/poisoned water of judgment] to drink.

And what does this metaphorical bitter wormwood and poisonous water of gall look like? Exile.

16 I will scatter them also among the [heathen/nations] [goyim],

whom neither they nor their fathers have known:

and I will send a sword after them,

till I have [consumed/annihilated] them.

So, God would need to send defeat and exile and further defeat to his people – BECAUSE THEY REFUSED TO REPENT.

Jeremiah 9 KJV | Mourning Women

Then the Lord calls for some mourning women and gives them some instructions in Jeremiah 9:17-22.

17 Thus saith the LORD of hosts,

Consider ye, and call for the mourning women, that they may come;

and send for [cunning/wailing/the most skilled at mourning] women, that they may come:

18 And let them make haste,

and take up a wailing for us,

that our eyes may run down with tears,

and our eyelids gush out with waters.

Why the need for the mourning women?

19 For a voice of wailing is heard out of Zion,

How are we [spoiled/ruined]!

we are greatly [confounded/shamed],

because we have [forsaken/left] the land,

because our dwellings have [ie been] cast us [out/down].

And then God instructs these mourning women.

20 [Yet/Now] hear the word of the LORD, O ye women,

and let your ear receive the word of his mouth,

and teach your daughters wailing,

and every one her neighbor [lamentation/a dirge].

21 For [ie here’s the dirge] death is [come/climbed] up into our windows,

and is entered into our palaces,

to cut off the children from without,

and the young men from the streets.

And they are to continue.

22 Speak, Thus saith the LORD,

Even the carcases of men shall fall as dung upon the open field,

and as the handful [ie of grain] after the harvestman,

and none shall gather them.

Jeremiah 9 KJV | Boasting

Now, we’ve just arrived at a two-verse section whose context you’ve probably never considered. Jeremiah 9:23-24 are probably right up there in terms of being recognizable to people. But let’s make sure we can place these verses in their context. We’ll read them first.

23 ¶ Thus saith the LORD,

Let not the wise man [glory/boast] in his wisdom,

neither let the mighty man glory in his might,

let not the rich man glory in his riches:

24 But let him that [glorieth/boasts] glory in this,

that he understandeth and knoweth me,

that I am the LORD which exercise [lovingkindness/faithfulness], [judgment/justice/fairness], and [righteousness/justice], in the earth:

for in these things I delight [ie to do and for others to do],

saith the LORD.

The person who glories or boasts has a few options. If he’s wise he can boast of that. If he’s strong he can boast of that. If he’s rich he can boast of that. But what will all of those things achieve when the society around you is collapsing and God has determined to destroy everything you know? Wisdom doesn’t help when God has determined to make what you consider to be wise foolish. Strength won’t help when it’s God who’s fighting you. Riches won’t help when a foreign army is coming to plunder you.

So, get your eyes off the passing fleeting worthless things of this world that will do you no good ultimately. But instead, boast of knowing God. Boast of his character – his lovingkindness, judgement, and righteousness. And practice those very things in which God delights.

OK? So when society is crumbling around you and marks of God’s judgment abound, don’t grab for the material. Don’t grope for worldly wisdom. Get heavenly wisdom. Don’t grasp for physical strength. Be strengthened in your inner man. Don’t clutch earthly riches. Obtain and store up riches in heaven. Know the Lord. Walk with him.

And in Judah’s case, this would have been the way to reverse God’s punishment on his people.

Jeremiah 9 KJV | Punishment Coming

But as it was, the people were focused on the external, the material, the ritual. One of those rituals that the people had focused on to the exclusion of the spiritual righteousness that God delighted in was circumcision. So, the Lord ends the 9th chapter of Jeremiah by foretelling his coming punishment of those who were circumcised externally but not inwardly in Jeremiah 9:25-26.

25 ¶ Behold, the days come, saith the LORD,

that I will punish all them which are circumcised [with the/and yet] uncircumcised [ie only in the flesh];

26 [ie That is] Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all [that are in the utmost corners/who clip the hair on their temples/who cut their hair short at the temples], that dwell in the wilderness:

for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.

So, there’s no distinction. External ritual like circumcision was no substitute for internal righteousness that works itself out into the externals. And a time was coming when all the nations that practiced the external sign of circumcision – and yet lacked the internal righteousness that God sought – would be punished. And that punishment, as we’ll continue to hear throughout this book, would come in the form of an invasion from the nation of Babylon.

Next time, Lord-willing we’ll finish this main section by considering Jeremiah 10.

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