Don’t Trust the Wrong Source

Jeremiah 17

17:1 “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron; With the point of a diamond it is engraved On the tablet of their heart, And on the horns of your altars,

2 While their children remember Their altars and their wooden images By the green trees on the high hills.

3 O My mountain in the field, I will give as plunder your wealth, all your treasures, And your high places of sin within all your borders.

4 And you, even yourself, Shall let go of your heritage which I gave you; And I will cause you to serve your enemies In the land which you do not know; For you have kindled a fire in My anger which shall burn forever.”

This passage addresses Israel’s sinful practice of idolatry, pointing out the futility of trusting in an idol instead of God.

5 Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the Lord.

6 For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited.

7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord.

8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?

10 I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.

Secondly, the Lord speaks to the uselessness of depending on man for strength and help. Men fail and the strength of men is limited. But those who trust in the Lord will be blessed beyond measure.

11 “As a partridge that broods but does not hatch, So is he who gets riches, but not by right; It will leave him in the midst of his days, And at his end he will be a fool.”

12 A glorious high throne from the beginning Is the place of our sanctuary.

13 O Lord, the hope of Israel, All who forsake You shall be ashamed. “Those who depart from Me Shall be written in the earth, Because they have forsaken the Lord, The fountain of living waters.”

Thirdly, God speaks of the unwise practice of depending on riches for security, stating revealing that they will disappear and leave their dependents foolish.

14 Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, For You are my praise.

15 Indeed they say to me, “Where is the word of the Lord? Let it come now!”

16 As for me, I have not hurried away from being a shepherd who follows You, Nor have I desired the woeful day; You know what came out of my lips; It was right there before You.

17 Do not be a terror to me; You are my hope in the day of doom.

18 Let them be ashamed who persecute me, But do not let me be put to shame; Let them be dismayed, But do not let me be dismayed. Bring on them the day of doom, And destroy them with double destruction!

Jeremiah calls out to God for help in the midst of a land of idolaters and sinners. He appeals to God’s reputation, and asks Him to destroy those who would oppose Him and harm Jeremiah.

19 Thus the Lord said to me: “Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, by which the kings of Judah come in and by which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem; 20 and say to them, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, you kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who enter by these gates. 21 Thus says the Lord: “Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; 22 nor carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, nor do any work, but hallow the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers. 23 But they did not obey nor incline their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear nor receive instruction.

24 “And it shall be, if you heed Me carefully,” says the Lord, “to bring no burden through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but hallow the Sabbath day, to do no work in it, 25 then shall enter the gates of this city kings and princes sitting on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, accompanied by the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and this city shall remain forever. 26 And they shall come from the cities of Judah and from the places around Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin and from the lowland, from the mountains and from the South, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and incense, bringing sacrifices of praise to the house of the Lord.

27 “But if you will not heed Me to hallow the Sabbath day, such as not carrying a burden when entering the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.” ’ ”

God finally reveals to Jeremiah His unwielding command to honor the Sabbath day. He pledges to make Jerusalem and Judah a place for kings and princes and great riches, but also pledges to kindle a fire in Jerusalem’s gate and devour the city if they do not honor the Sabbath. Why is God drawing such a line on the Sabbath observance? Perhaps He is trying to address the sins of the people incrementally, or to make them aware that even things that may seem small to a man are actually important to God. Whatever the motivation, God is trying to bring His people back to a place of obedience and honor. When God calls an individual or a nation to a place of obedience, it is always in the best interests to obey the Lord. His will is perfect and His ways are blessed!

Judgment and Grace

Jeremiah 16:1–21 (NKJV)

16:1 The word of the Lord also came to me, saying, “You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place.” For thus says the Lord concerning the sons and daughters who are born in this place, and concerning their mothers who bore them and their fathers who begot them in this land: “They shall die gruesome deaths; they shall not be lamented nor shall they be buried, but they shall be like refuse on the face of the earth. They shall be consumed by the sword and by famine, and their corpses shall be meat for the birds of heaven and for the beasts of the earth.”

For thus says the Lord: “Do not enter the house of mourning, nor go to lament or bemoan them; for I have taken away My peace from this people,” says the Lord, “lovingkindness and mercies. Both the great and the small shall die in this land. They shall not be buried; neither shall men lament for them, cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them. Nor shall men break bread in mourning for them, to comfort them for the dead; nor shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or their mother. Also you shall not go into the house of feasting to sit with them, to eat and drink.”

For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Behold, I will cause to cease from this place, before 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.

10 “And it shall be, when you show this people all these words, and they say to you, ‘Why has the Lord pronounced all this great disaster against us? Or what is our iniquity? Or what is our sin that we have committed against the Lord our God?’ 11 then you shall say to them, ‘Because your fathers have forsaken Me,’ says the Lord; ‘they have walked after other gods and have served them and worshiped them, and have forsaken Me and not kept My law. 12 And you have done worse than your fathers, for behold, each one follows the dictates of his own evil heart, so that no one listens to Me. 13 Therefore I will cast you out of this land into a land that you do not know, neither you nor your fathers; and there you shall serve other gods day and night, where I will not show you favor.’

The Lord instructs Jeremiah to not take a wife or have children.  Jeremiah is a young man, so this is a big ask, but part of the message to Judah.  Families and children will be lost, strewn in the the streets in death.  He also tells Jeremiah–and by extension all of Judah–not to mourn these losses, for this is the work and judgment of the Lord.  There will be no gladness, but there will also be no lament, for this is their own doing.  If they ask Jeremiah why, he is to respond that their fathers were sinful, but they are even more so.  Therefore, war and exile are coming.

14 “Therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “that it shall no more be said, ‘The Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ 15 but, ‘The Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands where He had driven them.’ For I will bring them back into their land which I gave to their fathers.

16 “Behold, I will send for many fishermen,” says the Lord, “and they shall fish them; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. 17 For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity hidden from My eyes. 18 And first I will repay double for their iniquity and their sin, because they have defiled My land; they have filled My inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable and abominable idols.”

19 O Lord, my strength and my fortress,

My refuge in the day of affliction,

The Gentiles shall come to You

From the ends of the earth and say,

“Surely our fathers have inherited lies,

Worthlessness and unprofitable things.”

20 Will a man make gods for himself,

Which are not gods?

21 “Therefore behold, I will this once cause them to know,

I will cause them to know

My hand and My might;

And they shall know that My name is the Lord.

The Lord turns the message around to a degree, in that He tells the chldren of Israel that they will be brought back, perhaps in an even more amazing way than when they were delivered from Egypt.  He will find them in every hole and village, and bring them back to the promised land.  But this will occur after they have suffered the judgment of their idolatry and sin.  Jeremiah declares to God that Gentiles will cry to Him confessing the futility of their idols and He will visit His might upon them.  The recurring themes of judgment, grace, and restoration ring loudly in this passage, as God sends judgment, promises the return of His people and the punishment of their enemies.  Again, I say, live in the will of God and be holy in heart.  Shun idols and sinful lifestyles, and live in the promises of God.  The judgment God is swift and severe, but the joy of living in His grace is joyous and powerful.  Walk with God and live!

Return to Me

Jeremiah 15:1–21 (NKJV)

15:1 Then the Lord said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind would not be favorable toward this people. Cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth. And it shall be, if they say to you, ‘Where should we go?’ then you shall tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord:

“Such as are for death, to death; And such as are for the sword, to the sword; And such as are for the famine, to the famine; And such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.” ’

“And I will appoint over them four forms of destruction,” says the Lord: “the sword to slay, the dogs to drag, the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy. I will hand them over to trouble, to all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem.

5 “For who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem? Or who will bemoan you? Or who will turn aside to ask how you are doing?

6 You have forsaken Me,” says the Lord, “You have gone backward. Therefore I will stretch out My hand against you and destroy you; I am weary of relenting!

7 And I will winnow them with a winnowing fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave them of children; I will destroy My people, Since they do not return from their ways.

8 Their widows will be increased to Me more than the sand of the seas; I will bring against them, Against the mother of the young men, A plunderer at noonday; I will cause anguish and terror to fall on them suddenly.

9 “She languishes who has borne seven; She has breathed her last; Her sun has gone down While it was yet day; She has been ashamed and confounded. And the remnant of them I will deliver to the sword Before their enemies,” says the Lord.

The Lord speaks to Samuel in tones that have not yet been heard in this book.  He states that even if Moses and Samuel stood before Him, two of His most powerful prophets and leaders, that He would not relent and forgive the people of Judah.  He promises them death, sword, famine, and captivity.  He will so destroy that the animals of the heavens and earth will pick over and eat their bodies.  Manasseh, the evil king of Judah, tipped the scales against them, and they are condemned.  He continues by using the imagery of the winnowing fan, separating the wheat from the chaff.  He also declares an increase in the number of widows, and the emptiness of mother’s homes.  He even, in this case, says that the remnant of them will be delivered to the sword.

10 Woe is me, my mother, That you have borne me, A man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent for interest, Nor have men lent to me for interest. Every one of them curses me.

11 The Lord said: “Surely it will be well with your remnant; Surely I will cause the enemy to intercede with you In the time of adversity and in the time of affliction.

12 Can anyone break iron, The northern iron and the bronze?

13 Your wealth and your treasures I will give as plunder without price, Because of all your sins, Throughout your territories.

14 And I will make you cross over with your enemies Into a land which you do not know; For a fire is kindled in My anger, Which shall burn upon you.”

15 O Lord, You know; Remember me and visit me, And take vengeance for me on my persecutors. In Your enduring patience, do not take me away. Know that for Your sake I have suffered rebuke.

16 Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.

17 I did not sit in the assembly of the mockers, Nor did I rejoice; I sat alone because of Your hand, For You have filled me with indignation.

18 Why is my pain perpetual And my wound incurable, Which refuses to be healed? Will You surely be to me like an unreliable stream, As waters that fail?

Jeremiah responds to God with a plea for Judah, even wishing he had not been born.  The Lord responds with a promise of the safety of the remnant, but also states that the armies of the north will not be stopped.  Judah will be plundered and captured, being taken into exile.  Jeremiah responds with a plea for vengeance on his persecutors.  He speaks of the sweetness of the Word of God, his refusal to sit with mockers, and the perpetual nature of his pain.  

19 Therefore thus says the Lord: “If you return, Then I will bring you back; You shall stand before Me; If you take out the precious from the vile, You shall be as My mouth. Let them return to you, But you must not return to them.

20 And I will make you to this people a fortified bronze wall; And they will fight against you, But they shall not prevail against you; For I am with you to save you And deliver you,” says the Lord.

21 “I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, And I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible.”

The Lord promises Jeremiah that he will be protected from his enemies, and that Judah would be brought back if they returned to the Lord.  He will deliver them from the hand of the enemy.  The enemy may get the upper hand when we ignore the will of God and follow our own path.  However, returning to God and repenting from our sins will bring us back from our spiritual and emotional exile and thrive in the presence of the Lord.  Return, for the wastelands of your rebellion are tired and sad.  Return to the powerful presence of the Lord.  

We Will Wait for You

Jeremiah 14:1–22 (NKJV)

14:1 The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the droughts.

2 “Judah mourns, And her gates languish; They mourn for the land, And the cry of Jerusalem has gone up.

3 Their nobles have sent their lads for water; They went to the cisterns and found no water.  They returned with their vessels empty; They were ashamed and confounded And covered their heads.

4 Because the ground is parched, For there was no rain in the land, The plowmen were ashamed; They covered their heads.

5 Yes, the deer also gave birth in the field, But left because there was no grass.

6 And the wild donkeys stood in the desolate heights; They sniffed at the wind like jackals; Their eyes failed because there was no grass.”

7 O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, Do it for Your name’s sake; For our backslidings are many, We have sinned against You.

8 O the Hope of Israel, his Savior in time of trouble, Why should You be like a stranger in the land, And like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night?

9 Why should You be like a man astonished, Like a mighty one who cannot save? Yet You, O Lord, are in our midst, And we are called by Your name; Do not leave us!

In this opening section of chapter 14, Jeremiah mourns over the lack of water during the drought in Judah.  The animals are dying.  The ground is cracked and produces no grass.  The servants can find no sources of water anywhere and are ashamed.  Jeremiah cries out to God not to leave them, to show His power.

10 Thus says the Lord to this people: “Thus they have loved to wander; They have not restrained their feet. Therefore the Lord does not accept them; He will remember their iniquity now, And punish their sins.”

11 Then the Lord said to me, “Do not pray for this people, for their good. 12 When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence.”

13 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’ ”

14 And the Lord said to me, “The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart. 15 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in My name, whom I did not send, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not be in this land’—‘By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed! 16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; they will have no one to bury them—them nor their wives, their sons nor their daughters—for I will pour their wickedness on them.’

17 “Therefore you shall say this word to them: ‘Let my eyes flow with tears night and day, And let them not cease; For the virgin daughter of my people Has been broken with a mighty stroke, with a very severe blow.

18 If I go out to the field, Then behold, those slain with the sword! And if I enter the city, Then behold, those sick from famine! Yes, both prophet and priest go about in a land they do not know.’ ”

The Lord responds to Jeremiah by telling him that He will not hear their prayers, and that they will die by the sword, famine, and pestilence.  He tells him to not even pray for them.  Jeremiah responds that the prophets declare that none of these things will happen.  The Lord responds by saying that the prophets lie, and they will be killed and left out in the streets.  He then sends Jeremiah to tell them that tears will flow and the nation will be broken.

19 Have You utterly rejected Judah? Has Your soul loathed Zion? Why have You stricken us so that there is no healing for us? We looked for peace, but there was no good; And for the time of healing, and there was trouble.

20 We acknowledge, O Lord, our wickedness And the iniquity of our fathers, For we have sinned against You.

21 Do not abhor us, for Your name’s sake; Do not disgrace the throne of Your glory. Remember, do not break Your covenant with us.

22 Are there any among the idols of the nations that can cause rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Are You not He, O Lord our God? Therefore we will wait for You, Since You have made all these.

Jeremiah responds with questions and prayers.  He asks if Judah is utterly rejected, to the point that their is no hope, and that the covenant is broken.  Then He intercedes, asking God to forgive and heal the land.  The final verse, 22, is powerful in its wording.  Who can bring rain?  Only you, God, can open the heavens.  Therefore, we will wait for You.  When troubles come, when their is lack in the land, do not try to fix it.  Do not look for manmade solutions.  Do not form a committee.  Pray!  Repent if necessary, but pray.  Only God can solve the problems and meet the needs of mankind.  Turn to Him, for He is the answer!  In times of sword, famine, and pestilence, wait on the Lord.

The Sash, the Bottles, and Pride

Jeremiah 13:1–27 (NKJV)

13:1 Thus the LORD said to me: “Go and get yourself a linen sash, and put it around your waist, but do not put it in water.” 2 So I got a sash according to the word of the LORD, and put it around my waist.
3 And the word of the LORD came to me the second time, saying, 4 “Take the sash that you acquired, which is around your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole in the rock.” 5 So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the LORD commanded me.
6 Now it came to pass after many days that the LORD said to me, “Arise, go to the Euphrates, and take from there the sash which I commanded you to hide there.” 7 Then I went to the Euphrates and dug, and I took the sash from the place where I had hidden it; and there was the sash, ruined. It was profitable for nothing.
8 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 9 “Thus says the LORD: ‘In this manner I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10 This evil people, who refuse to hear My words, who follow the dictates of their hearts, and walk after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be just like this sash which is profitable for nothing. 11 For as the sash clings to the waist of a man, so I have caused the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to cling to Me,’ says the LORD, ‘that they may become My people, for renown, for praise, and for glory; but they would not hear.’

The Lord uses a sash as an object lesson on what happens when the people of God forsake His presence and stray to serve other gods.  When they cling to God, they are clean and safe.  When they go after other gods (represented by the Euphrates), they are sullied, ruined, useless.  Shun the gods of this world and cling to the one true God!

12 “Therefore you shall speak to them this word: ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: “Every bottle shall be filled with wine.” ’
“And they will say to you, ‘Do we not certainly know that every bottle will be filled with wine?’
13 “Then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I will fill all the inhabitants of this land—even the kings who sit on David’s throne, the priests, the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem—with drunkenness! 14 And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together,” says the LORD. “I will not pity nor spare nor have mercy, but will destroy them.” ’ ”

The Lord turns this analogy on its ear.  He begins by offering what seems to be a promise to fill them with wine, a sign of prosperity and presence.  Instead, He turns the analogy into a threat of allowing them to be in a stupor.  Instead of blessing and being with them, He intimates that they will be drunk and then be destroyed.

15 Hear and give ear:
Do not be proud,
For the LORD has spoken.
16 Give glory to the LORD your God
Before He causes darkness,
And before your feet stumble
On the dark mountains,
And while you are looking for light,
He turns it into the shadow of death
And makes it dense darkness.
17 But if you will not hear it,
My soul will weep in secret for your pride;
My eyes will weep bitterly
And run down with tears,
Because the LORD’s flock has been taken captive.

18 Say to the king and to the queen mother,
“Humble yourselves;
Sit down,
For your rule shall collapse, the crown of your glory.”
19 The cities of the South shall be shut up,
And no one shall open them;
Judah shall be carried away captive, all of it;
It shall be wholly carried away captive.

Jeremiah here warns against pride and champions the idea of humility.  He even tells the king and queen that they are in danger of overthrow if they do not humble themselves.  

20 Lift up your eyes and see
Those who come from the north.
Where is the flock that was given to you,
Your beautiful sheep?
21 What will you say when He punishes you?
For you have taught them
To be chieftains, to be head over you.
Will not pangs seize you,
Like a woman in labor?
22 And if you say in your heart,
“Why have these things come upon me?”
For the greatness of your iniquity
Your skirts have been uncovered,
Your heels made bare.
23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots?
Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.

24 “Therefore I will scatter them like stubble
That passes away by the wind of the wilderness.
25 This is your lot,
The portion of your measures from Me,” says the LORD,
“Because you have forgotten Me
And trusted in falsehood.
26 Therefore I will uncover your skirts over your face,
That your shame may appear.
27 I have seen your adulteries
And your lustful neighings,
The lewdness of your harlotry,
Your abominations on the hills in the fields.
Woe to you, O Jerusalem!
Will you still not be made clean?”

God brings the bad news of the prophecy that the sheep of the flock of Judah will be scattered, and that they will be shamed before the nations.  He speaks of their being little hope for them to change, and the terror that will come because of their sin.  They will be scattered and blown away, and their sinful adulteries will be revealed publicly.  He then cries to them to turn and be made clean.  We are the people of God if we have faith in Him.  Do not ignore, push away from, and adulterate yourself from the Lord.  Walking alone will be a dangerous trek.

Redemption For You and Your Enemy

Jeremiah 12:1–17 (NKJV)

12:1 Righteous are You, O LORD, when I plead with You;
Yet let me talk with You about Your judgments.
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?
2 You have planted them, yes, they have taken root;
They grow, yes, they bear fruit.
You are near in their mouth
But far from their mind.

3 But You, O LORD, know me;
You have seen me,
And You have tested my heart toward You.
Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter,
And prepare them for the day of slaughter.
4 How long will the land mourn,
And the herbs of every field wither?
The beasts and birds are consumed,
For the wickedness of those who dwell there,
Because they said, “He will not see our final end.”

Jeremiah here laments over the fact that evil nations prosper as they inhabit the land of God’s people.  They mock Judah and say that God will never remove them from the land.  Jeremiah pleads with God to pluck them out of the land and punish them for their treatment of Israel.

5 “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you,
Then how can you contend with horses?
And if in the land of peace,
In which you trusted, they wearied you,
Then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?
6 For even your brothers, the house of your father,
Even they have dealt treacherously with you;
Yes, they have called a multitude after you.
Do not believe them,
Even though they speak smooth words to you.

7 “I have forsaken My house, I have left My heritage;
I have given the dearly beloved of My soul into the hand of her enemies.
8 My heritage is to Me like a lion in the forest;
It cries out against Me;
Therefore I have hated it.
9 My heritage is to Me like a speckled vulture;
The vultures all around are against her.
Come, assemble all the beasts of the field,
Bring them to devour!

10 “Many rulers have destroyed My vineyard,
They have trodden My portion underfoot;
They have made My pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.
11 They have made it desolate;
Desolate, it mourns to Me;
The whole land is made desolate,
Because no one takes it to heart.
12 The plunderers have come
On all the desolate heights in the wilderness,
For the sword of the LORD shall devour
From one end of the land to the other end of the land;
No flesh shall have peace.
13 They have sown wheat but reaped thorns;
They have put themselves to pain but do not profit.
But be ashamed of your harvest
Because of the fierce anger of the LORD.”

The Lord responds without pity.  He reminds the people of their sin, and the resultant judgment at the hands of foreigners.  The sword is the norm in this case, so get used to it!  He reiterates, though, that the problem is not God’s lack of mercy, but the people’s lack of obedience. 

14 Thus says the LORD: “Against all My evil neighbors who touch the inheritance which I have caused My people Israel to inherit—behold, I will pluck them out of their land and pluck out the house of Judah from among them. 15 Then it shall be, after I have plucked them out, that I will return and have compassion on them and bring them back, everyone to his heritage and everyone to his land. 16 And it shall be, if they will learn carefully the ways of My people, to swear by My name, ‘As the LORD lives,’ as they taught My people to swear by Baal, then they shall be established in the midst of My people. 17 But if they do not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation,” says the LORD.

Once again, however, even after pointing out the sins and the commensurate punishment deserved by the Jews, God allows grace to be extended.  He says that He will pluck out the nations who have so mistreated Judah.  However, he offers them the opportunity to be blessed and even dwell among His people if they will learn the ways of Yahweh and worship Him.  If not, though, they will be destroyed.  God is looking out for our good as His people.  Don’t let your sins get in the way of God’s provision.  Look for His grace if sin does enter your life and repent.  Then God will grant you grace, while at the same time allowing you the opportunity to use that grace as a tool to reach the very ones who worked against you.  Be holy, be repentant, be evangelistic!

Renewing the Covenant

Jeremiah 11:1–23 (NKJV)

11:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, “Hear the words of this covenant, and speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel: “Cursed is the man who does not obey the words of this covenant which I commanded your fathers in the day I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and do according to all that I command you; so shall you be My people, and I will be your God,’ that I may establish the oath which I have sworn to your fathers, to give them ‘a land flowing with milk and honey,’ as it is this day.” ’ ”

And I answered and said, “So be it, Lord.”

Then the Lord said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying: ‘Hear the words of this covenant and do them. For I earnestly exhorted your fathers in the day I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, until this day, rising early and exhorting, saying, “Obey My voice.” Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone followed the dictates of his evil heart; therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but which they have not done.’ ”

And the Lord said to me, “A conspiracy has been found among the men of Judah and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 10 They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers who refused to hear My words, and they 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.”

11 Therefore thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will surely bring calamity on them which they will not be able to escape; and though they cry out to Me, I will not listen to them. 12 Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods to whom they offer incense, but they will not save them at all in the time of their trouble. 13 For according to the number of your cities were your gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem you have set up altars to that shameful thing, altars to burn incense to Baal.

14 “So do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry out to Me because of their trouble.

15 “What has My beloved to do in My house,

Having done lewd deeds with many?

And the holy flesh has passed from you.

When you do evil, then you rejoice.

16 The Lord called your name,

Green Olive Tree, Lovely and of Good Fruit.

With the noise of a great tumult

He has kindled fire on it,

And its branches are broken.

17 “For the Lord of hosts, who planted you, has pronounced doom against you 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 to Baal.”

In these verses, the Lord brings a pronouncement of judgment against the nation for their breaking of the covenant God made with them.  He calls them to hear His judgment, I believe with the hope that they will repent and restore the covenant in their own hearts.  He bemoans the fact that there is a conspiracy among the men of Judah to ignore the covenant.  He mourns over the loss of holiness in His house.

18 Now the Lord gave me knowledge of it, and I know it; for You showed me their doings. 19 But I was like a docile lamb brought to the slaughter; and I did not know that they had devised schemes against me, saying, “Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be remembered no more.”

20 But, O Lord of hosts,

You who judge righteously,

Testing the mind and the heart,

Let me see Your vengeance on them,

For to You I have revealed my cause.

21 “Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the men of Anathoth who seek your life, saying, ‘Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord, lest you die by our hand’—22 therefore thus says 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; 23 and there shall be no remnant of them, for I will bring catastrophe on the men of Anathoth, even the year of their punishment.’ ”

Jeremiah here speaks of a plot against his life, and asks God to protect and judge rightly for him.  God gives him encouragement to speak to word in spite of the threats against him.  He does this for us today.  Speak, and God will move.  Speak, and God will protect.  Speak according to God’s will.  Speak, even if it costs you.  God’s reward will far outweigh any loss that occurs due to your obedience.