TODAY’S READING: JEREMIAH 13-17
OVERVIEW: The object lesson of the ruin of Judah (13:1-11); Israel described as a drunken nation (13:12-14); Jeremiah pleading to the nation (13:15-27); Judah’s drought and Jeremiah’s intercession (14:1-22); God’s refusal to answer Jeremiah’s prayers (15:1-9); Jeremiah’s complaint against God (15:10-18); God’s call for Jeremiah’s repentance (15:19-21); Jeremiah’s personal renewal (16:1-17:18); God’s message through Jeremiah’s concerning the Sabbath (17:19-27).
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
As chapter 13 begins, God wants to give Jeremiah an object lesson concerning the people of Judah. He instructs him to get a “linen girdle,” what we would call today a linen belt or waistband, and put it around his “loins” or waist. He then told him to remove it, and to hide it in a hole of a rock near the Euphrates. After many days, God told him to go back to retrieve it, only to find that the belt was totally ruined and “good for nothing.” God explained to Jeremiah that, like the belt, Judah would become “good for nothing” because of her pride, her refusal to hear the Word of God, her wicked imagination, and her idolatry (13:9-10). God’s desire for Judah was for them to “be unto [him] for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory” (13:11), but sadly, verse 11 ends by saying, “but they would not hear.” As God’s people in a different dispensation, His desire for us is that we also “be unto [him] for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a!
glory.” Are you hearing Him?
Even after God had revealed to Jeremiah all He had about Judah’s inevitable fate, Jeremiah’s heart still caused him to plead, to weep, and to yearn for Judah to repent and give glory to God once again. Would to God we had Jeremiah’s passion for the glory of God and the souls of men!
God’s punishment first manifested itself in chapter 14 with a terrible “death” or drought. Jeremiah’s heart led him to ask God to be merciful to them and remove the drought, but God told Jeremiah that they were getting what they deserved (14:10), and even told him to stop praying for them (14:11)! Even then, Jeremiah continued to pray on their behalf. As chapter 15 begins, God tells Jeremiah that it wouldn’t matter who was interceding on Judah’s behalf, even if it were Moses or Samuel (that’s some pretty major props for those two fellas!), His judgment was going to be unleashed. In 15:10-18, Jeremiah becomes rather upset with God about his role. He complains that all he had ever done was what God wanted him to do, but all it had ever gotten him was pain and heartache (15:15-18a). He even charges God at the end of 18 with being a liar! Jeremiah was beginning to sound like the people to whom he was called to minister. In verses 19-21, basically, God tells Jeremiah that!
he better sort things out in his head and in his heart, and get back to the task God had intended for him. Jeremiah was going to have to find a way to carry out his mission, even though he would never receive any encouragement from the people to whom he was seeking to minister. Imagine, in Jeremiah’s entire ministry, a 40 year span, (627-587 B.C.), he never saw one convert!
In chapter 16:1-8, once again, God gives an object lesson. Jeremiah is given a series of three strange commands in order for God to make His point. First, he is told not to marry (16:1-4), because wives and children would be mercilessly killed by the armies God would use to punish Israel’s sin. Second, God tells Jeremiah not to mourn for the dead (16:5-7), because in light of what was about to happen in Judah, they would be better off than the living. And third, he was not to participate in feasts of any kind, because all it produced was just wishful thinking in a land that was without hope. God tells Jeremiah that these three things would provide him the opportunity to warn them of the impending judgment to come, and the need to repent. At the end of chapter 16 (16:14-18), God points to a time following His judgment upon them, when He would deliver Israel out of her oppression and bondage, just like He did in delivering them out of Egypt.
In chapter 17, God affirms to Jeremiah once again, that Israel’s idolatry was etched in their hearts with “a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond” (17:1). Because of their unfaithfulness to Him, God warns Jeremiah against trusting them for anything, and urges him to only trust in Him alone. Verse 9 is a classic, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: Who can know it?” Meditate on that for about the next 20 years!
In 17:12-18, Jeremiah offers an incredibly humble and powerful prayer for renewal, asking God for spiritual healing, deliverance from his oppressors, and for courage. Immediately, God charges Jeremiah to stand at the gates where all who came in or out of Jerusalem could hear, and confront them about observing the Sabbath. He tells them that if they don’t stop carrying things in and out of the city on the Sabbath, God would allow an invading army to see to it that all activity in the city ceased!
CHRIST IS REVEALED:
As the HOPE OF ISRAEL – Jeremiah 14:8 (Titus 2:13)