Jeremiah 10-14 • Chapter Study
I want to share some historical background to our study tonight.
Jeremiah began his ministry as a prophet as a young man – just 16years old.
The king at that time was Josiah, a godly man& good king.
Josiah’s grandfather was Manasseh, an exceedingly wicked man who filled the kingdom of Judah & the capital of Jerusalem w/idols – the worship of which involved hideous abominations; including human sacrifice.
What made Manasseh’s reign even worse was that he reigned longer than any king in Israel’s history; 55 years!
His son & Josiah’s father was just a brief ditto to Manasseh& was so corrupt he was assassinated.
This left the 8 year old Josiah as king. Beign too young to rule, royal officials reigned for him until he turned 16, then he moved to assert his authority & immediately set about to cleanse the land of idolatry.
He sent out the troops to dismantle the altars on the hilltops & to cut down the profane images in the forests.
In Jerusalem, Josiah cleared the idols out of the temple grounds and embarked on a refurbishing project for the temple, since it had fallen into disrepair.
While clearing out the temple one of the priests found a copy of the Bible.
It turned out to be the sole remaining copy of God’s Word.
When it was read to Josiah, he realized things were even worse than he’d thought.
They had not celebrated the Passover in generations.
So Josiah called for a gran celebration of Passover – which turned out to be the greatest ever celebrated in Jewish history.
While Josiah was a good king, he made a blunder when he was about 39.
This was the time when the Babylonians had emerged as a major world power and were conquering kingdoms all over the Middle East.
The Egyptians decided to come out & face the Babylonians.
They’d been a kingdom in decline for a long time but had re-emerged as a major power & saw Babylon as a threat to their control over the rich trade routes through the Middle East.
So Pharaoh Necho marched a huge Egyptian army north along the coast of Judah.
When they arrived at the Jezreel Valley they started Eastward to face off with the Babylonians.
Josiah led the army of Judah north to meet the Egyptians at Megiddo.
God warned him not to go, but Josiah went anyway.
Judah was defeated & Josiah was killed.
Jehoahaz then declared himself king of Judah.
A wicked man, he quickly reinstalled the idols Josiah had removed.
The problem was this: While Josiah had reformed the religious practices of Judah, Revival had never come to the hearts of the people.
Revival is a work of the Spirit, not the civil government.
The reforms Josiah brought were right & good. His stand for righteousness delayed God’s judgment.
But w/o revival, w/o genuine repentance on the part of the people, judgment is ONLY delayed.
Rituals were reformed, but not hearts, and as soon as Josiah was out of the way, the underlying spiritual corruption sprouted once again under a new succession of kings who gave the people what they wanted.
Jeremiah’s early ministry was 1 of telling the people that outward reform wasn’t enough.
They must repent & reform their hearts & minds; returning to the covenant with God.
If they failed to, judgment would come.
The people hated the message & disliked the messenger. They ignored him.
When the old idolatry climbed out of the shadows during the reign of Jehoahaz, Jeremiah’s ministry turned to a dire warning of impending doom.
Jehoahaz only reigned 3 months, then Pharaoh Necho, removed him & put Jehoiakim in his place.
Jehoiakim reigned for 13 years & seemed determined to ape the wickedness of Manasseh.
It was during Jehoiakim’s reign the Babylonians conquered both Egypt & Judah.
In Ch 10, God shows the futility of false religion.
1 Hear the word which the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. 2 Thus says the Lord: “Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them.
Astrology was a major part of ancient Near East religions.
Signs in the sky, whether comets, meteors, or the movement of the stars & planets were all watched closely.
People thought the heavens had some mystical power over their lives.
Priests were trained to read the stars & were thought to be able to foretell the future & how to avoid some peril by making an offering to an idol that had control over the power of the heavens.
God’s people are to pay no attention to astrology because it’s bogus.
Now God launches into a derisive explanation of how an idol is made.
3 For the customs of the peoples are futile; For one cuts a tree from the forest, The work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. 4 They decorate it with silver and gold; They fasten it with nails and hammers So that it will not topple. 5 They are upright, like a palm tree, And they cannot speak; They must be carried, Because they cannot go by themselves. Do not be afraid of them, For they cannot do evil, Nor can they do any good.”
It doesn’t matter how much a log has been made to look like something else – it’s still just a log.
And a log has no spiritual power! None – ever.
6 Inasmuch as there is none like You, O Lord (You are great, and Your name is great in might), 7 Who would not fear You, O King of the nations? For this is Your rightful due. For among all the wise men of the nations, And in all their kingdoms, There is none like You.
How silly to make & worship an idol when the true & living God is right here at hand.
There’s an important phrase we desperately need here – God is King of the nations.
He is King of kings, and Lord of lords. = Supreme Ruler, Almighty God.
Don’t fret, be depressed, discouraged, downcast, in despair because of the election.
Jesus Christ is on His throne & His office is high above the Oval Office.
There are many Christians today who are lamenting the results of the election.
They are worried about the future. / I understand that and have a tendency to go there too.
But does our disappointment, does our worry hint at the fact that we’ve put our hope in the wrong place à
A political candidate, a man, a political platform?
If so, then it’s good we’ve been disappointed.
We prayed God would give us the right leader. We thought we knew who that was – maybe we were wrong.
We must now trust the promise of God’s Word that He works all things together for good.
We must believe our prayers were answered – as they often are, not as we thought they would be, but as they needed to be.
Prov. 21:1 says
The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.
This must now be our prayer. That God would perform His word & turn President Obama’s heart to accomplish His will.
In 1 Timothy 2:1–2 Paul wrote –
I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.
When he wrote that, a crazy tyrant named Nero was Emperor of the Roman Empire.
If Paul could call for prayer under that condition, we can certainly pray for the President.
8 But they [those who worship idols] are altogether dull-hearted and foolish; A wooden idol is a worthless doctrine. 9 Silver is beaten into plates; It is brought from Tarshish, And gold from Uphaz, The work of the craftsman And of the hands of the metalsmith; Blue and purple are their clothing; They are all the work of skillful men. 10 But the Lord is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth will tremble, And the nations will not be able to endure His indignation. 11 Thus you shall say to them: “The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens.” 12 He has made the earth by His power, He has established the world by His wisdom, And has stretched out the heavens at His discretion. 13 When He utters His voice, There is a multitude of waters in the heavens: “And He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, He brings the wind out of His treasuries.”
The power of God is revealed in the forces of nature He’s made.
14 Everyone is dull-hearted, without knowledge; Every metalsmith is put to shame by an image; For his molded image is falsehood, And there is no breath in them. 15 They are futile, a work of errors; In the time of their punishment they shall perish.
When God’s judgment comes on Judah, the people will realize finally how utterly foolish it was to trust in idols.
Picture someone kneeling in front of the little idol of Baal they have in their house.
The Babylonians have broken into their city & are on the way to loot their house & drag them off into slavery.
So they’re pleading for help from their little bronze bull.
But as the raiders break in the door, that little idol topples over right in front of them.
How perfectly symbolic of the foolishness in worshipping idols.
16 The Portion of Jacob is not like them, For He is the Maker of all things, And Israel is the tribe of His inheritance; The Lord of hosts is His name.
I love that title for God – The Portion of Jacob.
Portion = in Hebrew – khay-lek = One’s possession. That piece which has been assigned to someone.
Jacob became Israel; he was the father of the 12 tribes.
God calls Himself Jacob’s portion because He gave Himself to Jacob, just as He took Jacob to Himself.
This is how God wants us to know Him – as our portion; our possession.
We belong to Him & He belongs to us.
17 Gather up your wares from the land, O inhabitant of the fortress! 18 For thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will throw out at this time The inhabitants of the land, And will distress them, That they may find it so.”
Jeremiah laments –
19 Woe is me for my hurt! My wound is severe. But I say, “Truly this is an infirmity, And I must bear it.”
God adds His lament that the people have forsaken Him –
20 My tent is plundered, And all my cords are broken; My children have gone from me, And they are no more. There is no one to pitch my tent anymore, Or set up my curtains. 21 For the shepherds [leaders] have become dull-hearted, And have not sought the Lord; Therefore they shall not prosper, And all their flocks shall be scattered. 22 Behold, the noise of the report has come, And a great commotion out of the north country, To make the cities of Judah desolate, a den of jackals.
Jeremiah prays –
23 O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. 24 O Lord, correct me, but with justice; Not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing. 25 Pour out Your fury on the Gentiles, who do not know You, And on the families who do not call on Your name; For they have eaten up Jacob, Devoured him and consumed him, And made his dwelling place desolate.
The point is this: God will judge Judah for her sins.
Jeremiah knows full well the multiple causes of her ruin, and here he prays that the moral and spiritual pollution that marks his time and culture will not mark him.
He prays for the Lord’s correction; to be tried & tested by the Spirit so he can see how the corruption of his age had affected him.
While the discipline is never an easy thing, in the hand of God it is a GOOD thing & one we all ought to submit to.
In vs. 1-5 God tells Jeremiah to remind the people of the terms of the covenant they made w/Him generations before.
That covenant was still in force.
Though God had kept His side & blessed them amazingly for generations, they’d grossly violated their side of it.
So as the covenant stipulated, they’d moved out from under the blessing into the curse.
6 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. 7 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.” 8 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.’ ” 9 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.”
There are those who are conspiracy fanatics. Everything that happens is perceived as the result of some super secret group of fabulously wealthy & powerful movers & shakers who are behind the scenes dictating to governments around the world what to do.
God says there is a conspiracy in v. 9.
It’s comprised of people who’ve turned from the true & living God to worship idols.
Think about that for a moment. è God is real – Idols aren’t.
Yet people who know God is real, turn from Him to the wild fiction of a false god.
Why? How could they do something so illogical – so insane.
Insanity is the mental state of breaking w/reality & living in a fiction.
The answer to why people would worship idols lies in the state of the human heart.
Sinful man doesn’t want God, so he turns from Him.
But bcuz man was created to be in rel. w/God, when he turns away, a gaping hole is left in his soul.
He can’t bear this, so he plug the hole w/a deity more accommodating of his desires.
The philosopher-scientist Blaise Pascal said, “There’s a God shaped hole in every man that only God can fill.”
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.
By the time Jeremiah gives this prophecy, it’s too late for the nation.
They’ve passed the pt. of no return.
Individuals can repent & be saved the full measure of the devastation about to be poured out. But for the nation, it’s too late.
There is a time we know not when, a line we know not where,
That marks the destinies of men between sorrow and despair.
There is a line by man unseen, and once a man has crossed
Even God Himself in all of His love, has sworn that all is lost.
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.
As in Ch. 9, God tells Jeremiah not to pray for Judah’s deliverance. It’s too late for that now.
Because we don’t know the point of no return in a person’s life or in the life of our nation, until the Lord tells us to stop praying, we must pray for mercy & revival.
Spurgeon said we ought to pray for a person’s salvation even as we see them on their death bed, clutching as it were the very doorposts of hell.
I’ve witnessed several deathbed conversions I’m convinced were genuine.
We have biblical warrant for it because of the thief on the cross.
In vs. 15-23, Jeremiah asks God to defend him against the attacks of those who opposed & persecuted him.
God answers by saying they’ll know His judgment.
In ch. 12, maybe because Jeremiah received God’s help on his previous request, he makes another complaint.
It’s similar to the complaint made by Job, David & Asaph in the Psalms.
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’s complaint is this: “God, if you’ve promised to bless the godly & judge the wicked, why does it seem to be upside down in this world?”
“The wicked seem to do pretty well while it’s the godly—like me—who suffer.”
God replies to Jeremiah’s complaint à
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?
God says, “Jeremiah, if the relatively light opposition you’re facing wearies & causes you to stumble, how are you going to bear up under the greater challenges ahead of you?”
This moves us to conclude this episode took place early in his life.
In fact, the threats there at the end of ch. 11 came from the men of his hometown of Anathoth.
They were like mere infantry compared to the cavalry he’d face when he preached his message of doom in Jerusalem.
God was grooming Jeremiah, making him tough by enduring trials, so he could take on bigger challenges.
God well knows what we can endure. He knows our breaking point & will never put us in a situation or trial we can’t overcome.
But He will stretch us & take us farther than we’ve been – all so we will grow & become the people of faith He can use to accomplish great things.
While many of us dream of being used by God in mighty ways, we must realize we’re first tried & proven in small things.
Our home life, consistency in our personal time w/the Lord, details at work.
These are the footmen, our training partners.
If they weary us & we falter, throw in the towel, give up; we’ll be of no use in the bigger challenges.
In v. 6-17, Jeremiah asks à If God would judge His own people, how much more would He judge those nations around Israel who’d caused them to stumble thru their idolatry?
God replies that just as Judah will be destroyed, so will those nations around her.
But, after judgment comes redemption.
Because His people will repent in the land of their exile, God will return them to their land & restore His blessing.
In the same way, if the nations repent of their idolatry & call on the Lord, they will be healed & restored to their lands.
Now God tells Jeremiah to use a long-term object lesson to teach the people.
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 sash was an undergarment worn around the waist, extending to the thigh.
God had brought Israel close to Himself, like a sash, but they’d defiled themselves w/idols & become “good for nothing.”
Putting the sash under a rock in the moist soil next to the river ruined the sash.
This was symbolic of God taking Judah to Babylon, thru which the Euphrates River flows.
There, in the land of their exile, He would humble them.
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 saying: “Every bottle shall be filled with wine” was a popular proverb similar to our “a chicken in every pot.”
It expresses the assurance there will be peace & prosperity.
But Jeremiah is being sarcastic.
He’d been announcing doom and they told him to shut up, so one day he comes out & says, “A chicken in every pot.”
To which the people reply, “At last! Jeremiah’s finally getting w/the program & bringing some good news.”
To which he responds, “Yeah – a chicken in every pot; a salmonella ridden, wormy piece of poultry in everyone’s burrito that makes you so violently ill you go careening into the bathroom to drive the porcelain bus & wish you were dead.”
In vs. 15-27, the prophet again tells them they’ve sinned their way past mercy & into judgment at the hands of the Babylonians.
Ch. 14 is most likely from an earlier time in the prophet’s life, probably in the reign of good king Josiah.
1 The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the droughts.
Droughts are one of the judgments God said would result from their rejection of Him.
In an agriculturally based economy, a drought is devastating.
Some years ago, CA experienced a few lean years of rain.
Water was rationed & there was a push to landscape with drought resistant plants.
Several communities talked about building de-salinization plants though they were extremely costly to build. / The need for water was that great.
The drought got so bad, there were community prayer meetings at the County Government Center.
God graciously answered. The rains came, & people went right back to their decadent lifestyles.
This last Summer saw a major drought hit the farms of the Midwest.
Corn & grain harvests were way off. Economists worried what impact this would have on food & fuel prices since ethanol is made from corn.
There was such a shortage of feed for livestock, ranchers butchered far more of their stock than planned and now the forecast is that the price of meat will go way up as supplies dwindle.
Bacon is supposed to get especially expensive. Bacon! No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In vs. 2-6, Jeremiah describes what drought has done to the land.
Then he prays à
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!
Jeremiah pleads that thru all that happens God’s name not be defiled but instead would be vindicated.
The Land was God’s. It belonged to HIM & no other.
So, if the land became parched & dry, it would reflect poor on God’s name & glory.
So Jeremiah pleads God wouldn’t shut Himself out of HIS land, but would come & make things right.
What was true of the land of Israel, is true of the Church.
She belongs to God. He purchased her w/His blood. / She exists for Him.
If it’s filled w/purposes other than fellowship w/Him, of being a place & people of obedient worship, He has every right to send a spiritual drought that causes her to become barren, dry, & parched.
If that’s the case, ought not we cry out to Him as Jeremiah did?
“Jesus, it’s Your church! WE exist for Your glory! Don’t be a stranger here. Send the rain. Send waves of refreshing to renew our thirsty souls. Soften the dry & parched ground of our hearts. Cause life to spring forth & a harvest of righteousness.”
In vs. 10-12, God again tells Jeremiah to not pray for the people because it’s too late.
In vs. 13-18, Jeremiah expresses his confusion.
He knows God’s told him judgment’s coming, but there were other prophets who said it wasn’t & had called Jeremiah a false prophet.
God says it was THEY who were false, & the sword they said wasn’t coming wuld not only arrive. It would cut them down.
Those who weren’t slain would be carried away into captivity.
Jeremiah is simply leveled by the vision of judgment he’s had, & asks à
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.
Even though God had told him not to pray for Judah, Jeremiah pleads with God to relent of His judgment.
God’s response to Jeremiah in ch. 15 is scary. But we’ll have to wait till next week.