Friday, April 14, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Jeremiah 12-16

I stated in an earlier devotion that the ministry of the prophet Jeremiah spanned four decades in Judah.   Jeremiah was to declare God’s Word to a people who despised His Law and were unwilling to heed the prophet’s call for the people to repent of their sins and turn to their God.  Jeremiah continues his prophetic warning that the judgment of God is imminent in Jeremiah 12-16.

God revealed to Jeremiah the plot of the people to kill him beginning in Jeremiah 11:18 and the prophet struggled with God’s apparent blessing on the people in spite of their wickedness (12:1).   Although their hearts were far from the LORD, they appeared to prosper (12:2).  In fact, Jeremiah went so far as to suggest that the LORD should judge the people for their sin (12:3-4).

The LORD withheld rain and a great famine began to take hold in the land (Jeremiah 14:1-22).  In the midst of the famine, the people began to pray to the LORD and make a pretense of confessing and repenting of their sins (14:7-9).  God, knowing the hearts of all men (note Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24; 15:8; Romans 8:27), knew the people were not sincere and announced His judgment would not be deterred (14:10-12).  Jeremiah interceded for the nation suggesting the sins of the people were because false prophets had led them astray (14:13).   Jeremiah 14 concludes with the prophet praying for the LORD to be merciful to His people (14:17-22).

Judah’s wickedness had passed the point of no reprieve and the LORD responded to Jeremiah’s intercessory prayer describing the judgment that would soon come upon the nation (15:1-9).  Jeremiah 15:10-21 gives us a window into the soul of the prophet as he laments the sorrows and rejection he is suffering as God’s prophet (15:10).  He, God’s messenger, had become the object of scorn and persecution (15:15-18).

Describing the judgment of God that would be fulfilled when Babylon lay siege to Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple and the city, the LORD directed Jeremiah to not participate in three events that were a normal part of Jewish life.  The first, Jeremiah was not to take a wife, less the deaths of a wife, sons and daughters be added to the sorrows he would bear in the midst of God’s judgment (16:1-3).  The second activity Jeremiah was to avoid was he was not to mourn for the dead (16:4) nor attend their funerals (16:5-7).   Thirdly, Jeremiah was to avoid weddings and their celebratory feasts (16:8-9).

Like all Jewish rabbis, Jeremiah was to take a wife; however, his refusal to do so served as a testimony and symbolic act before the people, a sign of the imminencey of God’s judgment (16:1-3).  Though not a command, Paul observed somewhat the same sentiment in his letter to believers in Corinth when he states the “unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: 33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. 34 …the unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord…she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:32-35).

In spite of their wickedness, the LORD instructed Jeremiah that the people would ask, “Wherefore hath the LORD pronounced all this great evil against us? or what is our iniquity? or what is our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?” (16:10).  Jeremiah was to tell the people their wickedness had exceeded that of their fathers (16:11-12).  Leaving no doubt concerning the reason of God’s judgment and the destruction that would soon come upon the nation, Jeremiah was to remind the people, because they had turned to worship idols and forsaken the LORD and His law (16:11), they would be removed from their land and taken as captives to another (16:12-13).  Describing the invasion and conquest of Judah fulfilled by the Babylonians, Jeremiah prophesied, “the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth” (16:19).

Finally, the LORD did not leave His prophet or the people hopeless, for Jeremiah was to tell the people the LORD would not forget His covenant and would one day restore them to their land (16:14-15).

I close with this observation: God is Holy and Just and a man, family, or nation that turns from the LORD and forsakes His Word will bear the consequences of their sin.  Let us love the LORD, study His Word, and walk in His ways!

Psalm 1:1-3 – “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2  But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3  And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith