Portrait of Dying Culture (Jeremiah 5; Jeremiah 6)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 5; Jeremiah 6

Because of the length of today’s Scripture reading (Jeremiah 5:1-31 and Jeremiah 6:1-30), I will limit the devotional commentary to Jeremiah 5).

From a human, temporal perspective, it could be argued the prophet Jeremiah was a failure. Scorned by the nation’s leaders, and reviled by his people, the prophet was rejected by Judah’s kings, persecuted, and eventually imprisoned.

Jeremiah 5

Jeremiah Appealed to the Common People of Jerusalem (5:1-4)

Understanding the LORD would spare Jerusalem if he could find one righteous man, Jeremiah searched Jerusalem in vain (5:1). Imagine, one righteous man could have been the salvation of a city! One judicious, truth-seeking man, and God promised, “I will pardon it [Jerusalem]” (5:1).

There were many who said, “The Lord liveth,” but their lives revealed they were deceivers (5:2). All the people were guilty of wickedness, and there were none who were righteous (5:2). Though the LORD chastised them, there were none who repented and turned to Him (5:3). They were stubborn, and their faces, like their hearts, were hard as stone (5:3). They were a poor, spiritually ignorant people, and did not know the way of the LORD, or His judgment (5:4).

Jeremiah Appealed to the Leaders, the “Great Men” of the City (5:5-9)

Having not found a righteous man among the “poor,” for they were foolish (5:4), Jeremiah determined to seek such a man among the “great men” of Jerusalem.

The prophet reasoned, “they have known the way of the Lord, and the judgment of their God” (5:5a). Tragically Jeremiah found the leaders of Judah were rebels, and had “altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds” [the yoke being the Covenant, and the bonds the Law and Commandments]. (5:5b)

Finding none righteous among the “great men,” Jeremiah warned, they would be ravaged by their enemies, and become a prey (“a lion…a wolf…and a leopard” were images of Nebuchadnezzar and army, 5:6). Declaring vengeance, the LORD asked, “9Shall I not visit [to judge] for these things? saith the Lord: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?” (5:9).

Babylon Summoned to Punish Unfaithful Jerusalem and Judah (5:10-18)

Heathen nations and wicked men are often tools God employs to chastise His disobedient people. So, we find the LORD summoning Babylon to lay siege to Jerusalem, declaring of the city, “they are not the LORD’s” (5:10). Leaving no doubt of the inevitable fall of the city, the LORD declared, “the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously against me” (5:11), for the people lied, denied the LORD, and scorned His prophets (5:12-13).

Affirming Jeremiah, the LORD challenged the prophet, that if he would speak the word of the LORD, his words would proceed out of his mouth like a fire, convicting and “devouring” the people (5:14). Describing Babylon, the LORD declared He would bring upon Judah “a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest what they say” (5:15). Their arrows would fly true to their mark (5:16), and the “mighty men” would ravage their lands, spoil their gardens, and leave Judah impoverished (5:17). Yet, the LORD would leave a remnant (5:18).

A Day of Judgment, and the Character of the Spiritually Foolish (5:19-31)

There would be some that would suggest the LORD was unjust for allowing Judah and Jerusalem to be overrun by Babylon (5:19a). Jeremiah was commanded to answer their protests, declaring from the LORD, “ye have forsaken me, and served strange gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers [Babylon] in a land that is not yours” (5:19b).

Closing thoughts – One can hear Jeremiah raise his voice (5:20), and rebuke the pretentious nature of the people, declaring them a “foolish people, and without understanding” (5:21a). They were spiritually blind and deaf, and did not fear or revere the LORD who was their Creator, for He had set the boundaries of the sea, holding the waters in place by sand (5:22).

The people of Judah were backslidden, spiritually indifferent (5:23), unthankful (5:24), and lacked discernment (5:25). Their leaders preyed upon the poor and weak, lying and deceiving in the manner a fowler entraps his prey (5:26-27). They exploited, and enriched themselves (5:28). They were unjust, turning a blind eye to wrongdoing, and failing to defend the poor and needy (5:28b).

God promised vengeance on Jerusalem and Judah, reasoning, He had no choice but to avenge the wrongs of His people. There was no hope, for the liars had corrupted the nation, and false prophets prophesied lies, and the “people [loved] to have it so” (5:31).

Think about it: The character of Judah could be summed up as backslidden, spiritually indifferent, unthankful, and having leaders who preyed upon the people with lies. Are those things true of the nations and leaders of our day?

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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