Making Sense out of Things That Make No Sense (Jeremiah 12; Jeremiah 13)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 12; Jeremiah 13

The LORD had warned Jeremiah, the citizens of Anathoth, his hometown, had plotted to kill him if he continued to prophesy “in the name of the LORD” (11:21). Yet, the LORD consoled his prophet, and declared, “I will punish them: the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine: 23And there shall be no remnant of them [no heirs of their households]: for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth” (11:22-23).

Jeremiah 12

Some Things Make No Sense (12:1-2)

Jeremiah 12 opened with the prophet questioning the patience of the LORD, and asking: “Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper?” (12:1) Most reading this devotional have the same question! Why do the righteous suffer trouble, and the wicked, who despise God’s Law and Commandments, seem to suffer no consequences?

The prophet reasoned with the LORD, I know You are righteous and just (12:1), but why have you planted the wicked who flourish like a fruit bearing tree? (12:2) Jeremiah went on, and defended his assertion, contending the wicked often make a pretense of spirituality with their mouths, but behold, their hearts are far from the LORD (12:2b).

The Prophet Proposed His Integrity, in Contrast to the Wicked (12:3-4)

After observing how the wicked appear to enjoy favor, Jeremiah pled: LORD you know me, for you have observed my ways, and tried the sincerity of my heart (12:3). Understanding there were those who desired to harm him, Jeremiah called on the LORD to judge the wicked, saying, “pull them out like sheep for the slaughter” (12:3b). He reasoned, why should the land and its inhabitants suffer, while the wicked appeared to go unpunished? (12:4)

Good News, Bad News (12:5-6)

The LORD answered Jeremiah’s grievances with two parables, admonishing the prophet to prepare himself for greater trials and sorrows (12:5).

The first parable suggests, should a man complain of being wearied when he has only run with men, surely, he will never aspire to run with horses (12:5a). The second parable suggest there were some in Judah who whined of their state in the midst of peace, and surely their faith and courage would fail when trouble comes like the swelling waters of the Jordan in season (12:5b). To borrow a 21st century adage, the inference of the two parables for Jeremiah might be summed up: “Fasten your seat belt, Jeremiah, things are going to get much worse!”

Indeed, it did! The news things would get much worse, was followed by the revelation Jeremiah’s own brethren had joined league with his enemies (12:6; 11:22-23). The LORD warned Jeremiah that when his own family comes, “believe them not, though they speak fair words unto thee” (12:5b).

Jeremiah’s Lamentation (12:7-13)

By this time in his ministry, Jeremiah was a lone voice for the LORD in Judah. Josiah, his contemporary, I believe was dead. The prophet faced a people who would not turn from their idols, and whose sins demanded God’s judgment. Because Judah’s pastors (civic and spiritual leaders) had failed the people, their lands and crops would be destroyed by the leaders of Babylon. Jeremiah prophesied, “10Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness. 11They have made it desolate, and being desolate it mourneth unto me; the whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth it to heart” (12:10-11).

Closing thought – Our devotional in Jeremiah 12 concludes with the LORD promising the day would come when He would remember His people, “and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land” (12:15). Nevertheless, true to His covenant with Israel, if the people would not obey the LORD, He promised, “I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation, saith the Lord” (12:17).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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