Scripture reading – Jeremiah 11; Jeremiah 12

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Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry spanned the reigns of the last five kings of Judah. He was a man of passion who loved the LORD and faithfully proclaimed God’s Word from His calling as a young man (Jeremiah 1:6-8) to the fall of Jerusalem and into the first years of the Babylonian captivity.

The prophet endured the scorn of his people and the persecution of Judah’s leaders. When Judah fell to Babylon, Jeremiah wept. His reputation as the “weeping prophet” is borne out by the sorrows recorded in this book that bears his name and in the Book of Lamentations, his second book.

Jeremiah 11 – Jeremiah Proclaimed God’s Covenant

God revealed to Jeremiah the people’s plot to kill him beginning in Jeremiah 11:18. The LORD warned the prophet that the citizens of Anathoth, his hometown (Jeremiah 1:1), were plotting to kill him if he continued to prophesy “in the name of the LORD” (Jeremiah 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” (Jeremiah 11:22-23).


Jeremiah 12

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

Jeremiah 12 began with the prophet questioning the LORD’s patience and asking, “Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper?” (Jeremiah 12:1b). Jeremiah struggled with God’s apparent blessing on the people despite their wickedness. He reasoned that the LORD is righteous and just (Jeremiah 12:1), but he questioned: Why “are all they happy that deal very treacherously?” (Jeremiah 12:1c)

You may struggle with the same questions! Why do the righteous suffer trouble, and the wicked, who despise God’s Law and Commandments, seem to suffer no consequences? Jeremiah alleged that the LORD had planted the wicked, and they had “taken root” and flourished like a fruit-bearing tree (Jeremiah 12:2). Jeremiah defended his assertion. He contended that the wicked make a pretense of spirituality with their mouths, but their hearts are far from the LORD (Jeremiah 12:2b).

The Prophet Contrasted His Integrity with the Ways of the Wicked

The Prophet Contrasted His Integrity with the Ways of the Wicked (Jeremiah 12:3-4)

After observing how the wicked appeared to enjoy favor, Jeremiah pled: LORD, you know me. You have observed my ways and tried the sincerity of my heart (Jeremiah 12:3). Knowing that some desired to harm him, the prophet called on the LORD to judge the wicked and said, “Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter” (Jeremiah 12:3b). He justified his imprecatory prayer to the LORD, and asserted that the land, its fruit, and animals all suffered because of “the wickedness of them that dwell therein” (Jeremiah 12:4).

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

Having listened to Jeremiah’s grievances, the LORD addressed them with two parables and admonished the prophet to prepare himself for even greater trials and sorrows (Jeremiah 12:5). The first parable suggested that if a man complains of being wearied when he has only run with men, he will never aspire to run with horses (Jeremiah 12:5a). The second parable observed that some in Judah whined of their state. Yet, they lived “in the land of peace” (Jeremiah 12:5b). Certainly, their faith and courage would fail when trouble came, as surely as the waters of the Jordan swelled in season (Jeremiah 12:5c).

The inference of the two parables might be summarized as follows: “Jeremiah, fasten your seat belt; things are going to get much worse!” Indeed, it did! The revelation that things would get much worse was followed by the news that Jeremiah’s brethren were in league with his enemies (Jeremiah 12:6). The LORD warned Jeremiah that when his own family comes, “believe them not, though they speak fair words unto thee” (Jeremiah 12:6b).

Jeremiah’s Lamentation

Jeremiah’s Lamentation (Jeremiah 12:7-13)

Jeremiah had become a lone voice for the LORD in Judah at this time in his ministry. Josiah, his contemporary, I believe, was dead. The prophet confronted a people who refused to turn from their idols and whose sins demanded God’s judgment. Therefore, declared the LORD, though He loved Israel, the nation had broken its covenant with Him, and He would deliver the country “into the hand of her enemies…[and] assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour” (i.e., heathen nations, Jeremiah 12:7-9).

Describing the kings of Judah’s enemies as “pastors,” the LORD foretold they would destroy the “vineyard” (a picture of Judah) and turn the land into “a desolate wilderness” (Jeremiah 12:10-11). The economic failures that Judah would suffer were portrayed as sowing wheat and reaping thorns (Jeremiah 12:13).

Yet, though the LORD used the heathen nations to judge Israel and Judah, He promised He would not forget the sorrows they brought upon His people (Jeremiah 12:14-15).


Closing thought –

Today’s study concludes with the LORD promising that 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” (Jeremiah 12:15). Nevertheless, faithful 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” (Jeremiah 12:17).

So it is with all nations that reject the LORD. They will not know peace until the Prince of Peace, the LORD Jesus Christ, reigns on the earth in the Millennial Kingdom (Micah 4:1-4).

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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