August 11, Jeremiah 10-14

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10 Hear the word that the Lord has spoken to[a] you, house of Israel. This is what the Lord says:

Do not learn the way of the nations
or be terrified by signs in the heavens,
although the nations are terrified by them,
for the customs of the peoples are worthless.
Someone cuts down a tree from the forest;
it is worked by the hands of a craftsman with a chisel.
He decorates it with silver and gold.
It is fastened with hammer and nails,
so it won’t totter.
Like scarecrows in a cucumber patch,
their idols cannot speak.
They must be carried because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them for they can do no harm—
and they cannot do any good.

Lord, there is no one like you.
You are great;
your name is great in power.
Who should not fear you,
King of the nations?
It is what you deserve.
For among all the wise people of the nations
and among all their kingdoms,
there is no one like you.
They are both stupid and foolish,
instructed by worthless idols
made of wood!
Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish
and gold from Uphaz.[b]
The work of a craftsman
and of a goldsmith’s hands
is clothed in blue and purple,
all the work of skilled artisans.
10 But the Lord is the true God;
he is the living God and eternal King.
The earth quakes at his wrath,
and the nations cannot endure his fury.

11 You are to say this to them: “The gods that did not make the heavens and the earth will perish from the earth and from under these heavens.”[c]

12 He made the earth by his power,
established the world by his wisdom,
and spread out the heavens by his understanding.
13 When he thunders,[d]
the waters in the heavens are in turmoil,
and he causes the clouds to rise
from the ends of the earth.
He makes lightning for the rain
and brings the wind from his storehouses.

14 Everyone is stupid and ignorant.
Every goldsmith is put to shame
by his carved image,
for his cast images are a lie;
there is no breath in them.
15 They are worthless, a work to be mocked.
At the time of their punishment
they will be destroyed.
16 Jacob’s Portion[e] is not like these
because he is the one who formed all things.
Israel is the tribe of his inheritance;
the Lord of Armies is his name.

Exile after the Siege

17 Gather up your belongings[f] from the ground,
you who live under siege.

18 For this is what the Lord says:

Look, I am flinging away
the land’s residents at this time
and bringing them such distress
that they will feel it.

Jeremiah Grieves

19 Woe to me because of my brokenness—
I am severely wounded!
I exclaimed, “This is my intense suffering,
but I must bear it.”
20 My tent is destroyed;
all my tent cords are snapped.
My sons have departed from me and are no more.
I have no one to pitch my tent again
or to hang up my curtains.
21 For the shepherds are stupid:
They don’t seek the Lord.
Therefore they have not prospered,
and their whole flock is scattered.
22 Listen! A noise—it is coming—
a great commotion from the land to the north.
The cities of Judah will be made desolate,
a jackals’ den.

23 I know, Lord,
that a person’s way of life is not his own;
no one who walks determines his own steps.
24 Discipline me, Lord, but with justice—
not in your anger,
or you will reduce me to nothing.
25 Pour out your wrath on the nations
that don’t recognize you
and on the families
that don’t call on your name,
for they have consumed Jacob;
they have consumed him and finished him off
and made his homeland desolate.

Reminder of the Covenant

11 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Listen to the words of this covenant and tell them to the men of Judah and the residents of Jerusalem. Tell them, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: “Let a curse be on the man who does not obey the words of this covenant, which I commanded your ancestors when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the iron furnace.” I declared, “Obey me, and do everything that I command you, and you will be my people, and I will be your God,” in order to establish the oath I swore to your ancestors, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is today.’”

I answered, “Amen, Lord.”

The Lord said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: ‘Obey the words of this covenant and carry them out.’ For I strongly warned your ancestors when I brought them out of the land of Egypt until today, warning them time and time again,[g] ‘Obey me.’ Yet they would not obey or pay attention; each one followed the stubbornness of his evil heart. So I brought on them all the curses of this covenant, because they had not done what I commanded them to do.”

The Lord said to me, “A conspiracy has been discovered among the men of Judah and the residents of Jerusalem. 10 They have returned to the iniquities of their ancestors who refused to obey my words and have followed other gods to worship them. The house of Israel and the house of Judah broke my covenant I made with their ancestors.

11 “Therefore, this is what the Lord says: I am about to bring on them disaster that they cannot escape. They will cry out to me, but I will not hear them. 12 Then the cities of Judah and the residents of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods they have been burning incense to, but they certainly will not save them in their time of disaster. 13 Your gods are indeed as numerous as your cities, Judah, and the altars you have set up to Shame[h]—altars to burn incense to Baal—as numerous as the streets of Jerusalem.

14 “As for you, do not pray for these people. Do not raise up a cry or a prayer on their behalf, for I will not be listening when they call out to me at the time of their disaster.

15 What right does my beloved have
to be in my house,
having carried out so many evil schemes?
Can holy meat[i] prevent your disaster[j]
so you can celebrate?
16 The Lord named you
a flourishing olive tree,
beautiful with well-formed fruit.
He has set fire to it,
and its branches are consumed[k]
with the sound of a mighty tumult.

17 “The Lord of Armies who planted you has decreed disaster against you, because of the disaster[l] the house of Israel and the house of Judah brought on themselves when they angered me by burning incense to Baal.”

18 The Lord informed me, so I knew.
Then you helped me to see their deeds,
19 for I was like a docile[m] lamb led to slaughter.
I didn’t know that they had devised plots against me:
“Let’s destroy the tree with its fruit;[n]
let’s cut him off from the land of the living
so that his name will no longer be remembered.”
20 But, Lord of Armies, who judges righteously,
who tests heart[o] and mind,
let me see your vengeance on them,
for I have presented my case to you.

21 Therefore, here is what the Lord says concerning the people of Anathoth who intend to take your life. They warn, “Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord, or you will certainly die at our hand.” 22 Therefore, this is what the Lord of Armies says: “I am about to punish them. The young men will die by the sword; their sons and daughters will die by famine. 23 They will have no remnant, for I will bring disaster on the people of Anathoth in the year of their punishment.”

Jeremiah’s Complaint

12 You will be righteous, Lord,
even if I bring a case against you.
Yet, I wish to contend with you:
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why do all the treacherous live at ease?
You planted them, and they have taken root.
They have grown and produced fruit.
You are ever on their lips,[p]
but far from their conscience.[q]
As for you, Lord, you know me; you see me.
You test whether my heart is with you.
Drag the wicked away like sheep to slaughter
and set them apart for the day of killing.
How long will the land mourn
and the grass of every field wither?
Because of the evil of its residents,
animals and birds have been swept away,
for the people have said,
“He cannot see what our end will be.”[r]

The Lord’s Response

If you have raced with runners
and they have worn you out,
how can you compete with horses?
If you stumble[s] in a peaceful land,
what will you do in the thickets of the Jordan?
Even your brothers—your own father’s family—
even they were treacherous to you;
even they have cried out loudly after you.
Do not have confidence in them,
though they speak well of you.

I have abandoned my house;
I have deserted my inheritance.
I have handed the love of my life
over to her enemies.
My inheritance has behaved toward me
like a lion in the forest.
She has roared against me.
Therefore, I hate her.
Is my inheritance like a hyena[t] to me?
Are birds of prey circling her?
Go, gather all the wild animals;
bring them to devour her.
10 Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard;
they have trampled my plot of land.
They have turned my desirable plot
into a desolate wasteland.
11 They have made it a desolation.
It mourns, desolate, before me.
All the land is desolate,
but no one takes it to heart.
12 Over all the barren heights in the wilderness
the destroyers have come,
for the Lord has a sword that devours
from one end of the earth to the other.
No one has peace.
13 They have sown wheat but harvested thorns.
They have exhausted themselves but have no profit.
Be put to shame by your harvests
because of the Lord’s burning anger.

14 This is what the Lord says: “Concerning all my evil neighbors who attack the inheritance that I bequeathed to my people, Israel, I am about to uproot them from their land, and I will uproot the house of Judah from them. 15 After I have uprooted them, I will once again have compassion on them and return each one to his inheritance and to his land. 16 If they will diligently learn the ways of my people—to swear by my name, ‘As the Lord lives,’ just as they taught my people to swear by Baal—they will be built up among my people. 17 However, if they will not obey, then I will uproot and destroy that nation.”

This is the Lord’s declaration.

Linen Underwear

13 This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and buy yourself a linen undergarment and put it on.[u] But do not put it in water.” So I bought underwear as the Lord instructed me and put it on.

Then the word of the Lord came to me a second time: “Take the underwear that you bought and are wearing,[v] and go at once to the Euphrates[w] and hide it in a rocky crevice.” So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the Lord commanded me.

A long time later the Lord said to me, “Go at once to the Euphrates and get the underwear that I commanded you to hide there.” So I went to the Euphrates and dug up the underwear and got it from the place where I had hidden it, but it was ruined—of no use at all.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “This is what the Lord says: Just like this I will ruin the great pride of both Judah and Jerusalem. 10 These evil people, who refuse to listen to me, who follow the stubbornness of their own hearts, and who have followed other gods to serve and bow in worship—they will be like this underwear, of no use at all. 11 Just as underwear clings to one’s waist, so I fastened the whole house of Israel and of Judah to me”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“so that they might be my people for my fame, praise, and glory, but they would not obey.

The Wine Jars

12 “Say this to them: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Every jar should be filled with wine.’ Then they will respond to you, ‘Don’t we know that every jar should be filled with wine?’ 13 And you will say to them, ‘This is what the Lordsays: I am about to fill all who live in this land—the kings who reign for David on his throne, the priests, the prophets, and all the residents of Jerusalem—with drunkenness. 14 I will smash them against each other, fathers and sons alike—this is the Lord’s declaration. I will allow no mercy, pity, or compassion to keep me from destroying them.’”

The Lord’s Warning

15 Listen and pay attention. Do not be proud,
for the Lord has spoken.
16 Give glory to the Lord your God
before he brings darkness,
before your feet stumble
on the mountains at dusk.
You wait for light,
but he brings darkest gloom[x]
and makes total darkness.
17 But if you will not listen,
my innermost being will weep in secret
because of your pride.
My eyes will overflow with tears,
for the Lord’s flock has been taken captive.

18 Say to the king and the queen mother:
Take a humble seat,
for your glorious crowns
have fallen from your heads.
19 The cities of the Negev are under siege;
no one can help them.
All of Judah has been taken into exile,
taken completely into exile.
20 Look up and see
those coming from the north.
Where is the flock entrusted to you,
the sheep that were your pride?

The Destiny of Jerusalem

21 What will you say when he appoints
close friends as leaders over you,
ones you yourself trained?
Won’t labor pains seize you,
as they do a woman in labor?
22 And when you ask yourself,
“Why have these things happened to me?”
it is because of your great guilt
that your skirts have been stripped off,
your body exposed.[y]
23 Can the Cushite change his skin,
or a leopard his spots?
If so, you might be able to do what is good,
you who are instructed in evil.
24 I will scatter you[z] like drifting chaff
before the desert wind.
25 This is your lot,
what I have decreed for you—
this is the Lord’s declaration—
because you have forgotten me
and trusted in lies.
26 I will pull your skirts up over your face
so that your shame might be seen.
27 Your adulteries and your lustful neighing,
your depraved prostitution
on the hills, in the fields—
I have seen your abhorrent acts.
Woe to you, Jerusalem!
You are unclean—
for how long yet?

The Drought

14 This is the word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought:

Judah mourns;
her city gates languish.
Her people are on the ground in mourning;
Jerusalem’s cry rises up.
Their nobles send their servants[aa] for water.
They go to the cisterns;
they find no water;
their containers return empty.
They are ashamed and humiliated;
they cover their heads.
The ground is cracked
since no rain has fallen on the land.
The farmers are ashamed;
they cover their heads.
Even the doe in the field
gives birth and abandons her fawn
since there is no grass.
Wild donkeys stand on the barren heights
panting for air like jackals.
Their eyes fail
because there are no green plants.

Though our iniquities testify against us,
Lord, act for your name’s sake.
Indeed, our rebellions are many;
we have sinned against you.
Hope of Israel,
its Savior in time of distress,
why are you like a resident alien in the land,
like a traveler stopping only for the night?
Why are you like a helpless man,
like a warrior unable to save?
Yet you are among us, Lord,
and we bear your name.
Don’t leave us!

10 This is what the Lord says concerning these people:

Truly they love to wander;
they never rest their feet.
So the Lord does not accept them.
Now he will remember their iniquity
and punish their sins.

False Prophets to Be Punished

11 Then the Lord said to me, “Do not pray for the well-being of these people. 12 If they fast, I will not hear their cry of despair. If they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. Rather, I will finish them off by sword, famine, and plague.”

13 And I replied, “Oh no, Lord God! The prophets are telling them, ‘You won’t see sword or suffer famine. I will certainly give you lasting peace in this place.’”

14 But the Lord said to me, “These prophets are prophesying a lie in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a false vision, worthless divination, the deceit of their own minds.

15 “Therefore, this is what the Lord says concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name, though I did not send them, and who say, ‘There will never be sword or famine in this land.’ By sword and famine these prophets will meet their end. 16 The people they are prophesying to will be thrown into the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword. There will be no one to bury them—they, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. I will pour out their own evil on them.”

Jeremiah’s Request

17 You are to speak this word to them:
Let my eyes overflow with tears;
day and night may they not stop,
for my dearest people[ab]
have been destroyed by a crushing blow,
an extremely severe wound.
18 If I go out to the field,
look—those slain by the sword!
If I enter the city,
look—those ill from famine!
For both prophet and priest
travel to a land they do not know.

19 Have you completely rejected Judah?
Do you detest Zion?
Why do you strike us
with no hope of healing for us?
We hoped for peace,
but there was nothing good;
for a time of healing,
but there was only terror.
20 We acknowledge our wickedness, Lord,
the iniquity of our ancestors;
indeed, we have sinned against you.
21 For your name’s sake, don’t despise us.
Don’t disdain your glorious throne.
Remember your covenant with us;
do not break it.
22 Can any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain?
Or can the skies alone give showers?
Are you not the Lord our God?
We therefore put our hope in you,
for you have done all these things.

Several things come to mind when I read this passage. The first is to trust God and always trust God. For us that are in the family of God, there is no other way. The second comes to mind when I read these verses: “This is what the Lord says: Just like this I will ruin the great pride of both Judah and Jerusalem. 10 These evil people, who refuse to listen to me, who follow the stubbornness of their own hearts, and who have followed other gods to serve and bow in worship—they will be like this underwear, of no use at all.

Are you stubborn enough to follow your own heart instead of God? Toward the end of our reading today the question is asked, “22 Can any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain?” The obvious answer is no, they can’t. Today, let the Holy Spirit examine your heart so He can show you if you are following Him or worthless idols that will bring no satisfaction.

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