My least favorite literary device, one that makes me cringe when pastors use in the pulpit? Alliteration. Yet, here in these two chapters, these words form our big picture. So I give in and use three r’s. Let us read Jeremiah 5 and 6 together.
Chapter five will help us see Israel’s condition, and really the condition of all humanity outside of Christ. There is not “one who does justice, who seeks truth.” While it is true that Jeremiah had been set apart, and we can read through Daniel and see four faithful young men, and we can see in the history books that Josiah loved the LORD; yet we know the condition of the nation–the leaders, and all the people were much more infatuated with their idols and their own ways. There were many who would say religious things, and perform religious rituals, yet it was fake. It was outward. Religious rituals divorced from loving God with their whole being (link to lesson on Deuteronomy 10-11).
We cannot live a life of “just do it, and your heart will follow.”
Just doing the actions, apart from a heart that loves and serves God alone, has led them to this place, it has not secured any eternal or material good. Thus, in chapter five, Jeremiah reviews they are not as righteous as they think, not even a little bit.
5:1-9 No, not one! Not among the poor, or great, or smart or ignorant. They are stubbornly faithless; they “refused to repent.” We are called to a life of faith and repentance. They believed they had no need to repent.
5:10 destroy but leave a remnant! This will not be the end of God’s people, it is the time for justice, for consequences long overdue; yet He will not destroy. Upon hearing that the consequences announced in Deuteronomy will be taking place soon, many say God would not possibly carry that out. This is yet another sin–they have lied about the LORD saying “not He!” How often do we speak for the LORD, when we ought to listen to how He speaks for Himself?
5:14 We see God using His battle name! God responds to the false notion that He will not be faithful to discipline His children with His battle name, God of Hosts. He reveals His character through names sometimes, and when He uses this name we ought not miss the importance. He is doing battle for His people, against what really threatens them–sin, especially idolatry and falsehood.
5:23-25 too stubborn and rebellious to repent, their sins have worked against them, and they do not recognize that among them are people seeking their harm.
5:30-31 And the people love it so! (see 2 Timothy 3:13, 4:1-5) Humanity is always seeking teachers who will tickle our ears, who will lead us from a little evil to a little more evil, sliding gradually into a deception we cannot easily dig ourselves out of. Humanity runs from redemption (“Return to Me! Calls the LORD, and we run…) yet must do something to stop the guilt, so we seek out false teachers. We seek out “good enough” and “close enough” and “ecumenical” and “modern” teachers. We read what gets put on the New York Times Bestseller list, not what our pastor recommends.
6:3 Shepherd are coming, other kings. The LORD directs these kings to carry out His Designed discipline. 6:8, it must be so–OR the land would become a desolation. Discipline will not lead to ruin, but kicking against Him even in this will lead to ruin.
6:7 Water! A major theme in this book, as a word picture. Water sustains life, our bodies are comprised of water and need water to survive, and we need plenty to thrive. All of creation needs water. Keep this tucked away as we plod through the book, learning how God will use this word picture to show His great desire to give His people life.
6:9, Remnant! The recurring thread of a remnant seen throughout the book is seen here. The remnant heads off into captivity. This discipline will be for their good, for their renewal.
6:10 Even though He has sent countless prophets, priests, and leaders, have the people listened? And so, even now, God asks Jeremiah to consider, if He sent another message who would listen? They all together have NO DELIGHT IN THE WORD. When you know you are in the presence of a community that does not delight in His Word, you need not trust their critique! Do you delight in His Word, beloved? Is it your treasure? Is it your life?
6:15 They have sinned so long they no longer hide shame, for they are dull and feel no shame. This is why we do not trust feelings. Our brains are wired in such a way that we can train ourselves to love evil, to approve what is wrong, to feel like our pet sins are not shameful.
“Feelings are good servants, but poor masters.” (Dallas Willard wrote this, and it has stuck with me for years, though I cannot remember a chapter or page; in Divine Conspiracy)
Make this your Meditation
6:16-19 REST, fulfilled in Jesus, Matthew 11:25-30 He offers, they say “We will not listen.” This is why Christ must come and suffer. Apart from His Spirit drawing us, we too would not listen. Make this portion a meditation of your heart often. We cannot seek soul-rest apart from Christ.
All of this, again, is “the fruit of their plans because they have not listened to My words, and as for My law, they hae rejected it also.” Sacrifices and offerings? Not pleasing to God, because the heart is not in it.
This chapter closes with an oracle of the things to come, concerning their captors, the lion which represents Assyria.
Concerning chapter 6, says Walter Brueggeman on page 16 of Now Comes The Poet:…”alienation and guilt linger so long, hopelessly, powerfully, that one must eventually bury them. …to get on with life… in a “can do theology”, in a facade of autonomous indifference, in resignation. [then comes Jeremiah 6:13-15; see also 5:8 and 13:27] The poet understands the reality and power of the temptation to bury. The poet therefore addresses Israel’s sin directly and unflinchingly.1
Now is the time to commit in our hearts “no more covering up of my sins! No more fearing how God may respond, I will repent, I will return! He loves me with perfect love! Speak LORD for Your servant listens.”