Jeremiah begins this next section in the Temple gate, as others walk in and out he proclaimed that their worship was false, meaningless, mere ritual. We look today at the big ideas from Jeremiah 7-10.
They sin, but reassure one another “The temple!” God promised to dwell here, so we are ok as long as we offer a sacrifice every now and then. Verse 8 is where they are first accused of trusting in deceptive words, the theme will continue throughout the book. They sin, worship idols, and then stand before God in the Temple and declare themselves delivered of sin.
God declares rather that they have turned His house into a den of robbers. Attempting to steal grace. They, like many still today, enjoy their sin believing that ‘grace may abound.’
Shiloh, Tabernacle, Lessons Learned
God directs them to look at Shiloh as an example. The place of the tabernacle, ruined; the whole city. Why? The consequence of sin. So the people who think the Temple is more permanent, and therefore they can sin without fear–they are wrong, and will share Shiloh’s future.
The covenant promises are reiterated, again. “Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.’ Yet…they walk in the stubbornness of their own evil hearts. A phrase we will hear often.
Jeremiah is told that the people will not listen, yet God wants the words spoken–He loves His people enough to keep speaking, offering repentance.
Lies and Shame
Chapter eight has very provoking questions from God: does one turn away and not repent? Why…in continual apostasy?” He declares that they “hold fast to deceit, they refuse to return.” After reciting words of the covenant that were heard in Deuteronomy, God accuses of them of holding fast to deceit. (Notice 7:4, 8; 8:5; 9:5-6) Deuteronomy repeats many times God’s desire that we hold fast to Him, and hold fast to His words. They were “dwelling” in untruth. We will hold fast, we will dwell/abide, but in what or to what–what are you holding to, clinging to? What words have shaped your heart, mind, and soul? (This is a great time to ponder John 8:31-37)
8:12 lets us know that God intends to use punishment to bring them away from false words–false comfort and deceit. They have spoken “peace peace” to one another, but God is not at peace with any of them!
Chapter eight ends with a lament from Jeremiah. He is despairing, believes he is beyond healing. There are not enough tears for all the crying he wants to do. God joins the lament with His own question about why Israel loves idols.
Jeremiah’s lament changes, and in chapter 9 he expresses his desire to run away. Do we not all grow weary in a world tainted by sin? God breaks in again, to say the people do indeed proceed from bad to worse, loving evil. A warning comes, that people who love evil cannot be trusted by their neighbors.
Following the poetic lament comes the prose question, “Who is wise?” Can one be wise who has forsaken God’s law, and refused His voice, and walked after the stubbornness of his own heart? God reminds Jeremiah then that these people will have bitterness ahead, as a result of all their choices. This is an oracle of destruction and just consequences, though many still ask “why?” It is their continual forsaking of God’s law, and walking after the stubbornness of their hearts (hear that phrase, again?).
Yet, a call goes out, to know God, and to boast in that knowing. He reminds them of what He truly delights in: hesed, justice and righteousness. (What does God require? What does God delight in? Very fruitful meditations, dedicate some time to these. See here.)
It is not for lack of discipline
Chapter ten continues with the theme that Israel has trusted lies, clung to falsehood, etc. in 10:8 God calls it their “discipline of delusion.” Discipline, self-discipline; effort, time, work, habits formed intentionally. They have disciplined themselves to dwell in delusion. So it is not lack of discipline–it is misplaced affection, trust, intention. Time and energy and mental focus directed toward lies rather than God’s Word, including all that He reveals concerning Life.
Devoid of Knowledge
10:12-16 poetically describes Israel’s love affair with idols. Though God is the only Creator, Marvelous and Powerful and Able to Help–yet Israel is devoid of knowledge. Too stupid to recognize God’s work or cling to His word.
It is not in them to keep their own ways–they have trusted their hearts and been led astray. To this poetic oracle, Jeremiah offers a poetic prayer. Look upon me in Your Justice, Correct me but not with anger. And He, being slow to anger, is quick to hear Jeremiah and help.
The fruit of deceptive words, the false comfort of “peace peace” or “the Temple” will always be sour, rotten, and lead to death. Yet the call to repent, the prayer offered to the God who reveals Himself, and has spoken in His Word, bring His true peace. See Romans 5 for further reflection in His true peace.