Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Asking For It

Jeremiah 11:1-23

“The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, and speak unto the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem; And say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel; Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant, Which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you: so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God: Then the LORD said unto me, Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, and do them.” (Jeremiah 11:1-6)

When Israel came out of Egypt, God made a covenant or contract with Israel, He promised to give them a land of their own, to protect them from their enemies and disease and to make them prosperous in exchange for their obedience.   Here he commands Jeremiah to remind them of their commitment and warn them that anyone who breaks that contract is cursed of God.

“For I earnestly protested unto your fathers in the day that I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, even unto this day, rising early and protesting, saying, Obey my voice.  Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart: therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do; but they did them not.” (Jeremiah 11:7-8)

From the very beginning, God had sent prophets to remind Israel of the terms of their contract with Him and the need to obey, and that they had agreed to it.  From the very beginning, less than forty days after signing the contract, they made the golden calf and began to worship it.  Thirteen times in the book of Judges, and repeatedly through the kingdom period they decided not to keep their contract, doing whatever they thought was good instead.  Part of the covenant specified the punishment for breaking it, and now God is warning him that he is going to take those actions.     

“And the LORD said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem.  They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers.” (Jeremiah 11:9-10)

It is clear that Judah’s violation of the terms of their contract are not from a lack of understanding or even of carelessness or complacency.  They have been warned repeatedly and refuse to change, insisting on doing the same things they always have.  Their forefathers refused to obey God, choosing to worship other gods instead.  In doing so they have broken the contract.

“Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.  Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble.  For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to that shameful thing, even altars to burn incense unto Baal.” (Jeremiah 11:11-13)

God will bring judgment on Judah for their deliberate refusal to honor their contract. And their will be no avoiding the consequences.   Because their actions have been deliberate, God will not listen to their pleas for leniency, and they will turn to the gods they served instead for help.  At that time thy will learn how useless and helpless those gods are.  Every city had adopted their own gods, with altars to Baal on every street corner as well. 

“Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble.  What hath my beloved to do in mine house, seeing she hath wrought lewdness with many, and the holy flesh is passed from thee? when thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest.” (Jeremiah 11:14-15)

Once again God uses the analogy of an adulterous wife.   In Deuteronomy 24:1-4, the law deals with a woman who for one reason or another separates from her husband and maries someone else.  “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.  And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife.  And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”  Once they have been with someone else, they have no right to go back to the first husband. 

God asks Judah what right they have to be in His house once they have left Him to worship other gods?   He instructed Jeremiah not to intervene on their behalf because they have gone too far.   Any effort to be reconciled will have to start with them.    Genesis 6:3 tells us, “And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man…” 

“The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken.  For the LORD of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done against themselves to provoke me to anger in offering incense unto Baal.  And the LORD hath given me knowledge of it, and I know it: then thou showedst me their doings.  But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered.” (Jeremiah 11:16-19)

God had set up Israel and Judah like an olive tree, but after a while he built a fire to burn it down because of their sin.   By violating God’s covenant, knowing that it specified certain judgments for doing so Israel and Judah have brought the judgment on themselves.  Though they don’t recognize it they have asked for their own destruction, thinking they are just going to destroy the mention of God and his prophet, Jeremiah.  It was very much like what is happening in America today.  In the effort to eliminate Christian influence, the so called “liberals” are destroying their own freedoms. 

“But, O LORD of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause.  Therefore thus saith the LORD of the men of Anathoth, that seek thy life, saying, Prophesy not in the name of the LORD, that thou die not by our hand: Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will punish them: the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine: And there shall be no remnant of them: for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their visitation.” (Jeremiah 11:20-23)

Hurt by the constant attacks and efforts to silence him, Jeremiah prayed to see God’s judgment on those who tried to destroy him, because he had only tried to show them what God had said.   God responded that the men of the Anathoth who had devoted their efforts to silencing him, forbidding him to speak the word of God under penalty of death would be punished by Him.  The young men would be killed serving in the military.  Their children would die of starvation and ultimately none otf them would survive, even though there would be a remnant of the Jews as a whole. 

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