Jeremiah Chapters 7 – 12 are filled with many conflicts as the Lord tries to bring Israel to acknowledge their backsliding hypocrisy. Israel is smug. They have a temple, a covenant, and the Lord as their God, but they have wandered in their hearts far from Him. They have picked up idolatry in their worship, and deceit in their dealing with one another, and have hardened their hearts to those who are in need. Instead, they trust lying words that no longer carry any power.
The Lord says, “Amend your ways” but they say, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord”.
God says, “Do justice, do not oppress the alien, the fatherless, and the widow. Do not walk after other gods”.
But they trust in lying words. What words? That they are not responsible for their actions because they have a covenant. So, they act as the nations, then come into God’s house and say, “We are delivered to do all these abominations.”
God asks, “Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes?” It’s Interesting that this is what Jesus said too.
Shiloh was where the Lord first placed His name. Look what He did, because of the wickedness of His people Israel. He spoke to them, rising early and speaking, but Israel would not hear. God called and they would not answer. So now, God says, “I will do the same to you as I did to Shiloh”, as Jesus said of the Temple in Jerusalem.
Idolatry, family worship of the queen of heaven, had provoked God to anger. He reminds Israel that they were to obey His voice and walk in all the ways He commanded them. But they would not and chose to walk in their own counsels and dictates of their hearts. This is all in chapter seven, with Jeremiah speaking to the temple-goers as he stands at the gate of the temple. Deception is rampant, even to idol worship, and the burning of their own children.
God is speaking to His own people concerning their ways, starting with the temple goers. In America, God is speaking to His own people concerning our ways, starting with us churchgoers. Judgment begins in the house of the Lord.
This choice of life is challenged by the Lord through all six chapters.
Chapter Eight – “Everyone is given to covetousness; from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely. For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, saying ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace.” Jeremiah 8:10, 11
Chapter Nine – “Their tongue is an arrow shot out; it speaks deceit; one speaks peaceably to his neighbor with his mouth, but in his heart, he lies in wait.” Jeremiah 9:8
Chapter Ten – “For the shepherds have become dull-hearted and have not sought the Lord; Therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flock shall be scattered. Behold the noise of the report has come, and a great commotion out of the north country, to make the cities of Judah desolate, a den of jackals.” Jeremiah 10:21, 22
Chapter Eleven – “For according to the number of your cities were your gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem you have set up altars to burn incense to that shameful thing, altars to burn incense to Baal.” Jeremiah 11:13
Repeatedly, God points out the obvious, but Israel refuses to see their guilt. Jeremiah faces the first group that plots to kill him and trusts in the Lord “But I was like a docile lamb brought to the slaughter.”
God was after the heart of Israel. If Israel, who were called by His name, had gone to the temple owning the ways of their hearts, and humbled themselves and prayed, and sought the Lord’s face and turned from their wicked ways, then the Lord would have heard from heaven, forgiven their sin, and healed their land.
Jeremiah calls me to this searching time with my own heart, rather than refuting I agree. Rather than seeking confirmation, I need conviction to return to the Lord in ways where I do not think I have left the Lord. It is God’s people, who are called by His name, that determine the fate of a nation. It’s not the nation that determines the fate of His people.
Chapter Twelve – Jeremiah is worn out because God is righteous but slow in His judgments. To which God replies to Jeremiah, “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?” Jeremiah 12:5