In today’s lesson, God continues to deal with Israel and Judah to expose their sins.
Lessons from the text
The Reaches of Sin
In verse seven, God asks how He could pardon Israel for their sin. They believed that there was no consequences for their sins. After all, God dwelt among them, so surely they were in the right.
The Jews could not see that even though they were in a covenant relationship with God, they were still under God’s judgment. No matter your relationship to God, sin is still sin. If you willingly choose to commit sin, then God will judge you just as if you never had a relationship with Him (Eze. 18:24).
Not only do you condemn your soul to spiritual death when you willingly sin, you also teach your children to sin. In fact, your children usually sin worse than you. While Israel had known God and choose to dabble with other gods while continuing the sacrificial ordinances of Moses’ Law, their children completely forsook God and gave their oaths to false gods (v. 7).
Children learn from the example of their parents. Such is why it is essential that you always maintain a proper attitude and lifestyle. Not only is God always watching, but also your children see every choice you make. Such is why Paul tells us to be sober minded, diligent, and always faithful to the Lord (Tit. 2:1-8). It is vital to remember that it is not just your soul that pays the price for your sins; the soul of your child is also at stake. You don’t want to be the one responsible for teaching your child to commit acts that will send them to hell.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1 To make the point that His judgment is just, God commands Jeremiah to see if he can find a righteous person in all of Jerusalem. The remainder of the chapter makes it clear that such a person is not be found among the inhabitants. Curiously, Jeremiah is present in Jerusalem when God’s judgment falls on the city, so this must be referring to the trend of the general public (Jer. 38:28).
2-3 Despite appearances, God sees the truth. One may proclaim righteousness and be completely wicked on the inside (see Mt. 23:27).
4 The fool says in his heart that there is no God (Ps. 14:1). They not only lack knowledge of how to perform righteous judgment but they also can not recognize God’s judgment, even when it is happening to them. Compare with Mt. 16:3.
5 The great man is he who has knowledge of God and puts that knowledge into practice. The wicked have broken up and cast away the yoke and bonds of God’s law. That is, they go outside the constraints of the law to do as they please.
6 In response to rebellion against God’s laws, one becomes vulnerable to the wild beasts. It is a weakness and putting a target mark on oneself to forsake God and His commandments.
7 Not only have the adults sinned, but also their children have sinned. Whatever choices one makes has a great impact on one’s family and future generations. It is extremely selfish to do as one pleases without considering the example that it is setting forth for one’s children.
Swearing to them that are no gods simply means that one is making oaths to false gods. This sin arose out of abundance; no longer persecuted or struggling for life’s necessities, one turns away from God, believing that He is no longer needed. God is not a rainy day fund one pulls out only in times of trouble. In essence, Israel used God until they had what they wanted and then left Him. Such is why God says that they have dealt treacherously towards Him (v. 11).
8 Full of abundance, the Jews began to desire more. Having one’s material needs met, one can easily begin to turn one’s attention to fulfilling lusty desires. That is, when one is struggling every day to scrounge for food, one does not have the time to think about committing adultery. Just because one has rest from one’s abundance does not entitle one to develop a wandering eye on other’s belongings.
9 God does not allow sin in any form to go unpunished, even among His own people. By committing the sins, God’s people act like the lost instead of as holy believers. God shows no favor to persons, enacting equal judgment for sin on the lost, Jew, and Gentile. Of course, if God’s people repent, God will forgive them.
10 Whatever is not of the Lord will be destroyed. Battlements are meant for defense, so the point is that whatever one builds to protect oneself will be destroyed. This is juxtaposed to the battlements that the Lord builds around one.
11 See note for verse 7.
12-13 When judgment comes, the wicked dismiss it, crediting the judgment to causes other than their sins. Thinking themselves righteous, they do not believe that destruction is coming to them. Even if they prophesy in the name of the Lord, the word of God is not with them.
14 The penalty for false teaching, preaching, or prophesying is to be devoured by the real word of God.
15-19 The Lord is referring to Babylon. Their weapons of war bring certain death to their targets, and the reference to the harvest implies complete conquest. Despite this, God will not allow Babylon to destroy all the Jews but will retain a remnant. This remnant will cry out asking why this trouble has come upon them, at which point God instructs Jeremiah to reply that it is because of their sins. Jeremiah lives through the Babylonian deportation and thus fulfills this command later in his life.
20-29 Reminiscent of God’s prophecy through Isaiah, God says that the people hear and see the work of God yet fail to comprehend its meaning (Isa. 6:9). The creation is a witness to the existence of God. The intricate designs and carefully planned boundaries point to an intelligent craftsman. The awesome nature of the earth is intended to make humanity fear the One who designed it, for if God has enough power to shape creation, how much power does He have over one’s soul?
Nonetheless, people rebel and leave this knowledge of God, forgetting to fear Him and acknowledge His blessings and grace in supplying their needs. They allow sin to direct them farther and farther from the ways of righteousness, leading them farther and farther away from goodness and blessings. Eventually, sinners begin to actively seek evil, setting snares for other men, deceiving men to gain riches, failing to take care of those who are weak, and putting their own prosperity above the needs of others.
God has one answer for those who choose such a life: He will come seeking vengeance for all the evil that they have committed.
30-31 Topping off all the sins of the previous verses, God adds that the Jews of Jeremiah’s days are glad to have false teachers. Paul warns that a “time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (II Tim. 4:3-4).
The people do not want to hear the truth because they lust after ungodly lifestyles. To them, it is easier to sin. Righteous living is a burden, prohibiting one from doing as one will. This is, of course, far from the truth. Righteous living removes that which is cumbersome and detrimental to the soul, thus alleviating many worries and consequences. That is, the only things one gives up to live righteously are the things that in the end will hurt one. The wicked do not desire to live righteously because they do not want to bridal their desires.
Choosing sin over self-control, the wicked do not want to hear preaching about the consequences of sin. Instead, they want to hear that their way is acceptable to God and that God will not punish them for their choices.
Recognizing this, some religious leaders cease from preaching the truth and only tell the good things about God. They lie to the people to scratch their itching ears, telling them that they are free from the consequences of their sin. God rebukes this line of thought with a simple question: in the end, when one’s life is over, what will it have accomplished? All the lying and pursuing of one’s desires will have done nothing but lead one straight into hell.
Thank you for your faithfulness in studying God’s word.
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