Jeremiah 16-18

Thursday Evening Bible Study

February 10, 2005

Jeremiah 16

:1-9 No family, no joy

:1 The word of the LORD came also unto me, saying,

:2 Thou shalt not take thee a wife, neither shalt thou have sons or daughters in this place.

Jeremiah had a direct order from God not to get married or raise a family.

:3 For thus saith the LORD concerning the sons and concerning the daughters that are born in this place, and concerning their mothers that bare them, and concerning their fathers that begat them in this land;

:4 They shall die of grievous deaths; they shall not be lamented; neither shall they be buried; but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth: and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine; and their carcases shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.

:5 For thus saith the LORD, Enter not into the house of mourning, neither go to lament nor bemoan them: for I have taken away my peace from this people, saith the LORD, even lovingkindness and mercies.

Jeremiah is not supposed to go to funerals.  He’s not supposed to comfort or feel sorry for the people.

:6 Both the great and the small shall die in this land: they shall not be buried, neither shall men lament for them, nor cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them:

:7 Neither shall men tear themselves for them in mourning, to comfort them for the dead; neither shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or for their mother.

:8 Thou shalt not also go into the house of feasting, to sit with them to eat and to drink.

Don’t escape by going to parties all the time.

:9 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will cause to cease out of this place in your eyes, and in your days, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride.

Jeremiah lived in a pretty sad time. 

He was to live a pretty serious life to show the people the seriousness of the times they lived in.

His calling to remain single was unique, and not the norm.

For the people who were taken captive off to Babylon, the message was different:

(Jer 29:4-7 KJV)  Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; {5} Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; {6} Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. {7} And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.

:10-13 Why is judgment coming?

:10 And it shall come to pass, when thou shalt show this people all these words, and they shall say unto thee, Wherefore hath the LORD pronounced all this great evil against us? or what is our iniquity? or what is our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?

When Jeremiah starts living this kind of life – not marrying, not going to funerals, not going to parties, the people are going to have questions.

For us, when we learn to live like God wants us to live, people ought to be asking questions too.

(Mat 5:16 KJV)  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

:11 Then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the LORD, and have walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law;

:12 And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me:

:13 Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods day and night; where I will not show you favour.


Evil imagination (vs. 12)

What their ancestors had done was bad, but what these people were doing was worse.
They walked after the “imagination of their evil heart”.
Instead of paying attention to the things that God said, they paid attention to their own imaginations.
This is like the person who says, “Well I don’t believe in hell because I can’t believe that a God of love would send anyone to hell”.
It sounds nice to our mind, but it’s a thought based on a person’s imagination, not on the truth.
God is love.  God is also just and holy.

Hell exists as a part of God’s justice, as to how God will make all things right.  Debts must be paid.  Crimes must be punished.

God loves you so much that He sent His Son to die on a cross in your place, paying for your sins, so you wouldn’t have to go to hell.

Now that is love.

(1 John 3:16 KJV)  Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

It’s important that we base what we believe about God upon God’s Word, upon what God says about Himself.
The more you stay in the Word, the more your ideas about who God is will change.  Don’t be surprised if you find that some of your ideas about God are challenged by what the Word says.

:14-15 A new standard of restoration

:14 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;

:15 But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.

There would be a future time of restoration.  It would set a new standard for the people.

Instead of people thinking back to what God had done in delivering Israel out of Egypt, people would think about how God had brought them back from the captivity in Babylon.


A future work

Could God do a new work in you?  Would you be open to it?
Sometimes we get in a rut and look back to certain times in our lives when God was at work and we think that’s the standard, that’s as good as it gets.
But what if God wants to take you further?

:16-21 Certain judgment, Gentile believers

:16 Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.

Jesus talked about making His disciples “fishers of men”.  He was not talking about it in this way.

The people are going to be “fished” or “hunted down” by the Babylonians in order to be killed, not saved.

:17 For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes.

:18 And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcases of their detestable and abominable things.

:19 O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.

There would be a day when pagan Gentiles would realize that their “gods” were stupid and worthless.

:20 Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods?

:21 Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is The LORD.

The LORD – Again, the English translators follow the Jewish tradition of replacing the actual name of the Lord with the word “LORD”, out of respect for the holy name of God.  Our English translations use all capital letters to clue us in to the fact that the actual Hebrew is “Yahweh”.  “They shall know that my name is “Yahweh”.

To the ancient Jewish mind, it was absolutely inconceivable to think that there would ever be such a thing as a Gentile (a non-Jew) in heaven.

For the early church, they had a difficult time understanding that God wanted Gentiles to be saved.  Peter reluctantly preached the gospel at the house of Cornelius the Gentile centurion, but when a group of Gentiles got saved (Acts 10), the church seemed to treat it like some sort of exception to the rule.

It’s not until Acts 15, when Paul is brought before the church to explain his ministry with the Gentiles that the church finally, officially realized that God wanted Gentiles to be saved.

One of the things James said was,

(Acts 15:15 NLT)  And this conversion of Gentiles agrees with what the prophets predicted…

They realized that the Scriptures had actually foretold that God would one day bring salvation to the Gentiles.  Scriptures like this one in Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 17

:1-4 Judah’s sin recorded

:1 The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars;

tableluwach – tablets (of stone); boards (of wood); plate (of metal)

The sin of the people was engraved in stone, written with indelible ink, not only on their hearts but even in their places of worship.

:2 Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills.

Even the children participate in the idolatry that the people of Judah were committing.

groves‘asherah – “groves (for idol worship)”; a Babylonian (Astarte)-Canaanite goddess of fertility, the supposed consort of Baal.

:3 O my mountain in the field, I will give thy substance and all thy treasures to the spoil, and thy high places for sin, throughout all thy borders.

:4 And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever.

:5-8 Blessings in trusting the Lord

:5 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.

maketh flesh his arm – is counting on a human to be his strength.

During this time Judah was starting to count on Egypt to bail them out of their troubles with Babylon.

:6 For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.

(Jer 17:6 NLT)  They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, on the salty flats where no one lives.

:7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.

:8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

heat … drought – difficult times.  The difficult times still come, but when you trust the Lord, you are able to survive them.


Who do you trust?

Blondin the tightrope walker.
Jean Francois Gravelet was born February 28, 1824 in Hesdin, France.  When he was five years old he was sent to the École de Gymnase at Lyon, and after six months’ training as an acrobat he made his first public appearance as “the Little Wonder.”  He developed his skills under the guidance of P.T. Barnum (of Barnum & Bailey Circus).  He became known as the Great Blondin.
In 1859 (35 yrs. old) he announced that he would do the most amazing of all feats, he would cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope 1,100 feet long, 160 feet above the water.
On June 30, 1859 the rope was in position and at five o’clock in the afternoon Blondin started the trip that was to make history. Incredulous watchers saw him lower a rope to the Maid of the Mist, pull up a bottle and sit down while he refreshed himself. He began his ascent toward the Canadian shore, paused, steadied the balancing pole and suddenly executed a back somersault. The crowd ‘screamed’, women ‘fainted’, those near the rope ‘cried’ and begged him to come in. When he finally stepped off the rope, he was grabbed by a delirious mob of well wishers who whisked him away to a champagne celebration.
He crossed the Falls several times, each time making it more difficult.  In all, he crossed the rope on a bicycle, walking blindfolded, pushing a wheelbarrow, stopping to cook an omelet in the center, and making the trip with his hands and feet manacled.
His most daring crossing came when he announced that he would carry a man across on his back.  It would be his manager, Harry Colcord. According to Colcord, the trip was a nightmare. In the un-guyed center section, the pair swayed violently. Blondin was fighting for his life. He broke into a desperate run to reach the first guy rope. When he reached it and steadied himself, the guy rope broke. Once more the pair swayed alarmingly as Blondin again ran for the next guy rope. When they reached it Blondin gasped for Colcord to get down. Six times in all Colcord had to dismount while Blondin struggled to gather his strength. In the end Blondin had to charge the crowd on the brink to prevent the press of people forcing them back in the precipice.
He performed privately for both the Prince of Wales and King Edward VII, he repeated the stunt of ‘carrying a man on his back’ and offered to carry the prince, but he declined.
You don’t have to be a tightrope walker to get across the falls of life. 
You just need to trust Jesus enough to get on His shoulders.  Let Him get you across the falls of life.

:9-11 The wicked heart

:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

:10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

reins – God tests our motives.


Follow the heart

I get kind of confused when it comes to the subject of the heart.
To be honest, I have a hard time telling the difference inside me of what is in my “heart”, what is in my “mind” or what is in my “soul”.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s agree that the “heart” refers to the stuff, the ideas that are inside of you.
Without Jesus our hearts are wicked.  They are deceitful.
When someone in the world says, “Just trust your heart”, it kind of creeps me out.  We need to be careful about trusting our hearts.
Yet with Jesus we experience what is called the “New Covenant” or, “New Testament”.  This new deal between God and man involves a heart transplant.
(Jer 31:33 KJV)  But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
(Ezek 11:19 KJV)  And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:

God promises to give a new heart.  We call this being “born again”.

Yet even as a Christian, I need to be careful when it comes to my heart.  The apostle Paul, as a Christian, wrote,
(Rom 7:18-19 KJV)  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. {19} For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

Now you may say, “Our heart is good, but our flesh is evil”.  And that’s where I get a little confused.  How can you tell which thought rumbling around in your head is from your “heart” and which is from your “flesh”.

As a Christian, we now have this predicament.  We not only have been given a new and good “heart”, but we still have our old sin nature still attached to us.

How can I tell where the thoughts are coming from?
God’s Word

(Heb 4:12 KJV)  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.


(Psa 139:23-24 KJV)  Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: {24} And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Can I ever “follow my heart”?
Yes, but make sure you’ve run those thoughts through God’s filtering process.
(Psa 37:4 KJV)  Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

:11 As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.

Apparently the idea is that of a bird that sits on eggs it didn’t lay, but hatches them.  The baby bird won’t stay with the mother, but will fly away.

A person who gets wealthy by doing bad things will lose their wealth.

:12-18 Help for Jeremiah’s troubles

:12 A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary.

:13 O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.

:14 Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.

:15 Behold, they say unto me, Where is the word of the LORD? let it come now.

The people wonder why Jeremiah’s predictions weren’t coming true right away.

:16 As for me, I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow thee: neither have I desired the woeful day; thou knowest: that which came out of my lips was right before thee.

Jeremiah has remained a faithful shepherd over God’s people.  He hasn’t run away. 

He also hasn’t been looking forward to the destruction that was coming.

He’s only tried to speak the things that are correct before the Lord.

:17 Be not a terror unto me: thou art my hope in the day of evil.

:18 Let them be confounded that persecute me, but let not me be confounded: let them be dismayed, but let not me be dismayed: bring upon them the day of evil, and destroy them with double destruction.

:19-27 Message for Sabbath restoration

:19 Thus said the LORD unto me; Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by the which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem;

Jeremiah was to go to each of the gates of Jerusalem where the people would enter and exit the city, and give this message.

:20 And say unto them, Hear ye the word of the LORD, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that enter in by these gates:

:21 Thus saith the LORD; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem;

:22 Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.

The fifth commandment was to remember the Sabbath day.

(Exo 20:8-11 KJV)  Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. {9} Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: {10} But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: {11} For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Though the concept of resting and honoring God on the Sabbath is a principle that we all need to pay attention to, the particular idea of the Sabbath is one that was given to the nation of Israel.

(Exo 31:13 KJV)  Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.

It was a sign that Israel belonged to God.

:23 But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction.

:24 And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the LORD, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but hallow the sabbath day, to do no work therein;

:25 Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain for ever.

:26 And they shall come from the cities of Judah, and from the places about Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin, and from the plain, and from the mountains, and from the south, bringing burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and meat offerings, and incense, and bringing sacrifices of praise, unto the house of the LORD.

:27 But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.



The importance of the Sabbath
There are a couple of principles at work in the Sabbath, no matter what day you give to Him.

1.  Trusting God. 

Instead of trusting in yourself and working harder and harder to make ends meet, trust God by giving Him a day.  Trust Him to provide for your needs if you will honor Him one day a week.

2. Rest. 

The Sabbath was to be a day of rest.  If God took a day off and rested, perhaps we ought to as well.

The need for balance
In Jeremiah’s day the people were flagrantly breaking the Sabbath.  They worked just as hard on the Sabbath day as every other day of the week. 
In Jesus’ day the pendulum had swung so far the other way that Jesus was criticized for healing people on the Sabbath.
Learn the lesson.
In Nehemiah’s day, after the people had been in captivity in Babylon and had finally been restored to the land, there was still a problem with the Sabbath. 
(Neh 13:15-18 NLT)  One Sabbath day I saw some men of Judah treading their winepresses. They were also bringing in bundles of grain and loading them on their donkeys. And on that day they were bringing their wine, grapes, figs, and all sorts of produce to Jerusalem to sell. So I rebuked them for selling their produce on the Sabbath. {16} There were also some men from Tyre bringing in fish and all kinds of merchandise. They were selling it on the Sabbath to the people of Judah--and in Jerusalem at that! {17} So I confronted the leaders of Judah, "Why are you profaning the Sabbath in this evil way? {18} Wasn't it enough that your ancestors did this sort of thing, so that our God brought the present troubles upon us and our city? Now you are bringing even more wrath upon the people of Israel by permitting the Sabbath to be desecrated in this way!"

Nehemiah knew that one of the reasons for the Babylonian judgment was the neglect of the Sabbath Laws.  He didn’t want to see them go through it again.