Jeremiah 1-2

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

December 29, 2005

Background

His name:  Suggested meanings include ”Yahweh establishes,“ ”Yahweh exalts,“ and ”Yahweh hurls down.“

Jeremiah[email protected] – “whom Jehovah has appointed”

Jeremiah was the chief prophet during the days of the destruction of the nation of Judah.  There were other prophets around at the time as well:  Daniel, Ezekiel, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah, but Jeremiah was the main prophet. His ministry began about 60 years after the death of the prophet Isaiah.

His ministry was destined from the beginning to be a ministry of “failure”.  The people were not going to pay attention to him.  The people were on the way downhill and destined for judgment.

One of Jeremiah’s nicknames is the “weeping prophet”.

Historical background:

The northern kingdom of Israel was taken away by the Assyrians in 722 BC, during the reign of King Hezekiah in Judah, while Isaiah was the prophet.

After King Hezekiah, Manasseh became king and led the people into a huge backsliding time of idolatry.  Manasseh was king for 55 years.  After he died, his son Amon was king for only two years before he was assassinated.  Amon’s son, Josiah then was crowned king when he was only eight years old.  Josiah reigned for 31 years, and was a good king, bringing a measure of revival to the land before it’s final slide into idolatry and judgment.

It’s in the 13th year of Josiah’s reign that Jeremiah begins his ministry.

Internationally, the Assyrians had been the big bully on the block, having conquered the world, including the northern kingdom of Israel.  But Assyrian is on the slide downward and has been losing one battle after another to the Babylonians.  The combined armies of Babylon and the Medes would conquer the Assyrian capital of Nineveh in 612 BC.

The Assyrians pulled back to the city of Carchemish while the Babylonians marched on.  Meanwhile, the Egyptians decided that they didn’t want Babylon ruling the world, so they took their army up north to help the Assyrians defeat the Babylonians.  King Josiah like the Babylonians and so when the Egyptians came marching through Judah, he decided to try and stop them.  A battle occurred at Megiddo, and Josiah was killed.  When the Egyptians continued on to Carchemish, they got there too late.  The Assyrians had been defeated by the Babylonians.

There became a tug-o-war between the Egyptians and the Babylonians over the little nation of Judah as these world powers kept putting their favorites on the throne of David.  During these times, various groups were taken captive off to Babylon.  The first group that was taken in 605 BC included royal family, and included captives like Daniel.  A second group, containing 10,000 captives taken in 597 BC included the King Jehoiachin and Ezekiel the prophet.  In 588 BC, a new Pharaoh took the throne in Egypt and put together an alliance along with Judah, Tyre, and Ammon.  They rebelled against Babylon.  Nebuchadnezzar came down quickly to deal with the revolt and by July/August 586 BC, Jerusalem was wiped out.

Outline

The chapters aren’t in chronological order.  Jeremiah will date his prophecies, but there is apparently some sort of logic to the order other than chronological.

I. Introduction (chap. 1)

II. Prophecies concerning Judah (chaps. 2-45)

A. Thirteen prophecies of divine judgment on Judah (chaps. 2-25)

B. Jeremiah’s troubles as a result of his prophecies (chaps. 26-29)

C. Future comfort for Israel and Judah (chaps. 30-33)

D. Jeremiah’s ministry before, during and after the fall (chaps. 34-45)

III.  Prophecies concerning the Nations (chaps. 46-51)

A. Egypt, Philistia, various nations (chaps. 46-49)

B. Prophecy against Babylon (chaps. 50-51)

IV. Conclusion / fulfillment (chap. 52)

Jeremiah 1

:1-4 Introduction

:1 The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin:

Hilkiah – not the same as Hilkiah the high priest.

Anathoth‘Anathowth – “answers to prayer”; a small village about three miles northeast of Jerusalem, a city that belonged to the priests.

:2 To whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.

in the thirteenth year … – He started his ministry in 627 BC. 

Josiah was a good king.  He was the last of the good kings.

Josiah’s reforms began in the fifth year of his reign. 

By the time Jeremiah came around much of the outward idolatry had been taken away, but the people’s hearts were still hooked on the other gods.

Jeremiah’s persecutions don’t really begin until the death of Josiah.

:3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.

The fall of Jerusalem was in July/August 586 BC.  Jeremiah would actually continue his ministry past the fall of Jerusalem to at least 582 BC as he was with some of the people who went down to Egypt after the fall of Jerusalem.

His ministry spanned the last fifty years of the nation of Judah and in a sense he was there when the nation died.

What happened to Jeremiah after the fall of Jerusalem?

The book of Jeremiah records that he was taken down to Egypt with some of the refugees after the governor was killed.

After that …

There are some other goofy stories –
Some say that Jeremiah took the Ark of the Covenant with him to Egypt.  There are apparently references in the apocrypha to this extent, but the Bible doesn’t tell us this.
There is another story that Jeremiah took one of the young princes with him to Egypt and then afterward took the young prince to the British Isles.  There are those who then claim that the monarchy in Great Britain are a direct descendant of this prince, being descendants of the throne of David.  These are also the people that claim that much of Europe are descendants of the lost tribes of Israel – like the “Danish”, being descendants of the tribe of Dan, with “ish” being the Hebrew word for “man”, thus a “Danish” person is a “man from Dan”.  The “Irish”, the “British” are all from the tribes of Israel.  I like what Pastor Chuck says, that these folks forget that the word “foolish” also has the “ish” in it.
We really don’t know what happened to Jeremiah from there, though another tradition has it that he was killed in Egypt.

:4 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

:5-10 Jeremiah’s call

:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

God knew Jeremiah before he was born.

I think this has implications on whether or not there is life in the womb. 

When does life begin?  God seems to think it begins in the womb.

God has called Jeremiah to be a prophet for him.

:6 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.

Jeremiah has two objections to God’s call.

He didn’t know how to speak.  He wasn’t an eloquent speaker.

He was too young (he was probably in his late teens or early twenties)

It’s not uncommon for a person who is called by God to be a little reluctant to go.

Lesson

Excuses?

Sometimes we have a lot of good excuses as to why God can’t use us.
Moses had his excuses as well:
(Exo 4:10-12 NLT)  But Moses pleaded with the LORD, "O Lord, I'm just not a good speaker. I never have been, and I'm not now, even after you have spoken to me. I'm clumsy with words." {11} "Who makes mouths?" the LORD asked him. "Who makes people so they can speak or not speak, hear or not hear, see or not see? Is it not I, the LORD? {12} Now go, and do as I have told you. I will help you speak well, and I will tell you what to say."

God’s reply was that He was the one who made Moses.

God made you.  He made you exactly like He wanted you to be.  God doesn’t make mistakes.
Sometimes God actually can use the things you consider to be your weaknesses.
Paul wrote,
(1 Cor 2:1-5 NLT)  Dear brothers and sisters, when I first came to you I didn't use lofty words and brilliant ideas to tell you God's message. {2} For I decided to concentrate only on Jesus Christ and his death on the cross. {3} I came to you in weakness--timid and trembling. {4} And my message and my preaching were very plain. I did not use wise and persuasive speeches, but the Holy Spirit was powerful among you. {5} I did this so that you might trust the power of God rather than human wisdom.
If God calls you and you think God is the lucky one for calling you, I think there’s a mistake.

:7 But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.

God’s answer:

It doesn’t matter who you are as long as God sends you.

He doesn’t have to worry about what he’s going to say.  He only has to say what God tells him to say.

When God calls you, He also equips you.

:8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.

Jeremiah will not be liked.  People will make plenty of faces at him.

:9 Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

God’s touch put the words in Jeremiah’s mouth

:10 See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.

Jeremiah’s ministry would have two different kinds of results.

Some come into judgment (root out, pull down, destroy, throw down)

Some would be blessed (build, plant)

It’s interesting that the destruction comes before the building.

Sometimes things are so corrupt, so bad, that before you can build, you need to tear things down.

God doesn’t tear things down in our lives except to one day build things back up.

(Jer 29:11 KJV)  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Yet sometimes before the “good” can be done, the bad needs to be rooted out.

:11-16 Almond Tree and Boiling Pot

:11 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree.

almond treeshaqed – almond tree, almonds.  The word comes from comes from shaqad, to wake, watch, awake, be alert.

The almond tree was named “the awake tree“ because in Palestine it is the first tree in the year to bud and bear fruit. Its blooms precede its leaves, as the tree bursts into blossom in late January.

There’s going to be a Hebrew play on words here.

:12 Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.

I will hastenshaqad – to wake, watch, awake, be alert

“I will awake over My Word to perform it”

:13 And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north.

A boiling pot that was about to be poured out.

:14 Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.

The Babylonians would come and destroy everything.

:15 For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.

:16 And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.

Archaeologists have uncovered houses in Jerusalem that date back to Jeremiah’s day.  In the rubble of the houses they are discovering lots of little idols.  Multitudes of idols in each house.

:17-19 Be strong Jeremiah

:17 Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.

gird up – Tie up your tunic so you can run.  Get ready to move.  This is God speaking to Jeremiah.

It’s easy to get “confounded” when you look at people’s faces.  It’s easy not to say what you should.

:18 For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land.

:19 And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.

God would protect Jeremiah through all his difficulties.

Lesson

God’s protection

There’s no safer place to be than in the center of God’s will for you.
This doesn’t mean that Jeremiah won’t have problems.
It means that God will protect.
Does following Jesus mean that you’ll never have problems?
No.  But He’ll be with you.

Jeremiah 2

This begins a section where Jeremiah records 13 prophecies of judgment against the nation of Judah.

Thirteen prophecies of divine judgment on Judah (chaps. 2-25)

:1-3 When Judah was pure

:1 Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

:2 Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.

Israel was like a young bride to the Lord.

Israel followed after God as she was brought through the wilderness to the Promised Land.

This was the time of their “first love”.

:3 Israel was holiness unto the LORD, and the firstfruits of his increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the LORD.

All that tried to hurt Israel had to face God.

There will one day be a time when Israel will again be “holy” to the Lord

(Zec 14:20-21 KJV)  In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD'S house shall be like the bowls before the altar. {21} Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts.

:4-8 Leaders have left God

:4 Hear ye the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel:

:5 Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?

God is saying, “What did I do to deserve this?”

:6 Neither said they, Where is the LORD that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, that led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, through a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt?

Why aren’t the leaders crying out to God, reminding Him of His faithfulness in bringing the people out of Egypt?

:7 And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination.

God brought them to a good land and they walked away from Him.

:8 The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.

priests – spiritual religious leaders

pastors – civilian leaders, government leaders – the judges and then the kings

prophets – guys who spoke for God, yet they spoke for Baal instead.  Baal was a Canaanite god of fertility.

:9-13 God’s charge:  You’ve left God

:9 Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children's children will I plead.

pleadriyb – to strive, contend.  The language sounds like the indictment of a prosecuting attorney.

:10 For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing.

ChittimKittim – “bruisers”; a term for the island of Cyprus; a general term for all islanders of the Mediterranean Sea

KedarQedar – “dark”; the north Arabian desert tribes.

God is asking the people to look all around them to see if anyone has done what they’ve done.

:11 Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.

(Jer 2:11 NLT)  Has any nation ever exchanged its gods for another god, even though its gods are nothing? Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols!

No other nation changes their gods.  And their “gods” are really nothing at all.

:12 Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD.

:13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

The two evils:

1)  Leaving a stream of living water

Living water was a term used for flowing water, a spring, a stream, or an artesian well rather than a stagnant pool.
Living water is the best.  It’s clean.  It’s fresh.  It tastes good.

2)  Made cisterns that don’t hold water

A cistern was a reservoir dug out of the solid rock.  In ancient Israel, one of the ways of getting water was to dig out a cistern and then divert rain water into the cistern.
Water from a cistern wasn’t as nice as living water, but it was better than nothing.
But if the cistern didn’t hold water, it was no good.

Lesson

Stay with what works.

The people had abandoned God for things that did them no good at all.
What works and what doesn’t.
Illustration
from Random Reminiscences From Fifty Years of Ministry by H. A. Ironside (New York: Loizeaux Bros., 1939)
For nearly a year after I left the Salvation Army and launched out in evangelistic work in fellowship with the Christians commonly known as “Brethren,” I lived in the San Francisco Bay region. One Lord’s Day afternoon as I was walking up Market Street, I saw a large group gathered at the corner of Market and Grant Avenue. When I heard the sound of music and singing, I realized in a moment that it was a meeting of my old Salvationist friends, and went over to enjoy it. They had a splendid brass band. There were perhaps sixty soldiers in all, who had formed a large circle round which some three or four hundred people were gathered. I pushed my way through to the front of the crowd, and was almost immediately recognized by the little lassie captain who came over and asked me if I would not like to give a testimony. Of course I was pleased to do this, so when opportunity presented itself, at her suggestion I stepped into the ring and tried to give a gospel message based on my own personal experience of Christ’s saving grace.
While I was speaking, I noticed that a well-dressed man of medium build and intelligent countenance who was standing on the curb took a card from his pocket and wrote something on it. Just as I was concluding my talk, he stepped forward, politely lifted his hat, and handed me the card. On one side I read his name. I realized at once who he was, for I had seen his name in the public press and on placards as one who had been giving addresses for some months all up and down the West Coast from Vancouver to San Diego. He was an official representative of what was then called the I. W. W. Movement — that is, the “Industrial Workers of the World,” though opponents of its socialistic principles generally interpreted the mystic letters as standing for “I Won’t Work.” He held meetings among laboring men, seeking to incite them to class hatred and to organize with a view to overthrowing the capitalistic system.
Turning the card over, I read on the opposite side, as nearly as I can now remember, the following challenge: “Sir, I challenge you to debate with me the question ‘Agnosticism versus Christianity’ in the Academy of Science Hall next Sunday afternoon at four o’clock. I will pay all expenses —.”
I read the card aloud, and replied somewhat as follows: “I am very much interested in this challenge. Frankly, I am already announced for another meeting next Lord’s Day afternoon at three o’clock, but I think it will be possible for me to get through with that in time to reach the Academy of Science by four, or if necessary I could arrange to have another speaker substitute for me at the meeting already advertised. Therefore I will be glad to agree to this debate on the following conditions: namely, that in order to prove that Mr.—has something worth fighting for and worth debating about, he will promise to bring with him to the Hall next Sunday two people, whose qualifications I will give in a moment, as proof that agnosticism is of real value in changing human lives and building true character. First, he must promise to bring with him one man who was for years what we commonly call a ‘down-and-outer.’ I am not particular as to the exact nature of the sins that had wrecked his life and made him an outcast from society — whether a drunkard, or a criminal of some kind, or a victim of any sensual appetite — but a man who for years was under the power of evil habits from which he could not deliver himself, but who on some occasion entered one of Mr.—s meetings and heard his glorification of agnosticism and his denunciations of the Bible and Christianity, and whose heart and mind as he listened to such an address were so deeply stirred that he went away from that meeting saying, ‘Henceforth, I too am an agnostic!’ and as a result of imbibing that particular philosophy he found that a new power had come into his life. The sins he once loved, now he hated, and righteousness and goodness were henceforth the ideals of his life. He is now an entirely new man, a credit to himself and an asset to society — all because he is an agnostic.
“Secondly, I would like Mr.—to promise to bring with him one woman — and I think he may have more difficulty in finding the woman than the man — who was once a poor, wrecked, characterless outcast, the slave of evil passions, and the victim of man’s corrupt living.” As I spoke I was within perhaps a stone’s throw of San Francisco’s infamous Barbary Coast, where so many young lives have been shipwrecked; and so I added, “Perhaps one who had lived for years in some evil resort on Pacific Street, or in some other nearby hell-hole, utterly lost, ruined and wretched because of her life of sin. But this woman also entered a hall where Mr.—was loudly proclaiming his agnosticism and ridiculing the message of the Holy Scriptures. As she listened, hope was born in her heart, and she said, ‘This is just what I need to deliver me from the slavery of sin!’ She followed the teaching until she became an intelligent agnostic or infidel. As a result, her whole being revolted against the degradation of the life she had been living. She fled from the den of iniquity where she had been held captive so long; and today, rehabilitated, she has won her way back to an honored position in society and is living a clean, virtuous, happy life — all because she is an agnostic.
“Now, Mr.——,” I exclaimed, “if you will promise to bring these two people with you as examples of what agnosticism will do, I will promise to meet you at the Hall at the hour appointed next Sunday, and I will bring with me at the very least one hundred men and women who for years lived in just such sinful degradation as I have tried to depict, but who have been gloriously saved through believing the message of the gospel which you ridicule. I will have these men and women with me on the platform as witnesses to the miraculous saving power of Jesus Christ, and as present-day proof of the truth of the Bible.”
Turning to the little Salvation Army captain, I said, “Captain, have you any who could go with me to such a meeting?” She exclaimed with enthusiasm, “We can give you forty at least, just from this one corps, and we will give you a brass band to lead the procession!”
“Fine!” I answered. “Now, Mr.——, I will have no difficulty in picking up sixty others from various Missions, Gospel Halls, and evangelical churches of the city, and if you promise faithfully to bring two such exhibits as I have described, I will come marching in at the head of such a procession, with the band playing ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers,’ and I will be ready for the debate.”
I think Mr.—had quite a sense of humor, for he smiled rather sardonically, waved his hand in a deprecating kind of way as much as to say, “Nothing doing!” and edging through the crowd he left the scene, while that great crowd clapped the Salvation Army and the street-preacher to the echo, for they well knew that in all the annals of unbelief no one ever heard of a philosophy of negation, such as agnosticism, making bad men and women good, and they also knew that this is what Christianity has been doing all down through the centuries.
Our gospel proves itself by what it accomplishes, as redeemed people from every walk of life, delivered from every type of sin, prove the regenerating and keeping power of the Christ of whom the Bible speaks.
One of the greatest arguments for the gospel is the change that happens in a person’s life when they choose to follow Jesus.
Yet the nation of Judah had abandoned the True God, they had abandoned what “worked”, and had followed after things that didn’t work.

:14-30 Israel’s backsliding

:14 Is Israel a servant? is he a homeborn slave? why is he spoiled?

:15 The young lions roared upon him, and yelled, and they made his land waste: his cities are burned without inhabitant.

:16 Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes have broken the crown of thy head.

NophNoph – “presentability”; another name for ‘Memphis’ the capital city of Egypt

TahapanesTahapanes – “thou will fill hands with pity”; a city in Egypt; modern ‘Tel Defenneh’ or ‘Tel Defneh’ located approx 18 miles (29 km) east southeast from Tanis

broken – some translations have “shaved”

There were a couple of times in history when Egypt came up and caused problems to Jerusalem, or “shaved” their head.

:17 Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, when he led thee by the way?

Haven’t you figured out that you’ve abandoned God?

:18 And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?

Sihor – a branch of the Nile river in Egypt.

the river – the Euphrates River, connected to Assyria

(NLT)  What have you gained by your alliances with Egypt and Assyria? What good to you are the waters of the Nile and the Euphrates?

They had forsaken Living Water for water from the Sihor and Euphrates

:19 Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

(NLT) Your own wickedness will punish you.

We often get plenty of punishment from simply backsliding.

Judah’s falling away from the Lord is now compared to several things:

:20 Adultery

:20 For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot.

God had delivered them from the bondage of slavery in Egypt.  Israel promised to follow the Lord.

Yet now Israel worships all these other gods at every chance it gets.

harlot – God’s relationship with Israel is seen as a marriage.  When Israel goes to follow other gods, it’s like being a harlot or like committing adultery.

Some of you have been through the pain of a broken relationship.  God understands.

:21 Bad vine

:21 Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?

Israel is often compared to a vineyard or a vine.  Yet it had grown into a wild plant.

:22  Bad stain

:22 For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD.

nitrenether – natron, carbonate of soda

soapboriyth – lye, potash, soap, alkali (used in washing)

markedkatham   (Niphal) to be stained, be defiled, be deeply stained

Their sin was like a horrible stain.  The best soaps of the day could not get the stain out.

Aren’t you glad we have something to wash away our sin?  The blood of Jesus.

(1 John 1:7-9 KJV)  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. {8} If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. {9} If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

:23-25 Animal in heat

:23 How canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? see thy way in the valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift dromedary traversing her ways;

dromedary – camel

:24 A wild ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure; in her occasion who can turn her away? all they that seek her will not weary themselves; in her month they shall find her.

:25 Withhold thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst: but thou saidst, There is no hope: no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go.

Judah’s backsliding is being compared to female donkey in heat.  The animal goes crazy to find a male donkey.  The people have gone crazy for their other gods.

:26 As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets,

:27 Saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us.

Israel knows its shame like a thief that is caught.

They have the stupidity of bowing down to a piece of wood or a piece of stone.  They talk to the wood and stone.

Yet when Israel gets into trouble, they turn around and expect God to help them.

Lesson

All or nothing

God’s desire is not that He be the one who bails us out of jail, but then we turn around and do our own thing.
He wants us to follow Him.  He wants us to buy into what He has for our lives.
He wants us in it for the long haul, not just when disaster strikes.

:28 But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah.

Let all the other gods save you then.

Each city had its own “god”.  Often the god was named “Baal-(city name)” like “Baal-Fullerton”.

Baalpeor; Baalgad; Baalathbeer; Baalhermon; Baalberith; Baaltamar; Baalhazor; Baalzebub; Baalshalisha; Baalmeon …

:29 Wherefore will ye plead with me? ye all have transgressed against me, saith the LORD.

The nation was trying to make a case against God, like they were bringing a case against God.

It’s kind of like those cases where a thief breaks into a person’s house and hurts himself during the robbery and afterwards tries to sue the people who own the house.

We were told that we shouldn’t put a chain on the back door of the sanctuary when we lock up because if a thief breaks into the building, and a fire breaks out, and if the only door he can get to was the door with the chain, we might have a lawsuit on our hands.

In reality, it was the people who had broken the Law.

:30 In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion.

When God sent a prophet to correct the nation, they only responded by killing the prophet.

:31-37 Confess

:31 O generation, see ye the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee?

(NLT) Why then do my people say, ‘At last we are free from God! We won’t have anything to do with him anymore!’

:32 Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.

maid … ornaments … bride … attire – for us, a bride wears a gown at her wedding, a husband or a wife wears a wedding ring to remind themselves and others that they are married.  Israel was like a bride who kept forgetting who she was married to.

:33 Why trimmest thou thy way to seek love? therefore hast thou also taught the wicked ones thy ways.

God is saying that the prostitutes could learn a few lessons from watching how Israel is unfaithful to the Lord.

:34 Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents: I have not found it by secret search, but upon all these.

(NLT) Your clothing is stained with the blood of the innocent and the poor. You killed them even though they didn’t break into your houses!

:35 Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned.

The people are claiming that they are innocent, but their claim only makes God more determined to show them what they’ve done wrong.

Lesson

Confess

Relief doesn’t come from making excuses.
Forgiveness comes when we confess our sins, not hide them.
(Psa 32:1-5 NLT)  Oh, what joy for those whose rebellion is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! {2} Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of sin, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! {3} When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long. {4} Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Interlude {5} Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, "I will confess my rebellion to the LORD." And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Interlude

:36 Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way? thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria.

:37 Yea, thou shalt go forth from him, and thine hands upon thine head: for the LORD hath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them.

Instead of asking God for help, the nation kept switching alliances from one nation to another, from Assyria to Egypt.

Yet God says that they will be just as ashamed of their alliance with Egypt as they had been with Assyria.  They will still be carried away as captives with their hands over their heads. God has rejected these nations, so trusting in them isn’t going to help.