Jeremiah 11-13

Thursday Evening Bible Study

January 27, 2005

Jeremiah 11

This is Jeremiah’s fourth message.  It has been suggested that this message dates back to 621 BC, six years after Jeremiah began his ministry.  It was then that the Temple renovations began under Josiah and the book of the Law was rediscovered in the Temple.

(2 Chr 34:14-33 KJV)  And when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the LORD, Hilkiah the priest found a book of the law of the LORD given by Moses. {15} And Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah delivered the book to Shaphan. {16} And Shaphan carried the book to the king, and brought the king word back again, saying, All that was committed to thy servants, they do it. {17} And they have gathered together the money that was found in the house of the LORD, and have delivered it into the hand of the overseers, and to the hand of the workmen. {18} Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath given me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king. {19} And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the law, that he rent his clothes. {20} And the king commanded Hilkiah, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Abdon the son of Micah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king's, saying, {21} Go, inquire of the LORD for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do after all that is written in this book. {22} And Hilkiah, and they that the king had appointed, went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college:) and they spake to her to that effect. {23} And she answered them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Tell ye the man that sent you to me, {24} Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah: {25} Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be poured out upon this place, and shall not be quenched. {26} And as for the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, so shall ye say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel concerning the words which thou hast heard; {27} Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest his words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me; I have even heard thee also, saith the LORD. {28} Behold, I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace, neither shall thine eyes see all the evil that I will bring upon this place, and upon the inhabitants of the same. So they brought the king word again. {29} Then the king sent and gathered together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. {30} And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the priests, and the Levites, and all the people, great and small: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant that was found in the house of the LORD. {31} And the king stood in his place, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his statutes, with all his heart, and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant which are written in this book. {32} And he caused all that were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin to stand to it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers. {33} And Josiah took away all the abominations out of all the countries that pertained to the children of Israel, and made all that were present in Israel to serve, even to serve the LORD their God. And all his days they departed not from following the LORD, the God of their fathers.

This seems to be the context of our passage:  The Law has been rediscovered, read, and the people have entered into a new covenant with Josiah, a covenant to obey God’s Word.

:1-17 Violating the Covenant

:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,

:2 Hear ye the words of this covenant, and speak unto the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem;

Jeremiah was to pay attention to the covenant that Josiah had read, and he was to remind the people of their obligation to keep it.

:3 And say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel; Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant,

:4 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:

The ideas here come right out of the Law, from Deuteronomy:

(Deu 4:20 KJV)  But the LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day.

:5 That I may perform the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day. Then answered I, and said, So be it, O LORD.

:6 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.

:7 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.

:8 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.

God would keep His part of the agreement.  Israel has disobeyed and God will punish.

:9 And the LORD said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

The conspiracy is to disobey what God has told them to do.

:10 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.

Even though the reign of Josiah was a time of reform, it was an outward reform.  Inside the people’s hearts was a continual rebellion against God.

:11 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.

Lesson

Inescapable Judgment

The nation was not going to be able to escape what was coming.
Illustration
“The Hound of Heaven” by Francis Thompson
I fled down the nights and down the days,
I fled him down the arches of the years.
I fled him down the labyrinthine ways of my own mind.
And in the midst of tears I hid from him,
And under running laughter.
Up the visited hopes I sped and shot
Precipitated down titanic glooms of chasm fears
From those strong feet that followed
Followed after.
But with hurrying chase and unperturbed pace
Deliberate speed
Majestic instancy
They beat.
And a voice beat more instant than the feet.
“All things betray thee,
Who betrayest me.”
It’s a terrifying thing to think about facing God’s judgment.
(Heb 10:31 KJV)  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
And we will all face God’s judgment:
(Heb 9:27 KJV)  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
But you don’t have to be condemned:
(John 3:17-18 KJV)  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. {18} He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

:12 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.

:13 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.

:14 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.

This is now the second time out of three that God has told Jeremiah not to pray for the people.  The other two times are:

(Jer 7:16 KJV)  Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.

(Jer 14:11 KJV)  Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good.

Lesson

Sometimes God doesn’t say “yes”

We have this notion that if we pray for anything enough, that God is going to do it. Not so.
There are some things that God is simply not going to do in response to our prayers.
Here – Jeremiah is told not to even pray for the people and for God’s mercy, because they have simply gone too far.

:15 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.

(Jer 11:15 NLT)  What right do my beloved people have to come to my Temple, where they have done so many immoral things? Can their sacrifices avert their destruction? They actually rejoice in doing evil!

:16 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.

:17 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.

:18-23 Plot against Jeremiah

:18 And the LORD hath given me knowledge of it, and I know it: then thou showedst me their doings.

:19 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.

The people responded to the things Jeremiah had said by plotting to kill him.

:20 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.

Jeremiah asks God to get those plotting against him.

:21 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:

Anathoth was Jeremiah’s own hometown.  His own town was behind the plot on his life.

:22 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:

:23 And there shall be no remnant of them: for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their visitation.

God promises that Anathoth would be destroyed because of their opposition to Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 12

:1-4 Jeremiah questions God’s justice

:1 Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?

Lesson

Life’s not fair

As Jeremiah is talking with God about these people that are plotting against him, he gets to wondering why God allows wicked people to prosper.
When you go through tough times, it’s easy to complain how unfair life seems.
Sometimes we get to thinking my life’s worse than every one else’s
Illustration
“The Cross Room”
A young man was at the end of his rope. Seeing no way out he dropped to his knees in prayer. “Lord, I can’t go on,” he said. “I have too heavy a cross to bear.” The Lord replied, “My son, if you can’t bear its weight, just place your cross inside this room. Then open that other door and pick out any cross you wish.” The young man was filled with relief. “Thank you Lord,” he sighed, and he did what he was told. Upon entering the other door, he saw many other crosses, some so large the tops weren’t even visible. Then he spotted a tiny cross leaning against the far wall. “I’d like that one Lord,” he whispered. And the Lord replied, “My son, that is the cross you just brought in.”

:2 Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins.

They talk about God, but God has very little influence on their hearts.

:3 But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter.

:4 How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? the beasts are consumed, and the birds; because they said, He shall not see our last end.

Even the land itself was upset at the spiritual condition of things.  There had apparently been a drought.  Yet the wicked people still had this notion that God wasn’t paying any attention to them.

:5-6 God’s answer to Jeremiah’s complaint

:5 If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?

(Jer 12:5 NLT)  Then the LORD replied to me, "If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses? If you stumble and fall on open ground, what will you do in the thickets near the Jordan?

In other words, “If you think you’ve got it tough now Jeremiah, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

:6 For even thy brethren, and the house of thy father, even they have dealt treacherously with thee; yea, they have called a multitude after thee: believe them not, though they speak fair words unto thee.

To make things worse, even Jeremiah’s own family was against him.  His family was part of the conspiracy in Anathoth.

Lesson

Endurance

The point is not that we need to get freaked out thinking that things can get worse, but that we need to learn to handle the things God has in front of us now.
Jeremiah is hearing about the plots against him and he’s calling on God for judgment.
Yet things are going to get WAY worse for Jeremiah before they get better.
God knows how much you can take.  He promises not to give you more than you can handle.
(1 Cor 10:13 NLT)  But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.
If God thinks you can handle it, then we can.  God has a race for us to run.  We need to run it to the finish.
(Heb 12:1-3 NLT)  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. {2} We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God's throne in heaven. {3} Think about all he endured when sinful people did such terrible things to him, so that you don't become weary and give up.
Sometimes things get tough, and we simply want to quit.
We need to keep going.
Illustration
“In 1972, NASA launched the exploratory space probe Pioneer 10. According to Leon Jaroff in Time, the satellite’s primary mission was to reach Jupiter, photograph the planet and its moons, and beam data to earth about Jupiter’s magnetic field, radiation belts, and atmosphere. Scientists regarded this as a bold plan, for at that time no earth satellite had ever gone beyond Mars, and they feared the asteroid belt would destroy the satellite before it could reach its target.
“But Pioneer 10 accomplished its mission and much, much more. Swinging past the giant planet in November 1973, Jupiter’s immense gravity hurled Pioneer 10 at a higher rate of speed toward the edge of the solar system. At one billion miles from the sun, Pioneer 10 passed Saturn. At some two billion miles, it hurtled past Uranus; Neptune at nearly three billion miles; Pluto at almost four billion miles. By 1997, twenty-five years after its launch, Pioneer 10 was more than six billion miles from the sun.
“And despite that immense distance, Pioneer 10 continued to beam back radio signals to scientists on Earth. ‘Perhaps most remarkable,’ writes Jaroff, ‘those signals emanate from an 8-watt transmitter, which radiates about as much power as a bedroom night light, and takes more than nine hours to reach Earth.’
“The Little Satellite That Could was not qualified to do what it did. Engineers designed Pioneer 10 with a useful life of just three years. But it kept going and going. By simple longevity, its tiny 8-watt transmitter radio accomplished more than anyone thought possible.
“So it is when we offer ourselves to serve the Lord. God can work even through someone with 8-watt abilities. God cannot work, however, through someone who quits.”

-- Leadership, Vol. 19, no. 1.

Illustration
Theodore Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

:7-13 Judgment continued …

God now goes on to continue the judgment pronounced on Judah, which had been interrupted with the discovery of the plot against Jeremiah (11:18 - 12:6)

:7 I have forsaken mine house, I have left mine heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies.

:8 Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest; it crieth out against me: therefore have I hated it.

:9 Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her; come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour.

(Jer 12:9 NLT)  My chosen people have become as disgusting to me as a vulture. And indeed, they are surrounded by vultures. Bring on the wild beasts to pick their corpses clean!

:10 Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.

pastors – could refer to the rulers of the land.  It could also be another picture, that of shepherds bringing their flocks into a vineyard and trampling it under the feet of the flock.

:11 They have made it desolate, and being desolate it mourneth unto me; the whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth it to heart.

:12 The spoilers are come upon all high places through the wilderness: for the sword of the LORD shall devour from the one end of the land even to the other end of the land: no flesh shall have peace.

the sword of the LORD – meaning the Babylonians.  They would be God’s sword.

It’s strange to see how far Israel has come.  In the early days when Gideon fought against the Midianites, he divided his miniscule army into three groups …

(Judg 7:20 KJV)  And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.

Israel had been the sword of the Lord.  Now that honor had moved to Babylon.  And Babylon would fight against Israel.

:13 They have sown wheat, but shall reap thorns: they have put themselves to pain, but shall not profit: and they shall be ashamed of your revenues because of the fierce anger of the LORD.

(Jer 12:13 NLT)  My people have planted wheat but are harvesting thorns. They have worked hard, but it has done them no good. They will harvest a crop of shame, for the fierce anger of the LORD is upon them."

Lesson

Sowing and reaping

These people aren’t reaping what they’ve sown because they’ve sown wheat but only harvest thorns.
But in reality, they are actually reaping what they’ve sown.
(Gal 6:7-9 KJV)  Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. {8} For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. {9} And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Illustration
A millionaire was attracted to bootlegging, to add to his wealth. However, he was caught and sent to prison. A friend of his visited him one day and found him sitting cross-legged with an enormous needle and a ball of twine, sewing burlap bags.
“Hello,” said the friend, “Sewing, eh,”
“No,” said the prisoner, with a grim smile, “Reaping.”

-- Sermon Builder, March, 1980, p. 18.

:14-17 Message to the neighbor nations

:14 Thus saith the LORD against all mine evil neighbours, that touch the inheritance which I have caused my people Israel to inherit; Behold, I will pluck them out of their land, and pluck out the house of Judah from among them.

As Judah would be judged by the coming Babylonian invasion, the nations that surround Judah would be looking at the land and trying to figure out a way to get it for their own.

God would be plucking them up just like He’s going to pluck up Judah.

:15 And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land.

Each of these nations would also be restored to their land.

:16 And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, The LORD liveth; as they taught my people to swear by Baal; then shall they be built in the midst of my people.

:17 But if they will not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation, saith the LORD.

God promises to bless the nations that will turn to follow after the Lord.  Some suggest this is a promise for the coming Millennial Kingdom.

Jeremiah 13

:1-11 Dirty Girdle

This is a new section, a new message.

Jeremiah is now going to perform an action to teach a lesson.

The prophets were often asked by God to do certain things in order to get a message across.

Isaiah went naked (Is. 20) for three years to show the people that the northern kingdom would be carried off naked to serve the Assyrians.  I’m glad I’m not Isaiah.
Ezekiel did all sorts of strange things.  He lay on his side for a year; he made a pretty gross kind of bread cooked over manure; he even was not supposed to mourn when his wife died.  All these things were to teach lessons.

:1 Thus saith the LORD unto me, Go and get thee a linen girdle, and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water.

girdle ‘ezowr – waist-cloth, the innermost piece of clothing; waistband; some translations have “belt”

:2 So I got a girdle according to the word of the LORD, and put it on my loins.

:3 And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying,

:4 Take the girdle that thou hast got, which is upon thy loins, and arise, go to Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole of the rock.

Euphrates[email protected] – “fruitfulness”; the largest and longest river of western Asia; rises from two chief sources in the Armenian mountains and flows into the Persian Gulf, the Euphrates is a 700 mile round trip; some have translated this as “to Parah”, which is a place on the Jordan River only three miles from the city of Anathoth.  Some have suggested that Jeremiah went to Parah, but it was to be a symbol of the Euphrates, where the Babylonians would be coming from.

:5 So I went, and hid it by Euphrates, as the LORD commanded me.

:6 And it came to pass after many days, that the LORD said unto me, Arise, go to Euphrates, and take the girdle from thence, which I commanded thee to hide there.

:7 Then I went to Euphrates, and digged, and took the girdle from the place where I had hid it: and, behold, the girdle was marred, it was profitable for nothing.

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

Now comes the lesson.

:9 Thus saith the LORD, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem.

:10 This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing.

:11 For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the LORD; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear.

The lesson was that God would be humbling the land of Judah by taking it off to Babylon.

Lesson

Humble Thyself

Sometimes our own pride gets in the way of our relationship with the Lord.
Jesus taught:
(Luke 18:10-14 KJV)  Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. {11} The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. {12} I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. {13} And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. {14} I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
We have a good thing going in our life and we get all caught up in how great we are.
We are faced with a choice, are we going to humble ourselves before the Lord so He can use us again, or is He going to have to humble us?
(1 Pet 5:5-6 KJV)  Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. {6} Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

:12-14 Wineskins

:12 Therefore thou shalt speak unto them this word; Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Every bottle shall be filled with wine: and they shall say unto thee, Do we not certainly know that every bottle shall be filled with wine?

(Jer 13:12 NLT)  "So tell them, 'The LORD, the God of Israel, says: All your wineskins will be full of wine.' And they will reply, 'Of course, you don't need to tell us how prosperous we will be!'

:13 Then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will fill all the inhabitants of this land, even the kings that sit upon David's throne, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, with drunkenness.

:14 And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the LORD: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them.

God would make them so confused, they would be like drunken people.  They would not be able to stand up and keep the judgment from coming.

:15-21 Coming judgment

:15 Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the LORD hath spoken.

:16 Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.

:17 But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord's flock is carried away captive.

Lesson

Compassion for the lost

Jeremiah’s heart is broken for the people that won’t wake up and turn around.
Illustration
Richard Baxter wrote a book called The Reformed Pastor.  He wrote in 1656 and he said this:  I marvel how I can preach slightly and coldly.  How I can let men alone in their sins and that I do not go to them and beseech them for the Lord’s sake to repent; however they take it and whatever pains or troubles it should cost me.
I seldom come out of the pulpit but my conscience smites me that I have been no more serious and fervent than I have.  It accuses me not so much for want of human ornaments or elegance, not for letting fall an uncomely word, but it asks me:
How could you speak of life and death with such a heart?
Shouldst thou not weep over such a people and should not thy tears interrupt thy words?
Should not thou cry aloud and show them their transgressions and entreat and beseech them as for life and death.
How do you feel about people who don’t know the Lord?
How do you feel about people who just tick you off?

:18 Say unto the king and to the queen, Humble yourselves, sit down: for your principalities shall come down, even the crown of your glory.

king and queen – probably the king was Jehoiachin (also known as Jeconiah) and the queen mother was Nehushta-the widow of Jehoiakim (cf. 29:2; 2 Kings 24:8, 12, 15).

This would place this message around 597 BC.

Jeconiah only reigned for three months before being taken captive to Babylon.

:19 The cities of the south shall be shut up, and none shall open them: Judah shall be carried away captive all of it, it shall be wholly carried away captive.

:20 Lift up your eyes, and behold them that come from the north: where is the flock that was given thee, thy beautiful flock?

:21 What wilt thou say when he shall punish thee? for thou hast taught them to be captains, and as chief over thee: shall not sorrows take thee, as a woman in travail?

:22-27 Unrepentant hearts

:22 And if thou say in thine heart, Wherefore come these things upon me? For the greatness of thine iniquity are thy skirts discovered, and thy heels made bare.

:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.

Lesson

Habitual sin

The nation had gone so far into sin that they couldn’t change.
Illustration
We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.

-- John Dryden

I think it’s possible for a person to go so far from God that they can’t come back.  I think there’s a line that if a person crosses it, they’re not going to turn around.
How do I know when I’ve gone too far?
If you’re here, I doubt that you’ve crossed it.
It’s when you don’t care anymore.  If you still care, you can change.

:24 Therefore will I scatter them as the stubble that passeth away by the wind of the wilderness.

:25 This is thy lot, the portion of thy measures from me, saith the LORD; because thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in falsehood.

Lesson

False trust

They’re counting on the wrong things.
Illustration
A United Press release in a midwestern city told of a hospital where officials discovered that the firefighting equipment had never been connected.  For 35 years it had been relied upon for the safety of the patients in case of emergency.  But it had never been attached to the city’s water main.  The pipe that led from the building extended 4 feet underground—and there it stopped!  The medical staff and the patients had felt complete confidence in the system. They thought that if a blaze broke out, they could depend on a nearby hose to extinguish it. But theirs was a false security.  Although the costly equipment with its polished valves and well-placed outlets was adequate for the building, it lacked the most important thing—water!

:26 Therefore will I discover thy skirts upon thy face, that thy shame may appear.

discover - uncover

:27 I have seen thine adulteries, and thy neighings, the lewdness of thy whoredom, and thine abominations on the hills in the fields. Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem! wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be?

These kinds of scriptures can sure leave us down and depressed.

Illustration

Martin Luther once was so depressed over a prolonged period that one day his wife came downstairs wearing all black.

Martin Luther said, “Who died?”

She said, “God has.”

He said, “God hasn’t died.”

And she said, “Well, live like it and act like it.”

-- Robert Russell, "Releasing Resentment," Preaching Today, Tape No. 136.

He is alive.  We have a reason to look up.

If you’ve been going in the wrong direction in your life, it’s real simple.  Turn around.  God cares about you.  He wants the best for you.



cf. confer, compare