Jeremiah Chapter 5: The Sins of Judah

Nov 16th, 2009 | By | Category: Jeremiah, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Jeremiah Chapter 5: The Sins of Judah

Jer. 5:1 Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it.

In obedience to God’s command, Jeremiah literally ran through the streets of Jerusalem, crying out, “Is there anyone here who executes judgment and desires truth?” What is startling is that Jerusalem was the capital, the seat of government, with the intelligentsia, priests, the king, and princes. Of course there were some righteous—a handful, as it were—who escaped being put to death by the king of Babylon when he came down. The three captivities are enumerated at the end of this book, telling that out of millions of people who resided in Judah, the lives of only 4,600 were spared (Jer. 52:28-30).

Jer. 5:2 And though they say, The LORD liveth; surely they swear falsely.

God was saying that some professed to follow Him, but their professions were not sincere.

Jer. 5:3 O LORD, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.

Now Jeremiah responded. We do not think the beginning of verse 3 should be a question, for Jeremiah had had enough experience to know that the inhabitants of the city were not sincerely religious and that, consequently, searching in the streets of Jerusalem was a waste of time. He could testify as to the condition of the people and agreed wholeheartedly with what God had just said in verse 2. Therefore, he was saying, “O LORD, your eyes are upon the truth.

Whatever punishment you decree will be a just judgment because the people are not amenable to instruction. They are using your name in vain.” The people did not grieve when they should have grieved, and they refused to receive correction, even though they were punished. Judah and Benjamin should have learned a lesson from the captivity of the ten-tribe kingdom, which had occurred because of hardness of heart. Instead the two tribes manifested the same symptoms of sin and disobedience—a sickness that indicated approaching doom, or death.

When their crops failed and there were other punishments for their waywardness, the people found fault with God and sought solace from false gods. They felt that Jehovah was too harsh and judgmental and did not realize they themselves were the problem.

Jeremiah replied to God, “They have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return [to repent and turn to you].” When the people manifested their hard countenances, it was obvious they would not listen.

Comment: Knowing the end from the beginning, God said in the first chapter that He would prepare Jeremiah for the hard faces of the people.

Reply: Yes, He made Jeremiah an “iron pillar” and a “defenced city” (Jer. 1:17,18). The prophet was strengthened so that he could ignore the people’s facial expressions and continue with God’s message. Jeremiah had to be stronger than the people.

Jer. 5:4 Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the LORD, nor the judgment of their God.

Jer. 5:5 I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds.

Here is an insight into Jeremiah’s thinking. He reasoned, “It is more understandable that the common people would not listen because of their lack of religious and moral instruction. I will get a better response from the educated leaders.” But what was the result? He found out that the “great men” had “altogether broken the yoke [the Law Covenant], and burst the bonds.”

Thus the people, great and small, had no inhibitions. Both as a nation and as individuals, they had broken the Law Covenant.

Jeremiah needed firsthand experience with the elite element of the government. Later we will read that he was even brought into the presence of the king, but the same condition existed there.

Jer. 5:6 Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased.

Verse 6 mentions a lion, a wolf, and a leopard. The “lion” was King Nebuchadnezzar, who came “out of the forest” from the north. The statement “a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities” describes the nature of the visitation that would come upon Judah. For instance, if a person hears a pack of howling wolves in the forest at night, the first thing he does is to light as large a fire as possible to keep them away. The howling is an ominous sound that portends doom. A leopard sneaks up on its prey, not wasting any effort.

Verse 6 reminds us of Habakkuk 1:6-8, which describes the Chaldeans, who would accompany Nebuchadnezzar along with other peoples. “For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces that are not theirs. They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves. Their horses [doctrines] also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat.” Because the people of Judah had “broken the yoke,” God would permit the “lion,” Nebuchadnezzar, to punish His professed people (Jer. 4:7; 5:5). The mention of wolves and leopards indicates brutality.

The point of verse 6 is that only by staying within the Lord’s arrangement would any be safe. Even if Judah as a whole did not respond, individuals could repent.

Jer. 5:7 How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses.

The state of society was so bad in Jeremiah’s day that the people not only sinned secretly but also openly. From the national standpoint, “adultery” was going to other gods. From the individual standpoint, there was literal harlotry. Being fed to the full, the people of Judah should have exercised their hearts to match their knowledge. In other words, knowledge is a blessing if used properly, for with each item of truth and knowledge come responsibility. Those who are rightly exercised develop character fruits through adversity. Then when periods of sunshine come, they have opportunity to do the King’s (God’s) business.

Verse 7 also describes the affluent society in the day in which we are living. The wealth, liberty, and leisure time in the United States are a breeding ground for philandering and immorality.

Those who worked under harsh conditions for their daily living of the most meager provisions did not have time to get involved in these sinful activities.

Judah’s inhabitants “assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses.” They waited on a long line outside the harlots’ houses for their turn. Because this sin was symptomatic of conditions in Jeremiah’s day, some think he represents the responsibilities of those who are the Lord’s mouthpieces today. The problem is that much of the religious leadership winks the eye at sin, saying that God is merciful. Instead of curing the malady, they put an ointment over the disease. Leaders who stand up for righteousness are to be commended.

Jer. 5:8 They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbour’s wife.

What a description of Judah! Every male was lusting after his neighbor’s wife.

Comment: The RSV reads, “They were well-fed lusty stallions, each neighing for his neighbor’s wife.”

Reply: The first thing horses want is food. Once they feel this security, they have time for idle play, and by their very nature, stallions look for female horses, neighing with an appealing sound.

Jer. 5:9 Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?

Those of Judah were God’s people—they were named after Him—yet they did everything except what He told them to do. By their conduct, they were asking for punishment and retribution. God reasoned from a common-sense standpoint: “Shall I not visit for these things?

Am I going to be silent when you are committing such iniquity?”

Comment: The question “Shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?” indicates that Jehovah has a soul.

Jer. 5:10 Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy; but make not a full end: take away her battlements; for they are not the LORD’S.

God commissioned Jeremiah, “Your responsibility is to go up on Judah’s walls and point out her sins. Select locations in prominent places where you will reach the most ears, and then castigate the people. Tell them what their problem is.” Frequently in the Old Testament, the prophet had to visually demonstrate his message in some way in order to get the lesson across.

We can picture Jeremiah climbing to the top of the walls of Jerusalem, kicking off loose stones as he walked along, and saying, “These walls mean nothing. God will destroy and punish you for your sins.” No doubt the people made jokes about Jeremiah, and the false prophets contradicted his words. (Note: Those who mock the true children of God will have to pay for their attitude; their words will not be forgotten.) As Jeremiah acted out his words in pantomime, he asked, “What good are these walls if you do not obey the Lord? These walls are man-made; they were not God’s battlements.” In other words, the battlements represented Judah’s self-confidence that God was with them. The people felt that God would not allow Jerusalem and the Temple to be destroyed. Their self-righteous, overconfident attitude was, “We are the Lord’s people.”

Moreover, when Nebuchadnezzar came down, the people of Judah hid; they climbed up into inaccessible places and hid in the woods but to no avail, for they were searched out, apprehended, and slain. Edomites and Moabites, who occupied nearby hills, aided the enemy by pointing out the fleeing and hiding Jews.

What is the thought of the word “destroy”? God instructed Jeremiah, “Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy.” When basic moral truths are proclaimed, the hearers become either hardened or softened depending on their heart condition. Those with hard hearts got mad and rebellious, so that in their resentment, their conduct was even worse. They demeaned their own characters through an angry and murderous spirit, adultery, etc. As they became bolder in their sin, they went deeper and deeper into the mud.

Then the statement was added, “But make not a full end.” In other words, there would be a remnant in Jeremiah’s day. God was saying, “There is hope, for the Babylonian invasion will not make a full end of Judah.” Some of the people were taken to Babylon during three captivities, leaving a seed. In the Jehoiachin captivity, for example, the princes, their wives, and certain other individuals of the prominent king’s seed including Daniel and the three Hebrew children were among the captives. A captivity also occurred when Zedekiah was dethroned.

The indication was that the people of Judah would not be amenable to Jeremiah’s message.

Similarly, if a hard message is given today, the reaction is, “You do not have a Christlike spirit. Where is your love?” If Jeremiah or Paul were alive at the present time, we can imagine how their messages would be received. The Lord is patient, for in time, He will manifest who are His. None of us should ever be too confident as to where we stand with the Lord. We need to keep the armor on until the end of our earthly course. Otherwise, we would have a “once saved, always saved” attitude. Our hope is to be of the Little Flock, and we should live with this hope—but only time will reveal our destiny. On the one hand, confidence can be dangerous, but on the other hand, if we are right in standing up for certain truths—when a sinful condition exists, for example—we can be confident of the Lord’s will based on Scripture. The sum total of life’s experiences are either developing, pruning, and exercising us to make our calling and election sure, or we are missing opportunities to be properly schooled. We want to have both perfect hatred and perfect love, so that one will balance the other (Psa. 139:22).

Comment: God would be avenged on Judah for their sinful actions because they were His people. He would take away their battlements because they claimed to be His yet were grossly disobeying. They even worshipped other gods. The same is true today. Those who claim the name of Christ have a greater responsibility for moral uprightness. Otherwise, they bring a reproach on Jesus and the Heavenly Father.

Jer. 5:11 For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously against me, saith the LORD.

Comment: The NIV has, “‘[For] The house of Israel and the house of Judah have been utterly unfaithful to me,’ declares the LORD.” There was a previous relationship, but Israel and Judah were unfaithful to God.

Jer. 5:12 They have belied the LORD, and said, It is not he; neither shall evil come upon us; neither shall we see sword nor famine:

The people “belied the LORD”; that is, they made Him a liar. They did not say directly, “God is a liar,” but their comments had this effect.

Comment: A marginal reference is 2 Chronicles 36:16, “But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.”

Comment: The people may have accused Jeremiah: “You are lying. God did not say these things.”

Reply: Yes. The people believed their understanding of God and His operations, rather than the words of the prophet. Jeremiah had said, “If you continue your present course of conduct and do not repent, then the Temple, the city of Jerusalem, and you yourselves will be destroyed, leaving only a small remnant.”

Moreover, the people hearkened to false prophets, whose understanding of God’s prophecies was quite different from Jeremiah’s. The false prophets spoke peace, saying that neither evil nor sword or famine would come upon Judah. Later we will find out the identity of some of these false prophets. Certain ones boldly contradicted Jeremiah to his face. The false prophets claimed to be true prophets and gave supposed pronouncements from the Lord. The people regarded Jeremiah as the doomsday prophet.

Jer. 5:13 And the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them: thus shall it be done unto them.

“The [false] prophets shall become wind.” The prophets the people listened to spoke peace instead of judgment. Jeremiah’s words show the responsibility that was incurred for speaking falsely on prophetic matters. There is a strong spiritual antitype; namely, the unclean spirits from the beast, the dragon, and the false prophet will say to unite for peace. A caution for us is not to speak above that which we know and have proved from the Scriptures.

A person who utters strong assertions that do not make sense is called a “windbag.” He talks and talks with nothing substantive being said, particularly from God’s standpoint.

Comment: In the Book of Jude, false teachers are called “clouds … without water” (Jude 12).

“The word is not in them: thus shall it [destruction and judgment] be done unto them.” The strong assertions of the false prophets would bounce back on them when the prophecies were fulfilled as spoken by Jeremiah. Then it would be seen who the false prophets were. Another way to view verse 13 is that there was a contest between the false prophets and Jeremiah, the one true prophet in Judah. Jeremiah’s words would counteract and be more powerful than the words of the false prophets.

Jer. 5:14 Wherefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.

How forceful! Jeremiah’s words became like “fire,” whereas the words of the false prophets were like kindling “wood” that would be burned up. Even though the false prophets were brazen and flint-faced, God would make Jeremiah so powerful in the manner of his delivery that his words would devour the false words ultimately. Moreover, Jeremiah stood in conspicuous spots to deliver his message—on top of a wall, in a gate, or on a second level in the Temple. Unable to stop Jeremiah, the people hated him.

The people would not be able to shut Jeremiah up. If a message of enlightenment falls on deaf ears, the tendency is for the speaker to get discouraged. Hence God supplied Jeremiah with  energy because of the people’s response. Generally speaking, the Lord’s counsel is, “He that hath an ear, let him hear” (Rev. 2:7). If individuals do not have a hearing ear, the general advice is to desist from trying to talk to them. Therefore, Jeremiah’s experience was not only unusual but also dispensational, for God wanted him to keep preaching a judgment message to Judah, even though only a relative handful of people would survive. Thus there are circumstances where a general law or attitude (for example, being peaceful and accommodating and trying to reason) is changed. Here God wanted Jeremiah to give an even stronger message. Later we will read about Jeremiah’s discouragement and desire to stop preaching, but the message kept building up inside him until it just had to come out.

Jeremiah’s discouragement was a natural reaction, but because of the urgency of the message and the coming doom, God did not want him to cease preaching to the apathetic hearers.

Hence the prophet was given special instruction. Despite his emotionalism, Jeremiah had to be a strong character for the requirements of his ministry.

God said, “Behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire”; that is, “Jeremiah, I am using you as an instrument.” Thus Jeremiah would be able to outlast the false prophets with his fiery message. As a result, they backed off for a while.

Jer. 5:15 Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far, O house of Israel, saith the LORD: it is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest what they say.

Jeremiah prophesied that God would bring a “mighty nation,” the Chaldeans, the fiercest of the Babylonian people, against Israel. The prophet’s words sound like Habakkuk’s reference to the Chaldeans: “For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces that are not theirs” (Hab. 1:6). Like the Persians later, the Chaldeans were a most cruel people. For example, they had no qualms about taking an infant by his two legs and bashing his head against a wall. The language of the Chaldeans, which matched their temperament and deeds, was hard and stern and not given to benevolence.

The people refused to listen to Jeremiah when they could have understood his words. Therefore, retribution would come by the Chaldeans, whose language they could not understand. The Chaldeans were extremely violent, and pleading for mercy would do no good because of the language barrier. Jeremiah was regarded as a prophet of doom.

This “mighty nation” is also called an “ancient nation.” The magi of Babylon were an older generation. The Scriptures do not speak in a particular way of earlier or ancient Babylon, which was more Sumerian. The historical Biblical record of the new Babylon starts with the father of Nebuchadnezzar, a later generation. However, resident in that same geographic area was the more ancient and cruel Chaldean element.

Jer. 5:16 Their quiver is as an open sepulchre, they are all mighty men.

To the besieged and fearful Jews, the Chaldeans would all appear to be mighty. Their bag of arrows (“quiver”) would be like an endless tomb, for every arrow would seem to find its mark. As a bottomless pit filled with arrows, the quiver was a bag of death and destruction.

The Scriptures speak of the grave, the “sepulchre,” as having an appetite that is never satisfied. As the population increases, the dead increase. Stated another way, no matter how much the population burgeons, the tomb accommodates them. It figuratively opens its mouth wider and takes in the increase, so that all die and go into the tomb.

Jer. 5:17 And they shall eat up thine harvest, and thy bread, which thy sons and thy daughters should eat: they shall eat up thy flocks and thine herds: they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig trees: they shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst, with the sword.

Jeremiah predicted that the Chaldeans would impoverish Judah from various standpoints. Crops would be eaten, flocks would be taken, the land would be spoiled, and the cities would be emptied. The large host that would come down from the north would comprise not only Babylon but also other countries to the north.

Jer. 5:18 Nevertheless in those days, saith the LORD, I will not make a full end with you.

Jer. 5:19 And it shall come to pass, when ye shall say, Wherefore doeth the LORD our God all these things unto us? then shalt thou answer them, Like as ye have forsaken me, and served strange gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers in a land that is not yours.

A little comfort was again given, namely, that God would not make a “full end” of Judah. A few of the people would go into captivity in a land of “strangers” (Babylon) with “strange gods.” In the antitype, although the religious systems will go into permanent extinction, there will be individuals who live through the trouble. We should keep in mind that the second half of the Book of Jeremiah is mostly prophetic, whereas the first half is mostly historical with just a little prophecy here and there. Generally speaking, we have to tread softly with prophecy in the first half of the book lest we vitiate the literal account.

God was saying to Judah, “If you worship foreign heathen gods in your own land, then I will accommodate you by making sure you get into the land whose gods you serve.”

Jer. 5:20 Declare this in the house of Jacob, and publish it in Judah, saying,

God instructed Jeremiah to proclaim this message to both the two tribes and the ten tribes, for the entire nation followed the same sinful course. As a result of past conduct, the ten tribes had already gone into captivity, where they needed to be reminded of the reason for their judgment. The Assyrians had conquered the parents, and now this information was necessary for the second and third generations. The two tribes were being told that they would have the same experience as the ten tribes more than a century earlier.

Jer. 5:21 Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:

The people were called “foolish” and “without understanding,” for they neither “see” nor “hear.” The message was plain and blunt enough, but they refused to obey. Jeremiah’s words were strong regarding their stubborn hearts.

Jer. 5:22 Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?

God asked, “Don’t you fear me when I have ordered nature with great power?” The ocean has bounds, and waves surge with power. The beach of sand is reasonably level, yet the surging and powerful waves cannot pass that barrier. Moreover, the sand does not wash away. God’s power is tremendous! He effectually stops the great waves with porous material.

Those who do not appreciate God’s decrees will search high and low for the exception, trying to contradict what should not be contradicted. If the waves overflow during a hurricane, they return to their allotted ocean bed, which is fixed. Thus the seas reside in the pockets that were prepared during the Creative Days, when the surface of the earth underwent various changes.

Jer. 5:23 But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone.

The people “are revolted [turned aside] and gone [away, continuing to digress more and more].” Their reaction shows the deflecting and contaminating influence of sin and their advanced rebellious attitude, which could go to the point of no return. The word “revolt” is like “revolution.” Like society in our day, the people of Judah did not want moral and judicial constraints on their conduct.

Jer. 5:24 Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.

God’s grace in giving moisture for the growth of crops and dryness at harvest time was also ignored. The people did not consider how marvelously He has provided the seasons for man’s benefit. The former and the latter rains were given “in his season”; i.e., they were boxed in and fixed. Also, God “reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.” He superintended the seasons for His people, natural Israel.

People generally do not think much along scientific lines. The giving of “the former and the latter” rain contains a lot of wisdom. For instance, why was the religious year of the Jews only seven months long? They could not go to the Temple and sit out in the open when it was cold, raining, and snowing. God made the seasons, and He accommodated the Jewish calendar to allow seven months in which they could harvest their crops and attend the three major religious feasts in favorable weather. However, very few people reason on God’s goodness along this line. Instead people take the weather and the seasons for granted. They do not see the wisdom of the oceans’ being set in their beds or the wisdom of the early and the latter rain, particularly in Israel, yet in Egypt, the next-door neighbor, there was a period of 45 years without rain. Incidentally, starting in 1874, there have been favorable climate changes in Israel.

Thus God set the calendar and the environment to favor the growth and the prosperity of the Israelites. When they look back, they cannot blame Him, for He did everything for them. God set the table, sent the prophets, gave them the Law, etc., so all mouths will be shut in the future.

Comment: Psalm 147:7,8 reads, “Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God: Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.”

Jer. 5:25 Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.

Disobedience to the Law brought a corresponding deprivation of temporal blessings and crops. Jeremiah’s preaching annoyed the people. Not only did they feel that he continually harped on these themes, but also they esteemed the illicit pleasures more highly than the pleasures of an upright life.

Jer. 5:26 For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men.

How did wicked men lay snares to trap and catch men? All the people were obdurate to receiving instruction, but among them was an exceedingly wicked element that plotted and laid plans to benefit themselves at the expense of others. In other words, the whole nation was iniquitous, but some individuals were more guilty in that they deliberately practiced deceit and the oppression of their fellow man with, for example, financial schemes and fraud and/or dishonest weights and measures.

Jer. 5:27 As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich.

Jer. 5:28 They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge.

What does the clause “as a cage is full of birds” indicate? As cages would be full of excrement, so the houses of the wicked were “full of deceit,” for they continually tried to trap the people.

In the antitype, mystic Babylon “is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird [with the excrement that ensues from habitation in the nominal system]” (Rev. 18:2). The nominal Church uses fear to get people to join and then exploits them like slaves. In contrast, the Christian should willingly serve God and gladly be a bondservant of Christ. Numbers, riches, and size are not proper motives as a basis of operation. The object should be to make our calling and election sure and not to ensnare and use others.

Not only are those wrong who try to get people into a system and then exploit them, but those who allow themselves to be ensnared contribute to the unclean condition, for they are not truly desirous of serving the Lord on proper grounds. The upper strata of exploiters (the governing body, kings, the wealthy, etc.) “are become great, and waxen rich”; they get “fat” and “shine” (gain) through their snares and traps. In principle, they make the shekel great and the ephah small (Amos 8:5).

In regard to the word “shine,” as the very wealthy increase in body weight, there is a sheen to their face or skin that becomes very noticeable. Similarly, the harlot’s brow is noticeable. With one who is habitually given to fornication or adultery, the demeanor of the face, especially the forehead, changes.

“They [the wicked] judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper.” Because judgment did not come upon the wicked immediately, they did not consider the time of Jeremiah’s ministry to be a period of leniency on God’s part that allowed them to reform but, rather, just continued in their iniquitous conduct and prospered. In the Kingdom, this condition will be radically reversed, so that those who attempt such wicked deeds will receive swift judgment and be stopped in their tracks (Mal. 4:1).

“They overpass the deeds of the wicked.” The schemers and ringleaders were even guiltier, for they surpassed in evil and iniquity the wicked deeds of the general populace. Neither the “fatherless” nor the “needy” were considered. In the antitype, financial pledges are customary in the denominations. There is an emphasis on monetary contributions without regard to the financial condition of the individual. It is wrong to insist that pledges be kept regardless of circumstances of poverty. Mercy should be used in solicitation. Jesus criticized the attitude of the scribes and Pharisees for saying, regardless of circumstances, “It is Corban” (Mark 7:11).

Jeremiah was saying that politically, morally, physically, financially, and in every way possible, a deterioration was setting in on Judah.

Jer. 5:29 Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?

“Shall not this nation be punished for mistreating their fellow man?” asked the Lord. Verse 29 is a repeat of verse 9.

Jer. 5:30 A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land;

Judah’s iniquity and deceit were appalling and horrible. It was (and is) astonishing that such things could happen. The King James margin has, “Astonishment and filthiness are committed in the land.” To look at the people of Judah was like looking at dead men walking, for their days were numbered; death was near at hand. Although rendered “wonderful,” the Hebrew root word means “desolation.” In other words, God’s appraisal in looking down at the nation in this condition spelled judgment. Truly the deeds were “horrible,” but there was a specter of imminent death and doom.

Jer. 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?

The prophets spoke peace falsely, and the priests supported the false preaching because of mutual benefit. Loving this condition, the people refused to repent. Hence reform was hopeless, and destruction must needs come.

Imagine how the false prophets felt when Jeremiah gave this message. Their reaction would have been, “Who does he think he is? Let us get rid of him.” The prophets and the priests were in league with each other; they justified and gave a helping hand to one another. But the astonishing statement is, “My people love to have it so.” If a poll had been taken, the populace would have been in favor of the present government. Conditions are the same today. People prefer the evil as long as they have the riches and the goodies, that is, the illicit gain.

“What will ye do in the end thereof?” The situation was hopeless as far as expecting a change.

The hymn “Praise Our King” speaks of God’s mercy.

Father-like, He proves yet spares us,

Well our feeble frame He knows;

In His hands He gently bears us,

Rescues us from all our foes.

The same hymn speaks of the fathers of the past and how generously God dealt with them, exercising patience and showing that He is a God of mercy. Thus the whole blame is with us as individuals if we do not respond properly to His providences.

Praise Him for His grace and favor

To our fathers in distress;

Praise Him, still the same as ever,

Slow to chide, and swift to bless.

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