Jeremiah 7:1–15comment (0)
June 16, 2011
By Douglas K. Wilson
Related Scripture: Jeremiah 7:1–15
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Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
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Judgment is coming! Jeremiah’s pronouncements were as popular in his time as the street preacher’s warnings are today. This priest was not crying out a message to a multicultural community with multiple religious backgrounds but to a monolithic group of related tribes whose heritage traced back to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The problem was not strangers in its midst but a family who forgot that God had set it apart to reflect His glory to the nations.
Be Listening (1–2)
Jeremiah cried out to the people coming through the Temple gates to worship Yahweh, “Hear the word of the Lord.” This is reminiscent of Deuteronomy, in which Israel is instructed to listen. Deuteronomy 6:4 is sometimes referred to as the Shema, the Hebrew verb translated “hear.” Recipients of the message understand that the announcer conveys more than new information; he calls them to listen and live according to the message. Judah was to hear and heed Jeremiah’s warning.
In our news-driven culture, we suffer from information overload. Had it not been for various modern innovators, we would live in the tranquility of an Amish farm. Perhaps then we would be able to discover again how to listen to, learn from and live according to every word that proceeds from God’s mouth.
Be Behaving (3–8)
Yahweh, the Lord of Hosts, reigns over the angelic armies and all creation. When Babylon’s army overran Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple, it would serve as God’s judgment (see Hab. 1).
Judah made a mockery its covenant position with God and treated one another with disrespect. Repeating the mantra “this is the temple of the Lord” did nothing to transform its attitudes toward God or behavior toward those in the greatest need. It was so caught up in chasing after the “Jerusalem dream” that it failed to live in faithful obedience to the sovereign King of the universe.
Change your ways: This was God’s message. In accordance with Mosaic law, Judah was to care for those in the greatest need: the foreigner who knows no one locally, the fatherless and widows who have no one to provide for them and the innocent child who has no advocate against parents who sacrifice him or her to false gods.
Be Authentic (9–11)
The people of Jerusalem went through the motions Sabbath after Sabbath, sacrifice after sacrifice, festival after festival, year after year. Knowing the right religious words to say, they repeated liturgies and Scripture mindlessly and without conviction. Claiming covenant privilege with God, they blasphemed Him with their theft, murder, adultery and idolatry.
They stole the nation from God when they rejected Him as king (1 Sam. 8:7). They stole the first fruits and tithes from God in order to support the monarchy (1 Sam. 8:14–18). They stole God’s glory and gave it to false gods, man-made idols and undeserving demigods. Such a description was true in Jeremiah’s lifetime. Jesus quoted from this last verse to describe what was happening on the Temple Mount with the trading of currency and the selling of animals (Matt. 21:13). Are we guilty of going through the motions?
Be Learning (12–15)
From the time of Joshua, the tabernacle resided at Shiloh, where faithful Israelites traveled to offer sacrifice (Josh. 18:1). In the days of the judges, Elkanah made his annual pilgrimage here with his wives. Hannah prayed here that God would grant her a son. Samuel grew up here. Eli died here after receiving the news that his sons died in a battle in which they lost the Ark of the Covenant. What happened to Shiloh? Ichabod — God’s glory — departed from Shiloh (1 Sam. 4:21–22).
How does Shiloh relate to Jerusalem? Jeremiah announced that the capital city also would become a byword, a place of former glory when God used to speak and where worship used to take place and His people used to dwell. He was speaking of the coming Babylonian exile and judgment. Learn the lesson of Shiloh: Remember and repent!