Read: Jeremiah 11-13
Jeremiah sees plainly that both Israel and Judah have broken their part of the covenant with God, they continued to worship gods of their own making, so the Lord makes it clear, he will not listen to these people.
“Do not pray for this people or offer any plea or petition for them, because I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their distress. Jeremiah 11:14
Jeremiah 11:18-23 briefly reveals a plot by the people against Jeremiah for his prophetic voice, because he spoke the painful truth to the people.
Not even a remnant will be left to them, because I will bring disaster on the people of Anathoth in the year of their punishment.” Jeremiah 11:23
Jeremiah won’t have to fight the battle or hide from their threat, the Lord will be the avenger.
Jeremiah 12 begins with Jeremiah’s complaint about how God allows evil to run rampant, with no end in sight.
You have planted them, and they have taken root;
they grow and bear fruit.
You are always on their lips
but far from their hearts.
Yet you know me, Lord;
you see me and test my thoughts about you.
Drag them off like sheep to be butchered!
Set them apart for the day of slaughter!
Jeremiah’s frustration is at its peak! “Enough of this Lord! Wipe them out!” I can totally relate to this concept, anger that burns within as we watch those who are obviously evil, clearly have malice in mind, always muttering the name of God, but showing now indication that they believe a word they say–these people must go! But God is the God of compassion, far beyond my understanding:
But after I uproot them, I will again have compassion and will bring each of them back to their own inheritance and their own country. And if they learn well the ways of my people and swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives’—even as they once taught my people to swear by Baal—then they will be established among my people. Jeremiah 12:15-16
This is our God. Does he listen to prayers? Of course he does. Does he answer my prayers? Always, just rarely the way that I deemed appropriate–thankfully!
1. Jeremiah 13:1-11: Parable of the Linen Belt
The Lord told Jeremiah to buy a linen belt, put it around his waist and make sure it doesn’t touch any water. Next, he told Jeremiah to hide it within the crevice of a rock for some time. Later on, God tells him to go and dig up the belt and observe: Jeremiah 13:7 “it was ruined and completely useless.”
2. Jeremiah 13:12–14: Parable of the Wineskins
This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Every wineskin should be filled with wine.’ And if they say to you, ‘Don’t we know that every wineskin should be filled with wine?’ Jeremiah 13:12
It seems that Israel’s pride and arrogance have reached such a point that they know what to do without asking, without seeking approval from God. “I can do it myself” rings in my ears. Perhaps this is the point of the parable: listen to what the Lord!
If you do not listen,
I will weep in secret
because of your pride;
my eyes will weep bitterly,
overflowing with tears,
because the Lord’s flock will be taken captive.
The prophet’s words are harsh because that is the word from the Lord, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t moved by the implications. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, is moved with tears by what he must tell the people. There is no personal gain by telling Judah they are doomed to exile for this horrific actions–it’s not like he benefits from people for these words of truth. He is, however, being faithful and obedient. There is a time for harsh words.
The king and queen mother will be deposed, “All Judah will be carried away into exile, carried completely away.”
Can an Ethiopian change his skin
or a leopard its spots?
Neither can you do good
who are accustomed to doing evil.
One of the Just So Stories of Rudyard Kipling uses this reference as it playfully considers that which is permanent. Judah, however, simply will not change their ways. How about us?
All is visible to our God, he will expose our depravity:
I will pull up your skirts over your face
that your shame may be seen—
your adulteries and lustful neighings,
your shameless prostitution!
I have seen your detestable acts
on the hills and in the fields.
Woe to you, Jerusalem!
How long will you be unclean?”
Lord, help us to listen to your word, not just hear the sounds and nod our heads at the right time. Wake us up to your reality and your vision of a far better life.