At the beginning of chapter 7 the story has moved forward a few years, to a time when the Temple is once again functioning, and the men of Judah enter its gates to worship the LORD. However, the LORD calls Jeremiah to “stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word… Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place… Listen intently to the LORD’s indictment, and remember where Jeremiah is as he delivers it. Consider also the LORD’s injunction that Jeremiah “not pray for this people…and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you.”
It’s no wonder that by the end of chapter 8 Jeremiah is driven to lament: “My joy is gone; grief is upon me; my heart is sick within me…” This is the tense position of the prophet that I alluded to yesterday. Jeremiah carries the weight of knowledge: clear vision of both his countrymen’s sin and of the LORD’s word. Consider the LORD’s observation in chapter 9: “Let everyone beware of his neighbor, and put no trust in any brother… Heaping oppression upon oppression, and deceit upon deceit, they refuse to know me, declares the LORD.” Is it a relief that the LORD sees what Jeremiah sees?
Even He grieves over Jerusalem’s destruction: “Shall I not punish them for these things? Declares the LORD… I will take up weeping and wailing for the mountains, and a lamentation for the pastures of the wilderness, because they are laid waste… I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins, a lair of jackals, and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation, without inhabitant.”
At the end of chapter 9 there is a benediction of sorts, proclaiming the steadfast love, justice, and righteousness of the LORD. This is a striking interjection and worth our attention. Is this reminder `for the men of Judah, for Jeremiah, or for the future reader?
Our verse for this week is Lamentations 3:22-23: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Jeremiah 7 through 9. Now let’s read it!
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.