A voice, a rumor! Behold it comes! – A great commotion out of the north country to make the cities of Judah a lair of jackals. - Jeremiah 10:22
The prophet dropped this in yesterday, almost midsentence, as though someone ran into the room and cried “We’re under attack!” Chapter 13 finds us on the other side of this invasion, as a few clues in today’s reading reveal that the LORD’s promise to “pluck up” His “evil neighbors” has been fulfilled.
First, in the object lesson at the beginning of chapter 13, Jeremiah is told to “Go to the Euphrates” and hide his loincloth there in a cleft of the rock. The Euphrates does not flow through Israel. It’s unknown whether Jeremiah was forcibly exiled, or whether he voluntarily followed his countrymen east, but we’ve gotten our first clue that the situation has changed.
A second clue is found in the LORD’s words to the king and the queen mother: ‘Take a lowly seat, for your beautiful crown has come down from your head.’ The cities of the Negeb are shut up, with none to open them; all Judah is taken into exile, wholly taken into exile. The crown’s removal is past tense; exile is in the present. Judah is experiencing the first taste of the LORD’s rejection.
There is so much more to observe today, but I’ll guide you to attend to two details. In chapter 14, the author records a prayer where Judah calls on the LORD, ‘O you hope of Israel, its savior in time of trouble, why should you be like a stranger in the land, like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for the night? Why should you be like a man confused, like a mighty warrior who cannot save?” What are they saying about the LORD here?
Later, we find Jeremiah back in Judah where he laments his treatment as “a man of strife and contention to the whole land! I have not lent, nor have I borrowed, yet all of them curse me.” When the LORD promises “If you return, I will restore you…” He infers that Jeremiah has even decided to hang up his mantle. As He did yesterday, the LORD responds with gentle rebuke, and a promise that “I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they will not prevail over you.”
We’ve seen this before, haven’t we? Just as in chapter 1, Judah, in distress, needs a savior. And the LORD promises deliverance – not for them, but for his mouthpiece. “For I am with you,” He promises Jeremiah, “to save you and deliver you.”
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 13 through 15. 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.