"The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron; with a point of diamond it is engraved on the tablet of their heart, and on the horns of their altars, while their children remember their altars and their Asherim, beside every green tree and on the high hills, on the mountains in the open country. Your wealth and all your treasures I will give for spoil as the price of your high places for sin throughout all your territory. You shall loosen your hand from your heritage that I gave to you, and I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you do not know, for in my anger a fire is kindled that shall burn forever." Jeremiah 17:1-4
In chapter 43 you’ll see whether the Judean remnant decides to flee to Egypt, and how both Jeremiah and the LORD respond to their decision. I’m not going to tell you what happens, but you’ll probably be surprised at how unsurprising their decision is. As you read this, remember the Judeans’ promise that they “will obey the voice of the LORD our God…” Also remember the LORD’s warning in Deuteronomy that His people “shall never return that way again.”
The above prophecy from an earlier day is intense and perhaps a little disturbing. Judah’s sin is etched on their hearts, their turn to idolatry is total, and the LORD’s anger is a fire that shall burn forever. You’re allowed to ponder this statement and what it says about the LORD. Keep it in mind also when you read chapter 44, in which the LORD condemns Judah’s persistent idolatry, His people resentfully reject Him, and the LORD promises a final judgment on those who escaped His wrath the first time.
The intensity of these prophetic conversations is broken by a brief final scene in chapter 45. Coming out of this whirlwind we see Baruch, twenty years younger, after his encounter with Jehoiakim, “weary with groaning and find[ing] no rest.”
The LORD makes Baruch a promise: “I will give you your life as a prize of war…” We’ve heard this exact phrase three times before: twice to any Judeans who would abandon Jerusalem, and once to the Ethiopian servant who spoke up for Jeremiah. As the narrative sequence of this books ends, and with it the stories of these characters, consider the final image: prizes go to the victors.
Our verse for this week is Psalm 51:10: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Jeremiah 43 through 45. Now let’s read it!
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.