It’s been a while since we last read Jeremiah together.
But things are still not getting any better as this book progresses. Commentators note the lawsuit-style of the language used here as the utter corruption of God’s people is portrayed. There seems a moment of hope – but is it perhaps more sarcastic hyperbole than hope? If there is just one honest, truth-seeking and just person to be found, then Jerusalem can be saved. I guess if we want to read that with some positive spin, we can conclude that God does not want to bring destruction on his beloved people and their city – though some might then reasonably ask why God won’t simply let it go and pardon them anyway.
The accusation falls on rich and poor alike – there’s no distinction here. Wild animals – lion, wolf and leopard – lie poised to tear them to pieces for the many transgressions and apostates of which they are all guilty.
We read again of adultery, prostitution and lust. God describes his own people as ‘utterly faithless’ (verse 11) and decries them as ‘O foolish and senseless people’ (verse 21), as people with ‘a stubborn and rebellious heart’ (verse 23). The people basically stand accused of not believing the threats they’ve heard, of ignoring the prophecies spoken over them.
The future does not look bright (and it definitely doesn’t look orange!). God is going to bring in foreign conquerors to eat up everything (verse 15) and, because they have forsaken the Lord, they will find themselves serving strangers in the future (verse 19).
So what might God be saying into my life today through these tough words in this chapter? Again, I sense the key message is what we learn of God’s nature. He longs for his people to hear and obey his voice, but constant rebelliousness has to be reigned in. And yet God is ever-loving, just, but also merciful. His mercy is one of the greatest gifts for wayward humanity, always intent on doing its own thing and refusing to see or hear what God is doing or saying. I think there’s a call for me in all of this to repent of the times I have not heard (perhaps wilfully chosen not to hear) and to ask God to draw me back to himself and to his ways. And I need to play my part in that too.