Judgment: Jeremiah 4-6 (4)
Pray Psalm 80.12-19.
Why have You broken down her hedges,
So that all who pass by the way pluck her fruit?
The boar out of the woods uproots it,
And the wild beast of the field devours it.
Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts;
Look down from heaven and see,
And visit this vine
And the vineyard which Your right hand has planted,
And the branch that You made strong for Yourself.
It is burned with fire, it is cut down;
They perish at the rebuke of Your countenance.
Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand,
Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself.
Then we will not turn back from You;
Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.
Restore us, O LORD God of hosts;
Cause Your face to shine,
And we shall be saved!
Sing Psalm 80.12-19.
(St. Theodulph: All Glory, Laud, and Honor)
Now You in wrath have spoken and bruised Your chosen vine.
We languish, Lord, are broken by wrath, deserved, divine.
Once more, Lord, hear our pleading: return and heal this vine!
Look down on us, so needy, and show Your love divine!
Though we be burned and perish because of Your command,
revive us, Lord, and cherish this son of Your right hand.
Then let us not return to our sinful, selfish ways,
but call on You and learn to surround You with our praise.
Read and meditate on Jeremiah 5.1-17.
1. What had been the attitude of God’s people toward Him?
2. What were the people trusting in rather than in God?
The people of Jerusalem and Judah chose not to believe the warnings of the prophets (vv. 12, 13). They were too busy chasing the false gods of the pagan nations around them to take seriously the Word of the Lord (v. 7). God sent Jeremiah to the people, to the streets of the city (v. 1) and onto its walls (v. 10). Did he find any people who were seeking the Lord? He did not (v. 2), not even among the “great men” of the city (v. 5). God had “stricken” them in various ways, to lead them to consider their ways and repent. But the people would not; they “refused to receive instruction” and they “made their faces harder than rock” (v. 3).
They left God no choice. Since they insisted on following the wicked and lying ways of false gods (vv. 7, 8), they would reap the whirlwind of God’s wrath in the form of a powerful nation “from the forest” coming like a lion, a wolf, and a leopard to destroy them (v. 6).
The treachery of first, Israel, and then, Judah, meant that judgment was coming (v. 11). The people might reject these warnings by prophets like Jeremiah (vv. 12, 13), but God’s will is not affected by the alternate plans or wishes of sinful people. Jeremiah’s words to the people would be like fire to kindling (v. 14), as he prophesied of the “mighty” and “ancient” nation that was coming to destroy them utterly. The people of Judah thought their fortified cities unconquerable (v. 17), but they would not stand up to God’s wrath.
And yet, God promised He would not “make a complete end” (v. 10). God does not tear His people down to destroy them utterly. He tears them down, first, to strip them of all wickedness and confidence in the flesh and things, and, second, to lay a new foundation for building them up in His Word.
1. What was preventing the people of Jeremiah’s day from believing the Word of God? What kinds of things keep us from the Word?
2. Jeremiah was sent to speak the Word of God to people who simply would not listen. In what ways is our calling like his?
3. What kinds of things are we tempted to trust in for safety and wellbeing, other than the Lord?
Disasters occur either to discipline the obstinate people or punish evil people. The same God declares in the Holy Scriptures, “I have struck your children in vain. They have not received correction.” The prophet devoted and dedicated to God answers these words in the same way and says, “You struck them, but they have not grieved. You scourged them, but they have refused to receive correction.” See, God inflicts stripes, and there is no fear of God. Cyprian of Carthage (fl. 248-258), To Demetrian 7
Lord, help me to hear and obey Your Word today as I…
Pray Psalm 80.1-11.
Call on God to give you grace and mercy to help in your time of need, and to keep you from being distracted by or trusting in things other than Him.
Sing Psalm 80.1-11.
Psalm 80.1-11 (St. Theodulph: All Glory, Laud, and Honor)
O God of grace, restore us, and shine on us Your face!
O save us, Lord, work for us; renew us by Your grace!
Give ear, O gracious Savior, Who leads us as Your flock:
Stir up Your pow’r and favor, our King and Lord and Rock!
How long will You ignore all Your people’s fervent prayer?
Shall bitter tears fall ever? O Lord, renew Your care!
Our neighbors mock and scorn us, they laugh at our distress;
Renew, O Lord, and turn us, look down on us and bless!
You set us free from sin, Lord, and planted us in grace;
We rooted in Your strong Word have spread from place to place.
Our shadow covered mountains, our branches reached the sea;
Your grace flowed like a fountain of life, abundantly.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).