The Scriptorium

Breach of Covenant

They rejected God's covenant - and God. Jeremiah 11.1-17

Threatened and Revived: Jeremiah 11-15 (1)

Pray Psalm 33.13-17.
The LORD looks from heaven;
He sees all the sons of men.
From the place of His dwelling He looks
On all the inhabitants of the earth;
He fashions their hearts individually;
He considers all their works.
No king is saved by the multitude of an army;
A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for safety;
Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength.

Sing Psalm 33.13-17.
(Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
God from His throne looks down on men; He knows our works and made our hearts.
Let not Your Church, let none depend on strength or skill or human arts.

Read and meditate on Jeremiah 11.1-17.

1. What was the covenant God had made with His people?

2. Why were the people being hypocritical?

God called the people to look back in time and remember the covenant He made with them and their fathers. He sent Jeremiah throughout the cities of Judah to recall the people to the covenant, which they had broken, just as their fathers before them.

Jeremiah’s next message to the people of Jerusalem and Judah pointed them back to the covenant God made with Israel at Mt. Sinai. There He gave them His Law and commanded them to obey it, that they might have life. He promised a land flowing with milk and honey, if only His people would hearken to His Word and keep the commandments of the Lord (vv. 1-5). Here for a second time (cf. 7.23) God employs what we might called His “covenant motto” to summarize the essence of His relationship with Israel: “I will be your God, and you will be My people.” Keep that motto in mind, for we will see that God uses the same motto to refer to the new covenant He promised through Jeremiah, and that has important implications for the nature of that covenant.

Jeremiah was sent to all the cities of Judah to call the people to obedience (vv. 6ff.). But the people of Judah would no more obey the Lord than did their fathers, who died in the wilderness. The people would not hear the words of God; they preferred instead to serve the false gods of their pagan neighbors (vv. 9, 10). This is why God was bringing judgment against them (v. 11). When judgment fell, the people would cry out to their gods, but they would find no help in them (v. 12; cf. 2.26-28).

Once again, God instructed Jeremiah not to waste his prayers on these people (v. 14; cf. 7.16 ), that they might be saved. It was the will of God that they should receive the outcome of their choices, and that meant serving pagan gods in a pagan land – becoming captives and slaves. Our prayers must at all times be according to the will of God if we are to expect any fruit of them.

And yet the people continued coming to the house of the Lord, leaving the Lord outraged (vv. 15-17). Thus, they added hypocrisy to idolatry and disobedience; and it was this that tipped the scales of judgment against them.

Are you getting a little tired hearing the same message over and over? Remember that Jeremiah was preaching in the streets of Jerusalem, while standing at the entrance to the temple, and throughout the cities of Judah. His message was urgent and consistent. We need to hear it, over and over again, lest, straying from the Lord’s righteous path, we set ourselves up for some unpleasant discipline (Heb. 12.2-11).

1. What can we do to make sure, as far as possible, that our prayers are according to the will of God?

2. Why is “I will be your God, and you will be My people” a good motto for God’s covenant?

3. The people were still worshipping in God’s “beloved house” (v. 15), and yet He was about to judge them. What more did He want from His people?

“And behold, they go after foreign gods, in order to serve them.” They do these things in transgression of the covenant that was given to them. For this reason I will surround them with misfortunes of all kinds, and those who weep I will not deem worthy to be spared. They will not even enjoy any help from the gods who are revered by them." Theodoret of Cyr (393-466), On Jeremiah 3.11

Lord, I must remove any idols from my life; help me to serve only You as I…

Pray Psalm 33.18-22.
Look to the Lord and His Presence for the day to come. Hope in Him, and look to Him as your Helper and Shield.

Sing Psalm 33.18-22
Psalm 33.18-22 (Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
God watches those who fear His Name, who hope upon His grace and love;
He keeps their souls from death and shame who trust in Him Who reigns above.

God is our Helper and our Shield; upon us let Your grace descend!
We hope in You; to You we yield; we trust in Jesus to the end.

T. M. Moore

Where do the prophets fit with the rest of Scripture? Our workbook, God’s Covenant, shows you how all the parts of the Bible fit together under one divine covenant. The lessons in this workbook will show you the unity of Scripture and the centrality of Jesus in all the Bible. Order your copy by clicking here.

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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).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore