Study of Jeremiah, Chapters 11-12 Judah’s Broken Covenant, The Plot

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Jeremiah

Being a parent can be most challenging at times. Especially when we make an arrangement, or covenant, with our child, and our child doesn’t hold up their end of the deal.  What are we to do?  We are patient, and give our child every opportunity to fulfill their agreed duty, but at some point, we are forced to deliver a consequence, aren’t we?  If we don’t, then all our child is learning is that they can continue their negative behavior and still reap the benefits of the agreed upon arrangement.
We see this same type of situation unfold in Jeremiah 11.

Jeremiah 11:1-8Jeremiah 11:1-8
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

11 1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 2 Hear ye the words of this covenant, and speak unto the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem; 3 And say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel; Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant, 4 Which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you: so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God: 5 That I may perform the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day. Then answered I, and said, So be it, O LORD. So...: Heb. Amen 6 Then the LORD said unto me, Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, and do them. 7 For I earnestly protested unto your fathers in the day that I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, even unto this day, rising early and protesting, saying, Obey my voice. 8 Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart: therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do; but they did them not. imagination: or, stubbornness  

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1 The LORD gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 2 “Remind the people of Judah and Jerusalem about the terms of my covenant with them. 3 Say to them, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Cursed is anyone who does not obey the terms of my covenant! 4 For I said to your ancestors when I brought them out of the iron-smelting furnace of Egypt, “If you obey me and do whatever I command you, then you will be my people, and I will be your God.” 5 I said this so I could keep my promise to your ancestors to give you a land flowing with milk and honey – the land you live in today.'”
Then I replied, “Amen, LORD! May it be so.”
6 Then the LORD said, “Broadcast this message in the streets of Jerusalem. Go from town to town throughout the land and say, ‘Remember the ancient covenant, and do everything it requires. 7 For I solemnly warned your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, “Obey me!” I have repeated this warning over and over to this day, 8 but your ancestors did not listen or even pay attention. Instead, they stubbornly followed their own evil desires. And because they refused to obey, I brought upon them all the curses described in this covenant.'”

Jeremiah

Jeremiah informs the people that they have broken the covenant between them and God that was made with Moses on mount
Sinai.  This covenant was a foundation to the people and was dependent on them hearing and obeying the word of the one, true God.  This was an ‘agreement’ between them and God.  God upheld His end, but the people went astray, moving farther and farther away from God.  Warnings were given by God, but the people ignored Him.
I believe that every parent can relate to these verses.  What would we do in this circumstance?  God is our Father, and we are made in His image.  God disciplines us no different than we discipline our own children, and when we look at this situation we can see how merciful God was with His children.  He gave them every chance to turn from their sinful ways and they refused.

Jeremiah 11:9-17Jeremiah 11:9-17
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

9 And the LORD said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 10 They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers. 11 Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them. to escape: Heb. to go forth of 12 Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble. trouble: Heb. evil 13 For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to that shameful thing, even altars to burn incense unto Baal. shameful...: Heb. shame 14 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble. trouble: Heb. evil 15 What hath my beloved to do in mine house, seeing she hath wrought lewdness with many, and the holy flesh is passed from thee? when thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest. What...: Heb. What is to my beloved in my house when...: or, when thy evil is 16 The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken. 17 For the LORD of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done against themselves to provoke me to anger in offering incense unto Baal.  

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9 Again the LORD spoke to me and said, “I have discovered a conspiracy against me among the people of Judah and Jerusalem. 10 They have returned to the sins of their forefathers. They have refused to listen to me and are worshiping other gods. Israel and Judah have both broken the covenant I made with their ancestors. 11 Therefore, this is what the LORD says: I am going to bring calamity upon them, and they will not escape. Though they beg for mercy, I will not listen to their cries. 12 Then the people of Judah and Jerusalem will pray to their idols and burn incense before them. But the idols will not save them when disaster strikes! 13 Look now, people of Judah; you have as many gods as you have towns. You have as many altars of shame – altars for burning incense to your god Baal – as there are streets in Jerusalem.
14 “Pray no more for these people, Jeremiah. Do not weep or pray for them, for I will not listen to them when they cry out to me in distress.
15 “What right do my beloved people have to come to my Temple,
when they have done so many immoral things?
Can their vows and sacrifices prevent their destruction?
They actually rejoice in doing evil!
16 I, the LORD, once called them a thriving olive tree,
beautiful to see and full of good fruit.
But now I have sent the fury of their enemies
to burn them with fire,
leaving them charred and broken.
17 “I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, who planted this olive tree, have ordered it destroyed. For the people of Israel and Judah have done evil, arousing my anger by burning incense to Baal.”

Instead of keeping the covenant with God, the people chose to follow other gods.  God tells Jeremiah ‘not to pray’ for these people, that He will not listen to any more prayers from Jeremiah, nor His people.  At some point, God must distribute justice on His people, and not even prayer would prevent God’s judgment.  Their only hope was to repent of their sins.  They needed to recognize their sin, be sorry for sinning, turning from sin to God.  What good does it do us to pray to God when we have not repented from our sins and committed our lives to Him?  We cannot have our cake and eat it to!  We cannot expect continuous blessings from God if we insist on hanging onto our sinful ways.

Jeremiah 11:18-23Jeremiah 11:18-23
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

18 And the LORD hath given me knowledge of it, and I know it: then thou shewedst me their doings. 19 But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered. the tree...: Heb. the stalk with his bread 20 But, O LORD of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause. 21 Therefore thus saith the LORD of the men of Anathoth, that seek thy life, saying, Prophesy not in the name of the LORD, that thou die not by our hand: 22 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will punish them: the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine: punish: Heb. visit upon 23 And there shall be no remnant of them: for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their visitation.  

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18 Then the LORD told me about the plots my enemies were making against me. 19 I was like a lamb being led to the slaughter. I had no idea that they were planning to kill me! “Let’s destroy this man and all his words,” they said. “Let’s cut him down, so his name will be forgotten forever.”
20 O LORD of Heaven’s Armies,
you make righteous judgments,
and you examine the depest thoughts and secrets.
Let me see your vengeance against them,
for I have committed my cause to you.
21 This is what the LORD says about the men of Anathoth who wanted me dead. They had said, “We will kill you if you do not stop prophesying in the LORD’S name.” 22 So this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says about them: “I will punish them! Their young men will die in battle, and their boys and girls will starve to death. 23 Not one of these plotters from Anathoth will survive, for I will bring disaster upon them when their time of punishment comes.”

We begin to see the physical danger that Jeremiah is in during this time, all because of his prophecies.  He is not aware of this danger until God reveals it to him. Anathoth is Jeremiah’s home town, and the people were plotting to kill him.  By eliminating Jeremiah, they would silence his message to the people.  There were several reasons that they wanted Jeremiah’s message to go away:  1) Jeremiah’s condemnation of idol worship would hurt the economy – idol makers;  2) Jeremiah’s message was gloomy and left the people feeling depressed and guilty;  3) Jeremiah openly criticized the hypocritical politics; and  4) the people hated Jeremiah for showing them that they were doing wrong.  No one likes to be called out on their sayings or actions.  The people were tired of listening to Jeremiah’s message and wanted him gone.

Jeremiah
Jeremiah was faced with two options: to run and hide away from the people, or to trust in God.  Jeremiah chose to call on God, and God answered.
What is our response when we are faced with opposition because of our faith in God?  If we run and hide, we compromise our message, but when we call on God, we allow Him to reinforce our message.  He is always there for us, at all times!  He never forsakes us, or leaves us alone.

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You would think that if you have submitted your life to God and put all of your trust and faith in Him, that your life would be rosy and you would have any thing you could wish for.  But, that is not quite the way it works out, is it?  Every day, we see people who have riches beyond belief and they spend their day sinning and cursing God.  Then, you will see a faithful servant that has no more than the clothes on their backs.  How can that be?

John 15:19John 15:19
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.  

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The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.

1 John 5:18-191 John 5:18-19
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. 19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.  

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We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them. 19 We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.

2 Corinthians 4:42 Corinthians 4:4
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.  

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Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

heaven

It doesn’t matter what we have, or don’t have, here on earth.  Our eternal life is what truly matters.  Soon, this life will be gone and we will spend eternity with God!  This is a life that our human minds cannot comprehend – the peace, the beauty, the solitude.  Even with that knowledge, Christians can be disheartened when we look around at our world today.  We may finding ourselves questioning God about the justice in it all.  Jeremiah questioned the very same thing.

Jeremiah 12:1-4Jeremiah 12:1-4
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

12 1 Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously? talk...: or, reason the case with thee 2 Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins. they grow: Heb. they go on 3 But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter. toward...: Heb. with thee 4 How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? the beasts are consumed, and the birds; because they said, He shall not see our last end.  

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1 LORD, you always give me justice
when I bring a case before you.
So let me bring you this complaint:
Why are the wicked to prosperous?
Why are evil people so happy?
2 You have planted them,
and they have taken root and prospered.
You name is on their lips,
but you are far from their hearts.
3 But as for me, LORD, you know my heart.
You see me and test my thoughts.
Drag these people away like sheep to be butchered!
Set them aside to be slaughtered!
4 How long must this land mourn?
Even the grass in the fields has withered.
The wild animals and birds have disappeared
because of the evil in the land.
For the people have said,
“The LORD doesn’t see what’s ahead for us!”

Jeremiah knew that God’s justice would come, eventually.  But, he was growing impatient.  Jeremiah was finding it disturbing that wicked people were prospering.

Jeremiah 12:5-13Jeremiah 12:5-13
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

5 If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan? 6 For even thy brethren, and the house of thy father, even they have dealt treacherously with thee; yea, they have called a multitude after thee: believe them not, though they speak fair words unto thee. they have called...: or, they cried after thee fully fair...: Heb. good things 7 I have forsaken mine house, I have left mine heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies. the dearly...: Heb. the love 8 Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest; it crieth out against me: therefore have I hated it. crieth...: or, yelleth: Heb. giveth out his voice 9 Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her; come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour. speckled: or, taloned come to: or, cause them to come to 10 Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness. pleasant...: Heb. portion of desire 11 They have made it desolate, and being desolate it mourneth unto me; the whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth it to heart. 12 The spoilers are come upon all high places through the wilderness: for the sword of the LORD shall devour from the one end of the land even to the other end of the land: no flesh shall have peace. 13 They have sown wheat, but shall reap thorns: they have put themselves to pain, but shall not profit: and they shall be ashamed of your revenues because of the fierce anger of the LORD. they shall: or, ye shall  

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5 “If racing against mere men makes you tired,
how will you race against horses?
If you stumble and fall on open ground,
what will you do in the thickets near the Jordan?
6 Even your brothers, members of your own family,
have turned against you.
They plot and raise complaints against you.
Do not trust them,
no matter how pleasantly they speak.
7 “I have abandoned my people, my special possession.
I have surrendered my dearest ones to their enemies.
8 My chosen people have roared at me like a lion of the forest,
so I have treated them with contempt.
9 My chosen people act like speckled vultures,
but they themselves are surrounded by vultures.
Bring on the wild animals to pick their corpses clean!
10 “Many rulers have ravaged my vineyard,
trampling down the vines
and turning all its beauty into a barren wilderness.
11 They have made it an empty wasteland;
I hear its mournful cry.
The whole land is desolate,
and no one even cares.
12 On all the bare hilltops,
destroying armies can be seen.
The sword of the LORD devours people
from one end of the nation to the other.
No one will escape!
13 My people have planted wheat
but are harvesting thorns.
They have worn themselves out,
but it has done them no good.
They will harvest a crop of shame
because of the fierce anger of the LORD.”

God begins by replying to Jeremiah’s question with a question, basically asking if he thought this was bad, how would he handle it when things really got tough.  We don’t always get the answer we are looking for when we pray.  I believe this is why sometimes, people feel that God isn’t answering our prayers.  It may not be that we are not receiving an answer, but more so, we are not receiving the answer we were hoping for.  God’s answers to our prayers are not always nice, or easy to handle.  We must be committed to God, even when the going gets tough, or when our prayers for relief are not immediately answered.
God continues on to reveal His grief, over the loss of His people, to Jeremiah.  He gave everything to Judah, but the shepherds of Judah destroyed God’s vineyard, and no one cared.  God was left with no choice but to abandon Judah in the very same way that she had abandoned Him.  God hands His people over to their enemy.
It is obvious that Jeremiah is distraught, but God is asking him if he has ever thought about how God is feeling.  Jeremiah’s rejection by his family parallels the nation’s rejection of God.

Jeremiah 12:14-17Jeremiah 12:14-17
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

14 Thus saith the LORD against all mine evil neighbours, that touch the inheritance which I have caused my people Israel to inherit; Behold, I will pluck them out of their land, and pluck out the house of Judah from among them. 15 And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land. 16 And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, The LORD liveth; as they taught my people to swear by Baal; then shall they be built in the midst of my people. 17 But if they will not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation, saith the LORD.  

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14 Now this is what the LORD says: “I will uproot from their land all the evil nations reaching out for the possession I gave my people Israel. And I will uproot Judah from among them. 15 But afterward I will return and have compassion on all of them. I will bring them home to their own lands again, each nation to its own possession. 16 And if these nations truly learn the ways of my people, and if they learn to swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the LORD lives’; just as they taught my people to swear by the name of Baal; then they will be given a place among my people. 17 But any nation who refuses to obey me will be uprooted and destroyed. I, the LORD, have spoken!”

God had (and has) chosen a people through whom He would demonstrate His care for the world – Israel.  They were given so much, and therefore much was required from them.  But, Israel failed, repeatedly.  The fate of the other nations depended on their willingness to demonstrate faith in God whether or not God’s chosen people accomplished their task of witness.  God’s love doesn’t stop at Israel’s boundaries – it extends to every square inch of the world.  Any nation (or person) who refuses to accept God as LORD will be destroyed in the end.

Written by Mary Hudak-Collins

Mary Hudak-Collins

2 thoughts on “Study of Jeremiah, Chapters 11-12 Judah’s Broken Covenant, The Plot

  1. Martha Orlando

    Mary, your Biblical commentary is simply awesome. So many Christians never read the Old Testament and need to hear these words from God. Glad you are not afraid to tackle it!
    Blessings, my friend, and thanks for the Bible lesson today! 🙂

    1. mhudakcollins Post author

      Thank you Martha! It’s all Him! I always pray, asking for the words that someone needs to hear, and then I write. It truly amazes me 🙂 It was quite the experience the way I ended up in Jeremiah. Of all books, right? But, I was questioning something that I had agreed to do for the church, and God led me right to that book! When I began to read, I couldn’t believe how much of what happened in each chapter correlates with our life today. Each time I begin a new chapter, it is like something incredible is unfolding before me! What a true joy it has been for me to share this study. I can’t wait to see where God leads me after I finish Jeremiah and Revelation. I think He is heading me in the direction of Genesis, believe or not. I guess I will wait and see what He reveals to me.

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