Study of Jeremiah, Chapters 15-16 Judah’s Destined For Doom

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anger

Have you ever been so angry at someone that no matter what they did, you just couldn’t get past it?  When someone continues to hurt us over and over again, it is difficult to look past that and move on.

 

Jeremiah 15:1-8Jeremiah 15:1-8
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

15 1 Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth. 2 And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the LORD; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity. 3 And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the LORD: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy. kinds: Heb. families 4 And I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem. cause...: Heb. give them for a removing 5 For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest? how...: Heb. of thy peace? 6 Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting. 7 And I will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave them of children, I will destroy my people, since they return not from their ways. children: or, whatsoever is dear 8 Their widows are increased to me above the sand of the seas: I have brought upon them against the mother of the young men a spoiler at noonday: I have caused him to fall upon it suddenly, and terrors upon the city. the mother...: or, the mother city a young man spoiling, etc, or, the mother and the young men  

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1 Then the LORD said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before me pleading for these people, I wouldn’t help them. Away with them! Get them out of my sight! 2 And if they say to you, ‘But where can we go?’ tell them, ‘This is what the LORD says:
“Those who are destined for death, to death;
those who are destined for war, to war;
those who are destined for famine, to famine;
those who are destined for captivity, to captivity.’
3 “I will send four kinds of destroyers against them,’ says the LORD. “I will send the sword to kill, the dogs to drag away, the vultures to devour, and the wild animals to finish up what is left. 4 Because of the wicked things Manasseh son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, did in Jerusalem, I will make my people an object of horror to all the kingdoms of the earth.
5 “Who will feel sorry for you, Jerusalem?
Who will weep for you?
Who will even bother to ask how you are?
6 You have abandoned me
and turned your back on me,”
says the LORD.
“Therefore, I will raise my fist to destroy you,
I am tired of always giving you another chance.
7 I will winnow you like grain at the gates of your cities
and take away the children you hold dear.
I will destroy my own people,
because they refuse to change their evil ways.
8 There will be more widows
than the grains of sand on the seashore.
At noontime I will bring a destroyer
against the mothers of young men.
I will cause anguish and terror
to come upon them suddenly.
9 The mother of seven grows faint and gasps for breath;
her sun has gone down while it is still day.
She sits childless now,
disgraced and humiliated.
And I will hand over those who are left
to be killed by the enemy.
I, the LORD, have spoken!”

Wow!  Sounds like God has finally had enough!  Moses and Samuel were two of God’s greatest prophets.  Both men interceded for the people before God, and most times intercession is very effective.

angry God

 But, in this case, the people were so wicked and stubborn that God knew that they would not turn to Him.  God would not change His mind.  The people were to face four different judgments:  death, the sword, famine, and captivity.  The goal of these destroyers would be to destroy the living and devour the dead.  There may have been argument from the people that they shouldn’t be punished for Manasseh’s sins, but they had continued what Manasseh had begun.  If we knowingly follow corrupt leaders, we are just as guilty as they are.  We cannot excuse ourselves by blaming them for setting a bad example.
It is interesting to note the parallel of the fourfold curses (death, sword, famine, captivity) in Jeremiah to Revelation.  In chapter 6:1-8 it says:

 1 And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.

2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.
5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.
6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.
8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

God clearly states in the verse 6 of Jeremiah that He is tired of always giving them another chance.  I wonder, as I sit here writing this study, how many chances do we expect in life?  How long can our society live in the sinful manner it does before God just puts His fist down and says “enough is enough”?  He has already provided the vision of the end in Revelation, but how long before He implements His plan?  Of course, we do not know that answer…no one does.  If you haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as your LORD and Savior, don’t gamble with your life.  Don’t get so far away from God that there is nothing that could bring your back.  At some point in time, hearts will be hardened…don’t let yours be one of them!

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feeling sorry for ourself

What happens when we become angry, hurt, or afraid?  Do we go into our own little world and feel sorry for ourselves?  Do we sulk and become depressed because things didn’t go quite as we thought they should?  This is exactly what happens when we are angry, hurt, or afraid and we take our focus off of God!  We may even accuse God of ‘letting us down’ or ‘not being with us to protect us’.  This is the place that Jeremiah has found himself.  He accuses God of not helping him when he really needed it.

 

Jeremiah 15:10-21Jeremiah 15:10-21
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

10 Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me. 11 The LORD said, Verily it shall be well with thy remnant; verily I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well in the time of evil and in the time of affliction. cause...: or, intreat the enemy for thee 12 Shall iron break the northern iron and the steel? 13 Thy substance and thy treasures will I give to the spoil without price, and that for all thy sins, even in all thy borders. 14 And I will make thee to pass with thine enemies into a land which thou knowest not: for a fire is kindled in mine anger, which shall burn upon you. 15 O LORD, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke. 16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. I am...: Heb. thy name is called upon me 17 I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation. 18 Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail? fail: Heb. be not sure? 19 Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them. 20 And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD. 21 And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.  

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10 Then I said,
“What sorrow is mine, my mother.
Oh, that I had died at birth!
I am hated everywhere I go.
I am neither a lender who threatens to foreclose
nor a borrower who refuses to pay –
yet they all curse me.”
11 The LORD replied,
“I will take care of you, Jeremiah.
Your enemies will ask you to plead on their behalf
in times of trouble and distress.
12 Can a man break a bar of iron from the north,
or a bar of bronze?
13 At no cost to them,
I will hand over your wealth and treasures
as plunder to your enemies,
for sin runs rampant in your land.
14 I will tell your enemies to take you as captives to a foreign land.
For my anger blazes like a fire
that will burn forever.
15 Then I said,
“LORD, you know what’s happening to me.
Please step in and help me. Punish my persecutors!
Please give me time; don’t let me die young.
It’s for your sake that I am suffering.
16 When I discovered your words, I devoured them.
They are my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name,
O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies.
17 I never joined the people in their merry feasts.
I sat alone because your hand was on me.
I was filled with indignation at their sins.
18 Why then does my suffering continue?
Why is my wound so incurable?
Your help seems as uncertain as a seasonal brook,
like a spring that has gone dry.”
19 This is how the LORD responds:
“If you return to me, I will restore you
so you can continue to serve me.
If you speak god words rather than worthless ones,
you will be my spokesman.
You must influence them;
do not let them influence you!
20 They will fight against you like an attacking army,
but I will make you as secure as a fortified wall of bronze.
They will not conquer you,
for I am with you to protect and rescue you.
I, the LORD, have spoken!
21 Yes, I will certainly keep you safe from these wicked men.
I will rescue you from their cruel hands.”

Jeremiah begins by pitying his mother who gave birth to one who has become such a curse upon the name of Israel.  He is confused by Israel’s condemnation of him.  Although he is not a lender or a borrower, he is looked upon as a contentious leader.  He always seemed to be ‘taking his people to court‘, so to speak.  No one really cares much for someone who comes in and points our the negative, or bad, behavior that was evident.
God did not get angry at Jeremiah, but did rearrange his priorities.  As a spokesperson for God, Jeremiah was to influence the people, not the other way around.
There are three important lessons in this passage:
1) We can reveal our deepest thought to God through prayer.
2) God expects us to trust him, no matter what!
3) We are here to wins souls; influence others for God.

We don’t know God’s plan for us, so we can’t possibly understand everything that happens to us.  Sometimes, it’s pretty clear, but other times, we find ourselves questioning.  These are the times that we need to continue trusting God.  He doesn’t get angry with us either.  I believe He is well aware of the fact that we are human, and will question.  But, don’t be surprised if you find that God rearranges YOUR priorities!

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avoidance

Many times, we see someone doing something wrong and we do absolutely nothing about it.  Why is it so much easier to turn and walk away then to stand up and say “Hey, this is not right!”?  Maybe, we are in a hurry and we don’t want to take the time to get involved.  Maybe, we are afraid that people will look at us differently.  I believe that our society today is a result of people not speaking up.  We just go along with what everyone else is doing because it is easier.

But, that is not the only reason that evil prevails in our world.  Slowly, over time, we have removed God from every important area of our life.  God has been removed from our homes.  How many people do you know read the Bible together as a family, or have a family Bible study?  Are fathers still the spiritual leader of the home that God intended?  God has been removed from schools, and colleges, and even at local, state, and federal government.  How long can we, as a society, expect God to give us His mercy and grace when we don’t have Him at the forefront of our daily lives?  At some point, things are going to begin to fall apart and fail, no different than it happened in Judah many years ago.

Jeremiah 16:1-13Jeremiah 16:1-13
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

16 1 The word of the LORD came also unto me, saying, 2 Thou shalt not take thee a wife, neither shalt thou have sons or daughters in this place. 3 For thus saith the LORD concerning the sons and concerning the daughters that are born in this place, and concerning their mothers that bare them, and concerning their fathers that begat them in this land; 4 They shall die of grievous deaths; they shall not be lamented; neither shall they be buried; but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth: and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine; and their carcases shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth. 5 For thus saith the LORD, Enter not into the house of mourning, neither go to lament nor bemoan them: for I have taken away my peace from this people, saith the LORD, even lovingkindness and mercies. mourning: or, mourning feast 6 Both the great and the small shall die in this land: they shall not be buried, neither shall men lament for them, nor cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them: 7 Neither shall men tear themselves for them in mourning, to comfort them for the dead; neither shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or for their mother. tear...: or, break bread for them 8 Thou shalt not also go into the house of feasting, to sit with them to eat and to drink. 9 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will cause to cease out of this place in your eyes, and in your days, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride. 10 And it shall come to pass, when thou shalt shew this people all these words, and they shall say unto thee, Wherefore hath the LORD pronounced all this great evil against us? or what is our iniquity? or what is our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God? 11 Then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the LORD, and have walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law; 12 And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me: imagination: or, stubbornness 13 Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods day and night; where I will not shew you favour.  

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1 The LORD gave me another message.  He said, 2 “Do not get married or have children in this place.  3 For this is what the LORD says about the children born here in this city and about their mothers and fathers:  4 They will die from terrible diseases.  No one will mourn for them or bury them, and they will lie scattered on the ground like manure.  They will die from war and famine, and their bodies will be food for the vultures and wild animals.”
5 This is what the LORD says:  “Do not go to funerals to mourn and show sympathy for these people, for I have removed my protection and peace from them.  I have taken away my unfailing love and my mercy.  6 Both the great and the lowly will die in this land.  No one will bury them or mourn for them.  Their friends will not cut themselves in sorrow or shave their heads in sadness.  7 No one will offer a meal to comfort those who mourn for the dad – not even at the death of a mother or father.  No one will send a cup of wine to console them.
8 “And do not go to their feasts and parties.  Do not eat and drink with them at all.  9 For this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:  In your own lifetime, before your very eyes, I will put an end to the happy singing and laughter in this land.  The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will no longer be heard.
10 “When you tell the people all these things, they will ask, ‘Why has the LORD decreed such terrible things against us?  What have we done to deserve such treatment?  What is our sin against the LORD our God?’
11 “Then you will give them the LORD’S reply:  ‘It is because your ancestors were unfaithful to me.  They worshiped other gods and served them.  They abandoned me and did not obey my word.  12 And you are even worse than your ancestors!  You stubbornly follow your own evil desires and refuse to listen to me.  13 So I will throw you out of this land and send you into a foreign land where you and your ancestors have never been.  There you can worship idols day and night – and I will grant you no favors!’

lonliness

Remember, Jeremiah is a social outcast at this point, and he is lonely.  God warns him not to marry anyone from this place and gives him the reasons why.  This also shows Jeremiah’s life situation mimicking the state of the nation.  God uses Jeremiah’s state of being single as a picture of the relationship that is ending between God and the people, and the sorrow and loneliness that the people will soon experience. In Jeremiah’s culture, public grief over a death was expected.  To not be able to mourn was showing how complete their devastation would be.  There would be so many people dying, that it would be impossible to carry out the customary mourning rituals for all of them.
God warned Jeremiah not to attend the rituals and festivals of the people, just to show how serious their sins were to God.  Both of these gestures ( no showing of grief and no partaking of joy ) was an illustration of God’s truth.  So often, we think that the only way to communicate is through speaking or teaching, whereas in truth, God can use a variety of ways to bring his message to others.
God forewarned Jeremiah the questions that he would be asked, and instructed him in the answer.  It wasn’t just because their ancestors had been unfaithful to God by being idolaters, but because it didn’t stop with them.  The people were also guilty of their own sins.  And for these sins, the people would be cast out of their sacred promised land, a land that they had been in almost a thousand years.

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hope

Even in our darkest hours of despair, there is always an ounce of hope.  In this bleak, dark world, this is sometimes what keeps us putting one foot in front of the other.

Jeremiah 16:14-18Jeremiah 16:14-18
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

14 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; 15 But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers. 16 Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. 17 For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes. 18 And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcases of their detestable and abominable things.  

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14 “But the time is coming,” says the LORD, “when people who are taking an oath will no longer say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who rescued the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.’  15 Instead, they will say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the people of Israel back to their own land from the land of the north and from all the countries to which he had exile them. ‘ For I will bring them back to this land that I gave their ancestors.
16 “But now I am sending for many fishermen who will catch them,” says the LORD.  “I am sending for hunters who will hunt them down in the mountains, hills, and caves.  17 I am watching them closely, and I see every sin.  They cannot hope to hide from me.  18 I will double their punishment for all their sins, because they have defied my land with lifeless images of their detestable gods and have filled my territory with their evil deeds.”

God is once again going to show His mercy upon his people, despite their stubbornness.  In Exodus 1-15, we see the Gods miraculous rescue of his people from Egyptian slavery, but this time will be an even greater rescue.  And although this will be in the distant future, this will be the pivotal point of Israel’s history.
God sees every sin, no matter how hard we try to hide it.  The people closed their eyes to their sinful life, the same as many people do today.  You know that old saying: ‘out of sight, out of mind’?  Well, although that may work for us, that is not the way it works for God.  He sees all!  He sees into the deepest crevices of our heart, where we try to hide our sinful motives.  But, in the case of Jeremiah, the people will have to pay for their sins first.  And, it is going to be doubled!  Not only for their sins, but for those of their forefathers.  We can also see a parallel here to Revelation.  The people of this world will have judgments so incomprehensible brought upon them for not only their sinful behavior, but for the many generations of sin before them.  God intended to repay them (and will us) the equivalent of their (and our) sinful iniquities.

Galations 6:7

 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

In the following verses, we see God’s might and Jeremiah’s prayer of confidence.

Jeremiah 16:19-21Jeremiah 16:19-21
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

19 O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit. 20 Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods? 21 Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is The LORD. The LORD: or, JEHOVAH  

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19 LORD, you are my strength and fortress,
my refuge in the day of trouble!
Nations from around the world
will come to you and say,
“Our ancestors left us a foolish heritage,
for they worshiped worthless idols.
20 Can people make their own gods?
These are not real gods at all!”
21 The LORD says,
“Now I will show them my power;
now I will show them my might.
At last they will know and understand
that I am the LORD.

Jeremiah recognizes God as his strength, fortress, and refuge in his day of trouble.  He clearly feels the protection of God.  Do we experience God’s presence in the same way?  Is God your pillar of strength when you are feeling beat down and weak?  Is God your fortress when others come against you?  Is God your refuge when you need to get away from life’s troubles?  Do you recognize the sin in your life?  We are all sinners, and have never been worthy of God’s grace and mercy.  He knows that.  What He asks of us, as He did of His chosen people, is to repent!  Have you made that change in your life?  Don’t wait until it is too late for repentance.

Written by Mary Hudak-Collins

Mary Hudak-Collins

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