Thursday, February 21, 2013

Notes on Jeremiah 14-17

The Drought – Jeremiah 14
-The land of Judah has been plagued by a drought (14:1-6), prompting the people to ask God for forgiveness (14:7-9). The Lord refuses, and orders Jeremiah not to pray for them (14:1-12; cf. 7:16-20; 11:14-17).  There is no specific episode in 2 Kings that reflects this drought, but it is certainly consistent with what the Lord warned about in Deut. 28:22-24.

-In 14:13-16 we learn that false prophets had been reassuring the people that they would not be punished by God, and God promises to punish the false prophets.
-Although the people clearly deserve God’s anger, in 14:17-18 we read a lament by God Himself over the plight of the people.
-The final section of chapter 14 contains a lament by the people/Jeremiah (14:19-22; see Lev. 26:30, 44).

Four Kinds of Destroyers (Jeremiah 15)
-The first part of Jer. 15 begins with the Lord refusing to listen to any intercessor, including Moses and Samuel (15:1; see Ex. 32:11-14 and 1 Sam. 12:17-23). Instead, He will send four kinds of destroyers (pestilence, sword, famine, captivity) to punish the nation (15:2-3; cf. Deut. 32:23-27). He explains that this is due to the sins of the most wicked king of all, Manasseh (15:4; cf. 2 Kings 21:13; 23:26-27).
-In 15:5-9 the Lord says that He repeated winnowed the people to discipline them, only for them to refuse to repent, and declares that He has made their widows more in number than the sand of the sea (in contrast to Gen. 22:17).
-The last section of chapter 15 contains a complaint of Jeremiah that he is cursed by all, and suffers for his message (15:10-18). The Lord promises to make Jeremiah a “fortified wall of bronze” (15:19-21).

Small and Great Shall Die (Jeremiah 16)
-In Jer. 16:1-4 the Lord tells the prophet not to marry or have children in view of the horrible days of judgment that are ahead.
-In Jer. 16:5-9 the Lord forbids him from going to grieve with the people, and that the coming judgment will be so disruptive no one will engage in normal social customs.
-In Jer. 16:10-13 the Lord explains again in clear terms why this carnage will take place – idolatry.
-But the chapter concludes with an unexpected note of hope (16:14-21). The Lord will rescue His people from bondage in a way that will overshadow the exodus itself. However, He will judge them first, like a fisher or hunter pursues its catch. But eventually the nation will learn the error of its ways.

A Pen of Iron (Jeremiah 17)
-In 17:1-4 the Lord says that the sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron that has a diamond point on the tablet of the heart and the horns of their (idolatrous) altars, indelibly sketched. Thus the anger of the Lord is kindled.
-In 17:5-13 the Lord speaks in language reminiscent of passages like Psalm 1, contrasting the sure and blessed way of the righteous with the cursed way of the wicked. The Lord will test the deceitful hearts of man (17:9-10), administering justice to the wicked, such as those who get rich unjustly (17:11).
-In 17:14-18 Jeremiah once more laments that he is persecuted and mocked, and pleas to God for justice.
-In 17:19-27, the Lord tells Jeremiah to go to an unknown gate called “The People’s Gate,” and preach to the people about keeping the Sabbath. They have failed to keep it, but if they repent, God will bless the nation (17:24-26). If they continue to disobey, however, God will destroy Jerusalem with fire (17:27). We learn in Neh. 13:15-21 that improper Sabbath observance persisted as a sin even after the return from exile.

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