This section of Jeremiah delves further into the reasons for the nation’s unfaithfulness, and also gives us more insight into Jeremiah’s feelings about the doom awaiting his people.
The Sins of the People
The primary sin of the people according to Jeremiah is idolatry. In this section, we see several references to the worship of pagan deities associated with the sun, moon, and stars. To understand this sin, just consider how many people pay attention to astrology today.
· 7:18 the people make meal offerings to the “queen of heaven,” a female deity associated with stars (ala Venus). See also 44:17-25, where this continues even after the fall of the city.
· 8:1-2 the bones of the dead will be spread before the host of heaven which they loved and served.
· 10:1-16 Jeremiah presents a sarcastic contrast between the flimsy gods the pagans made and the God who made the universe.
· 7:30-32 the people even went so far as to practice child sacrifice (the Valley of Hinnom is later called “Gehenna,” and serves as an image of hell in the NT).
B. Lying and oppression
Since the people betrayed their covenant with God, it is no surprise that they would also betray their word with each other.
· 7:5-11 the temple has become a “den of robbers” (more on that in a moment).
· 8:3-9 the people practice deceit with each other.
C. Outward vs inward religion
Chapters 7-10 provide great insight into what the people were thinking during this time. How could they brazenly defy their covenant with God and also mistreat each other?
· Jer. 7 contains a sermon preached in the temple. In v. 4 we learn that the people were trusting in the presence of the temple itself as proof that God would never judge them. They thought they could do whatever they wanted, then come to the temple and offer a sacrifice and everything would be ok – 7:9-10.
· But the Lord reminds them that He had previously destroyed Shiloah (the place where the tabernacle once stood when the Philistines captured the ark, see 1 Sam. 4:3; Ps. 78:59-64), and He will destroy them.
· Jesus quoted from this sermon when He preached in the temple in Mark 11:17, indicating that the Jews of His day were guilty of the same idolatrous trust in the temple that the people of Jeremiah’s day were.
· In 9:25-26, we learn that the people trusted in circumcision, but were uncircumcised in heart.
· There is a very important lesson for us to learn – we can go through all of the outward motions (coming to church, being baptized, taking communion), but if our heart is not sincerely committed to the Lord, it doesn’t matter.
· This explains the passage in 7:22-23. Literally, the Lord did command the people to give burnt offerings and sacrifices, but that wasn’t the primary emphasis. The primary emphasis was on obeying God (see 1 Sam. 15:21-23; Hosea 6:6).
This section also gives us a glimpse into Jeremiah’s heart. It was heartbreaking for the prophet to see his people make such horrible choices, and to face the devastation of invasion.
· 8:18-9:1 (notice that in the Hebrew text, 9:1 is actually 8:23, se ESV footnote). Jeremiah weeps for the people.
· 9:10-11 Jeremiah takes up weeping and wailing.
· 10:19-25 Jeremiah identifies with the people and asks for forgiveness, and for the enemy who has devoured Judah to be destroyed.
· Another important lesson for us – we need to feel compassion for those who are lost (see Matt. 9:35-38).
Review of Some Previous Points
· Previously we discussed the problem of the false prophets who were reassuring the people that everything would be ok. They are also mentioned in this section (see 7:8; 8:5; 8:8-12 [which quotes 6:12-15]).
· We also see continued reference to an invader from the north (8:16-17; 10:22).
· And we also see references back to the curses of Deuteronomy 28 (compare Jer. 9:12-16 with Deut. 2864-68).