The Concern for Judah, cont’d. Jeremiah 2-45
Jeremiah 2-20 Undated Prophecies, cont’d.
Jeremiah 7:1-2-God tells Jeremiah to stand in one of the gates that led into the Temple and tell the people what he has been told.
7:2 This word (7:1-8:3) was delivered before one of the 7 gates of the Temple courts shortly after Jehoiakim's accession (about 608, cf. 26:7-24). The theme of this message is stated in 7:3.
Jeremiah 7:3,5-7-God tells them that if they will repent…then He will allow them to continue to live in Jerusalem.
Jeremiah 7:4,8-However, He warns them to not believe that they can continue to live as they please...and still not be judged...just because they come to the Temple.
7:4 The miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem from Sennacherib's army almost a century before (2 Kings 18:13-19:37) made Judah believe that Jerusalem, because it was the site of the temple, was invincible.
The Ryrie Study Bible, footnotes on Jeremiah 7:2 and 7:4, p. 1129
Jeremiah 7:9-11-The people believed that they could continue to be actively involved in sin…and then all they had to do was come to the Temple and go through the motions of religious practice and all would be forgiven. God says that the people think that His “house” (the Temple) has become a safe house for robbers. No matter what you’ve done all you have to do is go to the Temple and you will be safe from judgment (:11).
- What were the lying words of their own hearts, which they must not trust to. He cautions them against this self-deceit (v. 4): "Trust no in lying words. You are told in what way, and upon what terms, you may be easy safe, and happy; now do not flatter yourselves with an opinion that you may be so on any other terms, or in any other way.' Yet he charges them with this self-deceit arising from vanity (v. 8): "Behold, it is plain that you do trust in lying words, notwithstanding what is said to you; you trust in words that cannot profit; you rely upon a plea that will stand you in no stead.' Those that slight the words of truth, which would profit them, take shelter in words of falsehood, which cannot profit them. Now these lying words were, "The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these. These buildings, the courts, the holy place, and the holy of holies, are the temple of the Lord, built by his appointment, to his glory; here he resides, here he is worshipped, here we meet three times a year to pay our homage to him as our King in his palace.' This they thought was security enough to them to keep God and his favours from leaving them, God and his judgments from breaking in upon them. When the prophets told them how sinful they were, and how miserable they were likely to be, still they appealed to the temple: "How can we be either so or so, as long as we have that holy happy place among us?' The prophet repeats it because they repeated it upon all occasions. It was the cant of the times; it was in their mouths upon all occasions. If they heard an awakening sermon, if any startling piece of news was brought to them, they lulled themselves asleep again with this, "We cannot but do well, for we have the temple of the Lord among us.' Note, The privileges of a form of godliness are often the pride and confidence of those that are strangers and enemies to the power of it. It is common for those that are furthest from God to boast themselves most of their being near to the church. They are haughty because of the holy mountain (Zep. 3:11), as if God's mercy were so tied to them that they might defy his justice. Now to convince them what a frivolous plea this was, and what little stead it would stand them in,
(1.) He shows them the gross absurdity of it in itself. If they knew any thing either of the temple of the Lord or of the Lord of the temple, they must think that to plead that, either in excuse of their sin against God or in arrest of God's judgment against them, was the most ridiculous unreasonable thing that could be.[1.] God is a holy God; but this plea made him the patron of sin, of the worst of sins, which even the light of nature condemns, v. 9, 10. "What,' says he, "will you steal, murder, and commit adultery, be guilty of the vilest immoralities, and which the common interest, as well as the common sense, of mankind witness against? Will you swear falsely, a crime which all nations (who with the belief of a God have had a veneration for an oath) have always had a horror of? Will you burn incense to Baal, a dunghill-deity, that sets up as a rival with the great Jehovah, and, not content with that, will you walk after other gods too, whom you know not, and by all these crimes put a daring affront upon God, both as the Lord of hosts and as the God of Israel? Will you exchange a God of whose power and goodness you have had such a long experience for gods of whose ability and willingness to help you you know nothing? And, when you have thus done the worst you can against God, will you brazen your faces so far as to come and stand before him in this house which is called by his name and in which his name is called upon-stand before him as servants waiting his commands, as supplicants expecting his favour? Will you act in open rebellion against him, and yet herd among his subjects, among the best of them? By this, it should seem, you think that either he does not discover or does not dislike your wicked practices, to imagine either of which is to put the highest indignity possible upon him. It is as if you should say, We are delivered to do all these abominations.' If they had not the front to say this, totidem verbis-in so many words, yet their actions spoke it aloud. They could not but own that God, even their own God, had many a time delivered them, and been a present help to them, when otherwise they must have perished. He, in delivering them, designed to reduce them to himself, and by his goodness to lead them to repentance; but they resolved to persist in their abominations notwithstanding. As soon as they were delivered (as of old in the days of the Judges) they did evil again in the sight of the Lord, which was in effect to say, in direct contradiction to the true intent and meaning of the providences which had affected them, that God had delivered them in order to put them again into a capacity of rebelling against him, by sacrificing the more profusely to their idols. Note, Those who continue in sin because grace has abounded, or that grace may abound, do in effect their idols. Note, Those who continue in sin because grace has abounded, or that grace may abound, do in effect make Christ the minister of sin. Some take it thus: "You present yourselves before God with your sacrifices and sin-offerings, and then say, We are delivered, we are discharged from our guilt, now it shall do us no hurt; when all this is but to blind the world, and stop the mouth of conscience, that you may, the more easily to yourselves and the more plausibly before others, do all these abominations.' [2.] His temple was a holy place; but this plea made it a protection to the most unholy persons: "Has this house, which is called by my name and is a standing sign of God's kingdom of sin and Satan-has this become a den of robbers in your eyes? Do you think it was built to be not only a rendezvous of, but a refuge and shelter to, the vilest of malefactors?' No; though the horns of the altar were a sanctuary to him that slew a man unawares, yet they were not so to a wilful murderer, nor to one that did aught presumptuously, Ex. 21:14; 1 Ki. 2:29. Those that think to excuse themselves in unchristian practices with the Christian name, and sin the more boldly and securely because there is a sin-offering provided, do, in effect, make God's house of prayer a den of thieves, as the priests in Christ's time, Mt. 21:13. But could they thus impose upon God? No: Behold, I have seen it, saith the Lord, have seen the real iniquity through the counterfeit and dissembled piety. Note, Though men may deceive one another with the appearances of devotion, yet they cannot deceive God.
Matthew Henry :: Commentary on Jeremiah 7,
Jeremiah 7:12-15-God tells the people that if they think that can sin however they please and then just run to the Temple and they will not have to pay for their sins…then they should go check out Shiloh. It was the first place that He had commanded the people to come for worship when they came into the land. The tabernacle (the place of worship) was set up there. But not even the presence of the tabernacle saved Shiloh from destruction. And even so, the presence of the Temple would not save them from destruction.
For information on Shiloh see:
Jeremiah 7:16-19-God tells Jeremiah to not pray for them (:16). Even though He has called to them over and over…they still make cakes to take to the temple of the “queen of heaven” (:18, the Assyro-Babylonian goddess Ishtar, cf. 44:17). They think that by doing this they are showing that they can do whatever they please and are proving God’s inability to do anything about it. But in reality…they are just proving their own sinfulness (:19).
Jeremiah 7:20-26-God says that the people bring offerings and sacrifices to Him…but what He wants is their obedience (:22-23).
Jeremiah 7:27-God tells Jeremiah that He knows that the people will not be receptive to what he tells them (:27). Because they refuse to listen he is to go into a time of mourning (:29). The people have even brought false idols into the Temple (:30). They had also begun to make child sacrifices. The word “Topheth” means “fireplace” and was the place where they would offer their children to be burned.
Jeremiah 7:32-9:26-Jeremiah now describes the extensive judgment of God.
For all that Judah had done…God was going to send such a judgment that so many would die that they would have difficulty finding a place to bury their bodies. The name of the field where they had formerly offered their children as burn sacrifices (Topheth) would be changed to “the valley of Slaughter” because of the many people that would be killed there. There would not even be enough people left to gather the bodies up for burial. There will be no sound of joy left in the land. (:32-34).
Jeremiah 8:1-22-It was a common practice of a conquering army to desecrate the graves of the people of the land that they had conquered (8:1-3). God accuses the people of refusing to repent. (:4-6) Animals know the laws of nature and follow them…but the people of Judah refuse to follow the laws of God (:7). The “scribes” and “wise men” who were responsible for guiding Judah in the practice of God’s law had rejected His word. Choosing instead their own ideas and deliberately misleading Judah. They kept telling them that all was well…when in fact they were in great danger of judgment. Then, when confronted, they had become so arrogant that they refused to repent (:8-12). God says that He is going to judge Judah (:13) and they call out for everyone to run to the cities that have walls for safety (:14-17). The people speak of the sorrow that they are feeling and ask if God is with them why doesn’t He do something (:18-19a). God replies that they have caused their own suffering by worshipping false gods (:19b). In these verses, there is a back-and-forth dialogue of sorts as God speaks of His judgment and then Jeremiah speaks of His sorrow. Jeremiah laments over the suffering of Judah (:21). It is too late to stop what it about to happen (:20) and there is no one who can heal the pain that they will suffer (:22).
Prayer: Lord, the people of Judah thought that they could use the Temple as some sort of magic charm. They could do whatever they wanted to do, sin however they pleasedŠthen go to the Temple and all was forgiven. And they didn't go to the Temple to repent. They wanted absolution. Please help me to never try to take advantage of Your love, and mercy, and grace. Help me to always be mindful of the fact that sin is not just doing wrongŠbut it is an affront to Your very nature. Help me to always be mindful of the price that Jesus paid so that my sins could be forgiven. Help me to live for You.