A STUDY OF THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH

Living with a Callous Heart

Jeremiah 6 SCC 10/2/16

The striking feature of this chapter is its rapidity of movement leading to the gathering storm of invasion soon to engulf the capital and the land. Note v 28 stubbornly rebellious to corrupt v 29. How?

GOD WARNS OF IMPENDING PERSONAL DISASTER DUE TO A CALLOUS HEART

Verse 1-3: Flee for safety sons of Benjamin just north of Jerusalem. Blow a warning trumpet in Tekoa about 11 miles SE of Jerusalem v 1. These representative villages needed to warn their inhabitants, with trumpets and signal fires, to flee in view of the destroyer's advance toward Jerusalem. Raise a signal over Beth-haccerem a vantage point just south of Jerusalem for evil looks down from the north. The Babylonian invasion is coming from the north. Even though Jerusalem was attractive to the Lord, He would still bring destruction on her v 2. The destruction will be so complete that the area will be pastureland for shepherdís v 3. The enemy leaders and their soldiers would encamp around Jerusalem like shepherds with their sheep. The same hills from which the shepherds saw the angels at Christís birth, 500 years later.

Verse 4-5: The eager Babylonians wanted to attack at noon, but werenít prepare v 4. They would be so eager to destroy the city that they would even attack at night. These enemies would encourage themselves to attack Judah's capital before they lost their opportunity v 5.

Verse 6-9: They will cut down trees and cast up a siege against Jerusalem v 6. Ancient warfare included building siege ramps out of wood, stones, and earth against the exterior wall of a city. Then push siege machines up the ramps against the city wall to climb or break down the walls and attack the city. Jerusalem was due for punishment because its people were responsible for so much social oppression. As a well keeps its waters fresh, so she keeps fresh her wickedness v 7. A cistern is a hole that collects rainwater and becomes stagnant over time. A well, however, has water seeping into it from the water table, so although it is also a hole, its waters are fresh. So wickedness keeps seeping into Jerusalem. These announcements were to function as a warning to the people of Judah to repent. If they did not repent, the results would be alienation from God (in captivity), the desolation of their city and their lives, and the ruination of their land v 8. Wicked violence and destruction had resulted in all kinds of sickness and wounds. The Babylonians will glean as a grape gatherer gleans grapes from the vine v 9.

NB: So developing a callous heart takes a long time to produce but has disastrous results. It always ruins a life. Its downward spiral happens over time as you allow a little sinful seepage at a time. Eventually it builds and cascades into spiritual trauma with actions and attitudes shameless. Unwilling to fight it.

 

A CALLOUS HEART LOOSES THE ABILITY TO HAVE SHAME

Contriteness, disgrace, chagrin and guilt are essential to repentance. When one no longer has shame there is no longer a rebuttal to the sin one engages in. A callous heart looses ability to be shamed.

Verse 10-15: Jeremiah wondered to whom he could deliver this warning so they could benefit from it

v 10. Over three dozen times in Jeremiah it is stated that the people would not listen to warnings. The people closed their ears to his prophecies. They were so steeped in sin that it was not even possible for them to hear messages from the Lord. They found Godís Word to be offensive. The word of the Lord has become a reproach to them. They took no delight in it. The Lord instructed him to pour out his pent up messages of wrath on everyone in Jerusalem, children, adolescents, husbands, wives, older people, and the very aged because all of them would be taken captive. v 11. The people would lose their houses, their fields, and their wives to the invaders v 12. The wickedness is in all levels of society from the least to the greatest. In the leadership, from prophet to priest. Everyone is greedy and deals falsely (lies) v 13. They are fed lies with promises of peace that can never happen v 14. The prophets and priests have healed the brokenness of the people superficially. How did they do that? By saying, Peace, peace but there is no peace. More lies. God had not given them that message. They were not even ashamed at all of the abomination they had done lying to the people v 15. They did not even know how to blush they were so hardened. They had no shame about deceiving the people, even when their lies were exposed. But God promised that these false leaders would fall when the city was destroyed.

NB: For the first time, people are lying today for no reason. Lying is seen as a solution not a problem today. Up to now, they might have lied to keep from hurt someoneís feelings, or to avoid getting in trouble. But now itís common to lie for absolutely no reason. False teachers always give positive answers and short-term solutions.

 

A LACK OF SHAME IS BASED ON IGNORING SIN COVERING IT UP RELIGIOUSLY

Verses 16-21: Judah strayed from the ancient paths, where the good way is v 16. They were to walk in it. They should ask their leaders to direct them in the good old paths, the teachings of the Mosaic Covenant, or perhaps the ways of the patriarchs. Then they should walk in those ways and experience rest. But the people refused to follow those old paths. Probably they confused the ancient ways with obsolete ways, as many in our day do. Their history of Abraham, Moses, David, etc. was examples of those who obeyed God. Itís where you shall find rest for your soul. But they said, we will not walk in it. God also set watchmen over you...but they said, we will not listen v 17. Because the people refused to listen to the Lord's words and had rejected His Law, the Lord announced to the whole earth that He would bring disaster on His people v 18-19a. The Babylonian Exile was the result or fruit of their devices v 19b. Even though the Judeans still worshipped God formally, their sacrifices made no impression on Him v 20. God asked, for what purpose. They were not the result of a love for God. So God said, they are not pleasing to Me. Laying stumbling blocks before this people probably refers to the Babylonians because that is what He talks about in the next verse v 21. Because of this hypocrisy, the Lord would trip His people up. He would humiliate them and interrupt their progress, probably with their own sins and with the coming invader. This would include all generations and all relationships.

NB: We have that in Godís Word; examples and warnings. We are without excuse when we refuse to turn to God in repentance and obedience. Religious observances themselves are not pleasing to God even if it is the sacrifices He prescribed in the Mosaic Law. Why? Because He wants your heart, not your religious functions. God does not grade on a religious curve. Religion no cover up for the heart.

 

COVERING UP SIN BREEDS INNER CORRUPTION DESERVING JUDGMENT FROM GOD

Godís judgment is fierce and thorough

Verse 22-26: Jeremiah concluded his second message by again pointing out the enemy coming from the North v 22. They are cruel and have no mercy as they come against you Jerusalem v 23. They would be cruel warriors, riding on instruments of warfare, shouting loud battle cries, and making as much noise as the roaring sea. As the people hear of the Babyloniansí advance, their anguish will be pain as of a woman in childbirth v 24. The news of this invasion had made the people physically weak, mentally anxious, and extremely distressed. He counseled the people not to leave the city, to stay out of their fields, and off the highways v 25. There was an armed enemy out there waiting to kill them, and it should inspire terror among them all. They will mourn as for an only son v 26. Notice the extremes in this judgment and response. The prophet implored the people to repent while there was still time. Mourning over the untimely death of an only son was especially bitter, because the family would have no one to perpetuate the family name. Without repentance the destroyer would overtake them.

Sinís corruption is vast and deep

Verse 27-30: God made Jeremiah an assayer and a tester among My people v 27. An assayer examines and analyzes something. A tester uses a difficult situation or event to provide information about someone or something. The people are the metal. He would test the mettle of the Lord's people. When Jeremiah gathered information and analyzed the nation, he concluded all of them are stubbornly rebellious, a callous heart, corrupt to the core v 28. All of them were also hardened to outside influences, like bronze and iron, and were impure. God tried to refine them through judgment, but in vain the refining goes on v 29. The wicked are not separated out in the refining process, so the nation was like rejected silver because the Lord has rejected them v 30. The implication is that He would toss them aside out of His land.

NB: 1 Corinthians 5 addresses a similar issue. God said, do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. We are to examine and analyze the believers we associate with and you are not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person not even to eat with such a one. They are to be ... removed from your midst. The reasons are two: (1) For the persons own good. If they are no longer part of your association, perhaps they will repent of their immorality and turn back to God. (2) Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven. The personís sin will influence others. So for their own good and for the protection of the rest of the believers, that person needs to be removed. But donít be surprised if the person might be like Judah and be ďstubbornly rebellious ... and in vain the refining goes onOf course, the person should be confronted with their sin and urged to repentóand this should be done by the body of believers the person is associated withóMatthew 18:15-20.

 

SO WHAT?

1. Avoid a callous heart at all costs. If you have been allowing the constant drip of compromise of Godís will for you, open to some sin, or experimenting with what you may be able to get away with, you increase the potential for a spiritually calloused heart. Its an inside job. Guard your heart. Do business there at that level where your affections and ambitions develop.

2. If you develop a callous heart is some area, say revenge and hate or sexual in nature or love of money or appreciation by a group of peers instead of in Godís eyes, donít cover it up with religious activity. Identify it. Expose it. Deal with it. Repent of it before it destroys you.