A STUDY OF THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH

Itís Dangerous to Provoke God

Jeremiah 11 SCC 11/13/16

 

This message is about 6 years after Jeremiah began his ministry during the year the Temple was repaired as part of King Josiahís reforms, and a copy of the Law was discovered in the renovation (2 Chronicles 34:14-33). Jeremiah called upon the people to heed their covenant with God.

 

CHRONIC HARDHEARTED DISOBEDIENCE WILL EXPERIENCE GODíS WRATH

11:1-2: The Lord's Word again came to Jeremiah v 1. The prophet was to listen to the words of the Mosaic Covenant, and then address the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem v 2.

11:3-4: Israel's God, announced a curse on any of His people who did not obey the covenant v 3. He gave it to their forefathers when He liberated them from their Egyptian hardships characterized as from the iron furnace v 4. It was not a pretty time for Israel during their 430 years in Egypt. At that time, the Lord had commanded the Israelites to listen to His voice and to be completely obedient (Exod. 19:5-6). This covenant was ratified in Deuteronomy 27-28 as they prepared to enter the land of Promise. If the people would obey the commands from God, then He would give them a land. By promising to do so, they became His special people and He became their national God.

11:5: The Mosaic Covenant was to be the means by which God would fulfill His earlier promises to Abraham concerning the abundant Promised Land (Gen. 12:7). Jeremiah replied, "So be it, God," indicating his wholehearted agreement with Gods explanation.

PT: Here then is the basis of a basic agreement between God and Israel that was binding between them. It was concrete with bone fide parameters within which they agreed to live. God gives his Word, fulfills His Word and expects it to be complied with. It is pretty clear what would happen if the agreement was not kept. Israel would be banished form the Land. Little by little God has been carving it away.

11:6-7: Again the Lord instructed His prophet to bear a similar message to the same audience in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem v 6. The people were to listen to and obey the Mosaic Covenant as Jeremiah proclaimed it. God warned the Israelites over and over to keep the covenant from the land of Egypt even to this day v 7. The importance of doing so was clear; the Lord had commanded His people to hear and obey the covenant, when He first gave it and ever since.

11:8: Yet they did not obey but walked, each one, in the stubbornness of his evil heart. Therefore, I brought on them all the words of this covenant. The Israelites had failed to listen and obey. So the Lord had brought on all the curses. The root of the problem was Israel's stubborn and evil heart.

PT: We are prone to hope that God will be like the modern indulgent parent that there will be no reckoning if we, also, disobey Him. It is a vain hope. Judgment is sure to come. As God punished Israel, so will He punish all whose hearts are confirmed in disobedience toward Him. God keeps His word literally!

 

REFUSAL TO LISTEN TO GOD PROLIFERATES SINFULNESS AND GUILT

11:9-10: The Lord informed Jeremiah of a conspiracy to break the covenant among his people v 9. They had returned to the sins of their forefathers who had rejected Godís words and had pursued idols v 10. This constituted breaking the covenant. Both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms were guilty, and the Northern Kingdom had already gone into captivity for its failure. This is a national rebellion an act of corporate treason. Called to serve God alone they now are serving other gods.

11:11-12: The result of this conduct would be disaster for them all v 11. They will not be able to escape. The Lord would bring this upon them, and all their appeals to Him for relief would be of no avail. People who do not listen are not heard. And though they will cry to Me, yet I will not listen to them. Their prayers would do no good. Receiving no relief from the Lord, the people would appeal to their idols, but they would not save them either v 12. Powerless to help despite their large numbers.

11:13: The people of Judah had worshipped multitudes of idols, described hyperbolically, as numbering as many as Jerusalem's streets and Judah's cities. To the shameful thing to burn incense to Baal.

Application: So they refused to hear My words ... so God said, ... though they cry to Me, yet I will not listen to them. Why should God listen to our words if we donít listen to His Word? Seriously! Ignoring their responsibility escalated and expanded their reliance on idols turning to them and not God!

 

DEVOTE ACTS TO DIVERT JUDGMENT WILL HAVE NO IMPACT

11:14: God will not call off the judgment, no matter how much they or Jeremiah pray about it. Therefore, do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not listen when they call to Me. Their sin was so great that the Lord would not defer judgment, even though the prophet or his people cried out to Him for mercy. Without consequences there is no accountability.

11:15: Even though they were beloved by the Lord they had no right to come into His temple to worship Him, because they had committed so many sins, and had not repented. Their sacrifices alone could not make things right with Him. Evidently, some of the people in Judah went to the Temple to sacrifice, thinking that would prevent the judgment, but they didnít turn from their evil deeds. They ate sacrifices in the temple with no intention of dealing with the sin those sacrifices were to cover. They wanted to rejoice in deliverance from judgment while still participating in their idolatry hoping God would agree!

11:16: Even though the Lord had compared His nation to a beautiful and fruitful green olive tree, He would burn it up in a great conflagration because it had proved worthless. He would destroy the nation as He might destroy a tree by striking it with lightning. The olive tree was a great resource for light, cooking, medicine, anointing the body. Once blessed by God, but now rejected.

11:17: Even though Almighty God had planted Israel, tracing their origins to the Lord, He would bring evil on her, because she had done evil in provoking Him by worshipping Baal. Here a certain sense of the imminence of coming doom. They had committed spiritual adultery.

Application: Neither prayer, nor sacrifices, nor the fact that God Himself was the One who gave birth to Judah would keep God from bringing disaster upon her. She provoked Me by offering up sacrifices to Baal. James said, ďThe effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish muchĒ. Itís no guarantee or a genie-in-a-bottle formula, but it doesnít say the prayer of evil men can accomplish much.

 

GODLY AGENTS WHO REBUKE SINNERS CAN EXPECT THREATS FROM THEM

11:18-19: Jeremiah announced that the Lord had revealed the fate of the people to him, and had also given him insight into his people's deeds. v 18. He had preached to the people without realizing that those deeds were the plotting of his death v 19. He was as unaware of their scheme as a lamb going to its slaughter. They planned to get rid of him, the tree, as well as his messages, the fruit, so all memory of Jeremiah would end. An arrogant refusal of the only remedy the people had.

11:20: Jeremiahís only recourse was to take refuge in Almighty God, who evaluates people's motives and intentions, to judge them for their evil plans. He would not take vengeance himself, but he trusted the Lord to take vengeance for him. This is only right since he has committed himself to Godís cause.

11:21: Men from Jeremiah's hometown had warned him to stop prophesying in Godís name or they would kill him (like Jesus in Nazareth). Some people in Jeremiah's day were upset with him for stating that they would experience suffering in exile. They implied that if he had not prophesied, it would not have happened. Notice it is the message they reject. The messenger is just collateral damage.

11:22-23: The Almighty Lord promised to punish those men with disaster v 22. The young men of military age would die violently, and others would die by famine, evidently during the siege of Jerusalem. The Lord would not leave them any descendants, so the memory of them would end v 23. This would be fitting since they purposed to cut off all memory of Jeremiah. God evidently meant that

among those who persecuted Jeremiah, none would have descendants, since Ezra 2:23 records that 128 men of Anathoth returned from the Exile.

SO WHAT?

1. God does not tolerate unbelief and rebellion. There is no way back from a hard heart but repentance and even that is a difficult place to get to because oneís heart must change.

2. There is no way God can be conned. When we try to continue in some sin while simultaneously performing acts of religious devotion, we are only conning ourselves. These acts provide no cover.

3. Sustained hard heartedness toward Gods clearly revealed will places one in spiritual jeopardy. The only thing left is guilt and judgment.