Coming to Know God Through Judgment

Jeremiah 16 SCC 12/18/16



Verse 1-4: Jeremiah’s first restriction was that he shall not take a wife for yourself nor have sons or daughters v 2. Why? Because the people of Judah will die of deadly diseases and come to an end by sword and famine v 3-4. The people living in Judah then were soon going to die horrible deaths. Perhaps the Lord also wanted to spare Jeremiah the sorrow of seeing his wife and children die horrible deaths. The sorrow and grief connected with the Babylonian invasion would be devastating. God was using Jeremiah as an example of all normal relationships in Judah that were cherished which would be disrupted by the coming catastrophe. There would be so much death from deadly disease, sword, and famine, that the dead would not even be mourned but their carcasses will become food for the birds and... the beasts.

NB: Its interesting that God uses a very personal illustration which was costly for Jeremiah. Jeremiah was denied love in marriage and posterity for his name just to make the point that Israel could expect to lose all dear to them when Babylon arrived. Denying self to perform Gods will, will be costly by nature.

Verse 5-7: The second restriction for Jeremiah was that he was not to enter a house of mourning for someone who had died for two reasons: First, to show that God has withdrawn My peace from this people, and second, he has withdrawn my lovingkindness and compassion v 5. Jeremiah's life was to remind the people of God's withdrawal from them. That those who die during the siege will not be buried, they will not be lamented v 6. In the coming invasion, all classes of people would die and no one would bury them or lament their passing in traditional ways. There will also be no mourning, comfort or consolation v 7. Even pagan practice of cutting selves and making selves bald to express devotion would not help. These were contrary to the Mosaic Law even though Israelites practiced these customs.

NB: The entire point of having to remove fellowship with another who refuses to repent of some known sin is to demonstrate Gods’ displeasure due to the same. We dare not communicate Gods acceptance of their sin by, say, excusing it, tolerating it, ignoring it or refusing to call it sin.

Verse 8-9: Jeremiah’s third restriction was you shall not go into a house of feasting to sit with them to eat and drink v 8. Jeremiah was not to attend joyful celebrations or eat and drink with merrymakers. This showed that times of feasting and happiness would soon cease. I am going to eliminate, rejoicing, gladness, voices of the groom and bride v 9. The reason for this antisocial behavior was that all rejoicing in the land would end. Jeremiah was to reflect the attitudes of His God in all these situations. To deny Jeremiah the cherished gift of wife and children, and then to isolate him from sharing the occasions of sorrow and joy around him was an extreme measure of God's intense concern to get this message across.

Application: There are different reasons for restrictions imposed upon us by God. For example, (1) Just because God said so; (2) for our own (physical and/or eternal) safety; (3) to demonstrate a lifestyle to others (2 Corinthians 2:15-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5). By design, these restrictions communicate truth.



You are responsible for your sin

Verse 10-13: The Lord prepared Jeremiah for questions that the people would ask him. They had become blind to the sinfulness of their ways.  When the people ask Why? they have this great calamity and What is our sin? v 10. Jeremiah was to answer (1) “because your forefathers have forsaken Me,” declares the Lord, “and have followed other gods” v 11 hey, and by the way, just in case you think it is entirely their fault, (2) “You too have done evil, even more than your forefathers...you are each one walking according to the stubbornness of his own evil heart, without listening to Me v 12. Their fathers were evil but they were even more evil! Judah’s sin was multiplied. They had vivid example of Gods displeasure and had become fools. Fools believe they can play the percentages to gain the advantage. They risk against life’s usual patterns or in this case Gods clearly directive will believing it will still work out well for them. This only results in collateral damage and need for damage control. The coming judgment was due to the accumulated sins of their forefathers, forsaking the Lord, His covenant, and idolatry and their own sin. Sin has a cumulative effect in that it results in conditions that affect the behavior of others, including later generations. You reap what you sow and often for generations like before the flood. But a Noah can find grace in eyes of Lord and arrest it.

Application: The consequences of the sins (and the sins themselves) of the fathers often follow them into the next generation. You don’t sin in a vacuum. Therefore, I will hurl you out of this land into the land which you have not known v 13, to “hurl” means to violently thrust. There you will serve other gods...I shall grant you no favor (compared to when the 70 years were over and Persia conquered Babylon and God had the Persians grant favor to the Judeans). There they would have their fill of idolatry and the Lord would show them no mercy.

Judah’s ultimate future is secure

Verse 14: The Lord announced that the time would come when the chosen people would no longer look back on the Exodus as the great demonstration of His preservation and deliverance.

Verse 15: Instead, they would look back on their second exodus, from Babylon and all the other countries to which He had banished them. The Lord promised to bring His people back into the Promised Land that He had given their fathers, after He had disciplined them in those other countries. There must still be a return of the Chosen People to the Promised Land which I gave to their fathers. This return is after the Jews have repented. The present return does not fulfill what God promised here.

In the meantime Judah’s immediate future is hopeless

Verse 16: Then He returned to the invading Babylonians, whom He compared to fishermen and hunters. The Lord was going to summon fishermen and hunters to round up His people to take them as prey, even those in hiding. These agents would be the Babylonian invaders. When Jesus used the metaphor of fishermen to describe the mission of his disciples, he was reversing its meaning from that intended by Jeremiah. Jeremiah's fishers caught men for judgment; Jesus' fishers caught men for salvation.

Verse 17: The Lord saw everyone and everything. His people were not able to hide from Him even though many of them tried to do so. There are no secrets. God sees your ways. God observes your sin.

Verse 18: God would pay them back double for polluting His land which He had given them as an inheritance, with their iniquities and sins, and with the dead bodies of their idols and abominable objects of worship.

NB: A familiar complaint often against God comes from misunderstanding justice. God is ‘just’ by nature which means he always decides correctly between what’s righteous and evil. Our problem is that when it does not square with our sense of justice we complain. Our complaint is the result of ignorance. There is no justice if there are no consequences. If no accountability, then its unjust to judge anything.

Many will come to only know God thru judgment

Verse 19-21: Jeremiah affirms that God is my strength...my stronghold...my refuge in a time (the day) of distress v 19. The nations would come to the Lord from the ends of the earth, confessing the futility of their lives and the lives of their forefathers. He looks toward the day when the Gentile nations will realize can a man make gods for himself? v 20. They can, but what they make are not really gods, because there is only one God. Yet they are not gods! In the end times, God will make them know My power and My might; and they shall know that My name is the Lord v 21. He did not explain how He would do that here, but later revelation tells us that Messiah's second advent will involve such a demonstration of power that multitudes of people will turn to the Lord.

Application: People come to know God through judgment (the Flood, Sodom, the Tribulation). That is the only way the majority of the human race will ever know God. Eventually that culminates in the final eternal judgment. Then “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, ‘As I live’, says the Lord, ‘every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.’” So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.

So What?

1. We might counter that taking overt action against a bro’s sin is unloving, intolerant or judgmental to excuse that action. Understand God took stands against sin, ask his prophets to do the same, and expects his people to follow suit today.

2. There can never be compromise with sin. Sin always leads to judgment so it must be confronted. The wretched moral and spiritual condition of society is a product of compromising with sin. The problem is this wretched condition infiltrates the church who then attempts to attach morality to this compromise.