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17th June

Jeremiah 7-9; Psalm 13

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
17th June

Jeremiah 7-9; Psalm 13

Bible in a Year
6 minutes


So far in Jeremiah we’ve started the book, looking at Jeremiah’s calling and accusation against Judah. The book of Jeremiah is a collection of messages and poems by the prophet Jeremiah, who was a prophet to Judah immediately before their exile. We read as God called Jeremiah to be his mouth pieces to Judah to weed out corruption and idolatry in Judah. The people would not listen to him, but his teachings would serve as a foundation for the people after they’d been exiled.

Jeremiah then started off focus on the people’s relationship with God. God had been the one who led them out of Egypt, but they quickly forgot that. The Israelites instead chose to worship other gods, essentially committing adultery against God. God pointed out that Deuteronomy made it clear if a man divorces his wife and she goes off with another man, she can’t then return to her first husband. In the same way, God couldn’t accept Israel back as his wife after all that she’s done.

Jeremiah then reflected on Israel after the split into two kingdoms; Israel in the north and Judah in the south. He used the metaphor of them being sisters who were both married to God. Israel continued to have affairs and chase after other gods, so God sent her away. But Judah didn’t learn from her sister’s mistakes. Instead, she started doing the same. So God gave her a warning. If she repented and turned back to him, he would restore her. If not, he would bring her to shame.

We read as Jeremiah tried to lead the people to repentance, but they would not listen. He grieved the destruction he knew was coming to Judah, likening it to decreation. Returning the land to it state before God created it. God even sent out Jeremiah to find anyone righteous that would make Judah worth saving, much like Abraham with God in Genesis 18. But Jeremiah found no one.

Again Jeremiah warned the people that a foreign nation would come from the north but they did not listen. They continued in their wickedness, so God calls for Judah's enemies to come and cut her down. 

Jeremiah 7-9

God tells Jeremiah to stand at the gates of the temple and challenge the people. If the people were to live rightly, to pursue justice, and fight against all oppression, supporting those in need, then God will be with them in his temple. Instead, they cheat and steal, and chase after other gods, then come to God's temple and act like everything is fine. Because of these things, God will destroy this temple they have put their trust in, so they will know that everything is not 'fine'.

God tells Jeremiah that he is not to pray for the people. This time, they are to face the consequences of their actions. When God first called the Israelites out of Egypt, he didn't ask them for sacrifices and offerings. He asked them to be obedient. But they have failed and have been nothing but disobedient since that point. God then points to the places where the people had been performing child sacrifices. These places will become valleys of slaughter with the bodies piled high. The people that are killed will not be buried, but their bodies will be left out in the open for the animals to eat. For their wickedness, God will destroy and shame the people.

Jeremiah points out that if someone stumbles, they will pick themselves up. If someone makes a mistake, they will turn away from that to not make the same mistake again. And yet the people of Judah aren't picking themselves up or turning from their mistakes. They are continuing in their wickedness, chasing after it. Like war horses that wear blinkers, so they don't turn left to right but charge forward, here into their own sin. They have tricked themselves into thinking they are following the letter of the law with their offerings and sacrifices to God. The reality is they have rejected God.

So God will take what is there's and give it to other people. They deal falsely with one another, insisting that there is peace and everything is great, while injustice and oppression are everywhere. When disaster comes, the people will try to gather together to protect themselves, but it won't work. God warns them that "The snorting of their horses is heard from Dan" (Jeremiah 8:16). Dan is the northernmost tribe, and so this is a further reminder that the enemy that will destroy them will come from the north.

And so God begins to grieve and weep for his people. These were meant to be his people, and Jerusalem his city. Instead, they have provoked him to anger by worshipping idols and other gods. He has tried to guide them and heal his people, but they have insisted on ignoring him. So God begins to weep for the destruction of his own people. Even now, he wishes it didn't have to be like this. He would much prefer his people to turn away from their wicked ways and be restored. But they won't. He has tried many times, but they have ignored him. Their wickedness, oppression, and evil needs to be destroyed and dealt with.

God even wishes that he had some hut in a desert somewhere that he could put them in so they couldn't hurt anyone, but they are too big a people and wherever he moved them, they would still oppress one another. Neighbours and brothers lie to one another and oppress one another. Because of this, God will punish his people to refine them. He will make them weep and wail from the mountains and will listen to it because this is what needs to be done. Jerusalem will be destroyed and Judah will become a wasteland.

God then puts aside the 'wise' men. There was plenty of time for people to bring wisdom and to lead people back to God, but they never did. These wise men are not needed anymore. What is needed is the women who grieve and mourn. At the time, there were women who were professional mourners. If a family member died, you would pay a woman, or multiple women if you were wealthy, to come to the funeral and weep and mourn to express how important that family member was for you.

It is these women that God is calling to lead the way. Maybe if the people learn to grieve and lament their own wickedness, they will change their ways. God again warns the people that now is no longer the time for people to boast in their own wisdom. If they are to boast in anything, it should be in faithfulness and obedience to God. Those that practice love, justice, and righteousness.

Psalm 13

This psalm is attributed to king David and falls into the category of lament psalm. It opens with perhaps the most common question asked by those who are suffering. “How long Lord?” Being a short psalm, Psalm 13 is one of the clearest examples of the key steps involved in biblical lament.

Psalm 13:1-2 - Brings complaint before God

Psalm 13:3-4 - Asks God to intervene

Psalm 13:5-6 - Declares trust in God

The psalmist begins with a real sense that God is distant. It feels like God has forgotten them, or is hiding from them, and they’re not hiding these feelings from God. Without God, they’ve been left to ruminate through this problem on their own. Anyone who has been in this position knows how dangerous it is to just be left with your own thoughts. How quickly that can begin to spiral.

The psalmist is filled with sorrow, and it feels like their enemy is looming. The psalm doesn’t explicitly say, but many think that the ‘enemy’ is death. When the writer makes his request of God, he asks that God “light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death” (Psalm 13:3). To have bright eyes meant being healthy, while having dim eyes meant you were wasting away (see Deuteronomy 34:7; Job 17:7).

Having made their complaint, and asked God to intervene, the psalmist ends by lifting their own spirit and placing their trust in God. They remind themselves of God’s faithfulness and his love. Though now they mourn, there will come a time when they can rejoice in God. And so the psalmist will continue to sing and praise God. God has been faithful in the past, and he will continue to be faithful.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

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