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21st June

Jeremiah 23-25; Psalm 17

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
21st June

Jeremiah 23-25; Psalm 17

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. Similar imagery was used to reflect on when Israel split into the two kingdoms; Israel in the north and Judah in the south. These two kingdoms were like two sisters who were both married to God. One, Israel, had already been set aside because of her affairs. The other, Judah, was starting to do the same.

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 calls the people to repent, but God tells Jeremiah not to pray for them. Their opportunity to change has gone. The era of wise men is gone. It's time for the women who mourn to lead.

We saw the first few cracks for Jeremiah. He was being persecuted and sometimes it looked like wicked people are flourishing. God encouraged Jeremiah that punishment is coming. We read as Jeremiah wrestled with his job. He tried to intercede for the people again but God told him not to. Instead, Job has to settle with being hated and mocked by the people. Then we read about Jeremiah's interactions with specific people. There was Pashhur who through Jeremiah and stocks, and then messages for the last couple kings of Judah; Shallum (Jehoahaz) and Coniah (Jehoiachin).

Jeremiah 23-25

Continuing the rebuke of the wicked kings' behaviours, God describes them as shepherds who have chased their sheep away. So he will punish the bad shepherds and eventually bring back the sheep to live in their land. Over these sheep, he will put a new shepherd, and this one will be a branch of David. God is declaring that one day there will be a David-like king that will rule over his people, and this king will rule justice and righteousness.

Again, God notes that just as his people talk about how he brought them out of oppression in Egypt, they will soon talk about how he brought them out of oppression in Babylon.

Having challenged the kings, Jeremiah now moves on to the prophets and the priests. They are ungodly and evil. The prophets in the northern kingdom of Israel had turned away from God and led the people to worship the false god of Baal. Judah's prophets are even worse. They pretend to continue to be prophets and priest of God, but also lead the people to sin and do wickedness. So God will punish them greatly for their ways.

God warns the people they can tell a prophet is false when they just speak what you want to hear. In the Old Testament, God uses his prophets to challenge his people. At no point have these other prophets stood before God and heard from them. They made their own decision to go out, and spoke their own words, not God's. If they had actually taken the time to seek God and stand in his presence, then they would have heard God's voice and spoken his truth. But they didn't.

God is both close and far. He sees all things and knows every person intimately. None of these prophets can speak their lies without God knowing about it. He compares these prophets to straw and wheat. Straw is good for nothing except burning. It provides no nutrience, just like these false prophets. But wheat, just like true prophets, can provide food to sustain you. These false prophets have looked at God's word and decided that it's a burden they don't want to bear, and so have chosen to preach their own words instead. In the same way, God will decide that these false prophets are a burden he no longer wants to bear and will cast them out.

We now jump forward a bit. Those that can remember 2 Kings will remember how the Babylonians came and sacked Judah multiple times, each time taking more people into exile. Jeremiah is now speaking at at a time where the king of Babylon has come, sacked Jerusalem and taken king Jeconiah (Jehoiachin in 2 Kings), along with most of the nobility and skilled craftsmen in the city.

Jeremiah has a vision of two baskets. One was filled with good figs, and the other was filled with bad figs. God points out that these figs are his people. Those that have become repentant and have turned back to God, and are now obedient to him, God will rescue and restore. Those that aren't repentant, God will destroy further.

Ironically, most of those who are repentant are the ones that have gone into exile already. God's message is that everyone should seek to repent and turn back to him, especially those who are still in Jerusalem. Those people shouldn't get overconfident and think that just because they've been left behind means that God's blessing is on them and they can continue as they are.

We then jump back a little to when Jeremiah was prophesying under the king before Jeconiah, Jehoiakim. At this point, Judah belonged to Babylon, but the Babylonians hadn't come and taken anyone into exile yet. So Jeremiah warns the people about the coming exile. Jeremiah points out that he has been prophesying and warning for the last twenty-three years, but the people have ignored him. They have not listened when he told them to turn from their wicked ways, stopping worshipping false gods and idols, and be faithful to God.

And so God has a new message for them. He will cause Babylon to come and destroy them, taking the remaining few into exile. Those in exile will be there seventy years, and then God will punish Babylon for its wickedness and lead his people out of Babylon and back into their land.

God then turns to the other nations and predicts his punishment over their wickedness too. He uses the imagery of a wine cup, that he will make all the nations drink. This wine will make the nations sick, and God will pour out destruction on each of them for their wicked ways. There will come a day where God will judge the whole earth for its ways, and he will focus on the shepherds, those who are leading the nations, the kings and advisors. These shepherds will be punished particularly harshly for leading the people, the sheep in their care, astray.

Psalm 17

This psalm is attributed to king David and fits into the category of lament psalm. The psalmist calls to God, raises their complaint, asks God to intervene, and the declares their trust in God.

Psalm 17:1-2 - A call for the Lord to listen

Psalm 17:3-5 - A call for God to intervene because of the psalmist’s innocence

Psalm 17:6-8 - A call for God to intervene because of his love

Psalm 17:9-12 - A call for God to intervene because of the psalmist’s enemies

Psalm 17:13-14 - A call to God to punish the psalmist’s enemies

Psalm 17:15 - A declaration of trust in God

The psalm opens with an appeal to God. The psalmist asks God to listen to their prayers, allow them in his presence, and vindicate them. They point out that God has had everything opportunity to test them, and they have proven themselves innocent of any offence.

The psalmist isn’t claiming they’ve never sinned here. Instead, they are pointing out that they’ve not done anything specific to deserve the struggle they are going through. This issue they are facing isn’t their fault. Instead, they have lived with integrity.

But God should not only intervene because the psalmist is innocent. The Lord is a God of faithfulness and love. He does not turn away from those who are oppressed.

Then the psalmist turns their focus to their enemies. They lack pity. They speak arrogantly. They use their strength to prey on the weak. The psalmist asks God to intervene and to deal with their enemies, because right now it just looks like God is rewarding them for their wickedness.

Having brought their complaint to God, the psalmist now declares their trust. They allow the truth of God’s righteousness and goodness to lead them forward.

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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