WHO’D BE A PROPHET? (2)
Gracious Lord, out of my need I cry out to you. Challenge, confront, revive, call, and renew me.
Read JEREMIAH 11
The Covenant Is Broken
11 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Listen to the terms of this covenant and tell them to the people of Judah and to those who live in Jerusalem. 3 Tell them that this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Cursed is the one who does not obey the terms of this covenant— 4 the terms I commanded your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the iron-smelting furnace.’ I said, ‘Obey me and do everything I command you, and you will be my people, and I will be your God. 5 Then I will fulfill the oath I swore to your ancestors, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey’—the land you possess today.”
I answered, “Amen, Lord.”
6 The Lord said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: ‘Listen to the terms of this covenant and follow them. 7 From the time I brought your ancestors up from Egypt until today, I warned them again and again, saying, “Obey me.” 8 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts. So I brought on them all the curses of the covenant I had commanded them to follow but that they did not keep.’”
9 Then the Lord said to me, “There is a conspiracy among the people of Judah and those who live in Jerusalem. 10 They have returned to the sins of their ancestors, who refused to listen to my words. They have followed other gods to serve them. Both Israel and Judah have broken the covenant I made with their ancestors. 11 Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them. 12 The towns of Judah and the people of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods to whom they burn incense, but they will not help them at all when disaster strikes. 13 You, Judah, have as many gods as you have towns; and the altars you have set up to burn incense to that shameful god Baal are as many as the streets of Jerusalem.’
14 “Do not pray for this people or offer any plea or petition for them, because I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their distress.
15 “What is my beloved doing in my temple
as she, with many others, works out her evil schemes?
Can consecrated meat avert your punishment?
When you engage in your wickedness,
then you rejoice.[a]”
16 The Lord called you a thriving olive tree
with fruit beautiful in form.
But with the roar of a mighty storm
he will set it on fire,
and its branches will be broken.
17 The Lord Almighty, who planted you, has decreed disaster for you, because the people of both Israel and Judah have done evil and aroused my anger by burning incense to Baal.
Plot Against Jeremiah
18 Because the Lord revealed their plot to me, I knew it, for at that time he showed me what they were doing. 19 I had been like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter; I did not realize that they had plotted against me, saying,
“Let us destroy the tree and its fruit;
let us cut him off from the land of the living,
that his name be remembered no more.”
20 But you, Lord Almighty, who judge righteously
and test the heart and mind,
let me see your vengeance on them,
for to you I have committed my cause.
21 Therefore this is what the Lord says about the people of Anathoth who are threatening to kill you, saying, “Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord or you will die by our hands”— 22 therefore this is what the Lord Almighty says: “I will punish them. Their young men will die by the sword, their sons and daughters by famine. 23 Not even a remnant will be left to them, because I will bring disaster on the people of Anathoth in the year of their punishment.”
- Jeremiah 11:15 Or Could consecrated meat avert your punishment? / Then you would rejoice
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHave you ever faced opposition for being a Christian? What brought it about? How did it feel?
Not only does Jeremiah have to face up to the pain of feeling God’s heart for the world, he also has to face opposition from his contemporaries. Speaking truth to power is rarely popular, and that’s what Jeremiah is called to do. The church has a similar role – and may face a similar hostility.
We’ve already met the charge that Judah has broken covenant. Covenant is a central idea in the Old Testament. Jeremiah has in mind the covenant which God made with Israel at Sinai. Deuteronomy, which revisits material from Exodus and repeats the Ten Commandments, concludes with a list of blessings for the obedient and curses for the disobedient (Deuteronomy 28) and a covenant renewal ceremony as Israel prepared to cross the Jordan. This seems strange to us, but God was laying out the consequences of ignoring his requirements. They knew the stakes and chose to go their own way anyway.
This illustrates the impossibility of keeping the covenant requirements in our own strength. Thankfully (spoiler alert) God has other plans, as Jeremiah will reveal later. They focus on the new covenant which Jesus will introduce and which gives us a new motivating power enabling us to live in obedience.
What motivates you to live as God requires? What gives you the strength you need to do so?
Generous God, sometimes my fears hold me back from doing your will. Remind me again that all things are possible through you, even the things that I fear most.
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