DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER
Lord, may I never deny You, even in the slightest degree.
Read JEREMIAH 11:1–23
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.”
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.”
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.
If you are wondering why God is so hopping mad at his people at this time, see verse 13—there’s a pagan altar on every street.
For the past couple of years I have attended a slimming group. During the first year I lost a lot of excess weight and since then have tried hard and reasonably successfully to stick to my target! Reading this chapter reminded me of that journey. The “if–then” element of Jeremiah’s prophecy is explicit. If Israel sticks to the plan, in her case keeping the covenant requirements, then God’s promises will be fulfilled and the people will live in “a land flowing with milk and honey” (5). If not, then all their attempts to persuade God to bless them will be useless.
One can only lose weight by sticking to the plan; no amount of attending meetings, reading recipes, setting targets, or expressing intentions will avail if the plan is ignored! The inhabitants of Judah steadfastly refuse to follow God’s plan. They make no attempt to do the equivalent of eating the right things; there is no setting aside of the junk food, no restricting of portions, no increasing their fruit and vegetable intake! Jeremiah, their “slimming consultant,” has told them exactly how and why they are going wrong and what the results of not following the plan will be—and they don’t like it!
The reaction of Judah is to blame Jeremiah (and probably God as well!) because she has not received what she believes has been promised. She has ignored the “if–then” component of the covenant. The picture in the book shows someone beautiful, and slim, an all-around ideal—and yet they are still fat and unhealthy. It isn’t fair! They have been cheated! The consultant and the plan designer should be sued! Jeremiah has no right to say these things. He deserves to be put out of business.
Jeremiah feels like a lamb brought to the slaughter (19). Have you ever felt this way at a family gathering where there was palpable hostility to what you stand for?
Lord, thank You for providing a great recipe book, regular support and all the ingredients for us to follow Your plan for our lives. Please keep us within the target!