Today as I read Jeremiah chapters four through six the following stands out to me.
In chapter four the Lord is declaring to Israel that if they remove their abhorrent idols from His presence that he will return to them. An interesting verse is verse 4 which says, “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord; remove the foreskin of your hearts, men of Judah and residents of Jerusalem. Otherwise, my wrath will break out like fire and burn with no one to extinguish it because of your evil deeds.”
I love how God takes the sign of circumcision and applies it to the heart. I know we’ll see more of that in this book later, and there is a great conversation about this in Galatians too.
In verse 9 we see also that the king, his officials, the priests and prophets will all lose their courage when God’s judgement comes.
The reminder is that God is just and will not be mocked by those pretending to represent Him. God’s command is clear to Jerusalem, wash the evil from your heart.
And again, it is very clear that their actions bring the consequences and for them, it was very bitter.
Jeremiah’s sensitive heart shows through here also, as we see him in anguish because of what is being said. He uses the words anguish, agony, pain in my heart and there is an urgency to that.
Sadly, verse 22 says they are skilled in doing evil but they do not know how to do good. How many among us are also skilled in doing evil and not doing good? This is very sobering to me.
In chapter 5 it’s interesting to note that God has to keep asking His people if He doesn’t have the right to judge them for their sins. I find this fascinating because the idea many people have about God these days is the same. People tend to think that God is just love, but not Just. He’s both.
Verse one declares in part, “…If you find one person who acts justly, who pursues faithfulness, then I will forgive her.” The idea here is that God is so merciful and full of love that if there is just ONE person who is faithful to Him, He will forgive them. The sad part is that there wasn’t.
The role of the false prophets during this time is also sad. God says that they had become wind, that His word was not in them and that as a result they will be punished.
We also learn that Israel’s sins withheld God’s bounty from them and that they have excelled in evil matters.
God desires that His people take up just causes like defending the fatherless, and the rights of the needy. I love that about God, He cares about the fatherless and the needy.
In this chapter we see God’s love again for His people. He calls them to repentance again, yet they do not repent.
Verse ten says, “Who can I speak to and give such a warning that they will listen? Look, their ear is uncircumcised, so they cannot pay attention. See, the word of the Lord has become contemptible to them—they find no pleasure in it.”
Sadly, this is also true of our day today. It amazes me the number of people who say they are Christians but yet completely reject God’s word. This chapter also discusses how the Shepherds and their flocks will come against Jerusalem…what an indictment.
Among the sins listed in this chapter we see making profit dishonestly (v 13), the priests and prophets dealing falsely and them claiming there is peace when there is no peace.
Even more stunning is the religious leaders treating the brokenness of God’s people superficially. These leaders do not feel ashamed or humiliated in any way either. Because they do not pay attention to God’s words.
I would suggest that true healing comes to broken people when they honor and respect God and His word. The God of scripture is a loving and holy God. He’s long-suffering, patient, and He desires to give good gifts to His people. His heart breaks when we do not see Him for who He is and also reject what He has to offer.