Monday, April 7, 2014

CCLI - Jeremiah 7-10 - Jeremiah’s Temple Sermon

The four chapters we are covering in this post have more than Jeremiah’s Temple sermon, but I will focus on it because of its tremendous impact on the people of Judah and Jeremiah’s ministry following this sermon.  Through Jeremiah, God has condemned His people for false religion (idol worship), oppression of the poor, and injustice in its court system, and the general corruption of the whole society in Jerusalem and beyond.  But there seemed to be a new sin that was particularly disturbing.  That sin was the people’s shifting of their worship from God to the Temple.  {There has been much commentary on this.  I’ll try not to dwell on this too much but one must understand what was going on in the minds of the people of Judah, and how God felt about it.}  This false mindset had penetrated the hearts and minds of the people, the priests, the prophets, and the royal family.  {This can happen fairly easily.  One should not allow his/her allegiance to transfer from God to a building or a structure or a location that is meant to represent Him.  We should not allow our service to a church to supersede our service to God.  We should be serving God through the church.}  These people did not fear God or His judgment as long as they were in or around the Temple grounds.  They actually said this, as indicated in 7:10.  {As a younger Christian I often wondered why we cannot determine the exact location on which Jesus was crucified.  Although there has become a “general” belief of the location of the skull hill (Golgotha), it was not actually established as the most likely location until the late 1800s.  The crucifixion and the resurrection are the two acts which save us from our sins and places us back into fellowship with God.  In keeping with the focus of this post, I believe it is God’s will that we do not know for certain the exact location lest we worship the location, rather than the Savior and His immeasurable act.  These Israelites in Jeremiah’s time proved that this can easily happen.}  Jeremiah proceeds to lash out boldly against this mindset.  And he prophesied punishment for this.  These prophesies made Jeremiah extremely unpopular, not only with the Israelite people, but also with the priests, other prophets, all scribes and clergy, and the king and his court.  This set the pace for the remainder of Jeremiah’s ministry.  Bear in mind, this happened early in his ministry which means Jeremiah struggled almost his entire life trying to deliver God’s messages to His people.  {No wonder they call him the weeping prophet.}  Not long after this sermon Jeremiah was arrested and was threatened with execution.  As a point of time reference:  Jeremiah began his ministry during Josiah’s reign.  Josiah was a good king for Judah and made happen many reforms that would lead Judah back to God.  One of the focal reforms was to bring proper worship back to the Temple in Jerusalem.  But shortly after Josiah had done this was when the people started the practice of worshiping the Temple rather than God.  Jeremiah’s Temple sermon was during the early years of king Jehoiakim.

7:16-8:3  -  Disgraceful Idolatry

In verse 17 Jeremiah suggested that their idolatry practice was something of a family affair.  In verse 18 he names “the queen of heaven” as the pagan god they worshiped.  She was an Assyrian/Babylonian goddess that could be satisfied only with the death of children by fire at the hands of the parents.  {Where did they come up with these gods?}

8:4-9:26 – The Weeping Prophet Laments

Jeremiah laments in these verses for two reasons:  The sin of Judah, and God’s forthcoming judgment on them.  In verse 9:6 God, out of frustration with them, declares that “they refuse to acknowledge Me”.  Think about that.  The REFUSE to acknowledge God!

10:1-16  -  The Difference Between God and Man-made Idols
Jeremiah in these verses is contrasting God with all idols.  Jeremiah is stating how obviously stupid it is to even compare the two.  Just a brief mention of verse 5 saying that pagan idols cannot speak, they cannot walk and must be carried around.  Jeremiah is somewhat making fun of the people for being afraid of these idols, as there has been no evidence that they have ever done anybody either any good or harm.


 Jeremiah pronounced God’s judgment on Judah.  He did it in two parts in this passage.  Firstly he told the people to make preparations to leave their homes.  (He knew the Babylonians were coming in a few short years.)  Secondly, he described for them the horrible and terrifying conditions under which they would be taken captive then placed into slavery in a far-away land.  {No wonder the people did not like Jeremiah, but they didn’t listen to any of his prophesies anyway.}  And then in the last three verses of chapter 10, Jeremiah prayed for himself and the people.  Notice that he appeals to God’s grace in verse 24.  He is submitting himself to God’s judgment and punishment, but at the same time asking God to be merciful and not punish him in anger.  I believe in verse 25 Jeremiah is asking God to punish only the guilty ones and to spare the faithful.

Next post:  Breaking the Covenant

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