Jeremiah Speaks in the Temple
1-3The Lord told me to stand by the gate of the temple and tell the people who were going in that the Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel, had said:
Pay attention, people of Judah! Change your ways and start living right, then I will let you keep on living in your own country. 4Don't fool yourselves! My temple is here in Jerusalem, but that doesn't mean I will protect you. 5I will keep you safe only if you change your ways and are fair and honest with each other. 6Stop taking advantage of foreigners, orphans, and widows. Don't kill innocent people. And stop worshiping other gods. 7Then I will let you enjoy a long life in this land I gave your ancestors.
8But just look at what is happening! You put your trust in worthless lies. 9You steal and murder; you lie in court and are unfaithful in marriage. You worship idols and offer incense to Baal, when these gods have never done anything for you. 10And then you come into my temple and worship me! Do you think I will protect you so that you can go on sinning? 11 You are thieves, and you have made my temple your hideout. But I've seen everything you have done.
12 Go to Shiloh, where my sacred tent once stood. Take a look at what I did there. My people Israel sinned, and so I destroyed Shiloh!
13While you have been sinning, I have been trying to talk to you, but you refuse to listen. 14Don't think this temple will protect you. Long ago I told your ancestors to build it and worship me here, but now I have decided to tear it down, just as I destroyed Shiloh. 15And as for you, people of Judah, I'm going to send you away from my land, just as I sent away the people of Ephraim and the other northern tribes.
Punishment for Worshiping
16Jeremiah, don't pray for these people! I, the Lord, would refuse to listen. 17Do you see what the people of Judah are doing in their towns and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 Children gather firewood, their fathers build fires, and their mothers mix dough to bake bread for the goddess they call the Queen of Heaven. They even offer wine sacrifices to other gods, just to insult me. 19But they are not only insulting me; they are also harming themselves by doing these shameful things.
20And now, I, the Lord All-Powerful, will flood Judah with my fiery anger until nothing is left—no people or animals, no trees or crops.
When one of my grandchildren is being disciplined, the parent often says, “(Name of child) … LISTEN TO ME!” When the parent says, “Listen to me!” it’s more than a hearing exercise. They expect the child to stop what they’re doing, make eye contact, give them their undivided attention, apologize, and clean up their act.
Jeremiah 7 is about God, the parent, saying, “LISTEN TO ME!” There can be no ifs, ands or buts. When God says, “LISTEN!” the anticipation is that his children will “pay attention” (v 2) by reforming the way they live and correcting what they do (v 3).
The people of Judah were ignoring God’s “LISTEN TO ME!” They were lying, being dishonest, exploiting foreigners, taking advantage of orphans and widows, stealing, murdering, worshipping idols, committing perjury, defiling the temple, and committing adultery (vv 5-11).
God sees what’s going on. When we sin he tells us that what we’re doing is wrong (v 13). Yet too often, like my grandchildren with their parents, we hear him but refuse to listen (v 13). It should therefore come as no surprise to us when punishment follows a refusal to “LISTEN TO ME!” (v 15).
Sometimes my grandchildren push their parents to the point where they’re going to get what’s coming to them, no matter what! The people of Judah pushed God to his limit and there was no way his wrath could be restrained (v 20). They refused to repent, and even if Jeremiah prayed for them until he was blue in the face, God wouldn’t listen (v 16).
I know it’s right and necessary, but I don’t like seeing my grandchildren being punished. I also know that when my grandchildren listen to their Mom and Dad, things go well for them. Similarly, when God says, “LISTEN TO ME!”, and we do, he extends mercy and restoration.
Will we listen to God? When we do, his wrath gives way to grace. The rest of the story could have been very different for the people of Judah if they’d stopped sinning and turned back to him. God would have answered them from heaven, forgiven them, and healed their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Lord forgive me for the times when I don’t listen to you – when I keep on sinning even though you’ve told me that what I’m doing is wrong. Help me turn back to you – to stop sinning – to earnestly seek your forgiveness, mercy and restoration. Amen.