This is simply saying that God knows the heart. The heart that is astray, verse 5ff, is cursed. It trusts in itself and its own strength. It is blind and does not prosper. But the heart that is directed to the Lord is blessed, you keep the covenant you are blessed, if you don’t you are cursed.
It is God who sustains us if we trust in Him. It is the heart of the wise. It Is at peace and is also very productive. But these people will know that their hearts are wicked, and God will make them suffer. So, God gives them two options, submission or shame.
At the very beginning of our studies, I said that this book was not in chronological order. Because of this, there have been many attempts to date this chapter, and they have been unsatisfactory. However, verse 15 shows us that this chapter was written before the Babylonian conquest, ‘let it be fulfilled now.’
There doesn’t seem to be any pattern to this chapter, just a collection of important items by Jeremiah.
What is written upon the heart cannot be wiped out. We may wander away from the message of God, but His words are written on the heart, and we keep coming back to them. Here we read that Judah’s sin was engraved on their hearts and God will punish them.
The meaning of this section is pretty clear, in the last chapter, Jeremiah 16, and in verse 10, the people demanded to know, ‘What wrong have we committed against the Lord.’ God answered their questions then, and He does so again here. Their heartless wickedness proved it. They had no excuse. They could plead with Him that they had done nothing wrong that deserved any kind of punishment, but God said, oh yes you have.
There is a beautiful contrast here between the wicked man and the righteous man, which is applicable to all generations, but this is a special message of warning to Judah.
The question that arises here is, if a righteous man who serves God has a better life than the unrighteous man, why do men not trust in God? I suppose the answer is because man’s deceitful heart doesn’t allow him to see things that are straightforward.
The mention of a partridge sitting on eggs that she didn’t lay is interesting. There is an old proverb that says that it is not true that a partridge could hatch eggs that she had not laid. Whether or not that is true, Jeremiah used this as an illustration here.
There is no need to charge Jeremiah with believing the saying, not only that, the species of the bird mentioned here is not clear, so there may have been some kind of bird, unknown to us, to which this old saying was true. The message is, however, clear. Riches that are acquired unlawfully are an unsafe possession.
These verses show Jeremiah’s trust in God and his confidence in God’s justice.
The idea in this section is that Jeremiah is not going to abandon his prophetic ministry just because the people didn’t believe it, and persecuted him. Instead, he prayed for grace to continue, to hold up against the opposition until the truth of God’s words was fulfilled.
‘Where is the word of the Lord? Let it now be fulfilled?’ I don’t know the Hebrew language, but I am told that the idea here, in Hebrew, is of sniggering, laughing at God’s word. They are laughing at this doomsday prophet. But God is fixing to wipe the smile from their faces. Let it come, the people say, God will have the last laugh.
There is a statement of respect and reliance on God by the prophet in verses 16-18. Again, verse 16 is considered to be a bad translation. Versions vary. The Hebrew thought is that they have laughed at your word, but I haven’t, Lord. I haven’t stopped feeding the people with Your words. Jeremiah relied on God for his message and protection.
In God’s eyes, Jeremiah was successful, even though he never had one convert. He spoke God’s word regardless of what others thought. Sometimes we fail to understand that our responsibility is to tell the message and that our responsibility ends there. We cannot force people to become Christians.
Here we have Instructions concerning the Sabbath. Basically, God is saying, keep it holy or else! The people were so intent on personal wealth and gain that they weren’t keeping this day holy. There have been some differences of opinion as to which of the gates is referred to as ‘the gate of the people.’ But it seems that the passage doesn’t refer to any specific gate, Jeremiah was to stand at the entrance and preach, wherever the people happened to be.
It seemed that the people who lived in the fields around Jeremiah, who worked in them during the week, decided that the best time to bring their produce into the city was on a Sabbath. So, the people within the city would bring out their goods and materials, from their houses, and exchange them for the countryside produce. This was against the express commandment of God in the Law of Moses.
There is an amazing promise in this section. If only Judah had obeyed the word of God and had turned back to God with all of their hearts, He would have, even at this late stage, turned aside all of these dangers. He would have established Judah forever. But His people stubbornly refused to do so.
Due to their continued rejection and their persistence in worshipping idols, God would destroy them. He would destroy Judah. He would destroy their temple.
Their sin lay at their own back door. They had received warning after warning. But they rejected the messages of God, the messages delivered through Jeremiah.