Jeremiah 8


If I were to give a title to Jeremiah 8 it would be taken from verse 20, ‘The harvest is past, the summer has ended’. All opportunities for repentance and return to God are gone, the nation is rushing into destruction.

‘At that time, declares the LORD, the bones of the kings and officials of Judah, the bones of the priests and prophets, and the bones of the people of Jerusalem will be removed from their graves. They will be exposed to the sun and the moon and all the stars of the heavens, which they have loved and served and which they have followed and consulted and worshiped. They will not be gathered up or buried, but will be like dung lying on the ground. Wherever I banish them, all the survivors of this evil nation will prefer death to life, declares the LORD Almighty.’ Jeremiah 8:1-3

There is shame and despair here. There is no respect for death. Kings may have been buried in honour, but breaking open their tombs is just showing mockery. They will be just like refuse lying on the ground. Everyone living at that time will see nothing but hopelessness. They will prefer death to life. They would rather die than serve foreign nations.

There are five points in this verse that show why they worshipped the heavenly hosts because they loved them, they served them, they followed them, they consulted them, so they worshipped them. The false leaders have betrayed the people by leading them into paganism, to worship the sun, the moon and the stars. Therefore, the bones of these worshippers will be exposed to the sun, the moon and the stars, which were not able to help them. In fact, the sun would only hasten the decay of their bones.

‘Say to them, ‘This is what the LORD says: ‘When people fall down, do they not get up? When someone turns away, do they not return? Why then have these people turned away? Why does Jerusalem always turn away? They cling to deceit; they refuse to return. I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. None of them repent of their wickedness, saying, ‘What have I done?’ Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle. Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the LORD. ‘How can you say, ‘We are wise, for we have the law of the LORD,’ when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely? The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped. Since they have rejected the word of the LORD, what kind of wisdom do they have? Therefore, I will give their wives to other men and their fields to new owners. From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So, they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when they are punished, says the LORD. ‘I will take away their harvest, declares the LORD. There will be no grapes on the vine. There will be no figs on the tree, and their leaves will wither. What I have given them will be taken from them.’ Why are we sitting here? Gather together! Let us flee to the fortified cities and perish there! For the LORD our God has doomed us to perish and given us poisoned water to drink, because we have sinned against him.’ Jeremiah 8:4-14

There was no repentance. They didn’t turn back to God. Not only was there no change, but there wasn’t a person to be found who stopped to look at himself and say, what have I done? They had no pride in themselves as God’s people.

The stork came to Jerusalem in March and left in April. The storks knew when they had to go. But the people didn’t know the requirements of the Lord. They were too thick. They had no respect for God’s law, so, how would they call themselves wise? Anyone who rejects God’s word should ask himself, what is wisdom? How can you nave wisdom without God?

‘My people do not know the Lord.’ This is one of the most important statements in Jeremiah. It wasn’t that the people didn’t have the Law. They had it, but they didn’t know it, they didn’t study it, they didn’t meditate upon it, they didn’t obey it.

‘The lying pen of the scribes.’ The Law of God is found in the first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Pentateuch. Some people say that the written law did not exist in those days. Any person with intelligence doesn’t need a scholar to explain the meaning of this verse. The lying pen of the scribes has handled the law falsely.

There are plenty of references throughout the book of Jeremiah referring to the man-made divisions of the Law of Moses. The meaning of this verse is so important, that the scribes studied and copied the Law. This verse, and others, teach us that the written law was with them at that time. They had no pride in themselves and purity.

The results?

Fields not producing produce. Times of trouble. News is scaring people. The people living around Jerusalem have decided to flee ‘to the fortified cities’, as all hope is lost. They think they may survive a little longer there. But even there they expect to ‘perish’.

‘We hoped for peace but no good has come, for a time of healing but there is only terror. The snorting of the enemy’s horses is heard from Dan; at the neighing of their stallions the whole land trembles. They have come to devour the land and everything in it, the city and all who live there. ‘See, I will send venomous snakes among you, vipers that cannot be charmed, and they will bite you,’ declares the LORD.’ Jeremiah 8:15-17

It seems that the farming people were more perceptive of the impending danger than those who lived in the city. They put their trust in fleeing to the fortified cities in times of peril. But there they would face death. They might hope for better times, but there were no better times to come. The enemy of the north was already on its way. Jeremiah speaks in verb tense as if it had already happened. Thus, it was too late for repentance. The time had come for the land to be devoured. The enemy was like a serpent that could not be charmed, but would eventually bite.

‘You who are my Comforter in sorrow, my heart is faint within me. Listen to the cry of my people from a land far away: ‘Is the LORD not in Zion? Is her King no longer there?’ ‘Why have they aroused my anger with their images, with their worthless foreign idols?’ ‘The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved.’ Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn, and horror grips me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?’ Jeremiah 8:18-22

Two voices crying

1. The people, because of slaughter and captivity.

2. God Himself, because of the attitude of the people. Because of distinction. Because of everything He saw in His people. Why did it have to be this way?

The harvest has come and gone, and there is nothing to show for it. The winter of God’s judgment is on them. Jeremiah says I am crushed. I mourn. We often refer to Jeremiah as the ‘weeping prophet’, and he was. Some people deny this. They say that we may call him the reluctant prophet, or the praying prophet, or the suffering prophet, or the preaching prophet, but not the weeping prophet, because he never wasted his time weeping, when there was work to be done. All of this is true, but Lamentations shows the sorrow that he felt at the Fall of Jerusalem.

Is there no balm in Gilead?

Compare with Genesis 37:25. Gilead was a centre of medicine. But Judah is not going to be cured. She has a big, open wound, and the physician is trying to cure it with a small piece of sticking plaster! Nobody can help her.

Certainly, there is a balm in Gilead, and yes, there is a true physician there. But all of the blame for Israel’s sorrows must rest upon them themselves, for not applying the wonderful remedy which God provided for them.

And it is of interest that the ‘balm of Gilead’ has come to stand as a metaphor for salvation through Jesus Christ. We sing hymns about this, in particular, ‘There is a balm in Gilead, that heals the sin-sick soul. There is a balm in Gilead that makes the sinner whole.’

Go To Jeremiah 9



"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."