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Bible: What Does Jeremiah 5-6 Teach Us About God's Wrath and Mankind's Impenitence?
Jeremiah the Prophet
God issues a challenge to Jeremiah: “Find one man who does justice in Jerusalem. If you succeed, I promise to pardon the whole city” (v. 1; cf. Gen. 18:22-33).
Though He knows infallibly His people's false pretense (v. 2), His offer is still legitimate.
At first, the prophet contends that this impenitence and spiritual imperviousness reside only among the religiously ignorant and not among the "great men" (vv. 3-5a).
However, he soon learns that such is not the case (v. 5b).
God compares Jerusalem's adversaries to wild beasts ready to devour sinners (v. 6).
[Are these animals individually representative of certain nations?]
He registers His determination to punish, and not pardon, the nation for its apostasy and "adultery" (vv. 7-9).
Through Jeremiah Yahweh discloses His will that the “destroyer” carry out His judgment upon Judah, yet not to the point of annihilation (vv. 10-11).
Still, the people do not believe that God would ever judge them (v. 12).
"Perhaps the prophets of peace will experience it,” says Judah, “but not we" (v. 13).
Addressing Judah directly, the LORD announces His intention to use the prophets’ words to "ignite" the nation (v. 14; cf. chapter 23).
A foreign enemy will kill them, confiscate their land, and acquire their livestock (vv. 15-17).
Still, in all this destruction, God resolves to retain a remnant which would become servants in an alien land (vv. 18-19).
He calls Judah foolish, dull, blind, and deaf for rebelling against Him (vv. 20-21).
Instead of fearing Him for His wondrous control over nature and His provision of all their needs, they continue to turn from Him; therefore, they will forfeit His gifts (vv. 22-25).
Yahweh mentions the existence of wicked men among His people who have grown wealthy unlawfully, and names them as sufficient reason for Him to punish (vv. 26-29).
Though this section seems to focus on just a minority in Israel, God argues for the destruction of the whole nation at the end (v. 29).
The nation as a whole loves the false ways of the prophets and priests; therefore, the ordinary citizen deserves judgment as much as the leaders (vv. 30-31).
Jeremiah's message now turns to his people's need to flee the northern conqueror.
Addressing the tribe of Benjamin specifically, he tells the leaders, by means of horn and signal fire, to assemble themselves (v. 1; cf. 4:6).
The prophet then paints a seemingly tranquil picture, making the enemy appear as a quiet caravan abiding on the outskirts of the city.
In fact, it is a scheming destroyer that plans to attack by night (vv. 2-5; cf. 4:17).
After directing this army to besiege the evil city (vv. 6-7), Yahweh instructs Zion to learn of His intention (v. 8): the city's complete "harvesting" (v. 9).
In other words, He intends to remove into exile almost the entire population.
Jeremiah's frustration and anger at the spiritual hardness of Judah erupt (vv. 10-11a).
He speaks God's words of wrath against all age groups, whose personal possessions the conqueror will confiscate (vv. 11b-12).
Why will this happen?
The LORD "credits" this loss to the covetousness and general hypocrisy of the whole populous, but especially of the corrupt officials (v. 13).
He heaps blame on the latter, for they have provided only superficial comfort to the people (v. 14).
They have felt no shame for their sin; therefore, punishment will fall upon them (v. 15).
Terrible Times in Judah
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"Fear on Every Side"
Exhortations to seek the old ways of righteousness arise out of this message of judgment, but the rebels meet them all with a resounding "No!" (v. 16).
Warnings from the watchmen evoke a similar response (v. 17; cf. Matt. 11:28-30).
As the result of their disobedience to God's words and His law, Yahweh announces that He will surely bring calamity on them (vv. 18-19).
Though they spend great sums for rich spices to sacrifice to Him, He will not accept them (v. 20).
Stumbling blocks will induce the downfall of both families and friends (v. 21).
After the LORD describes the coming of the cruel northern invader (vv. 22-23), Jeremiah reports the fear in Jerusalem and continues to urge them to mourn for their sin, especially in light of their imminent demise (vv. 24-26).
[The phrase magor missabib—“fear on every side”—occurs the initial time.]
God then informs the prophet of one of His purposes among His people: to know and test their ways (v. 27; cf. 1:18).
He uses smelting imagery to demonstrate that, despite extensive refining processes, impurities still cling to His people.
Therefore, He will and must reject them (vv. 27-30).
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