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Jeremiah 16-20


A Devotional Journey 
    led by Dr. Gene Pearson
Thru the Bible in a Year

        Chapters 16:1-17:18 continue the alternating themes of God's judgment & redemption.
        In chapter 16, Jeremiah's calling is given priority over everything else and he is instructed not even to marry because the times are too perilous.  His own situation becomes the sign of what will come.  He is neither to join with those who mourn, since God has withdrawn his blessing, nor is he to join with those who feast because God is bringing an end to the sounds of joy and gladness
        When the people ask why all this is happening, Jeremiah is instructed to tell them that they have behaved more wickedly than their fathers (who were also wicked).  As a result God will throw them out of the [Promised] Land.  Yet God's mercy and compassion will reassert themselves in the days following His punishment and He will restore them to the land.
        The consequence of the people's sin is described poetically in chapter 17:  Judah's sin is engraved with an iron tool. . . on the tablets of their hearts. 
        Jeremiah 17:12-18 is the fourth of his confessions.  It begins with recognition of God's greatness and the futility of those who seek to forsake Him.  Then the prophet identifies with the punishment of his people and pleads with God to give Him the strength to bear such terrible news as he has been given to deliver and the persecution and ridicule of those who refuse to hear it (see 17:15).
        17:19-27 is a commentary on the 4th Commandment (see Exodus 20:8), which is to keep the Sabbath holy.  While it expresses a plea for compliance, it is also a statement of another reason God's judgment is coming:  the people have not taken seriously His instructions.
        Jeremiah 18 applies an image Isaiah has previously used (see Isaiah 45:9), that of the potter and the clay.  God is the potter, in control, aware of his overall purpose; we are the clay, in His hands and incapable of challenging His will even should we try.  How foolish to reject our own shape and nature!  How foolish to resist God!  In chapter 19 a clay jar is used to illustrate God's plan further.  At this point in his career, Jeremiah is confronted by the chief officer in the temple and, after being beaten, thrown into stocks because he disagrees with what the prophet is proclaiming.  As a result, the next day when Jeremiah is released, he announces doom on the official and all who listen to him.
        Chapter 20:7-18 is the 6th, last and most passionate of Jeremiah's confessions.  His complaints to God are almost blasphemous:  You deceived me and I was deceived.  Never realizing how difficult his assignment would be, Jeremiah has faced ridicule and violence; yet not to speak as God has called him to do is impossible also.  He asks God to intervene, then becomes overwhelmed with the severity of his situation.
        Today, remember that human emotions are not detestable to God only dishonesty is.
Make sure your prayers include all your feelings; just be sure to listen for the encouragement and love God will add even as you are praying.
© A. Eugene Pearson 2010