John T. Willis

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Searching for One Righteous Person [Part II]--Jeremiah 5:20-6:15

Yahweh had told Jeremiah and his associates to go through Jerusalem thoroughly in search of just one righteous person--Jeremiah 5:1-19. In this blog, the search continues. Jeremiah 5:20-6:15 falls into four sections or paragraphs.

I. The people of Yahweh respond UNNATURALLY to Yahweh's love. Jeremiah 5:20-24.
a. Jeremiah 2:11-13 uses the metaphor of a thirsty traveler, and Jeremiah 2:32 uses the metaphor of a bride who forgot her wedding dress. "But [Yet] my people" stand in bold contrast to a "natural" or "appropriate" response to Yahweh's love.
b. Now, Jeremiah uses the metaphor of the tide. All people know that the tide rise to a certain point daily, then fall to a certain point daily. This is not accidental. This is what Yahweh does:
"I placed the sand as a boundary for the sea,
a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass" (5:22).
The rise and fall of tides is "natural." BUT THIS PEOPLE [Israel=Judah=the people of God] do the "unnatural" or "inappropriate" thing: they "have a stubborn and rebellious heart, they have turned aside and gone away"--5:23. The REAL PROBLEM is always the heart.
c. In light of this, Yahweh calls his chosen people "foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but do not see, who heave ears, but do not hear." 5:21. "In their HEARTS," they do not "fear [reverence, respect, honor] Yahweh," the ONLY GOD who gives rain and gives harvests. 5:24.

II. The People of God oppress the Poor. Jeremiah 5:25-31.
a. Specifically, Yahweh states the sins of his chosen people. God's people, not wicked pagans or non-Christian, but God's people:
1. Take away the possessions of other people. 5:26a.
2. Catch human beings like catching birds. 5:26b.
3. Increase their wealth by stealing the possessions of other people. 5:27.
4. Deal with other people unjustly. 5:28a.
5. Oppress orphans and do not defend the rights of the needy. 5:28b.
b. Consequently, Yahweh will punish his sinful people. Everyone is guilty. The prophets [preachers] prophesy falsely, the priests [religious leaders of all types] rule over others oppressively, and God's people love to join in the injustices of the prophets and the priests. 5:29-31.

III. Yahweh announces that the Foe from the North will come quickly. Jeremiah 6:1-8.
a. To warn the people that danger was near or approaching, a designated individual would "cry out," "blow a trumpet," and/or "raise a signal" or flag to let all the people know that any enemy army was on the way. Here "EVIL=PUNISHMENT= DESTRUCTION looms OUT OF THE NORTH." 6:1. The same figure appears in 1:13-16; 4:5-6; 6:22; 13:22. 25:8-9 identifes "the foe from the north" as the Babylonians.
b. Yahweh compares the coming of the Babylonians with shepherds who brings their flocks from afar and surround Jerusalem=Zion. The enemy soldiers tell each other to prepare for war: Let us attack by night, and destroy Jerusalem's palaces. Yahweh commands the Babylonians to "cast up a siege ramp against Jerusalem." Jerusalem must be punished because of Jerusalem's oppression of the needy and poor and helpless; the orphans and widows. 6:2-6.
c. Jerusalem keeps her wickedness, her violence, fresh like a well keeps its water fresh. Thus, Yahweh must punish Jerusalem 6:7-8.

IV. BUT, Yahweh makes one final attempt to find just one righteous person so he might deliver Jerusalem. Jeremiah 6:9-15.
a. Yahweh has sent Jeremiah and his associates twice already to find just one righteous person in Jerusalem, but to no avail. Jeremiah 5:1-5. But Yahweh still hopes they might find just one righteous person in the city. He uses the figure of a grape-gatherer. The grape-gatherer goes over the grapes. But perhaps he has missed a few grapes. So he goes over the vineyard again to find just a few grapes so he might glean them. But this also is to no avail. 6:9.
b. The REAL PROBLEM is the hard-heartedness of the people of God. "Their ears are closed, they cannot listen." So Yahweh must punish this stubborn, rebellious people. 6:10.
c. Yahweh has used tremendous restraint. But now, it is too late. He will unleash his wrath on his sinful people. He will punish the children, the young men, the husband and wife, the old, the aged, their houses, their fields, their wives, all the inhabitants of the land of Judah. 6:11-12.
d. Yahweh will punish his people: from the least to the greatest, from prophet to priest, all the people, BECAUSE EVERYONE is greedy for unjust gain, deals falsely, say "Peace, Peace" when there is no peace, acts shamefully, commits abomination; they are not ashamed, they do not know how to blush. 6:13-15. The sins of God's people have become a way of life. They have made oppression and violence a HABIT of life. Hence, all that is left for Yahweh to do is punish his sinful people, the very people Yahweh had chosen to be his faithful people.

There is a serious, powerful message for all of us human beings. This is a message of love--tough love--redeeming love.

What are YOUR responses about this message? Share YOUR ideas and insights with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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