John T. Willis

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Conflict over Two Lifestyles--Jeremiah 9:17-26

The next section of Jeremiah appears in Jeremiah 9:17-26. This falls into two parts, announcing that Yahweh is about to punish his sinful people because they follow their own desires rather than following Yahweh.

I. Yahweh through Jeremiah summons "skilled mourning women" to declare the wailing that is near because Yahweh is about to punish his sinful people. Jeremiah 9:17-22.
a. Throughout scripture, women play a major role in the worship and service of God. This is unique in the Bible, because many surrounding cultures seek to subordinate women in every way. Astute, committed, students of the Bible clearly understand the significance of women in every phase of life.
b. Yahweh through Jeremiah summons "the mourning women," "the skilled women" to come before God's people and "raise a dirge" over God's people. The worshippers should weep and wail and mourn as a result of these informative, motivating women of faith. When the Babylonians come, the people must cry out:
"How we are ruined!
We are utterly shamed,
because we have left the land,
because they have cast down out dwellings." (9:17-19).
c. Yahweh through Jeremiah commands the "women" of God to teach their daughters and their neighbors a lament:
"Death has come up into our windows,
it has entered our palaces,
to cut off the children from the streets
and the young men from the squares."
"Human corpses shall fall
like dung upon the open field,
like sheaves behind the reaper,
and no one shall gather them." (9:20-22).
This is not a pleasant picture, but is very realistic. Jeremiah uses graphic similes to communicate the devastation of the people of God by the Babylonians.

II. Yahweh through Jeremiah explains WHY he is about to punish his wicked people: they have rejected Yahweh to do their own selfish lifestyle. Jeremiah 9:23-26.
a. Human history demonstrates that THE ESSENTIAL PROBLEM in life is precisely the heart and life of human beings. Yahweh through Jeremiah describes two conflicting lifestyles: Godly Living and Wicked Living.
b. Yahweh through Jeremiah describes these two lifestyles as a triad.
1. Wicked Living consists of boasting in [trusting in]: (1) wisdom--here, human knowledge without God's truth; (2) might--here, human strength, whether physical, military, social, religious; (3) wealth--here, the amassment of money, possessions, land, etc. 9:23.
2. Godly Living consists of acting with: (1) steadfast love=unfailing love;
(2) justice; (3) righteousness--in essence, loving and caring for other people. In this way, people "understand and know [have an intimate, daily, personal relationship] Yahweh." 9:24.
c. Yahweh through Jeremiah observes that God's people are circumcised physically, but not in the heart. This same message occurs in Deuteronomy 10:16;
30:6; Jeremiah 4:3-4; Romans 2:25-29. Paul strikingly compares circumcision with baptism. Thus, for Christians, God's message is the same: God is not pleased with mere external baptism; God desires baptism of and in the heart. 9:25-26.

There are very sobering and uplifting messages in Jeremiah 9:17-26. Spend much time reflecting on this message. God can change each heart to accomplish this. The word of God is powerful, and can transform hearts and lives.

Share YOUR thoughts and insights with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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