John T. Willis

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Human Beings Cannot Direct Their Steps--Jeremiah 10:17-25

In the next paragraph in the Book of Jeremiah, Yahweh declares that he is about to punish his sinful people through the Babylonians: Jeremiah 10:17-25. This paragraph falls into two parts.

I. Yahweh is deeply troubled about the sins of his people and the punishment he must bring upon them. Jeremiah 10:17-22.
a. Right now, the people of Judah are "under siege." Yahweh through Jeremiah summons them to "gather up their bundle" of possessions, because they are about to go into exile. 10:17.
b. Like David "slung" a rock out of his sling to kill Goliah, Yahweh is about to "sling" his people Judah out of the land of Canaan to go into Babylonian exile. 10:18.
c. Yahweh is deeply upset because of the sins of the people of Judah and the punishment he must bring upon them. Yahweh expresses this same deep feelings in Jeremiah 4:19-22; 8:18-9:1. 10:19.
d. Yahweh compares the land of Judah with a tent stationed by cords with curtains. This tent will not endure. It will fall to the ground. The reason for this is because "the shepherds" are stupid: they do not inquire of Yahweh--they do not call upon Yahweh. And thus, the flock of Judah is scattered from the land of Canaan to Babylon. These shepherds are the wicked kings and officials and leaders of God's people--see Jeremiah 23:1-4; Ezekiel 34. 10:20-21.
e. Yahweh through Jeremiah cries out to the people of Judah: "A Noise! Listen, it is coming! The Babylonians are approaching "from the land of the north." The foe from the north is a recurring theme in Jeremiah--see Jeremiah 1:13-16; 4:6; 6:1, 22.

II. Jeremiah Pleads with Yahweh to understand the sinfulness of his people. Jeremiah 10:23-25.
a. This is a time of deep turmoil and sorrow and desolation. So, Jeremiah from his heart of hearts, pleads with Yahweh to understand the sinfulness of all human beings, including the chosen people of Judah. Human beings are "not in their control;" they "cannot direct their steps." Any time we human beings follow our own ways, disaster is just ahead. 10:23.
b. Jeremiah, evidently in behalf of his fellow-Judeans, asks God to "correct" him "in just measure," not in God's anger, otherwise God will bring him and all people to nothing. 10:24.
c. Finally, Jeremiah pleads with Yahweh to punish "the nations" who have devoured "Jacob"=Judah that do not call on Yahweh's name. This is a cry of desperation to soften the impending punishment of Yahweh on Judah. The truth is: All people, all communities of faith, all nations fall far short of Yahweh's desires and glory. We all need and desire Yahweh's mercy and grace. 10:25.

This is a moving paragraph. We all need to be empathize like Jeremiah when we recognize our own sins and distresses. These thoughts are sobering and awakening.

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

John Willis


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