John T. Willis

Thursday, January 27, 2011

God as Husband, Shepherd, and Vinedresser--Jeremiah 12:7-17

After interacting with Jeremiah concerning some of Jeremiah's complaints, Yahweh reasserts his declaration that he is about to punish the people of God in Judah because of their sins. In this short paragraph (Jeremiah 12:7-17), the composer uses three metaphors about Yahweh: husband, shepherd, and vinedress. He also returns to the "call" or "commission" of Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:4-10. This paragraph conveniently falls into two parts.

I. Yahweh declares he will punish his sinful people. Jeremiah 12:7-13.
a. Yahweh proclaims that he has "forsaken" or "abandoned" his "beloved," that is, his wife=Judah. He has given her into the hands of her enemies, that is, the Babylonians. The reason for this is that his people have lifted up their voice against Yahweh as a lion roars in the forest. Yahweh summons "all the wild animals" to come and devour his sinful people. 12:7-9.
b. Yahweh's people are Yahweh's "vineyard" (see this same figure in Jeremiah
2:21; Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80:8-19). Therefore, Yahweh is the "vinedresser." Yahweh's people are like sheep, and thus Yahweh is their "shepherd." But there are earthly "shepherds" who often "destroy" and "trampled down" Yahweh's sheep. These are the sinful leaders of God's people, and by extension, the enemies of Judah whom Yahweh uses to attack his sinful people. Therefore, Yahweh has made Judah "desolate." "Spoilers" have come. Yahweh has sent his "sword" to punish and destroy his sinful people. The people of God have struggled to succeed in spite of Yahweh's punishment, but to no avail, "because of the fierce anger of the Lord."

II. Yahweh will then punish the enemies of God's, redeem the penitent of God's people, and have compassion on and redeem the enemies of God's people. Jeremiah 12:14-17.
a. Returning to the language of Jeremiah 1:4-10, especially 1:9-10, Yahweh announces that he will "pluck up" the enemies of God's people, and "pluck up" the house of Judah from among them. 12:14.
b. Afterward, Yahweh announces he will "have compassion on" all these nations and restore them to their respective lands. 12:15.
c. IF these nations will "diligently learn" the ways of Yahweh's people to swear by his name, "As the Lord lives," they will be "built up" in the midst of God's people. 12:16.
d. But IF any nation will not listen, Yahweh will "uproot"and "destroy" that nation. 12:17.
This little paragraph shows that Yahweh is concerned about ALL PEOPLES on earth, not just his chosen people Israel. Our God is a universal God, not a restricted God.

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

John Willis


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