John T. Willis

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Jeremiah's Third Complaint--Jeremiah 15:5-21

Of the six complaints of Jeremiah in Jeremiah 11-20, the third appears in 15:5-21. This paragraph falls into three parts, which we will discuss briefly in this blog.

I. Yahweh declares that he is about to punish his sinful people because they are hard-hearted. Jeremiah 15:5-9.
a. Yahweh through Jeremiah expresses deep frustration over the persistence of God's people ongoing sins. Yahweh asks: Who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem? After all, Jerusalem, the people of God have REJECTED Yahweh and GONE BACKWARD. So Yahweh is "weary of relenting." Frequently, Yahweh have given his sinful people another chance. But obviously they are not sincere. So, Yahweh will certainly punish them. 15:5-6.
b. Yahweh declares: I have winnowed this sinful people like one winnows thresh with a winnowing fork. I have destroyed my people. I have brought a destroyer against them. I have made anguish and terror fall on them. Although Jerusalem has "borne seven," he will give them to the sword. 15:7-9.

II. Jeremiah complains severely because Jeremiah faithfully proclaims Yahweh's message, but his persecutors insult and threaten him, and Jeremiah feels that Yahweh has forsaken him entirely. Jeremiah 15:10-18.
a. Jeremiah wishes he has never been born. Jeremiah says: I have neither lent nor borrowed anything, but my opponents curse me. Yahweh intervenes and assures Jeremiah that he has done good for Jeremiah all along during his career. An enemy IS coming from the NORTH, the Babylonians. Yahweh promises Jeremiah: I WILL bring the Babylonians into the land of Canaan and take them into captivity. 15:10-14.
b. But Jeremiah continues to complain. He begs Yahweh to visit Jeremiah and bring down retribution on Jeremiah's opponents. Jeremiah says to Yahweh: I "ate" the words you gave me and they were a joy and delight of my heart. But I could not rejoice with merrymakers in Judah, but sat alone. 15:15-17.
c. Jeremiah declares that he is in great pain. Then he proclaims that Yahweh to him is like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail. Yahweh promised that he would be WITH Jeremiah, but when Jeremiah trusted in Yahweh, Yahweh did not keep his promise. 15:18. This same figure appears in Job 6:15-20.

III. Yahweh rebukes Jeremiah for this complaint. Jeremiah 15:19-21.
a. Yahweh's response is that Jeremiah's complaint is unacceptable. Yahweh declares that Jeremiah has "turned" against Yahweh. So, Yahweh invites Jeremiah to "turn back" to God. If he will, Yahweh will take Jeremiah back and again become Yahweh's "mouth" or prophet. What Jeremiah had said was "worthless." Yahweh insists that his thoughts and words must be "precious" if they are to be acceptable to Yahweh. 15:19.
b. This "call" or "commission" is like Yahweh's original call in Jeremiah
1:18-19. IF Jeremiah repents and turns back to Yahweh, Yahweh will make Jeremiah "a fortified wall of bronze," and his opponents will not prevail over Jeremiah. Yahweh assures Jeremiah that he will be WITH him to save and deliver him from the wicked and the ruthless. 15:20-21.

Some of our complaints are acceptable; some are not. We can learn great truths from texts like Jeremiah 15:5-21.

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

John Willis


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