John T. Willis

Sunday, February 13, 2011

God commands Jeremiah not to get married or attend a funeral--Jeremiah 16:1-13

God approaches Jeremiah and gives him two startling commandments: Do not get married; Do not attend a funeral. The purpose of all this is that these events will be "object lessons" to the sinful Judeans. This paragraph appears in Jeremiah
16:1-13. This naturally falls into three parts:

I. God tells Jeremiah not to get married. Jeremiah 16:1-4.
a. Notice that throughout Jeremiah 16:1-13, Jeremiah speaks to his audience in the first person: "me" and "you" in the singular.
b. God forbids Jeremiah to take a wife and have sons and daughters. 16:2.
c. God explains the reason for this: the parents and children in Judah will DIE of deadly diseases, sword, and famine. They shall not be lamented. Their dead bodies will become food for the birds and wild animals. 16:3-4. Throughout the Book of Jeremiah, God's punishments will be pestilence, sword, and famine--see 14:13; 15:2 previously.

II. God tells Jeremiah not to attend a funeral or a wedding. Jeremiah 16:5-9.
a. God forbids Jeremiah to enter the house of mourning or go to lament the dead, because God has taken away his peace, steadfast love and mercy from his people. 16:5.
b. Great and small will die in the land of Israel; they shall not be buried; and no one will lament over the dead. No one will console the family members of the dead. 16:6-8.
c. As an inclusio, God returns to his command to Jeremiah in 16:2-4 not to attend a wedding. Jeremiah is not to participate in a feast "to eat and drink," because God is going to banish from the land of Israel the voice of mirth and gladness, the voice ofthe bridegroom and the bride, where the Israelites commonly held weddings. 16:8-9. See Jeremiah 7:34; 25:10; 33:11.

III. God proclaims the message of forbidding Jeremiah from attending a wedding or a funeral to the people of God. Jeremiah 16:10-13.
a. The object lessons of Jeremiah arouse the curiosity of his audiences. The people reply: Why has Yahweh declared all this great evil against us? What is the iniquity or sin that we have committed against Yahweh? 16:10.
b. This gives Jeremiah the golden opportunity to proclaim God's message: For many centuries, the ancestors of the people of God went after other gods and worshipped and served them, and have forsaken Yahweh and not kept his law. 16:11.
c. And NOW, the present generation of God's people have behaved WORSE than their ancestors. Everyone of them follows his own stubborn will, refusing to listen to God. 16:12.
d. Consequently, like David slung his stone out of his sling (see 1 Samuel 17:49), Yahweh will "hurl" his sinful people out of the land of Israel into a land that neither his ancestors nor they have known, where they will serve other gods, and Yahweh will show them no favor. 16:13.

Drama is often much more penetrating and convicting than an oral speech or sermon. God often used his servants to communicate in this way. In this passage, God uses object lessons of Jeremiah in very dramatic form to reach the hardened hearts of the people of God. We can learn much from this text.

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John Willis