JeremiahIn 722 B.C. the aggressive Assyrians invade the northern kingdom of Israel and conquer her, forcing many of her citizens into slavery and basically destroying the kingdom.  But the southern portion (Judah) was basically left alone as Assyria’s attention turned to more important threats elsewhere.  So Judah was left to continue on as a small kingdom for the next 140 years or so.  One would think that the warnings sent to Israel about the coming destruction (in response to their disobedience and sinful lifestyle) would motivate the Judahites to turn back to God and repent in an effort to avoid the same fate as her northern sister.  Unfortunately, this was not the case.

It is within this span of 140 years that the prophet Jeremiah comes on the scene.  Born in the village of Anathoth, north of Jerusalem (Jer 1:1), Jeremiah was the son of Hilkiah, a priest.  He grew up and began his prophetic ministry in the “thirteenth year of Josiah” (1:2).  (If you remember, Josiah was the young king who would find a copy of the book of Deuteronomy in the Temple and usher in a great reform through Judah in 2 Kings 22ff).  So Jeremiah began traveling throughout the countryside proclaiming the unfortunate future of the nation and warning the people to repentance while Josiah was attempting to reform the wayward people from his throne.  In the end Josiah’s efforts fail and the nation plunges further into rebellion and sin.  The entire span of Jeremiah’s ministry is 40 years, through the Babylonian invasion and destruction of Judah in 586 B.C.  Jeremiah would eventually be part of a Jewish group that flees into Egypt – where he will live out his days.

Jeremiah has been labeled the “Weeping Prophet” due to the doom and gloom nature of his message.  (This will stand out even more when we get into Lamentations). I believe this is an unfair stigma for Jeremiah to carry because the only people who stand to be hurt by what the future holds are those in disobedience.  Unfortunately – this pretty much included everyone.  When reading through Jeremiah it is difficult to miss the constant pleas by God for His people to turn and repent.  In fact – in chapter 5 we see this clearly laid out in it’s opening verse:

Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now and take notice! Seek in her broad squares to see if you can find a man [as Abraham sought in Sodom], one who does justice, who seeks truth, sincerity, and faithfulness; and I will pardon [Jerusalem—for one uncompromisingly righteous person]. – Jer 5:1 AMP

You can hear God’s heart come out in this opening section of the chapter.  It is almost as if He is begging Jeremiah to locate just one as an excuse for Him to save them.  Sadly, in the next few verses the Prophet reveals the outcome of that search; “they refused correction” (vs 3), “they refused to repent” (vs 4).  After that Jeremiah seeks the leaders for “surely they know the way of the Lord” (vs 5), but they too had turned away.

The rest of the chapter deals with the impending destruction that will come from the north in the form of Babylon.  Pictured as a lion and a wolf, the Babylonians will sweep in and destroy God’s sinful people.  This result isn’t due to God being mean or unfair.  The people had numerous warnings and pleadings to return to what they knew to be true, yet they ignored it.  

It wasn’t God who did this to them – it was their own choices.

“Your iniquities have turned these blessings away, and your sins have kept good [harvests] from you.– Jer 5:25 AMP

As we have seen repeated over and over throughout our reading of the Bible, it is sin which leads to trouble and calamity.  Sin leads to heartache and destruction.  Sin leads to poverty and sickness.  In direct opposition to that – it is God who continues to extend mercy and grace to His wayward, rebellious, adulterous people.  Three different times in the last two chapters God shows His true nature; “I will not destroy you completely” (vs 10, 18, 4:27).  God longs to save His people, protect them, rescue them from danger, hold them in the palm of His hand and shelter them.  But He knows they must choose for themselves – and they continue to choose sin.

My friend, God loves you.  He longs to save you, protect you, rescue you from danger.  He longs to hold you in the palm of His hand and shelter you. 

But you must choose to repent and obey His ways.

The Prince of Babylon is coming from the north…

Be fruitful & multiply,