Thursday after the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Jeremiah 1-3 (NKJV)
1:1 The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, 2 to whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. 3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.
4 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying:
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
6 Then said I: “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.”
7 But the LORD said to me: “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ For you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. 8 Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,” says the LORD.
9 Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. 10 See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.”
11 Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?”
And I said, “I see a branch of an almond tree.”
12 Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am ready to perform My word.”
13 And the word of the LORD came to me the second time, saying, “What do you see?”
And I said, “I see a boiling pot, and it is facing away from the north.”
14 Then the LORD said to me: “Out of the north calamity shall break forth on all the inhabitants of the land. 15 For behold, I am calling all the families of the kingdoms of the north,” says the LORD;
“They shall come and each one set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its walls all around, and against all the cities of Judah. 16 I will utter My judgments against them concerning all their wickedness, because they have forsaken Me, burned incense to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.
17 “Therefore prepare yourself and arise, and speak to them all that I command you. Do not be dismayed before their faces, lest I dismay you before them. 18 For behold, I have made you this day a fortified city and an iron pillar, and bronze walls against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, against its princes, against its priests, and against the people of the land.
19 They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you,” says the LORD, “to deliver you.”
2:1 Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Go and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem, saying,
‘Thus says the LORD:
“I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, when you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. 3 Israel was holiness to the LORD, the firstfruits of His increase. All that devour him will offend; Disaster will come upon them,” says the LORD.'”
4 Hear the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob and all the families of the house of Israel.
5 Thus says the LORD: “What injustice have your fathers found in Me, that they have gone far from Me, have followed idols, and have become idolaters? 6 Neither did they say, ‘Where is the LORD, Who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, Who led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and pits, through a land of drought and the shadow of death, through a land that no one crossed and where no one dwelt?’ 7 I brought you into a bountiful country, to eat its fruit and its goodness. But when you entered, you defiled My land and made My heritage an abomination. 8 The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ And those who handle the law did not know Me; The rulers also transgressed against Me; The prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.
9 “Therefore I will yet bring charges against you,” says the LORD, “And against your children’s children I will bring charges. 10 For pass beyond the coasts of Cyprus and see, send to Kedar and consider diligently, and see if there has been such a thing. 11 Has a nation changed its gods, which are not gods? But My people have changed their Glory for what does not profit. 12 Be astonished, O heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid; Be very desolate,” says the LORD. 13 “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water. 14 Is Israel a servant? Is he a homeborn slave? Why is he plundered? 15 The young lions roared at him, and growled; They made his land waste; His cities are burned, without inhabitant. 16 Also the people of Noph and Tahpanhes Have broken the crown of your head. 17 Have you not brought this on yourself, in that you have forsaken the LORD your God when He led you in the way? 18 And now why take the road to Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? Or why take the road to Assyria, to drink the waters of the River? 19 Your own wickedness will correct you, and your backslidings will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing that you have forsaken the LORD your God, and the fear of Me is not in you,” says the Lord GOD of hosts.
20 “For of old I have broken your yoke and burst your bonds; And you said, ‘I will not transgress,’ When on every high hill and under every green tree you lay down, playing the harlot. 21 Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality. How then have you turned before Me into the degenerate plant of an alien vine? 22 For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, Yet your iniquity is marked before Me,” says the Lord GOD. 23 “How can you say, ‘I am not polluted, I have not gone after the Baals ‘? See your way in the valley; Know what you have done: You are a swift dromedary breaking loose in her ways, 24 a wild donkey used to the wilderness, that sniffs at the wind in her desire; In her time of mating, who can turn her away? All those who seek her will not weary themselves; In her month they will find her. 25 Withhold your foot from being unshod, and your throat from thirst. But you said, ‘There is no hope. No! For I have loved aliens, and after them I will go.’
26 “As the thief is ashamed when he is found out, so is the house of Israel ashamed; They and their kings and their princes, and their priests and their prophets, 27 saying to a tree, ‘You are my father,’ And to a stone, ‘You gave birth to me.’ For they have turned their back to Me, and not their face. But in the time of their trouble they will say, ‘Arise and save us.’ 28 But where are your gods that you have made for yourselves? Let them arise, if they can save you in the time of your trouble; For according to the number of your cities are your gods, O Judah.
29 “Why will you plead with Me? You all have transgressed against Me,” says the LORD. 30 “In vain I have chastened your children; They received no correction. Your sword has devoured your prophets like a destroying lion.
31 “O generation, see the word of the LORD!
“Have I been a wilderness to Israel, or a land of darkness? Why do My people say, ‘We are lords; We will come no more to You’? 32 Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number. 33 Why do you beautify your way to seek love? Therefore you have also taught the wicked women your ways. 34 Also on your skirts is found the blood of the lives of the poor innocents. I have not found it by secret search, but plainly on all these things. 35 Yet you say, ‘Because I am innocent, surely His anger shall turn from me.’ Behold, I will plead My case against you, because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’ 36 Why do you gad about so much to change your way? Also you shall be ashamed of Egypt as you were ashamed of Assyria. 37 Indeed you will go forth from him with your hands on your head; For the LORD has rejected your trusted allies, and you will not prosper by them.
3:1 “They say, ‘If a man divorces his wife, and she goes from him and becomes another man’s, may he return to her again?’ Would not that land be greatly polluted? But you have played the harlot with many lovers; Yet return to Me,” says the LORD. 2 “Lift up your eyes to the desolate heights and see: Where have you not lain with men? By the road you have sat for them like an Arabian in the wilderness; And you have polluted the land with your harlotries and your wickedness. 3 Therefore the showers have been withheld, and there has been no latter rain. You have had a harlot’s forehead; You refuse to be ashamed. 4 Will you not from this time cry to Me, ‘My father, You are the guide of my youth? 5 Will He remain angry forever? Will He keep it to the end?’ Behold, you have spoken and done evil things, as you were able.”
6 The LORD said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: “Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot. 7 And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’ But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. 8 Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also. 9 So it came to pass, through her casual harlotry, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. 10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,” says the LORD.
11 Then the LORD said to me, “Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. 12 “Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say:
‘Return, backsliding Israel,’ says the LORD; ‘I will not cause My anger to fall on you. For I am merciful,’ says the LORD; ‘I will not remain angry forever. 13 Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the LORD your God, and have scattered your charms to alien deities under every green tree, and you have not obeyed My voice,’ says the LORD.
14 “Return, O backsliding children,” says the LORD; “for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. 15 And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. 16 Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days,” says the LORD, “that they will say no more, ‘The ark of the covenant of the LORD.’ It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore. 17 At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the LORD, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts. 18 In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to your fathers.
19 “But I said:
‘How can I put you among the children and give you a pleasant land, a beautiful heritage of the hosts of nations?’ And I said: ‘You shall call Me, “My Father,” and not turn away from Me.’ 20 Surely, as a wife treacherously departs from her husband, so have you dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel,” says the LORD.
21 A voice was heard on the desolate heights, Weeping and supplications of the children of Israel. For they have perverted their way; They have forgotten the LORD their God.
22 “Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.”
“Indeed we do come to You, for You are the LORD our God. 23 Truly, in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains; Truly, in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel. 24 For shame has devoured the labor of our fathers from our youth—their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. 25 We lie down in our shame, and our reproach covers us. For we have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.”
The prophet Jeremiah was called by God to preach the Word of the Lord. Jeremiah was told, “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth” (1:9). Then God said to him, “Therefore prepare yourself and arise, and speak to them all that I command you. Do not be dismayed before their faces” (1:17). In His mercy the Lord sent Jeremiah to call His people back from the worship of all their false gods. Jeremiah preached for 40 years, but the people and leaders refused to repent. Because of their refusal to turn back to God, Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 B.C.
In 2 Timothy 3, St. Paul warns Timothy “that in the last days perilous times will come.” Those times sound very similar to Jeremiah’s time. St. Paul charged Timothy, “Before God…preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn away from the truth” (2 Tim. 4:1-4).
In Jeremiah’s day, in Paul and Timothy’s day, and in our day, many are turning from the Word of God. But it is still true! God still sends His faithful preachers to speak His Words of Law and Gospel. And faithful people still hear and believe. To the Holy Triune God be glory now and forever. Amen.
We pray: O Lord, by Your mercy, keep Your Church from all things hurtful and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.