Thursday after the Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Jeremiah 8:18—9:12 (NKJV)
8:18 I would comfort myself in sorrow; My heart is faint in me. 19 Listen! The voice, the cry of the daughter of my people From a far country: “Is not the LORD in Zion? Is not her King in her?” “Why have they provoked Me to anger With their carved images—with foreign idols?” 20 “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!” 21 For the hurt of the daughter of my people I am hurt. I am mourning; Astonishment has taken hold of me. 22 Is there no balm in Gilead, is there no physician there? Why then is there no recovery for the health of the daughter of my people?
9:1 Oh, that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! 2 Oh, that I had in the wilderness a lodging place for travelers; That I might leave my people, and go from them! For they are all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men.
3 “And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies. They are not valiant for the truth on the earth. For they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know Me,” says the LORD. 4 “Everyone take heed to his neighbor, and do not trust any brother; For every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbor will walk with slanderers. 5 Everyone will deceive his neighbor, and will not speak the truth; They have taught their tongue to speak lies; They weary themselves to commit iniquity. 6 Your dwelling place is in the midst of deceit; Through deceit they refuse to know Me,” says the LORD.
7 Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: “Behold, I will refine them and try them; For how shall I deal with the daughter of My people? 8 Their tongue is an arrow shot out; It speaks deceit; One speaks peaceably to his neighbor with his mouth, but in his heart he lies in wait. 9 Shall I not punish them for these things?” says the LORD. “Shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?”
10 I will take up a weeping and wailing for the mountains, and for the dwelling places of the wilderness a lamentation, because they are burned up, so that no one can pass through; Nor can men hear the voice of the cattle. Both the birds of the heavens and the beasts have fled; They are gone.
11 “I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins, a den of jackals. I will make the cities of Judah desolate, without an inhabitant.”
12 Who is the wise man who may understand this? And who is he to whom the mouth of the LORD has spoken, that he may declare it? Why does the land perish and burn up like a wilderness, so that no one can pass through?
The prophet speaks in the first part of verse 19, the Lord in the last part. Judah laments due to her Babylonian exile as Jeremiah envisions a very bleak future. The people are perplexed at their fate, still wondering how God could have permitted the destruction of His land and temple, for they refuse to connect their fate to their idolatry. The vision of the coming calamity is so vivid that Jeremiah’s heart is sick within him. Israel’s self-inflicted wound seems incurable. The best medicine and the ablest physician cannot heal the fatal malignancy. The end is at hand because the Lord is not in Zion anymore to preserve a people who have provoked Him to anger with their graven images.
Devotion to country and love for His people do not blind God to the unrestrained crimes which have destroyed the very foundation of communal living and faithfulness to His Word. Falsehood, iniquity, evil, oppression, and deceit have made the citizenry a company of treacherous men. The lawlessness is so revolting that Jeremiah would rather be in the desert, where he would not have to see it—but the Lord sees it and has no choice but to punish them for these things. More lamentation is in order, because in His wrath God will make the cities of Judah a desolation, without inhabitant. If anyone in coming generations thinks he is wise but fails to understand why the land is laid waste like a wilderness, let him know that the Lord warned the idolaters in advance what they must expect for having flagrantly followed their own hearts, rather than His law and voice.