Tuesday after the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Jeremiah 16-18 (NKJV)
16:1 The word of the LORD also came to me, saying, 2 “You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place.” 3 For thus says the LORD concerning the sons and daughters who are born in this place, and concerning their mothers who bore them and their fathers who begot them in this land: 4 “They shall die gruesome deaths; they shall not be lamented nor shall they be buried, but they shall be like refuse on the face of the earth. They shall be consumed by the sword and by famine, and their corpses shall be meat for the birds of heaven and for the beasts of the earth.”
5 For thus says the LORD: “Do not enter the house of mourning, nor go to lament or bemoan them; for I have taken away My peace from this people,” says the LORD, “lovingkindness and mercies. 6 Both the great and the small shall die in this land. They shall not be buried; neither shall men lament for them, cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them. 7 Nor shall men break bread in mourning for them, to comfort them for the dead; nor shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or their mother.
8 “Also you shall not go into the house of feasting to sit with them, to eat and drink.” 9 For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Behold, I will cause to cease from this place, before your eyes and in your days, the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride.
10 “And it shall be, when you show this people all these words, and they say to you, ‘Why has the LORD pronounced all this great disaster against us? Or what is our iniquity? Or what is our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?’ 11 “then you shall say to them, ‘Because your fathers have forsaken Me,’ says the LORD; ‘they have walked after other gods and have served them and worshiped them, and have forsaken Me and not kept My law. 12 And you have done worse than your fathers, for behold, each one follows the dictates of his own evil heart, so that no one listens to Me. 13 Therefore I will cast you out of this land into a land that you do not know, neither you nor your fathers; and there you shall serve other gods day and night, where I will not show you favor.’
14 “Therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “that it shall no more be said, ‘The LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,’
15 “but, ‘The LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands where He had driven them.’ For I will bring them back into their land which I gave to their fathers.
16 “Behold, I will send for many fishermen,” says the LORD, “and they shall fish them; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. 17 For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity hidden from My eyes. 18 And first I will repay double for their iniquity and their sin, because they have defiled My land; they have filled My inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable and abominable idols.”
19 O LORD, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come to You from the ends of the earth and say, “Surely our fathers have inherited lies, worthlessness and unprofitable things.” 20 Will a man make gods for himself, which are not gods?
21 “Therefore behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know My hand and My might; And they shall know that My name is the LORD.
17:1 “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron; With the point of a diamond it is engraved on the tablet of their heart, and on the horns of your altars, 2 while their children remember their altars and their wooden images by the green trees on the high hills. 3 O My mountain in the field, I will give as plunder your wealth, all your treasures, and your high places of sin within all your borders. 4 And you, even yourself, shall let go of your heritage which I gave you; And I will cause you to serve your enemies in the land which you do not know; For you have kindled a fire in my anger which shall burn forever.”
5 Thus says the LORD:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD. 6 For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited.
7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. 8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.
9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?
10 “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.
11 “As a partridge that broods but does not hatch, so is he who gets riches, but not by right; It will leave him in the midst of his days, and at his end he will be a fool.”
12 A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. 13 O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You shall be ashamed. “Those who depart from Me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.”
14 Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my praise. 15 Indeed they say to me, “Where is the word of the LORD? Let it come now!” 16 As for me, I have not hurried away from being a shepherd who follows You, nor have I desired the woeful day; You know what came out of my lips; It was right there before You. 17 Do not be a terror to me; You are my hope in the day of doom. 18 Let them be ashamed who persecute me, but do not let me be put to shame; Let them be dismayed, but do not let me be dismayed. Bring on them the day of doom, and destroy them with double destruction!
19 Thus the LORD said to me: “Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, by which the kings of Judah come in and by which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem; 20 and say to them, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, you kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who enter by these gates. 21 Thus says the LORD: “Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; 22 nor carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, nor do any work, but hallow the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers. 23 But they did not obey nor incline their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear nor receive instruction. 24 And it shall be, if you heed Me carefully,” says the LORD, “to bring no burden through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but hallow the Sabbath day, to do no work in it, 25 then shall enter the gates of this city kings and princes sitting on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, accompanied by the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and this city shall remain forever. 26 And they shall come from the cities of Judah and from the places around Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin and from the lowland, from the mountains and from the South, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and incense, bringing sacrifices of praise to the house of the LORD. 27 But if you will not heed Me to hallow the Sabbath day, such as not carrying a burden when entering the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.”‘”
18:1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying: 2 “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.” 3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. 4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.
5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: 6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the LORD. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! 7 The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, 8 if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. 9 And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, 10 if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.
11 “Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.”‘” 12 And they said, “That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart.”
13 Therefore thus says the LORD:
“Ask now among the Gentiles, who has heard such things? The virgin of Israel has done a very horrible thing. 14 Will a man leave the snow water of Lebanon, which comes from the rock of the field? Will the cold flowing waters be forsaken for strange waters? 15 Because My people have forgotten Me, they have burned incense to worthless idols. And they have caused themselves to stumble in their ways, from the ancient paths, to walk in pathways and not on a highway, 16 to make their land desolate and a perpetual hissing; Everyone who passes by it will be astonished and shake his head. 17 I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will show them the back and not the face In the day of their calamity.” 18 Then they said, “Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come and let us attack him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.”
19 Give heed to me, O LORD, and listen to the voice of those who contend with me! 20 Shall evil be repaid for good? For they have dug a pit for my life. Remember that I stood before You to speak good for them, to turn away Your wrath from them. 21 Therefore deliver up their children to the famine, and pour out their blood by the force of the sword; Let their wives become widows and bereaved of their children. Let their men be put to death, their young men be slain by the sword in battle. 22 Let a cry be heard from their houses, when You bring a troop suddenly upon them; For they have dug a pit to take me, and hidden snares for my feet. 23 Yet, LORD, You know all their counsel which is against me, to slay me. Provide no atonement for their iniquity, nor blot out their sin from Your sight; But let them be overthrown before You. Deal thus with them in the time of Your anger.
Chapter 18 recounts the wickedness of the rebellious, unfaithful people as they plot against God’s servant Jeremiah. “Come and let us attack him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words” (18:18).
We often consider the sinfulness of the world, but an equally serious problem is the treachery of rebellious people within the ranks of the Church on Earth. Too often we hear about bad pastors or bad parishioners who scheme and manipulate in order to accomplish what is right in their eyes, while insisting that they have a right to do so. Faithful people are abused and faithful pastors are persecuted. This should not be!
This is why it is so important that we understand the reason for God’s wrath against unfaithful rebellion, and why Church discipline is so necessary. God’s righteous Law holds us accountable because He loves His people and the whole world, and wants what is best for all, but He cannot abide wickedness that seeks to destroy His grace. Those who resist His will and His Spirit must be warned, condemned, and called to repentance, for their own good, as well as the good of others. And thanks be to God that He is always willing to forgive and rejoice over those who are brought to true faith!
We pray: O Lord, we beseech Thee, let Thy continual pity cleanse and defend Thy Church; and because it cannot continue in safety without Thy help, preserve it evermore by Thy help and goodness; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.