Monday after the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Jeremiah 13-15 (NKJV)
13:1 Thus the LORD said to me: “Go and get yourself a linen sash, and put it around your waist, but do not put it in water.” 2 So I got a sash according to the word of the LORD, and put it around my waist.
3 And the word of the LORD came to me the second time, saying, 4 “Take the sash that you acquired, which is around your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole in the rock.” 5 So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the LORD commanded me.
6 Now it came to pass after many days that the LORD said to me, “Arise, go to the Euphrates, and take from there the sash which I commanded you to hide there.” 7 Then I went to the Euphrates and dug, and I took the sash from the place where I had hidden it; and there was the sash, ruined. It was profitable for nothing.
8 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 9 “Thus says the LORD: ‘In this manner I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10 This evil people, who refuse to hear My words, who follow the dictates of their hearts, and walk after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be just like this sash which is profitable for nothing. 11 For as the sash clings to the waist of a man, so I have caused the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to cling to Me,’ says the LORD, ‘that they may become My people, for renown, for praise, and for glory; but they would not hear.’
12 “Therefore you shall speak to them this word: ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: “Every bottle shall be filled with wine.”‘ And they will say to you, ‘Do we not certainly know that every bottle will be filled with wine?’ 13 Then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I will fill all the inhabitants of this land—even the kings who sit on David’s throne, the priests, the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem—with drunkenness! 14 And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together,” says the LORD. “I will not pity nor spare nor have mercy, but will destroy them.”‘”
15 Hear and give ear: Do not be proud, for the LORD has spoken. 16 Give glory to the LORD your God before He causes darkness, and before your feet stumble on the dark mountains, and while you are looking for light, He turns it into the shadow of death and makes it dense darkness. 17 But if you will not hear it, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; My eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the LORD’S flock has been taken captive.
18 Say to the king and to the queen mother, “Humble yourselves; Sit down, for your rule shall collapse, the crown of your glory.” 19 The cities of the South shall be shut up, and no one shall open them; Judah shall be carried away captive, all of it; It shall be wholly carried away captive.
20 Lift up your eyes and see those who come from the north. Where is the flock that was given to you, your beautiful sheep? 21 What will you say when He punishes you? For you have taught them to be chieftains, to be head over you. Will not pangs seize you, like a woman in labor? 22 And if you say in your heart, “Why have these things come upon me?” For the greatness of your iniquity your skirts have been uncovered, your heels made bare. 23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.
24 “Therefore I will scatter them like stubble that passes away by the wind of the wilderness. 25 This is your lot, the portion of your measures from Me,” says the LORD, “Because you have forgotten Me and trusted in falsehood. 26 Therefore I will uncover your skirts over your face, that your shame may appear. 27 I have seen your adulteries and your lustful neighings, the lewdness of your harlotry, your abominations on the hills in the fields. Woe to you, O Jerusalem! Will you still not be made clean?”
14:1 The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah concerning the droughts.
2 “Judah mourns, and her gates languish; They mourn for the land, and the cry of Jerusalem has gone up. 3 Their nobles have sent their lads for water; They went to the cisterns and found no water. They returned with their vessels empty; They were ashamed and confounded and covered their heads. 4 Because the ground is parched, for there was no rain in the land, the plowmen were ashamed; They covered their heads. 5 Yes, the deer also gave birth in the field, but left because there was no grass. 6 And the wild donkeys stood in the desolate heights; They sniffed at the wind like jackals; Their eyes failed because there was no grass.”
7 O LORD, though our iniquities testify against us, do it for Your name’s sake; For our backslidings are many, we have sinned against You. 8 O the Hope of Israel, his Savior in time of trouble, why should You be like a stranger in the land, and like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night? 9 Why should You be like a man astonished, like a mighty one Who cannot save? Yet You, O LORD, are in our midst, and we are called by Your name; Do not leave us!
10 Thus says the LORD to this people:
“Thus they have loved to wander; They have not restrained their feet. Therefore the LORD does not accept them; He will remember their iniquity now, and punish their sins.”
11 Then the LORD said to me, “Do not pray for this people, for their good. 12 When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence.”
13 Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.'”
14 And the LORD said to me, “The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart. 15 Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who prophesy in My name, whom I did not send, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not be in this land’—’By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed! 16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; they will have no one to bury them—them nor their wives, their sons nor their daughters—for I will pour their wickedness on them.’
17 “Therefore you shall say this word to them:
‘Let my eyes flow with tears night and day, and let them not cease; For the virgin daughter of my people has been broken with a mighty stroke, with a very severe blow. 18 If I go out to the field, then behold, those slain with the sword! And if I enter the city, then behold, those sick from famine! Yes, both prophet and priest go about in a land they do not know.'”
19 Have You utterly rejected Judah? Has Your soul loathed Zion? Why have You stricken us so that there is no healing for us? We looked for peace, but there was no good; And for the time of healing, and there was trouble. 20 We acknowledge, O LORD, our wickedness and the iniquity of our fathers, for we have sinned against You. 21 Do not abhor us, for Your name’s sake; Do not disgrace the throne of Your glory. Remember, do not break Your covenant with us. 22 Are there any among the idols of the nations that can cause rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Are You not He, O LORD our God? Therefore we will wait for You, since You have made all these.
15:1 Then the LORD said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind would not be favorable toward this people. Cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth. 2 And it shall be, if they say to you, ‘Where should we go?’ then you shall tell them, ‘Thus says the LORD:
“Such as are for death, to death; And such as are for the sword, to the sword; And such as are for the famine, to the famine; And such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.”‘
3 “And I will appoint over them four forms of destruction,” says the LORD: “the sword to slay, the dogs to drag, the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy. 4 I will hand them over to trouble, to all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem.
5 “For who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem? Or who will bemoan you? Or who will turn aside to ask how you are doing? 6 You have forsaken Me,” says the LORD, “You have gone backward. Therefore I will stretch out My hand against you and destroy you; I am weary of relenting! 7 And I will winnow them with a winnowing fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave them of children; I will destroy My people, since they do not return from their ways. 8 Their widows will be increased to Me more than the sand of the seas; I will bring against them, against the mother of the young men, a plunderer at noonday; I will cause anguish and terror to fall on them suddenly. 9 She languishes who has borne seven; She has breathed her last; Her sun has gone down while it was yet day; She has been ashamed and confounded. And the remnant of them I will deliver to the sword before their enemies,” says the LORD.
10 Woe is me, my mother, that you have borne me, a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent for interest, nor have men lent to me for interest. Every one of them curses me.
11 The LORD said:
“Surely it will be well with your remnant; Surely I will cause the enemy to intercede with you in the time of adversity and in the time of affliction.
12 Can anyone break iron, the northern iron and the bronze?
13 Your wealth and your treasures I will give as plunder without price, because of all your sins, throughout your territories. 14 And I will make you cross over with your enemies into a land which you do not know; For a fire is kindled in My anger, which shall burn upon you.”
15 O LORD, You know; Remember me and visit me, and take vengeance for me on my persecutors. In Your enduring patience, do not take me away. Know that for Your sake I have suffered rebuke. 16 Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts. 17 I did not sit in the assembly of the mockers, nor did I rejoice; I sat alone because of Your hand, for You have filled me with indignation. 18 Why is my pain perpetual and my wound incurable, which refuses to be healed? Will You surely be to me like an unreliable stream, as waters that fail?
19 Therefore thus says the LORD:
“If you return, then I will bring you back; You shall stand before Me; If you take out the precious from the vile, you shall be as My mouth. Let them return to you, but you must not return to them. 20 And I will make you to this people a fortified bronze wall; And they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you; For I am with you to save you and deliver you,” says the LORD. 21 “I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible.”
The Lord’s anger is righteous. It should inspire serious humility in us when we read these chapters from Jeremiah. Unfortunately, many today and many throughout the ages can read this account of God’s wrath toward unfaithfulness and fail to understand it. Every sinner deserves this manner of harsh condemnation from the Lord, but many think to themselves, “This doesn’t apply to me; I’m doing fine.”
Even in the time of the New Testament Church, we hear the Gospel of forgiveness in Jesus Christ, and our sinful hearts take that good news and twist it so that we forget about the seriousness of our sins. Like the false prophets of Jeremiah’s time, some still teach that there is peace and mercy for those who are faithless and unrepentant.
We all deserve God’s harsh condemnation and wrath because of our sins. But He sends His faithful teachers and messengers to remind us that humility and repentance are very necessary. The Holy Spirit rightfully should open our hearts and minds so that we are horrified by our wickedness. But the Holy Spirit also mercifully creates faith in us to believe the Gospel of our forgiveness in Christ crucified. Both parts of the whole truth of God must be proclaimed. Thanks be to God for His Law and His Gospel.
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.