In our last post, we considered Jeremiah’s demands upon the Jewish nation and the three weightier matters of the law that never changes, that God expects from His people.
Temple worship as a replacement for proper living is considered sin, and Jeremiah simply does not mince words in this passage.
In this post we want to look at the idol that the Jewish nation had erected in place of God, the lying words that they trusted in.
How could Jeremiah make such blatant claims as he does in this passage without riling up the very people who assumed they were the most righteous, those who attended “The Temple of the Lord”.
How is it that “The Temple of the Lord”, referred to in Jeremiah 7, is applicable to the modern-day Christian?
Lets read the passage one more time.
1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
2 “Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the LORD.
3 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place.
4 Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’
5 “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another,
6 if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm,
7 then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.
8 “Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail.
9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known,
10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’–only to go on doing all these abominations?
11 Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the LORD.
12 Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it because of the evil of my people Israel.
13 And now, because you have done all these things, declares the LORD, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer,
14 therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, and in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh.
15 And I will cast you out of my sight, as I cast out all your kinsmen, all the offspring of Ephraim.
These worshipers were heading into the temple! Why complain about these folks? At least they were worshiping the true God, right?
Jeremiah says to amend your ways. Worship without right living is hypocrisy and worthy of judgement. (And judgement was on its way!)
The Temple of the Lord had become a stumbling block to the nation of Israel.
DON’T TRUST LYING WORDS
What were the “lying words” the worshipers trusted? “The house of the Lord, the house of the Lord, the house of the Lord.”
The worshipers were trusting in lying words which were diverting their trust from the living God to the temple.
They viewed the temple as:
A Place of Safety and Permanence
Consider Jeremiahs core message again
….if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.
A conditional promise. Do you see it? If if if if … then.
The Jewish nation had obligations to the covenant they entered into with the Lord at Mt Sinai. Jeremiah was calling the nation to its roots, its past, its obligations and responsibilities. He was not adding tasks or changing the contract. The people had walked away from the agreement, and the prophet was faithfully exhibiting the mercy and long-suffering of the Lord with His people. But the long suffering patience of the Lord was coming to a close and His prophet was warning His people, even as the Babylonians were on the way.
Yes, the Jews of Jeremiah’s day saw the Babylonians coming. It was obvious to all, but the religious Jews refused to acknowledge God’s judgement that was about to fall on their nation and considered the temple (how ironic!) to be their place of protection. How short of a memory we humans have. Obviously they had not learned about using God as a talisman or lucky charm. As a matter of fact, God reminds them of Shiloh later in the passage, and how the Philistines (those dirty dogs!) were able to defeat the Israelites and confiscate the very idol (the Ark of the Covenant) they were trusting in.
As an aside, consider how Jeremiah’s conditional promise with the Old Testament nation of Israel could apply to the New Testament nation of the Church.
If is a big word.
Believers today would do well if we considered our relationship with the Lord in the context of “if” when the Word calls for it.
It was surprising for me to realize the extent of that two letter word in the New Testament – Check it out in my ongoing series “Conditional Security”
Join me on our next blog when we find out the Jewish nation also viewed the temple as a place of absolution.
Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.