9 This is what the Lord Almighty says:
“Let them glean the remnant of Israel
as thoroughly as a vine;
pass your hand over the branches again,
like one gathering grapes.”
10 To whom can I speak and give warning?
Who will listen to me?
Their ears are closed
so they cannot hear.
The word of the Lord is offensive to them;
they find no pleasure in it.
11 But I am full of the wrath of the Lord,
and I cannot hold it in.
“Pour it out on the children in the street
and on the young men gathered together;
both husband and wife will be caught in it,
and the old, those weighed down with years.
12 Their houses will be turned over to others,
together with their fields and their wives,
when I stretch out my hand
against those who live in the land,”
declares the Lord.
13 “From the least to the greatest,
all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike,
all practice deceit.
14 They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace.
15 Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?
No, they have no shame at all;
they do not even know how to blush.
So they will fall among the fallen;
they will be brought down when I punish them,”
says the Lord.
(Jeremiah 6:9-15 NIV)
From yesterday’s passage, the Lord has warned His people again of the impending invasion from the north. In today’s passage, the Lord and Jeremiah have a dialogue about the Hebrews’ hard-heartedness and unwillingness to hear the Lord’s message.
Jeremiah had just preached the Lord’s message about the upcoming invasion. The peoples’ unwillingness to follow the Lord was the reason the Lord was disciplining HIs children. In verse 9, the “them” refers to the enemy from the north. Just as a gleaner turns over every leaf on the vine looking for grapes missed during the main harvest, so the Lord says that everyone will be affected by the invasion. While some will physically survive the attack (chapter 5, verses 10 and 18), no one will be spared the pain and humiliation of becoming a servant to foreigners.
The second half of verse 9 is the Lord’s command to Jeremiah to go ahead of the enemy and look one last time for any who have heard Jeremiah’s message and repented. No one had missed hearing God’s proclamations. The question remained: was there any change in the Lord’s people that resulted in spiritual fruit? The Lord still longed to spare His discipline against His wayward children (chapter 5, verse 1).
Verses 10 – 11a are Jeremiah’s complaint to the Lord. Jeremiah told the Lord that he had preached to everyone. In fact, Jeremiah said the Word of the Lord was offensive to them. Jeremiah was tired of holding in the message of God’s wrath against the Hebrews because no one would listen to his message anymore.
In verse 11b, the Lord tells Jeremiah to pour out His wrath on the children and young men. Perhaps, at their tender young age, they would receive the Lord’s message and repent.
Verses 11c – 12 foretell the devastation that is about to take place. Everyone will be affected – husbands and wives, the aged, the young. There will be a loss of property, homes, and even marriages.
In verses 13 – 14, the Lord reiterates His charges from chapter 5, verses 26 – 31. The peoples’ selfishness, including that of the priests and prophets, was overwhelming. Their greed led to complacency. Their satisfaction with the status quo resulted in lies, saying that all is well when in fact in was not. Their rebellion against the Lord led to a searing of the national conscience, declaring peace while Jeremiah was prophesying war.
In verse 15, the Lord asks and answers a question of His people: “Are you ashamed of your detestable conduct?” The Lord’s answer, based on His observations in chapters five and six so far: “They have no shame. In fact, their sin is so great, and their collective conscience so damaged that they don’t even know how to blush.” To that end, the Lord comes to the same heart-breaking conclusion as He did in chapter 5 – discipline is required.
As followers of Christ, may we remember to think in the larger contexts of community, beyond ourselves and our selfishness. This Christ-centered worldview applies to our families, our communities, our nations, and the world as a whole. The Lord does not expect us to solve all the world’s issues and ills; only He can do that.
May remember that God only asks us to love Him and our neighbor; by doing so, He can change the world through us.