8 “‘At that time, declares the Lord, the bones of the kings and officials of Judah, the bones of the priests and prophets, and the bones of the people of Jerusalem will be removed from their graves. 2 They will be exposed to the sun and the moon and all the stars of the heavens, which they have loved and served and which they have followed and consulted and worshiped. They will not be gathered up or buried, but will be like dung lying on the ground. 3 Wherever I banish them, all the survivors of this evil nation will prefer death to life, declares the Lord Almighty.’
(Jeremiah 8:1-3 NIV)
Today’s passage is the final thought from Chapter 7. The Lord begins with “At that time”, referring to chapter 7, verses 32 – 34.
As we look back on yesterday’s text, the Lord declares that the Valley of Ben-Hinnom will be renamed the Valley of Slaughter, for all the people buried there. When there were no more gravesites, then the bodies of the dead would be tossed out on the ground to be food for the wild animals, with no one to scare them away.
In today’s passage, the Lord says that the armies of the north that will overtake Judah and Jerusalem will add insult to injury. These troops will remove the bones of the dead from their graves and toss them out on the ground like dung. The troops will be no respecter of persons – the bones of kings, priests, and common citizens will all be desecrated. All the astral array (sun, moon, stars) which the people of Judah worshipped as false gods will be powerless to protect their living or their dead. These false gods will watch coldly and silently as the grave robbers exhume the bones of the dead and toss them out like yesterday’s litter.
Verse 3 ends with a grim future for those that survive the invasion. The Lord declares that these survivors will prefer death to life. Life as they have known it is no more. They will be subjected to the merciless treatment of their captors. If their captor’s treatment were not enough, the memory of Jerusalem and Judah would be the final straw that would make them wish for death rather than life.
You might think, “that’s a little over-dramatic, don’t you think?” I will let you, the reader, draw your own conclusions. 2 Kings 25:1-7 tells the story of the Jerusalem’s fall. Nebuchadnezzar’s army captured Zedekiah, the king of Judah, then killed his sons in front of him. The soldiers then blinded him, put him in shackles, then led him away as a captive to Babylon. Put yourself in Zedekiah’s place for a moment. Would you have preferred life or death?
The sad thing is that none of this was necessary. The Lord had offered and provided a good life on earth as well as eternal life for those who walked with Him by faith. But yet, everyone in Judah had turned their back on the Lord and worshipped false gods, choosing their own way over His way. The people of Judah rejected God’s hedge of protection and provision and determined to live in direct defiance and rebellion to His love and care.
May we choose life and truth – to walk with the Lord and serve Him only. May we love our neighbors as well, letting the love of Christ overflow our hearts and be a blessing to those around us, offering hope and eternal life only found in Him.