4 “Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says:
“‘When people fall down, do they not get up?
When someone turns away, do they not return?
5 Why then have these people turned away?
Why does Jerusalem always turn away?
They cling to deceit;
they refuse to return.
6 I have listened attentively,
but they do not say what is right.
None of them repent of their wickedness,
saying, “What have I done?”
Each pursues their own course
like a horse charging into battle.
7 Even the stork in the sky
knows her appointed seasons,
and the dove, the swift and the thrush
observe the time of their migration.
But my people do not know
the requirements of the Lord.
8 “‘How can you say, “We are wise,
for we have the law of the Lord,”
when actually the lying pen of the scribes
has handled it falsely?
9 The wise will be put to shame;
they will be dismayed and trapped.
Since they have rejected the word of the Lord,
what kind of wisdom do they have?
10 Therefore I will give their wives to other men
and their fields to new owners.
From the least to the greatest,
all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike,
all practice deceit.
11 They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
“Peace, peace,” they say,
when there is no peace.
12 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 they are punished,
says the Lord.
(Jeremiah 8:4-12 NIV)
Today’s passage begins a new section of the Lord’s word to His people. This section extends through the end of chapter 10. While there are many parallels to the previous section (chapters 4 through 6), the one main difference is that this passage seems to assume that Judah and Jerusalem are incorrigible. There are no calls to repentance in this section, as it would appear to be a waste of breath on Jerusalem and Judah.
The Lord begins with a few practical rhetorical questions: If someone falls, will they not get back up? If someone turns off the path, will they not return when they are done investigating whatever caused them to turn aside?
In verses 5 – 6, the Lord calls out the people of Judah for not returning to Him after they have strayed. Common sense seems to evade God’s people – their spiritual dullness makes God wonder what the people were thinking. In verse 7, even multiple species of birds instinctively know when it is time to migrate. But yet, God’s people don’t know His requirements, either instinctively or by His revelation through His prophets.
In verses 8 – 9, the people claim to be wise, but are not. The Lord refutes their common belief of having the Word of God and knowing what it means. Those who are charged with handling God’s Word have lied and mishandled it.
Verses 10 – 12 are very similar, almost word-for-word, to chapter 6, verses 12 – 15. The Lord reminds them again of their greed, for their lying to make things look good for them, and for their lack of conscience.
May we have David’s heart for God’s Word and our obedience to it:
9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, Lord;
teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.
(Psalm 119:9-16 NIV)