11 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Listen to the terms of this covenant and tell them to the people of Judah and to those who live in Jerusalem. 3 Tell them that this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Cursed is the one who does not obey the terms of this covenant— 4 the terms I commanded your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the iron-smelting furnace.’ I said, ‘Obey me and do everything I command you, and you will be my people, and I will be your God. 5 Then I will fulfill the oath I swore to your ancestors, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey’—the land you possess today.”
I answered, “Amen, Lord.”
6 The Lord said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: ‘Listen to the terms of this covenant and follow them. 7 From the time I brought your ancestors up from Egypt until today, I warned them again and again, saying, “Obey me.” 8 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts. So I brought on them all the curses of the covenant I had commanded them to follow but that they did not keep.’”
(Jeremiah 11:1-8 NIV)
In chapters 7 – 10, The Lord spoke through Jeremiah about the empty religion of the people of Judah and Jerusalem. Religion was “big business” in Jeremiah’s day, but it was far from the covenant relationship to which God had called His people.
As we begin this new section (11:1 – 15:9), we see the Lord deal with the issue of the broken covenant and the consequences of God’s people walking away in disobedience. The covenant relationship between God and His people was to be like a marriage, with love and respect, provision and support, working together.
Verse 2 contains two verbs: “listen” and “tell”. When we look at verse 1, it seems that the Lord is instructing Jeremiah what to do next. However, Hebrew scholars point out that both of these verbs are in plural form. So what does that mean? Did Jeremiah have a mouse in his pocket? No.
The idea here is that not only was Jeremiah supposed to listen and tell others but that the people of Judah and Jerusalem were supposed to do the same. This was to be a multiplicative effort between speaker and listener, first told by the Lord and His servant, then spoken by the listener to new hearers, lived out in both word and deed, according to God’s covenant relationship.
Verse 4 captures the heart of the covenant relationship God desired: “Obey Me and do everything I command you, and you will be My people, and I will be your God.”
The consequences of not following the Lord and walking in covenant relationship with Him were all the curses that He called out back in Deuteronomy 27 if His people did not obey. Verse 5 captures Jeremiah’s echoed response that Moses asked of God’s people in response to the request to follow the Lord and the curses if they did not obey: a hearty “Amen” (Deuteronomy 27:26)
Verses 6 – 8 sum up the current state of affairs with the people of Judah. They had indeed strayed far from the Lord and were not walking in covenant relationship with Him. Instead of a blessing, God would bring the curses called out in the Deuteronomy passage, not to destroy His people, but to bring them back to Himself.
May we keep close to the Lord, to obey His commands and honor Him in all things, not to earn our way into God’s favor, but to show our gratitude for His love and salvation.
May we share His love with others, not out of obligation or duty, but out of an overflowing heart of gratitude for what He has done for us and how He has given us new life in Christ.