9 Then the Lord said to me, “There is a conspiracy among the people of Judah and those who live in Jerusalem. 10 They have returned to the sins of their ancestors, who refused to listen to my words. They have followed other gods to serve them. Both Israel and Judah have broken the covenant I made with their ancestors. 11 Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them. 12 The towns of Judah and the people of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods to whom they burn incense, but they will not help them at all when disaster strikes.13 You, Judah, have as many gods as you have towns; and the altars you have set up to burn incense to that shameful god Baal are as many as the streets of Jerusalem.’
14 “Do not pray for this people or offer any plea or petition for them, because I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their distress.
15 “What is my beloved doing in my temple
as she, with many others, works out her evil schemes?
Can consecrated meat avert your punishment?
When you engage in your wickedness,
then you rejoice.”
16 The Lord called you a thriving olive tree
with fruit beautiful in form.
But with the roar of a mighty storm
he will set it on fire,
and its branches will be broken.
17 The Lord Almighty, who planted you, has decreed disaster for you, because the people of both Israel and Judah have done evil and aroused my anger by burning incense to Baal.
(Jeremiah 11:9-17 NIV)
As mentioned yesterday, in 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. There is nothing new in today’s passage – the sinfulness of God’s people is expressed not just as sin, but as a broken covenant relationship with the Lord.
The “conspiracy” called out against the people of Judah and Jerusalem (verse 9) is tied to the verb “returned” in verse 10. King Josiah’s reforms had changed the exterior of the people’s worship, but it had not broken their hearts. As soon as King Josiah’s sons took over the throne, the nation willingly and knowingly plunged itself back into idolatry.
Once again, the peoples’ willful disobedience brought on the Lord’s promised consequences (vv. 11 – 13). The Lord tells Jeremiah again not to pray for the people of Judah and Jerusalem (v. 14 – see 7:16), as their hardened hearts would not turn back toward God.
Verse 15 notes the peoples’ sacrifices in the Lord’s house. But sacrifices and offerings without obedience were meaningless to both God and the people. The Lord called His people “beloved”, but finds out that she has other lovers (the Canaanite idols) which she gives herself to in addition to her “husband” (the Lord).
In verses 16 – 17, the Lord depicts His people as a beautiful and thriving olive tree, initially producing fruit as the Lord intended. But now, the Lord decreed that the tree would go through the fire of trials because of her evil.
Do we truly believe and desire our relationship with the Lord? Or do we see the Scriptures as inspirational thoughts as we go our selfish way and do what we want?
May we see God as He really is – not as we want Him to be. May we see, through today’s passage, that God is first and foremost relational, and as such, desires our relationship with Him above all.
May we see God’s Word as the reality of the way things are, not as the way we want them to be. And may we be filled with hope, not fear as we read and study His Scriptures.