Hear and Give Ear: Do Not Be Proud
Read Jeremiah 13:15-27
Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. This is because he was never heeded by the people of God. The Lord gave Jeremiah message after message about the coming judgement of God. Even at the encouragement of Jeremiah to heed the word of The Lord, it was rejected. Here Jeremiah says to give ear and do not be proud. It was the pride of the people that caused them to fail to hear the word of the Lord. Pride goes before a fall. It will blind us spiritually. Those who grow close to the Lord and abide in Him will have lives marked by humility. They will have eyes to see and ears to hear. What often destroys the wicked is their pride and arrogance. Sadly, this is very evident in our own day with those who sit in leadership in America.
Jeremiah says to give glory to the Lord. He is telling the people to turn their hearts to the Lord and to worship Him alone. But when we reject truth and light the only thing, we are left with is darkness. The nation of Israel was like a traveler on a mountain. In times past the Lord had led His people with a pillar of fire in the wilderness. It was meant to light their way and keep them warm during the cold nights in the desert. But here we see that Jeremiah says, “while you look for light, he turns it into gloom and makes it deep darkness”. It is the Lord who would move against the nation of Israel. Through their wickedness and sin, they had brought the hand of the Lord against them. If they would only respond to the word of the Lord with humility.
Jeremiah gives a warning “if you will not listen”. Listening not only involves us hearing, it involves us responding to what we hear. Those who truly have ears to heart will respond rightly to the word of the Lord. They will respond in repentance. Jeremiah speaks of weeping over the people because of their arrogance and pride. They believe themselves to be untouchable and unaccountable. This is the case for all those who become immersed in wickedness and sin. There comes a time when God gives them over to sin and wickedness and they are unable to repent. It is God who grants repentance, and it is God who saves. May we respond rightly to the word of the Lord.
The king at this time was Jehoichin and the queen mother was Nahusta. This message from Jeremiah is directed to those who sit in position of leadership and power. The reason leaders are held to such a high standard by Almighty God and why they face a stricter judgement, is their actions influence and impact the lives of those who they are leading. They are called to shepherd the people of God and sadly those who sat in position of leadership in Israel gave themselves over to the worship of false gods and idols bringing great darkness on the nation.
The Lord tells them to take a lowly seat or to humble themselves. Jeremiah tells them the result of their failure to humble themselves before the Living God, their beautiful crown will come down from their heads. They would be removed from their position of power and humbled by the Living God. The cities of the south would be shut up and Judah would be completely taken into exile. We must remember that it is God alone who opens door that no man can open and shuts doors that no man can shut. To those sitting in power at this time the thought of being removed and the nation going into exile seemed impossible. But Judah found themselves in a very fragile place because of the moral depravity that filled the nation. America could learn a lot from the history of Israel because what is destroying the nation of America is moral depravity. The only hope is turning to and honoring the Living God.
The Lord tells them to look up and see those who come from the North. The Lord had revealed to the prophet Jeremiah all that would take place before it actually did. The prophet wept over the people because they failed to repent. The question is asked to the King and Queen mother “Where is the flock that was given you, your beautiful flock”? They were responsible for shepherding God’s people and instead their wickedness and sin had led to the people turning from God and turning to the worship of false gods and idols. They were responsible for their actions and now the Lord would hold them accountable.
The Lord compares the coming suffering they would face like the pangs a woman faces in laborer. Every woman who gives birth to a child, experiences birth pangs before the baby comes. Though the pain is overwhelming and cannot be fully and rightly put into words, it does not compare with the joy that takes place when the child is born. But here the Lord made it clear that because they have made allies out of these foreign nations, that in the end it would lead to their destruction. It is a very foolish thing to believe we can open the door to the devil and not believe there is going to be consequences. Every door of compromise must be close.
Naturally those who are steeped in wickedness are blinded by their sin and may wonder why all these things are happening. But like a prostitute who is stripped and laid bare because of her prostitution, so would be the nation of Israel. They had prostituted themselves with their many lovers who were foreign nations and false gods. The Lord would strip her bare and expose her to incredible humiliation with the purpose of bringing her to a place of repentance. Often it isn’t until we hit rock bottom that we are willing to fully surrender to the Lord.
The question is asked “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots”? Just as the Ethiopian could not change his skin from dark to light and the leopard could not change his spots, the nation of Israel was so immersed in sin and wickedness they could not do good. It is only God who can change the human heart and when we reject the word of the Lord over and over again, it time we reject the Lord and His ways, our hearts harden and often it requires a strong work by the Lord to soften our hearts and bring us to repentance. The nation of Israel had become accustomed to doing evil and the only right course to right the ship was to turn to the Lord and do rightly.
The Lord says “I will scatter you like chaff driven by the wind from the desert”. The Lord would accomplish this using the nation of Babylon. Judah would be removed from the nation and would be scattered to the wind. What is amazing is that the Lord told them over and over again about His judgement and they arrogantly ignored it. God gives people sufficient time to repent, but when His mercy is rejected the only thing that remains is judgement.
Two indictments against Israel are they have forgotten the Lord and trusted in lies. As they served and worship false gods, they abandoned the one true and Living God they were in covenant with and because of their rebellion, they brought the judgement of God upon themselves. If they had simply listened and responded to the word of the Lord, they could have been saved much heart ache and suffering. But sadly, this is often the case in life for some in the body of Christ. They begin to wander away from the Lord and as the Lord calls to them to return they like the prodigal son must find themselves in the pig pen and hit rock bottom before they will respond to the Lord.
Lifting the skirt of a woman in public up would be to shame that woman for all to see. What the Lord was about to do to southern Judah would be seen by all. The Lord would publicly deal and chastise southern Judah because they had chosen to publicly worship false gods and mock the Living God. God gently calls to us but when we continue to resist the conviction of the Holy Spirit the Lord must step in and bring course correction for our own good. Because He loves us, He disciplines us. Everything He does for us is because of His love for us.
The Lord says “I have seen your abominations, your adulteries and neighings, your lewd whorings”. The abominations, adulteries and whorings all refer to their worship of foreign gods and idols. Not only did the abdominal worship practices of the nations that surrounded Israel cause them to engage in sexual activity that was against God and His word. But they spiritually committed adultery repeatedly without any remorse. They were truly like a prostitute who slept with anyone who would give her money. The Lord also compared Israel to an animal in heat simply driven by animal instinct. It simply shows how far they had turned from the Lord and that the nation truly needed a course correction.
The Lord asks the question “will you still not be made clean”? What God is asking them will you not turn. Will you not repent. They in their pride and arrogance would not humble themselves before the Living God. The end result of rejecting God and His ways is simply destruction. There is much the leaders of America could learn from the book of Jeremiah. The farther we get away from God and His ways, the more it brings destruction into our lives. The desire for prosperity and power will ultimately destroy a person because they will destroy anyone who stands in the way of what they want. Idolatry is a desire to have what our sinful nature lusts after and sadly in America today many leaders’ hearts and minds are committed to idolatry.