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FRAMEWORKS: Jeremiah 12: Jeremiah's complaint & God's Answer


Part 1: v.1-4: Jeremiah's Complaint
Part 2: v.5-17: God's answer


[Preliminary Comment: The chapter is first a complaint to the Lord from Jeremiah about why the Lord tolerates what goes on, and then the Lord's response that comes first as a call to Jeremiah to persevere and, second, as an explanation of His intents in respect of Israel's neighbours and Israel itself.]



Part 1: v.1-4: Jeremiah's Complaint


v.1a Jeremiah has a question about justice

v.1  You are always righteous, Lord,
    when I bring a case before you.
Yet I would speak with you about your justice:

v.1b,2 Why are the wicked allowed to prosper

why does the way of the wicked prosper?
    Why do all the faithless live at ease?
v.2  You have planted them, and they have taken root;
    they grow and bear fruit.
You are always on their lips
    but far from their hearts.


v.3 He asks the Lord to deal with them
v.3  Yet you know me, Lord;
    you see me and test my thoughts about you.
Drag them off like sheep to be butchered!
    Set them apart for the day of slaughter!

v.4 How long will the Lord tolerate the land being as it is

v.4  How long will the land lie parched
    and the grass in every field be withered?
Because those who live in it are wicked,
    the animals and birds have perished.
Moreover, the people are saying,
    ‘He will not see what happens to us.'


[Comment: Jeremiah is clearly feeling low, perhaps because of the plot against him that he's found out about, and so asks the Lord why He puts up with what goes on in this land.]



Part 2: v.5-17: God's answer


v.5,6 The Lord calls Jeremiah to persevere

v.5  ‘If you have raced with men on foot
    and they have worn you out,
    how can you compete with horses?
If you stumble in safe country,
    how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?
v.6  Your relatives, members of your own family –
    even they have betrayed you;
    they have raised a loud cry against you.
Do not trust them,
    though they speak well of you.


[Comment: Jeremiah is challenged by the Lord, if you've already been worn out by the relatively easy bit that has happened, how will you cope when it gets really tough? Your own family is going to turn against you [the tough bit] not just a bunch of discontents from Anathoth [the easy bit] so toughen up -implied.]



v.7-9 The Lord declares His clear intention

v.7  ‘I will forsake my house,
    abandon my inheritance;
I will give the one I love
    into the hands of her enemies.
v.8  My inheritance has become to me
    like a lion in the forest.
She roars at me;
    therefore I hate her.
v.9  Has not my inheritance become to me
    like a speckled bird of prey
    that other birds of prey surround and attack?
Go and gather all the wild beasts;
    bring them to devour.

v.10-13 Others will come in and trample down the land but get little from it

v.10  Many shepherds will ruin my vineyard
    and trample down my field;
they will turn my pleasant field
    into a desolate wasteland.
v.11  It will be made a wasteland,
    parched and desolate before me;
the whole land will be laid waste
    because there is no one who cares.
v.12  Over all the barren heights in the desert
    destroyers will swarm,
for the sword of the Lord will devour
    from one end of the land to the other;
    no one will be safe.
v.13  They will sow wheat but reap thorns;
    they will wear themselves out but gain nothing.
They will bear the shame of their harvest
    because of the Lord 's fierce anger.'


[Comment: The path ahead is irrevocably set, destruction will come at the hands of ‘neighbours' [other nations] and they will go throughout the land but not get benefit from it – for the Lord has other plans for it, we might imply from what follows.]



v.14,15 But He will deal with Israel's neighbours and bring His people back

v.14  This is what the Lord says: ‘As for all my wicked neighbours who seize the inheritance I gave to my people Israel, I will uproot them from their lands and I will uproot the people of Judah from among them.

v.15  But after I uproot them, I will again have compassion and will bring each of them back to their own inheritance and their own country.


v.16,17 And of those neighbours learn of Him and turn to Him, He will receive them

v.16  And if they learn well the ways of my people and swear by my name, saying, “As surely as the Lord lives”– even as they once taught my people to swear by Baal – then they will be established among my people.

v.17  But if any nation does not listen, I will completely uproot and destroy it,' declares the Lord.


[Comment: A principle is at work in these verses, seen elsewhere in scripture, that those the Lord might use in bringing this judgment will still be answerable to the Lord for their unrighteous, ungodly, and uncaring attitudes towards the people of God. Moreover the Lord will bring back [a remnant of] His people from their midst. Those foreigners who learn of Him, seeing all that has happened, and turn to Him, can be saved but those who remain ungodly must accept the consequences.]



Continue to Chapter 13