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FRAMEWORKS: Jeremiah 17: Sin, Salvation possibilities, Cries & a Test


[Preliminary Comment: We have suggested the following structure for this chapter

Part 1: v.1-4: The Sin of the Nation & the Judgment that will follow
Part 2: v.5-13: Principles of Salvation
Part 3: v.14-18: The Cries of the Prophet
Part 4: v.19-27: The Test of Sabbath Keeping

We have added a comment after each part.]



Part 1: v.1-4: The Sin of the Nation & the Judgment that will follow


v.1 The sin of this people is deeply embedded in them

v.1  ‘Judah's sin is engraved with an iron tool,
    inscribed with a flint point,
on the tablets of their hearts
    and on the horns of their altars.

v.2 Even their children are involved in the idol worship

v.2  Even their children remember
    their altars and Asherah poles
beside the spreading trees
    and on the high hills.

v.3 The Lord will clear away all their signs & symbols of ‘religion'

v.3  My mountain in the land
    and your wealth and all your treasures
I will give away as plunder,
    together with your high places,
    because of sin throughout your country.

v.4 It's entirely their own fault that they will be sent into exile

v.4  Through your own fault you will lose
    the inheritance I gave you.
I will enslave you to your enemies
    in a land you do not know,
for you have kindled my anger,
    and it will burn for ever.'


[Comment: The sinful intransigence of the people is clear, even witnessed in their children, worshipping idols, but the Lord will not leave it like this but by the use of invaders will clear the land of all the signs of this wrong worship.]



Part 2: v.5-13: Principles of Salvation


v.5,6 The one who trusts in himself alone will be cursed

v.5  This is what the Lord says:

‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
    who draws strength from mere flesh
    and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
v.6  That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
    they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
    in a salt land where no one lives.


v.7,8 The blessing on the believer [see also Psa 1:3, Psa 92:14]

v.7  ‘But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
v.8  They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.'


v.9 The sinful human heart is deceitful beyond understanding

v.9  The heart is deceitful above all things
    and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it?


v.10 The Lord looks internally & externally and rewards accordingly

v.10  ‘I the Lord search the heart
    and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
    according to what their deeds deserve.'


v.11 Nature has similar examples of those who act unjustly

v.11  Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay
    are those who gain riches by unjust means.
When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them,
    and in the end they will prove to be fools.


v.12 God's throne is the place of sanctuary for the righteous

v.12  A glorious throne, exalted from the beginning,
    is the place of our sanctuary.

v.13 God should be Israel's hope but those who forsake Him will be shamed

v.13  Lord, you are the hope of Israel;
    all who forsake you will be put to shame.
Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust
    because they have forsaken the Lord,
    the spring of living water.


[Comment: Within this Part the prophet receives from the Lord a series of revelations or truths – the one who trusts in himself will perish, but the obedient and faithful believer will be greatly blessed; the trouble is that the heart is deceitful and so it is only the Lord who can truly search the heart and reward a person's actions accordingly; so, unjust gain will be revealed and punished; our sanctuary is kneeling at God's throne; although God is Israel's hope He is also their judge.]



Part 3: v.14-18: The Cries of the Prophet


v.14 I trust the Lord to heal and save me

v.14  Heal me, Lord, and I shall be healed;
    save me and I shall be saved,
    for you are the one I praise.

v.15 People around me challenge whether what I bring is from God

v.15  They keep saying to me,
    ‘Where is the word of the Lord?
    Let it now be fulfilled!'

v.16 I've been faith to your word (although I don't want this to come)

v.16  I have not run away from being your shepherd;
    you know I have not desired the day of despair.
    What passes my lips is open before you.

v.17 Don't scare me and refuse me, but be my refuge

v.17  Do not be a terror to me;
    you are my refuge in the day of disaster.

v.18 Deal with my persecutors

v.18  Let my persecutors be put to shame,
    but keep me from shame;
let them be terrified,
    but keep me from terror.
Bring on them the day of disaster;
    destroy them with double destruction.


[Comment: In the face of the previous truths, Jeremiah declares his reliance on the Lord to heal and save him. He ministers in the midst of a people who challenge him but he has not run away from this ministry and so declares the Lord to be his refuge while he waits for the Lord to deal with them.]



Part 4: v.19-27: The Test of Sabbath Keeping


v.19,20 Jeremiah told to confront the rulers at the gates of Jerusalem

v.19  This is what the Lord said to me: ‘Go and stand at the Gate of the People, through which the kings of Judah go in and out; stand also at all the other gates of Jerusalem.

v.20  Say to them, “Hear the word of the Lord, you kings of Judah and all people of Judah and everyone living in Jerusalem who come through these gates.


v.21,22 A call to keep the Sabbath holy

v.21  This is what the Lord says: be careful not to carry a load on the Sabbath day or bring it through the gates of Jerusalem.

v.22  Do not bring a load out of your houses or do any work on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your ancestors.


v.23,24 Unlike their ancestors they are to be obedient in respect of the Sabbath

v.23  Yet they did not listen or pay attention; they were stiff-necked and would not listen or respond to discipline.

v.24  But if you are careful to obey me, declares the Lord, and bring no load through the gates of this city on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy by not doing any work on it,


v.25,26 Obedience will bring blessing

v.25  then kings who sit on David's throne will come through the gates of this city with their officials. They and their officials will come riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by the men of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, and this city will be inhabited for ever.

v.26  People will come from the towns of Judah and the villages around Jerusalem, from the territory of Benjamin and the western foothills, from the hill country and the Negev, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and incense, and bringing thank-offerings to the house of the Lord.


v.27 Disobedience will bring destruction

v.27  But if you do not obey me to keep the Sabbath day holy by not carrying any load as you come through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle an unquenchable fire in the gates of Jerusalem that will consume her fortresses.”'


[Comment: Finally the Lord calls on Jeremiah to challenge the rulers who often sat in judgment at the gates of the city, to ensure that the city adhered to Sabbath keeping. Their ancestors had failed to do this but He will give them one more chance to get it right and if they do then they will know blessing on the throne of Judah, blessing on the city and the temple, but if they do not, then fire – destruction – will come on the rule of the city. It is, perhaps, a final test of the possibility of their faithfulness being resurrected and seen. Yet another chance given them by the Lord!]



Continue to Chapter 18