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FRAMEWORKS: Jeremiah 5: Failure to find the righteous in Jerusalem & so Certainty of Exile


PART ONE: v.1-5: God's failure to find a righteous person
PART TWO: v.6-10: God's failure results in a coming judgment
PART THREE: v.11-19: God's warning is clarified – a purging destruction will come
PART FOUR: v.20-31: Judah's inability to respond righteously means judgment will come


[Preliminary Comment : There is within this chapter sign after sign of the God who would prefer to hold back His judgement. [see Ezek 18:23,32, 33:11 for God's heart in this matter.] In this chapter, the Lord

•  cannot find a righteous person in Jerusalem [v.1,2]

•  failed to find a right response to His correction [v.3]

•  found failure at all levels of society [v.4,5]

•  concluded He would have to use destroyers to discipline them further [v.6] for their spiritual adultery [v.7,8], a punishment they deserved [v.9]

•  instructs the destroyers to purge the land [v.10]

•  makes clear the obviousness of their sins [v.11-13]

•  will make Jeremiah's words burn like convicting fire [v.14]

•  as He brings destroying & cleansing judgment from the north [v.15-17]

•  a judgment that will not completely destroy but bring them into exile [v.18]

•  because they have forsaken Him and served other gods [v.19]

In the face of all this, the Lord

•  declares them spiritually blind and deaf [v.20,21]

•  asks shouldn't they fear & respect their Creator [v.22]

•  faces them with their intransigence in not repenting [v.23,24]

•  faces them with the fact that they are so set in their ways that they cannot have a change of heart [v.25-28]

•  and declares that justice demands He acts [v.29]

•  because the nation's guides – the priests and prophets are as bad as anyone else [v.30,31].

It is a chapter of assessment and subsequent condemnation and judgment. Judah would never be able to claim they didn't know why judgment came upon them. What is especially remarkable about these chapters is their clarity in declaring that God is bringing exile to His people: see previously 4:27, a partial destruction, repeated now here 5:18, extended to reveal the exile 5:19.]



PART ONE: v.1-5: God's failure to find a righteous person


v.1 A call to find just one righteous person

v.1  ‘Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem,
    look around and consider,
    search through her squares.
If you can find but one person
    who deals honestly and seeks the truth,
    I will forgive this city.

[Comment: Rather like His conversation with Abraham [Gen 18:23-] the Lord looks for a righteous person in the city to stay His hand of judgment.]



v.2 They lie about the reality of their relationship with God

v.2  Although they say, “As surely as the Lord lives,”
    still they are swearing falsely.'


v.3 God, looking for truth, disciplined them but they failed to respond

v.3   Lord, do not your eyes look for truth?
    You struck them, but they felt no pain;
    you crushed them but they refused correction.
They made their faces harder than stone
    and refused to repent.

[Comment: The people appear religious but it is false and they have refused correction and refused to repent.]



v.4 God turned from the ordinary poor…

v.4  I thought, ‘These are only the poor;
    they are foolish,
for they do not know the way of the Lord,
    the requirements of their God.

v.5 … to the leaders, but they too had rebelled

v.5  So I will go to the leaders
    and speak to them;
surely they know the way of the Lord,
    the requirements of their God.'
But with one accord they too had broken off the yoke
    and torn off the bonds.

[Comment: The Lord had turned from the ordinary people, feeling sure there should be a righteous person among the leaders – but there wasn't one!]



PART TWO: v.6-10: God's failure results in a coming judgment


v.6 So the agents of judgment of the Lord will come to deal with them

v.6  Therefore a lion from the forest will attack them,
    a wolf from the desert will ravage them,
a leopard will lie in wait near their towns
    to tear to pieces any who venture out,
for their rebellion is great
    and their backslidings many.


[Comment: This failure to find a righteous person in the city means disciplinary judgment will come.]



v.7,8 God looks to see why He might be lenient but finds just spiritual adultery

v.7  ‘Why should I forgive you?
    Your children have forsaken me
    and sworn by gods that are not gods.
I supplied all their needs,
    yet they committed adultery
    and thronged to the houses of prostitutes.
v.8  They are well-fed, lusty stallions,
    each neighing for another man's wife.

[Comment: The Lord had hoped to be able to forgive but could only find spiritual adultery among His people, yearning for ever new spiritual experiences with false foreign religions.]



v.9 He asks why He should not punish this wayward people

v.9  Should I not punish them for this?'
    declares the Lord.
‘Should I not avenge myself
    on such a nation as this?


v.10 He instructs a purging (not complete destruction) to take place

v.10  ‘Go through her vineyards and ravage them,
    but do not destroy them completely.
Strip off her branches,
    for these people do not belong to the Lord.

[Comment: He had looked for a reason not to punish but could not find one so now He instructs the discipline to start.]



PART THREE: v.11-19: God's warning is clarified – a purging destruction will come


v.11-13 He confronts them with their unfaithfulness, people and prophets

v.11  The people of Israel and the people of Judah
    have been utterly unfaithful to me,'
declares the Lord.

v.12  They have lied about the Lord;
    they said, ‘He will do nothing!
No harm will come to us;
    we will never see sword or famine.
v.13  The prophets are but wind
    and the word is not in them;
    so let what they say be done to them.'


[Comment: Disloyal liars, that is all the Lord has found – and that includes among the prophets!]



v.14 Because of this God will make Jeremiah's words like destructive fire

v.14  Therefore this is what the Lord God Almighty says:

‘Because the people have spoken these words,
    I will make my words in your mouth a fire
    and these people the wood it consumes.

[Comment: Therefore the word He gives to Jeremiah will have a terrible destructive effect.]



v.15 The Lord brings an unmistakable warning of destruction by a northern nation

v.15  People of Israel,' declares the Lord,
    ‘I am bringing a distant nation against you –
an ancient and enduring nation,
    a people whose language you do not know,
    whose speech you do not understand.

v.16,17 They will come as mighty warriors and ‘cleanse' the land

v.16  Their quivers are like an open grave;
    all of them are mighty warriors.
v.17  They will devour your harvests and food,
    devour your sons and daughters;
they will devour your flocks and herds,
    devour your vines and fig trees.
With the sword they will destroy
    the fortified cities in which you trust.


[Comment: This destructive word releases the enemies of the north on Israel in a mighty judgment.]



v.18,19 This judgment will not be utterly destructive but will involve exile

v.18  ‘Yet even in those days,' declares the Lord, ‘I will not destroy you completely.

v.19  And when the people ask, “Why has the Lord our God done all this to us?” you will tell them, “As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your own land, so now you will serve foreigners in a land not your own.”


[Comment: This judgment, as previously noted, will not be utterly destructive so that there will be a remnant to testify to the truth of what has happened.]



PART FOUR: v.20-31: Judah's inability to respond righteously means judgment will come


v.20,21 It's a word to a blind and deaf people

v.20  ‘Announce this to the descendants of Jacob
    and proclaim it in Judah:
v.21  Hear this, you foolish and senseless people,
    who have eyes but do not see,
    who have ears but do not hear:

[Comment: This word Jeremiah brings, he knows will come as to the blind and the deaf for all the effect it will have.]



v.22 Shouldn't they fear and respect their Creator?

v.22  Should you not fear me?' declares the Lord.
    ‘Should you not tremble in my presence?
I made the sand a boundary for the sea,
    an everlasting barrier it cannot cross.
The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail;
    they may roar, but they cannot cross it.

[Comment: You would think that the people would heed a word coming from Almighty God, the all-knowing, all-powerful One before whom they will not be able to stand.]



v.23,24 But they are stubborn and refuse to respect and honour God

v.23  But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts;
    they have turned aside and gone away.
v.24  They do not say to themselves,
    “Let us fear the Lord our God,
who gives autumn and spring rains in season,
    who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.”

[Comment: Yet the hearts of this people are set and immovable and so do not come to their senses.]



v.25 Their wrong doings have prevented them coming to their senses

v.25  Your wrongdoings have kept these away;
    your sins have deprived you of good.


[Comment: There stubborn hearts have been bolstered by their sinful deeds that they think they have got away with.]



v.26-28 But the powerful violently oppress their weaker neighbours

v.26  ‘Among my people are the wicked
    who lie in wait like men who snare birds
    and like those who set traps to catch people.
v.27  Like cages full of birds,
    their houses are full of deceit;
they have become rich and powerful
v.28      and have grown fat and sleek.
Their evil deeds have no limit;
    they do not seek justice.
They do not promote the case of the fatherless;
    they do not defend the just cause of the poor.

[Comment: This violent people have been self-indulgent at the cost of others, set in their unrighteous ways.]



v.29 Doesn't justice demand that this wrong be dealt with?

v.29  Should I not punish them for this?'
    declares the Lord.
‘Should I not avenge myself
    on such a nation as this?


[Comment: Justice demands that this people be punished.]



v.30,31 The terrible thing is that the prophets & priests lead the wrongs

v.30  ‘A horrible and shocking thing
    has happened in the land:
v.31  the prophets prophesy lies,
    the priests rule by their own authority,
and my people love it this way.
    But what will you do in the end?


[Comment: The awful thing is that the prophets who should be conveyors of truth and righteousness have gone in the opposite direction and led the people astray, a people who love to hear their false words.]



Continue to Chapter 6