Jeremiah is well-known for being “the weeping prophet.” Passages such as Jeremiah 4:19, 9:1, 13:16-17, and 14:17 make it clear that this description was well-earned. Make no mistake; his crying was not because he was some wimpy, weak character. He was not crying for fear, or some selfish reason, or because he was ashamed. Instead, he wept over the sins of the people of Israel. Similarly, we see Jesus doing this when He was on earth. In fact, He was referred to as the “man of sorrows” (Isa. 53:3; Matt. 26:37; Luke 19:41; John 11:35).
Jeremiah wept over the sins of the people. I suggest that the language he uses shows he thought himself unable to cry a sufficient amount over the sins committed in his land. In Jeremiah 9:1, it is written, “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!”
Compare Jeremiah’s attitude toward sin with the “majority’s” attitude. Let me also challenge you to compare how the brethren act toward sin today with how Jeremiah acted toward sin in his day. Jeremiah wanted to cry and wished his eyes could be a “fountain” to cry over the sins committed by God’s people continually. He understood that sin was not a joke or a game. Sin is not a myth or something made up to scare children into behaving. Sin is real, and it is deadly (Jas. 1:15)! The passage that teaches us that “Fools make a mock at sin” (Prov. 14:9) is still true!
Why did Jeremiah weep over the people’s sin? All one has to do is look into Scripture and see how God describes sin to know why it is a cause for crying. Below are four descriptions. God describes sin as:
- An indelible stain (Isa. 1:18)
- A heavy weight (Heb. 12:1)
- A trespass (Eph. 2:1)
- Putrifying sores (Isa. 1:6)
How could this not make us cry if we saw someone in this condition physically (stained, wounded, filled with sores, etc.)? Though we cannot see the spiritual effects of sin, when God looks upon us, He sees it! We see the effects of sin when we see the physical results. When we see the drug addict and the wino, when we see the person who has STDs or suffering from the torture of having killed a baby through abortion, we see the effects of sin in people’s lives. When we see the person who is racked with guilt because he has stolen from others or has been abusive to a child or spouse, we see someone suffering with the consequences of sin. Our jails are filled with those who broke man’s law, but if we look closely, many have also broken God’s law!
I say this not with arrogance, but in the spirit of Jeremiah – how we might wish our heads were waters and our eyes were a fountain of tears to be able to weep over what we see in our generation in this country! Oh that we might weep over the sins committed by brethren at times! We have Christians that ought to know better, but they still commit sins before God. Let us remember that sin is as deadly for the Christian as for the non-Christian (Ezek. 18:20; Jas. 1:15). It is not a game or a joke and will lead us to Hell finally if we do not repent. Is that not another reason that tears might flow? Let them flow for the ones who seem determined to go to Hell and will not make a change (Matt. 7:13)!
God stands ready and willing to accept those who will come to Him (Matt. 11:28-30; Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; II Pet 3:9; Rev. 22:14). Who will do it? Should not this fact motivate us to go and find those who are lost and bring them to the Lord before it is too late? Let us be encouraged to find them! Let our tears not cause us to quit, but through tears, let us be motivated with an urgency to tell lost souls about the Lord before it is too late!
Jeremiah teaches us that there is no shame in weeping when we are weeping over the right things!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
One of the saddest verses, next to Jeremiah 8:20, is the three questions asked in Jeremiah 8:22. The Lord asks, “Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” I struggled with what was being asked until I came to understand that these were rhetorical questions. Interestingly, Jeremiah 8:22 is written entirely differently in the NET. There, we read, “There is still medicinal ointment available in Gilead! There is still a physician there! Why then have my dear people not been restored to health?” These translators chose to forego the ambiguity of the rhetorical questions and simply state the facts. Whether or not we agree with such actions is a discussion for another time. The point is that God was emphasizing to the people (yet again) that their transgressions could be healed if they would be willing to change. This was done by pointing out a physical truth to make a spiritual point.
Using physical examples to make a spiritual point was how Jesus taught the majority of His time on earth (Matt. 13:34-35). His teachings are called “parables,” but in Jeremiah, this was not a parable but instead a rhetorical question to open the eyes of the people. Is there no balm in Gilead? “Balm” was used for medicinal purposes, and Gilead, and this region, was known for having an abundant supply. “Is there no physician there?” Again, in Gilead, there would be doctors in abundance ready to apply the balm to the hurting. Since a lack of balm and a lack of doctors is not the problem, then why are His people not recovered?
The reason they had not been recovered is the same reason someone might not recover physically even if there is “balm in Gilead.” What is this reason? In order to be healed physically, those people needed to apply the balm to the affected area! If one refuses the medicine, do not be surprised if this person does not recover from the illness! In like manner, if Israel (and us by application) refuses to listen and apply God’s teaching, then they will never recover from the harm of sin and will die in that condition! Remember, they have already told Jeremiah “no” in 6:16, and it does not look like they will change anytime soon. Therefore, when Babylon comes to conquer, when multitudes die, when people are enslaved, and when the land is ravaged, it is not because the people did not have “balm.” It is not that they had no one to heal (physician), it is because they refused to accept God’s “medicine”!
I hope that the application to Jeremiah 8:22 is apparent to us (Rom. 15:4). Though Babylon is not coming to destroy, we still face something greater than a physical threat, for we are facing a judgment day (Heb. 9:27; Acts 17:30-31; II Cor. 5:10; Ecc. 12:13-14). Sadly, there is a real possibility of people dying in their sins (Jn. 8:24; Jas. 1:14-15; II Thess. 1:6-9). If we die in our sins, who can we blame for this besides ourselves (Ezek. 18:20; Col. 3:25)? Is there no “balm,” the gospel, that tells us what to do to be saved from our sins (Rom. 1:16; II Tim. 3:6-17)? Is there not a physician, a “great Physician” who is ready to heal our spiritual ills (Matt. 9:12, 11:28-30)? Then why is there a world of people not yet saved? I think I know at least part of the reason is that those who are aware of the Physician’s prescription (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38) do not want to accept it! I say again, if we are sick and refuse to accept the medicine the doctor prescribes, then do not be surprised if you do not recover from the illness! While I know people can cite dozens of cases where people “wore out” their physical sickness with time and determination, there is no one who will “wear out” the spiritual sickness called “sin”! There is only one cure for it, and if you refuse the cure, nothing else will cure you!
In the long ago, God, through Jeremiah, called out to his people to tell them that there is a way to be healed if they would accept, and they said “no”! These people are dead and gone and have died with their decisions. You and I are still alive, though! What will you do? What will be your response to the Lord and His plan for healing (saving) you from your spiritual ills? Choose wisely (Heb. 3:7-8; II Cor. 6:2)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” (Jer. 8:20, KJV). In context, these words were spoken by people desperate for someone to deliver them from the consequences of their decisions. Some Bible versions even use phrases like “we have not been delivered,” “rescued,” and “we have not been helped” in place of the word “saved” used in the KJV. It seems people had recognized God’s power to help them (v. 14) but understood it was too late now (v. 15). Now, these people, God’s people, realize they had run out of chances. “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” What a tragedy!
I suppose there are no sadder words in the English language than “no hope.” They are used by Paul in Ephesians 2:12 when he describes the spiritual state of people who are outside of Christ. This is the way these people in Jeremiah’s day were! Though they were God’s children, they continued to reject God through idolatry (Jer. 8:2). They “hold fast deceit, they refuse to return” was another charge against the people (Jer. 8:5). In addition to these, we read of their stubbornness when we read of their rejection of “the old paths” in Jeremiah 6:16!
I understand that God extends a time of patience to allow people to see the error of their ways and repent (II Pet. 3:9; Rom. 2:4). God extended such patience to the Canaanites (Gen. 15:16). He did this with the Egyptians, allowing them not only 430 years to correct their error and adding ten more plagues as a means of giving the Pharaoh every last chance to free the Israelites. We have seen God’s longsuffering in other areas of life, and it was evident when He dealt with the Israelites during these years of the divided kingdom!
Yet, God’s long-suffering is not eternal. For example, there was a day when God shut the door to the ark, and none were allowed in (Gen. 7:16). Even in the parable of the ten virgins, the door was shut after a period of time, and five virgins remained outside of the wedding feast (Matt. 25:10). In Jeremiah 8, we see the people lament because summer is over and the harvest is past. In other words, it is too late now!
When we look in the New Testament, the urgency to become a Christian is apparent. After urging people to “save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:40), Acts 2:41 says about 3000 were baptized when they gladly received the word. The language here leaves us with the understanding that they were baptized right then. They did not put it off. Again, when the Philippian jailor wanted to be saved, he was taken “straightway … the same hour of the night” to do it (Acts 16:25, 33-34). The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians and told them, “now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation” (II Cor. 6:2). The Hebrew writer also emphasized taking immediate action when he wrote, “today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Heb. 3:7-8, 15).
Procrastination has no place in the Lord’s plan of salvation. We have no lease on life and know not what might happen in our future (Prov. 27:1). Thus we need to take advantage of the “here and now” before it is gone. The Israelites learned the hard way what it means when the “harvest is past.” Don’t you make that mistake! Be saved today while you still can (Acts 22:16). If you need to repent and return to your Lord, your first love, then do it while the breath is in your body. You don’t know when your life’s “summer” will be ended!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
“Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these” (Jer. 7:4, KJV). The NET records this passage as, “Stop putting your confidence in the false belief that says, “We are safe! The temple of the LORD is here! The temple of the LORD is here! The temple of the LORD is here!” What was going on with these people in Jeremiah’s day?
In context, notice that God has sent Jeremiah to warn this sinful nation of their sin. He went to the gate of the Temple and cried out, “amend your ways and your doings” (Jer. 7:2-3). They responded, “The Temple of the Lord,” as if God would spare them from destruction because the Temple was in Jerusalem. They were reminded twice in this chapter not to trust in those lying words. The mere fact the Temple was in Jerusalem would not save them when the Babylonian army swept over them.
What would save them? God said salvation would come when they “amend” or change their ways (Jer. 7:5). In other words, repent, and they would be allowed to dwell in the land (v. 7). Notice that the key to their salvation was not in having the Temple in Jerusalem but living as God told them to live (v. 5-7). Even though many years had passed, the words of Joshua 24:14 were still true, and they needed to worship God “in sincerity and in truth”! They could not “ride the fence” by practicing their abominations and then turn around, beaming about having the Temple there (Jer.7:9-15). That Temple was made of physical material and could be destroyed (and was, II Kings 25)!
Friend, beware that you don’t have the same attitude as the Israelites of old did. It is easy to slip into the mindset that I am bound for Heaven so long as I am a member or have my name on the “roll” of a sound church. This is not always the case! Don’t misunderstand; we know that salvation comes through Christ (Lk. 19:10), and all those who are saved are added to His church (Acts 2:38-47). My point is that we must examine ourselves (II Cor. 13:5) and make sure our actions match our words (Rev. 22:14; Lk. 6:46)! The people in Jeremiah’s day had to “amend” or change their ways because their actions did not match their words (Jer. 7:9-11). It takes more than merely having our names written on a piece of paper to be saved. We must be active in the Lord’s work (I Cor. 15:58; Rev. 2:10; Jas. 1:22-25; Heb. 5:9)!
It pains me to say this, but there will be people condemned to an eternity in Hell because their actions, speech, and thoughts were not in line with the Scriptures (II Cor. 5:10; Matt. 25:31-46). Yes, some of these will be people who claim to be members of the Lord’s church. Why will this happen? It will happen because they weren’t slaves to God (Rom. 12:1-2) but obeyed only when they felt like it. When they were confronted with their sin, they said, “I’m a member of the Lord’s body!” Just like those folks said, “The Temple of the Lord!” As if that were all that was required! Sadly, Christ will say, “I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23). Let’s learn a lesson from this text and not act like those in Jeremiah 7!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Jeremiah 6:16 is a verse that holds a special place in my heart. Besides being the verse that serves as inspiration for the name of the bulletin I have been writing since 1994, it also stands as a final plea from God to His people and a pattern for all preaching that God wants done. This passage states succinctly: “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk therein.’”
When we read Jeremiah 6:16, we read about four appeals that Jeremiah made. First, he appealed to the authority of God when he said, “Thus saith the Lord.” What Jeremiah said did not come from the mind of man. This is not what Jeremiah thought would be a good idea. This is what the Lord said to do! Remember, God had told Jeremiah in chapter one that He would put His words in Jeremiah’s mouth, and this is but one example of God doing it. Jeremiah’s appeal was to God’s authority.
Second, we see an appeal to investigation. Calling on these people to “stand … and see” means God wanted them to investigate and understand. The term “see” in this text is used in the way we use it when we ask people, “Do you see what I am saying?” The word “see” here does not mean what is accepted by the light reflected into your eyeballs! “See” in this verse means to perceive or understand. God’s word is written in such a way that it can be understood (Eph. 3:4, 5:17). Therefore, let us “Stand … and see” what God wants.
Next is an appeal to obedience. God, through Jeremiah, told the people to ask for the old paths, so they could “walk therein.” This means they were going to be obedient to the things they had heard and understood. It makes no sense to appeal to people to investigate and ask for the truth if they would not, in turn, obey the truth that they discovered! God has always wanted His people to obey. Thus, they needed to “walk” in the old paths that they had found!
Finally, there is an appeal to what is to come in Jeremiah 6:16. He said, “Ye shall find rest for your souls.” Isn’t this the ultimate goal of man? We want to find that rest and comfort. Specifically, we find true rest with God (Heb. 4:9-11). God’s intention is not to have men waste time with “busy work” while on earth! Instead, the things men do are to lead him to that blessed rest. At the same time, there will be no rest for him if he refuses, but an eternity being separated from the God of Heaven (Matt. 25:31-46)!
The people responded by saying they would not do it! How tragic! Sadly, it had been a steady digression for these people for years. The generation who entered Canaan declaring that they would serve and worship God was no more (Josh. 24:18, 20, 22, 24). In their place was a group of people who, after years of sin, wicked rulers, wicked prophets, and the like, had declared openly and clearly that they would not do what God wanted! Indeed, they did this and didn’t “blush” (Jer. 6:15)!
The application to us should be clear (Rom. 15:4). When we hear the preaching of the gospel today, it needs to make these same appeals! Let everyone claiming to preach the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16) preach according to the authority of Christ (Col. 3:17; I Pet. 4:11). Let those preaching appeal to men to investigate (“stand … and see”) and appeal to obedience to the Lord (Heb. 5:9). In such preaching, let preachers also appeal to what is to come! As a result of our choices, we will either spend eternity with God in Heaven or eternity away from God in Hell! The choice is ours to make right now, but we better choose wisely! God’s word has been given to us, and it reveals that truth quite clearly.
Finally, it will be up to us. Friend, are you going to tell God, or tell God “no” as those rebellious people did in Jeremiah’s day? Or, will you make the wise decision and follow the Lord? Ultimately, you must weigh the evidence and make your own decision, but remember, you will live (and die) with the consequences of your choices! Choose wisely! “Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.”
- Jarrod M. Jacobs