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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 7

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-34

Chapter 7

So chapter 7. King Josiah, who was reigning at the beginning of Jeremiah's ministry, in the eighteenth year of his reign, ordered the temple restored. It had fallen into disrepair. It sort of lay in ruins. They had in the outer courts built altars unto Baal and unto Molech, and they had forsaken the worship of God, of the Lord in the temple for years. So Josiah now ordered that the temple be restored and he gave to Hilkiah, the high priest, a great sum of money that he might hire carpenters and all, that they might come in and just refurbish the whole place. And while they were in cleaning out the debris and all, they found a scroll of the law. And so as they read the law of the Lord unto king Josiah, he began to weep as he saw how far they had gone in their turning away from God and how God in the law had promised His judgments would come if they forsook Him and forsook the law. And so Josiah cried out unto the Lord. He was really disturbed when the law was read. Deeply convicted for the evil of the people. And the word of the Lord came unto a prophetess, whose name was Huldah, and she sent a message to the king and said because of his attitude of repentance and turning to God that the evil that God was going to bring upon the people, the judgment, would not come during his reign but after his reign. Josiah was the last of the good kings of Judah. After his death, his son plunged downhill, just straight down. He only reigned for three months until he was taken out of the way and another king set up by the Pharoah of Egypt. But after Josiah's death things just went downhill fast.

Now as they read to Josiah the book of the law, he saw how that the Lord had ordered that the people were to gather together each year for the Passover feast there in Jerusalem. And so he ordered a great celebration of the Passover in the eighteenth year of his reign as king. And the people were invited to come, and according to the record in Second Kings, this was one of the grandest observances of the Passover in the history of the nation, as far as the number of people attending and the sacrifices that were offered. And so there was a great popular religious movement as the people could see that their king wanted to serve Jehovah. It became a popular thing for the people to go to church, go to the temple. It's always dangerous when a person's motivation of going is because it's popular. You know, everybody's going so join the crowd. Rather than coming out of a desire of your own heart to know God and to worship God.

So the LORD came to Jeremiah, and said, Now go down to the gate of the LORD'S house, and proclaim these words, say, Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter into these gates to worship Jehovah ( Jeremiah 7:1-2 ).

So in the midst of this great movement, all these people coming into the temple, he goes down to the temple gate and starts to cry unto the people. "Hear the word of the Lord, all of you that are coming here to worship Jehovah."

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these ( Jeremiah 7:3-4 ).

Now the prophet is rebuking the people that are coming to worship because, number one, they are coming out of wrong motivation. Somehow they feel that because the temple has been restored and rebuilt, that they are going to be safe now from their enemies. They haven't altered their lifestyle at all. They're still doing all of the same wicked things that they were doing before. They are still burning their incense to Baal. They're still sacrificing their children to the fires of Molech. They're doing all of these abominable things as far as God is concerned, but now we've got the temple and because the temple is here, surely God is going to spare us. And they were looking at the temple as sort of a magical charm, an amulet of some sort that is going to keep us from being destroyed. But the prophet is declaring, "You're trusting in lying words. When you think that just the fact that you have a temple that that building is going to somehow be a magical charm for you to keep you from the judgments that are coming upon you because of your deeds, your ways, your activities."

God, again, is interested in a relationship with you that changes your life. And coming to church isn't really where it's at. Unless your heart and your life is dedicated to God. There are a lot of people trying to appease their conscience. Resting in church membership. Resting in past spiritual experiences or past rituals. But God declares here that you are trusting in lying words. That there is no salvation in these things. The church cannot save you. A ritual cannot save you. Only a living, life-changing faith in Jesus Christ can save you. And if your faith in Christ has not altered your life, then your faith must be challenged and questioned.

If I would say to you, "Folks, I believe that there is a bomb planted in this church, an extremely powerful bomb that's going to go off in three minutes. I believe this because somehow I just have a strong feeling that this bomb is about ready to explode." And I just go on and ignore it and keep talking and everything else, you'd say, "Oh, you don't really believe there's a bomb there. Your actions are not in keeping with what you say you believe." If I really believed there was a bomb here, I'd say, "All right, now no one panic, but let's all get up and exit as quickly as you can out of this place." My actions would agree with what I declare I believe. There's got to be a harmony, if I really believe something, between what I believe and the actions of my life. And if you say that you really believe in Jesus Christ, that He is the Son of God, and that He died to save us from our sins, then that belief should be matched by your life and your lifestyle.

It is wrong and it is inconsistent for me to talk about my believing in God and believing in the Spirit and all and to be living totally after my flesh. Now that was exactly what was going on in this situation. Their words...they were deceiving themselves with their words, because they could mouth the right phrases. They had deceived themselves and they were trusting in lying words rather than trusting in a living relationship with God. And so the prophet is warning them to not trust in these lying words. Just because they were awed by the fact, "Oh, the temple of Jehovah. Beautiful. Gorgeous. Don't you feel good? Temple of Jehovah." I don't care what you feel. It's what you're doing that God is interested in. And so He said, "Amend your ways, your doings. And that I will cause you to dwell in this place. I'll protect you then. I will be with you then. I'll be your defense then. But this temple isn't going to save you. This building isn't going to save you. If you want Me to work in your behalf, then change your ways."

For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings; if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor; if you oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and you do not shed innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your own hurt: Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever ( Jeremiah 7:5-7 ).

Hey, if you live right, if you'll walk right, you can live here forever. I will be a defense to you. I will watch over you. I will keep you. But not just because you have the temple. Not just because you have a religious observance. Let Me see it proved in your life and in your lifestyle. Amend your ways and the things you're doing. Start living right.

God wants us to be honest. God wants us to be just. God wants us to be fair. God does not want us to oppress the poor or to take advantage of another person's situation. God wants us to love each other as we love ourselves. Now, is there anything evil with that? Wouldn't it be wonderful to live in a world where people were doing what God wanted them to do? How glorious this world would be if we were all doing what God wants us to do. If we were all genuinely loving one another and caring for one another. Interested in one another. Helping one another. Lifting the person that has fallen. Helping the person that is weak. If we were all concerned and loving one another, it would be a glorious world to live in. And that's what God requires. That's what God wants of us.

But the people were all doing their own thing. They were all living for their own selfish motivations and they were all so covetous. Trying to gain for themselves and not caring who they hurt or who was destroyed by it. And their greed had overcome them. God said, "So just having a temple, just going, coming to temple, that's not going to do it. I want more than that. Just coming to church. That's not going to do it." God wants more than that. He wants a commitment of your life. He wants you to change your ways. He wants you to start living according to His will.

Behold [the prophet said], you trust in lying words, that cannot profit [or save you] ( Jeremiah 7:8 ).

The words cannot save you. Mouthing right phrases cannot save. Mouthing the Apostles' Creed won't save you. Mouthing the Psa 23:1-6 won't save you. Salvation is more than just a creed that is recited. It is a commitment of my heart and life to Jesus Christ. So the Lord shows the inconsistency.

Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are free to do all these abominations? ( Jeremiah 7:9-10 )

You say, "Oh, could people really do that? Could they be committing adultery and fornication and all during the week and then come to the house of God and say, 'Oh, we have the grace of God that covers us and we have freedom in Christ to do anything we want'?" And so the prophet speaks out against it. It was happening then. It happens today. There are people who live after their own flesh during the week. They're dishonest in their business practices. They lie. They steal. They commit adultery. Commit fornication. And then they dare to come and stand in the house of God and think because they have come to the house of God that that should somehow take care of all they've done. Because after all, Lord, I put a five in the plate last week, you know. Buy my way out. No way. God says, "Change your way. Amend your life. Amend your doings and then I will keep you and I will watch over you and you'll dwell safely in this place."

Is this house, [God said,] which is called by my name, become a den of robbers? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD ( Jeremiah 7:11 ).

You remember when Jesus came to the temple and He found those that were changing money and selling doves. He took and made a whip and He began to overturn the tables of the moneychangers. And He began to drive them out. And He said, "My Father's house was to be called a house of prayer; but you've made it a den of thieves" ( Matthew 21:13 ). The Lord said, "It's My house which is called by My name." You see, they were saying, "Oh, the temple of Jehovah. The temple of Jehovah." It was called by His name, but they... it became a gathering place for a bunch of robbers. A den of robbers.

Now the Lord said,

Go to the place [where you used to worship] in Shiloh ( Jeremiah 7:12 ),

The place that was built there to worship Me.

where I set my name at the beginning ( Jeremiah 7:12 ),

When they first came into the land and began to inherit the land, the first place the tabernacle was set was in Shiloh. And so God said, "Go up to Shiloh, the place where My name was placed at the first."

and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel ( Jeremiah 7:12 ).

Look at its desolation.

And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but you heard not; and I called you, but you did not answer; Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein you trust ( Jeremiah 7:13-14 ),

You see, they were trusting in the house, not in God. People trusting in the church, not in Christ. Trusting in a ritual, not in a living relationship.

and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh ( Jeremiah 7:14 ).

I'm going to do the same thing to this place. I'm going to make it desolate. I'm going to destroy it.

And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brothers, even the whole seed of Ephraim ( Jeremiah 7:15 ).

Or that is the northern tribes of Israel.

Therefore ( Jeremiah 7:16 )

And now God is saying to Jeremiah, to the message, "Therefore, Jeremiah,"

pray not for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee ( Jeremiah 7:16 ).

What solemn, harsh words as God says, "That's it, Jeremiah. I've had it. Don't cry to Me for them. Don't pray to Me for them. Don't lift up your voice anymore for them, because I won't even hear you."

You remember back in the book of Genesis when men began to multiply on the face of the earth. That the Lord looked throughout the earth and there was none righteous except Noah in his generation. And the Lord spake unto Noah saying, "My Spirit will not always strive with man" ( Genesis 6:3 ). Now in that there is a blessing and there is a curse. There is a blessing that God's Spirit strives with us at all. That's so beautiful that God would strive with me. That God would take time for me. That God is interested enough in me that He sends His Spirit to strive with me to live the right life and to follow after Him in order that I might receive all of the blessings and the goodness and the glory of being a child of God. God actually strives with me for something which is so good for me. Seems to me that men would be clamoring after Him. So that God does strive with man is a blessing.

But the curse is, God won't always strive. A person can turn his back upon the Lord. He can harden himself to God to the place where God's Spirit will no longer strive and with Jeremiah, God will say, "All right, that's it. They've gone too far. Don't pray anymore for their good. If you do, I'm not going to hear you. Don't cry unto me for them. That's it. No more. I don't want to hear another prayer. I don't want you to ask anymore for them because I won't hear you." When God says of a person, "That's it. They've gone too far," you say, "Is such a thing possible?" The scripture teaches that it is.

God said, "Ephraim is joined to her idols. Let her alone. Don't try anymore. Just let her alone." Paul tells us in Romans. "Wherefore God has given them up" ( Romans 1:24 ). How tragic when God gives a person up, when God gives up on a man.

Now you see, God isn't under any obligation to strive with you at all. The fact that He strives at all is just a marvel that I can't fully understand. He's under no obligation. God doesn't owe me a thing. But yet because of His love He strives with man. But there comes a time we know not when, a place we know not where that marks the destiny of man twixt sorrow and despair. There is a line though by man unseen. Once it has been crossed even God Himself in all of His love has sworn that all is lost.

In Joh 12:39 it says, "Therefore they could not believe." It didn't say they would not believe; they could not believe. They came to the place where they could not believe. They had gone too far. And when God says to Jeremiah, "Therefore pray thou not for this people, neither lift up a cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to Me, for I will not hear thee." The people have gone too far. They've gone beyond the point of no return.

Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven ( Jeremiah 7:17-18 ),

They're worshipping Ashtoreth, Semiramis, the queen of heaven, the goddess of fertility.

and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger ( Jeremiah 7:18 ).

So here, God's people, the little children are out gathering sticks. And the fathers, they bring them home to the fathers who kindle the fire, and the women are there kneading the dough so they can bake these little cakes to the goddess of fertility, Semiramis, the queen of heaven. God said, "That's it, that's more than I can take. Just leave, don't pray anymore. Don't intercede anymore. I'm through. I've had it. That's it."

Do they provoke me to anger? saith the LORD: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces? Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice ( Jeremiah 7:19-23 ).

God said, "I didn't set up sacrifices to begin with." The burnt offerings and the peace offerings, God didn't establish them until after He'd given the law and they disobeyed the law. Then God set the sacrifices for burnt offering and all. But He said, "I said unto them, 'Obey My voice.'"

and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you ( Jeremiah 7:23 ).

"Just obey Me," God says, "and walk with Me. In harmony with My desires and wishes."

But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imaginations of their own evil hearts, and went backward ( Jeremiah 7:24 ),

Away from Me instead of towards Me.

Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day, I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them ( Jeremiah 7:25 ).

God had not left them. From the beginning He had sent His messengers, His servants to warn them and to challenge them to commit their lives to God.

Yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers. Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken ( Jeremiah 7:26-27 ):

Now you're to go out, Jeremiah, and say the words, but they're not going to listen.

Oh man, what a heavy-duty trip Jeremiah had. It's a ministry that has a promise of failure. Now know this, though the ministry was destined for failure from the beginning, yet it was a necessary ministry that God required of Jeremiah. And because Jeremiah was faithful and obedient, God blessed Jeremiah as His instrument, though there was to be no success coming from his ministry.

Now, we have in our minds sort of a carryover in our service to the Lord. We have a carryover from the secular world concepts. For if I'm a salesman, I only get commission when I get the signature on the dotted line. And so sometimes I feel discouraged and defeated because I didn't get the signature on the dotted line. I witnessed to them but they rejected the witness. And I feel, "Oh, I'm so defeated, you know, because they didn't hear. Oh, what a waste of time. You know, I spent all afternoon with them and then they rejected anyhow. Oh, what a waste." Wait a minute. Not so. God rewards you for the witnessing whether or not anybody ever listens, hearkens or changes. You see, God only requires that I witness for Him. And God knows that some of the witnessing is just going to fall on deaf ears. But He still requires me to do it.

"Now Jeremiah you go out and speak all these things. They're not going to listen to you. It's all right. You go out and tell them anyhow." Because God wants His witness to be left so that men are without excuse. So God requires us to go out and to witness, and not always are we going to be successful. That doesn't make any difference. It has no difference and no standing at all upon my reward when I stand before God. God will not reward me for the number of people that responded to my witness. God will reward me for witnessing. God will reward me the same if ten responded or no one responded. Because the response isn't my territory at all. That's God's territory. Only God can create a response in the heart of the people. It isn't up to me to argue people into a faith for believing in Jesus Christ; it's only up to me to witness to them of God and of God's Word and of God's truth. And then it's up to the Spirit of God to take that witness and do with it what He wants in the heart of the individual. And quite often we don't know the real work of the Spirit in the heart of a person.

I had a drunk man come to the door one night, all upset because he had been in a big fight with his family. And they called the police because he ripped the phone off the wall. Violent; wanted help. I said, "Well, what do you want?" He said, "I want to get right with God. I want you to call my wife," and all this kind of stuff. "Tell her how horrible she is. Treating me like she has." He said, "I can't get anybody to pray through with me." Well, I didn't really know what he meant by that, but I thought, "Well, I'll pray with you as long as you want to pray." So I took him over to the church, which was next door to our house, and we started praying together. And the first half hour he is praying vengeance and judgment upon all those that had treated him so wrong, you know. And I just sort of prayed along quietly. Then after the first half hour he began to change and said, "Lord, I haven't been so good myself and I have done some pretty bad things." And he began to really get somewhere, I thought, in prayer as he changed the whole tenor of the prayer from vindictiveness upon those that he felt were treating him ill and he began to really ask God for himself, confess his own guilt and ask God to help him. And I was encouraged by that. The next half hour he was praying about himself and seeking God to really work in his life. And then he went into a period of just sort of praising the Lord, and I could tell that he was getting sleepy because he'd say, "Oh, thank You, Lord." And so finally he was, "Oh, thank You, Jesus," and he sort of drifted off. So I continued to pray for a little while until I was sure that he was sound asleep. And so I got a blanket and covered him and went home because he said he couldn't go home. They'd kicked him out. So I thought, "Well, he can sleep in the church, it won't hurt."

So when I got home, my wife said, "Well, how did it go?" I said, "I really don't know." When you're dealing with a man who's drunk you really don't know how, whether it really got through or took or whatever. You just really don't know. Next morning I went over to the church and the blanket was all folded and lying there and he was gone. But the next evening ,dressed in a suit, looking sharp as could be, he was at the door. He says, "When in the world does the Bible study start?" And I knew God got through.

But you never really know always at the time. God can be doing a work in a person's life and you'd not really know it until you see the fruit and the evidence of it later. But Jeremiah's ministry was destined for failure. They're not going to hearken.

you're going to call to them; but they're not going to answer. But you shall say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the Jehovah their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth. Cut off your hair, O Jerusalem, and cast it away, and take up a lamentation on the high places; for the LORD hath rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath. For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the LORD: they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it ( Jeremiah 7:27-30 ).

They had altars to Baal and all right in the temple of God.

And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom ( Jeremiah 7:31 ),

Or Gehenna there on the outskirts of Jerusalem, the Hinnom valley that goes on down on the outside of the mount of Zion.

to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I did not command of them, neither came it into my heart ( Jeremiah 7:31 ).

God said never would I require the sacrifice of the children unto Me.

Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter: for they shall be buried in Tophet, until there is no place left to bury them. And the carcasses of these people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall frighten them away. Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, the inhabitants, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of merriment, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate ( Jeremiah 7:32-34 ).

Now you go and you warn them; they're not going to listen. But I'm going to do it.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Jeremiah 7". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/jeremiah-7.html. 2014.
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