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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 7

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-7

JEREMIAH - CHAPTER 7

JEREMIAH’S MESSAGE AT THE TEMPLE

GATE (7:1-8:3)

INTRODUCTION: It will be impossible to grasp the full force and significance of this tremendous message unless one considers it against the background of Josiah’s efforts toward reformation, and the re-establishment of the ancient religious order in Judah. With his whole heart, this young king yearned to serve the Lord in an acceptable way. He realized that Judah had wandered far from Jehovah - especially so following the discovery, in the temple, of the Book of the Law (2 Kings 22:13). His reform movement was designed to destroy such idolatry as had turned the hearts of his people away from Jehovah, their God, (see 2 Kings 22:3-7; 2 Kings 23:21-23; 2 Chronicles 34:8-13; 2 Chronicles 35:1-19).

The people of Judah loved their young king and desired to please him. Thus, in outward form, they carried out his instructions relative to the destruction of the idol-groves, the cleansing of the house of God, the manifestation of great liberality toward the repair of the temple and the restoration therein of Israel’s ancient form of worship. But, their hearts were not in it; nothing therein was changed! They rejoiced in the temple ONLY because they regarded it as a sort of fetish (or charm) that made them SAFE IN THEIR SINS!

It is against this background that one must consider Jeremiah’s message at the gate of the temple.

As the crowning event of Josiah’s reformation of the national religion, there was being observed a Passover such as the nation had not experienced since the days of Samuel. It was a tremendous affair, wherein the king, and various others within the nation, had made liberal contributions toward the national celebration. (The 41,000 animals that were slain were provided by Josiah, the priests and Levites.) The casual, undiscerning observer might have concluded that there had been a mighty spiritual awakening in the land; but the man of God could see through the facade. Thus, his shocking unveiling of the CORRUPTED HEART OF THE NATION, and his call to genuine repentance!

Vs. 1-7: AMEND YOUR WAYS!

1. Jehovah, the covenant-God of Israel, commands Jeremiah to stand in the gate of the Temple, in Jerusalem, and there to proclaim His word to a hypocritical people who are entering the temple to worship Him, (vs. 1-2).

2. The Lord of hosts, and God of Israel calls upon Judah to AMEND her ways and actions, (vs. 3, 5, Jeremiah 4:1; Jeremiah 18:11; Jeremiah 26:13); her prosperity is contingent upon an obedient response to that call.

3. They must NOT rejoice in the temple as a guarantee that the divine presence therein will assure their security; here was a message wherein Jeremiah risked his very life, for the religious zealots in Judah would consider such a thing blasphemous!

a. The PAID PROPHETS have assured them of their safety in the temple - even while they walked in rebellion against the Lord, and spoke LYING WORDS! (comp. Micah 3:9-12)

1) "We are God’s ’chosen people’ - possessing His law and His temple; thus, He will not permit any evil to come upon US!" Such was their attitude.

2) And the word of Jeremiah could not penetrate this deep­rooted, self-destructive conceit.

b. To so prostitute the use of the temple will assure ITS DESTRUCTION -AND THEIRSI (vs. 9-11,14).

4. But, God still lays down certain conditions under which He will spare them - causing them to dwell securely in the land given, by covenant, to their ancient fathers, (vs. 5-7; Jeremiah 4:1; Deuteronomy 4:40).

a. They must completely amend their ways, (Jeremiah 4:1-2; Isaiah 1:19).

b. They must truly execute justice between a man and his neighbor, (Jeremiah 21:12; Jeremiah 22:3; 1 Kings 6:11-13).

c. They must cease their oppression of the stranger, the fatherless and the widows.

d. They must not shed innocent blood, nor walk after other gods.

e. To continue in such sin will be to their own hurt.

Verses 8-11

Va. 8-11: DISPLACED TRUST

1. The lying words in which Judah has come to trust are unprofitable, (vs. 4; Jeremiah 13:25; Jeremiah 23:32; Jeremiah 28:15-17).

2. The incense smoke ascending from the temple does not conceal from the eyes of the Most High the despicable acts and attitudes of those who expect His protection.

a. Jeremiah observes their practice of: stealing, (Exodus 20:3; Exodus 20:13 -­16); murder, adultery and perjury.

b. Where such things are permitted, the very presence of the pretending worshipper in the sanctuary is blasphemy before the name of Jehovah and a profaning of His holy place!

c. Beside this, they still burn incense to Baal (Jeremiah 11:13; Jeremiah 11:17; Jeremiah 32:29), and walk after other gods, (vs. 6; Jeremiah 19:4).

3. Yet, a people guilty of such despicable disobedience of rebellion and unbelief, they have the audacity to stand before the Lord, in the house that is called by His name, and say: "WE ARE SAFE" (vs. 10, 30; Jeremiah 32:34-35; Ezekiel 23:39).

a. Mere observance of specified religious forms and rituals, which do not change one’s life and actions, is worthless!

b. So today, church membership is an abomination to God if those resting in it are practicing a LIE; if their hearts are not bowed in loving loyalty and devotion to the Lord who purchased them with His own precious blood! (Romans 6:4; Romans 8:11).

4. The Lord, who observes from on high, inquires: "Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers In your eyes?" (vs. 11; comp. Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46).

a. A "robber’s den" is a haven of protection and security for those who abuse their fellowmen.

b. God declares that, for the sake of those who have suffered abuse at the hands of these robbers, this hiding-place WILL BE DESTROYED!

Verses 12-15

Vs. 12-15: A JUDICIAL SENTENCE PRONOUNCED

1. Jerusalem, comfortable with all her sin, is told to consider Shiloh - the sanctuary where Jehovah once caused His name to dwell among His people Israel, (Joshua 18:1; Judges 18:31; 1 Samuel 1:3).

a. They are to understand that, because of the wickedness of that people, God not only destroyed their sanctuary, (Jeremiah 26:6; Psalms 78:60); He also sent Israel away into Assyrian captivity.

b. The sanctuary in THEIR midst certainly failed to GUARANTEE THEIR SECURITY when their hearts rebelled against the righteous rule of Jehovah, their God!

c. After the ark was captured by the Philistines, Shiloh was never able to regain its position as the religious center of the nation, (1 Samuel 4).

2. Judah also has committed abomination in the eyes of the Lord; yet, again and again, He has "risen up early" - calling her to repentance, (vs. 13, 25; Jeremiah 11:7; Jeremiah 25:3-4; Jeremiah 26:5; Jeremiah 29:19; Jeremiah 32:33; Jeremiah 35:14-15; Jeremiah 44:4); but she would not hear.

3. Thus, the Lord will do to the temple in Jerusalem - the house which is called by His name (Deuteronomy 12:5-6; 1 Kings 9:6-7), and wherein they trust (vs. 4) - as He did to Shiloh, (1 Samuel 4:10-11; 1 Samuel 4:22; Psalms 78:60 -­64).

4. He will as surely cast Judah out of His sight (because of her repeated and unrepented abominations) as He did her brethren, "even the whole seed of Ephraim" - who were taken into captivity around 711 B.C. by Sargon II of Assyria, (2 Kings 17:22-23; Psalms 78:67; Hosea 7:13; Hosea 9:3; Hosea 12:1).

5. Nor should it be imagined that the same Lord will hesitate to cut off NEW TESTAMENT PEOPLE and CHURCHES if we err from His way and refuse His call to repentance! (Matthew 18:15-18; John 15:6-10; Revelation 2:4-5; Revelation 3:15-20).

Verses 16-20

Vs. 16-20: WORSHIPPING THE GUEEN OF HEAVEN

1. Jeremiah’s heart must have been deeply grieved for the nation he loved so dearly.

2. As if He expected Jeremiah to intercede in behalf of Judah, the Lord forbade him to cry out or to pray for them (Jeremiah 11:14; Deuteronomy 9:14); to such a prayer HE will TURN A DEAF EARL (comp. Jeremiah 14:11-12; Jeremiah 15:1; Ezekiel 14:14; Ezekiel 14:20; Romans 1:24; Romans 1:26; Romans 1:28).

3. If the prophet will observe what the people are doing, he will understand how utterly useless such intercession would be. What are they doing?

a. Having concluded that their outward reformation did not pay off in tangible terms, the whole nation has turned to worship "the queen of heaven" (vs.18).

b. This is commonly regarded as being Ashteroth or Astarte - the fertility goddess of the Canaanites (comp. 2 Kings 21:3-5) -which inevitably involved illicit sexual experience!

4. The Lord views the people of Judah as sacrificing to false deities in order to provoke Him to anger, (Jeremiah 44:17-19; Jeremiah 19:13; Jeremiah 11:17; Deuteronomy 32:16; Deuteronomy 32:21;1 Kings 14:9; 1 Kings 16:2; Ezekiel 8:17).

a. However, they are not merely spiting the Lord; they are spiting themselves -to their own confusion, (Jeremiah 9:19; Jeremiah 15:9; Jeremiah 22:22).

b. The Lord’s burning anger will indeed be poured upon them (Jeremiah 6:11-12; Jeremiah 42:18; Isaiah 42:25; La 2:3-5; 4:11) - upon man and beast, the trees of the field and fruit of the ground - and will not be extinguished until they are utterly consumed!

Verses 21-28

Vs. 21-28: OBEDIENCE PREFERRED TO SACRIFICE

1. In words of irony and contempt, the Lord urges Judah to mix her burnt-offerings with her sacrifices and to "eat flesh." (vs. 21; Jeremiah 6:20; Jeremiah 14:12; Isaiah 1:11; Amos 5:21; Ezekiel 33:25; Hosea 8:13).

a. According to the Levitical order, burnt-offerings were not eaten, they belonged to the Lord; only a part of the peace-offering was eaten by the worshipper.

b. In no uncertain terms, the Lord is informing Judah that He cannot receive what she is offering!

c. The smell of her harlot-house (as He now regards the temple) makes Him feel more like vomiting than sharing her abominable paschal-meal!

2. When He gave to Moses the "table of commandments"; and when, in audible, thundering voice, He spoke the words of the Decalogue from trembling Mt Sinai, He required of their ancient fathers NO SUCH RITUAL as has now come to be regarded as EVERYTHING to them, (vs. 22).

3. The ONE THING that He required of them, from the beginning, was OBEDIENCE, (vs. 23-24).

a. "Obey my voice" (Exodus 15:26; Deuteronomy 6:3), He had said, "and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people," (Exodus 19:5-6); failure to OBEY THE TRUTH is far worse than IGNORANCE of the truth, because such willful disobedience corrupts the heart, soul and conscience of men, (James 4:17).

b. If they would walk in the way of His commandments, all would be well with them, (Jeremiah 38:20; Jeremiah 42:6; Isaiah 3:10).

c. But they would not attend to His word (Jeremiah 11:8, Ezekiel 20:8; Ezekiel 20:13; Ezekiel 20:16; Ezekiel 20:21); walking after the counsel, and in the imagination of their own evil hearts, they went backward instead of forward, (Jeremiah 15:6).

4. Since they came out of Egypt, the Lord has spoken to them faithfully, and often, through the prophets, (Jeremiah 25:4, 2 Chronicles 36:15; Luke 11:49); but they refused to hear; hardening their necks, they became increasingly worse, (Jeremiah 16:21; Matthew 23:32).

5. Once more the Lord will speak to them through Jeremiah, (vs. 27; Jeremiah 1:8; Jeremiah 26:2; comp. Ezekiel 2:7).

a. But, they will not give any heed to his words, (vs. 13; Ezekiel 3:7).

b. Though he calls to them, they will not answer, (Isaiah 50:2; Isaiah 65:12; Zechariah 7:13).

6. His message will not be popular, but they must still be confronted with the truth concerning themselves, (vs. 28).

a. Judah does not obey the voice of the Lord her God, (Jeremiah 6:17; Jeremiah 11:10).

b. Nor does she accept correction from His hand, (Jeremiah 5:3; Psalms 50:17).

c. So utterly have they devoted their lips to falsehood that "truth (faithfulness) is perished!" (Jeremiah 9:5; Isaiah 59:14-15).

d. No longer may they be regarded as representatives of the God of truth and- righteousness; He has REJECTED THEM!

Verses 29-34

Va. 29-34: THE VALLEY OF SLAUGHTER

1. Jerusalem is called to mourning - the polling of the hair being a symbol of deep sorrow, (vs. 29; Job 1:20; Micah 1:16; Ezekiel 19:1); God has rejected this people because of their multiplied abominations! - a. This may allude to the vow of the Nazarites, whose unshorn hair symbolized their loyal dedication and devotion to Jehovah, their God.

b. The cutting of the hair, then, would suggest that their vow had been broken.

c. Thus, Jehovah has REJECTED and turned His back on this people as a "generation" upon whom His wrath must fall. 2. The temple has been polluted and defiled by Judah’s setting up of her abominable idols in its very precincts! (vs. 30; 2 Kings 23:13; Ezekiel 8).

3. Furthermore, they have built altars for sacrificing their own children at Tophet (the place of fire) in the valley of the son of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, (vs. 31) - something that was specifically forbidden by the law of the Lord, (Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:2-5).

4. Thus, the time will come when that place will be re-named; it will be called "the Valley of Slaughter" - overflowing, then with the corpses of Judah whereupon the birds of the heavens, and the beasts of the field, will feast. The slaughterers of their own offspring will be slaughtered by the Babylonians!

5. In that day the voice of joy, mirth and gladness - the voice of bride and bridegroom - will cease from Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, for the land will become DESOLATE!

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Jeremiah 7". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/jeremiah-7.html. 1985.
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