Demonstrate Your Trust in God

Explore the Bible Series

March 20, 2005

 

Background Passage: Jeremiah 7:1-10:25

Lesson Passage: Jeremiah 7:1-15

 

Introduction: The people of Judah had grown complacent in their practical obedience to God, and the Lord called Jeremiah to confront them in their inexcusable indifference.  Like many since their time, the Jews took great consolation in the outward trappings of their faith; however, the weightier issues of life went unattended.  Judah continued to worship God, but they also tolerated religious compromise with idolatry. They compounded their problems by refusing to obey God in regard to the mundane issues of life.  Judah lapsed, we might say, into “Sunday morning” Christianity. 

 

Background Passage Outline

 

I.                    The Temple Sermon and Counterfeit Religion (7:1-8:3)

A.     The Temple Sermon (7:1-15)

1.      The prophet’s assignment (7:1-2)

2.      A call to repentance and a promise of forgiveness (7:3-7)

3.      Judah’s trust in lying words (7: 8-11)

4.      An example of God’s judgment (7: 12-15)

B.     The False Worship of the Queen of Heaven (7:16-20)

1.      Jeremiah forbidden to intercede for Judah (7:16-17)

2.      The false worship of the families of Judah (7:18)

3.      Judah provoked the Lord to anger (7:19)

4.      God promised a thorough judgment (7:20)

C.     Obedience rather than sacrifice (7:21-27)

1.      God’s command to Israel when he brought them out of bondage in Egypt (7:21-23): “Obey my voice…Walk in all the ways I have commanded you…”

2.      Israel’s refusal to remain faithful to Jehovah (7:24)

3.      Israel’s unwillingness to hear the prophets that Jehovah sent (7: 25-26)

4.      God’s prediction to Jeremiah that Judah would not hear the prophet’s words (7:27)

D.     Appalling sin in the Valley of Hinnom (7:28-34)

1.      God’s instructions to Jeremiah (7:28-29)

2.      The occasion of God’s wrath (7:30-31): The defilement of the Temple with abominations and human sacrifice in the Valley of Hinnom

3.      God’s promise of judgment on Judah (7:32-34)

E.      Astral worship and the Lord’s judgment (8:1-3)

1.      Judah’s enemies would defile the graves of the dead (8:1-2)

2.      The remnant of Judah will utterly despair of life (8:3)

 

II.                 God’s Judgment on a Dull and Unheeding People (8:4-10:25)

A.     Judah’s unwillingness to heed the warnings of the Lord (8:4-17)

B.     Jeremiah mourned for Judah (vv. 8:18-9:11)

C.     The bitterness of the Lord’s judgment (9:12-16)

D.     Judah will grieve under the judgment of God (9: 17-24)

E.      God’s impartial condemnation of the nations (9:25-26)

F.      God mocked the idolatry of Judah (10:1-16)

G.     The coming exile of the Lord’s wayward people (10:17-25)

 

 

 

Lesson Passage Annotated Outline

 

I.                   Jehovah’s Instructions to Jeremiah (7:1-2)

A.     The occasion of the prophecy:  J.A. Thompson dated this discourse during the reign of Jehoiakim, son of King Josiah (ruled Judah 609-597 B.C.). Originally, this wicked king went by the name Eliakim, but Pharaoh Neco gave him the throne name Eliakim (See II Kings 23:34). He did not share his father’s passion for the worship of Jehovah, and he allowed the return of pagan practices to Jerusalem.

B.     The location of this discourse:  God told Jeremiah to stand in the gate of the Temple to deliver this message to Judah (v. 2).  This event may have occurred during a feast day; thus, the prophet would have gained a large audience for his sermon.

 

II.                Jehovah’s  Promise of Pardon if Judah Would Repent (7:3-7)

A.     “Amend your ways and your doings” (v. 3): God called for thorough repentance and reform.  Judah must turn from its evil deeds, and make their lives consistent with their worship. They still worshipped the Lord at the Temple, but their lives bore no resemblance to their profession. If they would have corrected their actions, God promised to dwell with them in “this place.”  Jeremiah used a general term (“this place”) to describe God’s preservation of the people’s inheritance.  The phrase may refer to the land of Judah, the city of Jerusalem, the Temple itself, or all of these places.  Also, the promise implied the Lord would dwell with his people in forgiveness and fellowship.

B.     “Do not trust in these lying words” (v.4):  The people of Judah took great confidence in the Temple.  They reasoned that the Temple served as a guarantee of their security, regardless of their disobedience to God.  The three-fold repetition of “the Temple of the Lord” may indicate a kind of superstitious regard for the Temple.  They placed their confidence in the mere physical proximity of the House of God; thus, they deceived themselves into a false sense of security.

C.     A repetition of the promise of God (vv. 5-7): Jehovah called on Judah to reform her ways in the following areas.

1.      Establish justice (v. 5): The social obligations of the Mosaic Law had been discarded.  They treated one another with contempt and injustice. This concern, no doubt, had a general application to the mundane affairs of life, but it may also indicate a breakdown in the judicial system of Judah.

2.      “Do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, the widow…” (v. 6): God had great compassion on the helpless.  The first term referred to aliens who, because of some misfortune, had sought refuge among the Lord’s people.  God also had great compassion on the orphan and the widow.

3.      “Do not shed innocent blood in this place” (v. 6): This probably refers to miscarriage of justice.  In the time of Jehoiakim, the courts were bloody with unjust political executions and the murder of the prophets (See Jeremiah 26:23-24). If Judah would turn from these evil deeds, God promised to keep them in their land and dwell with them forever (See v. 7).

 

III.             Judah’s Trust in Lying Words (Jeremiah 7:8-11)

A.     Jeremiah returned to the theme of verse four (v. 8): It was not true that the physical presence of the Temple exempted Judah from the consequences of her ungodliness. 

B.     Judah’s deeds betrayed and contradicted their profession of faithfulness to Jehovah (vv. 9-11).  They came to the Temple to worship God, and they apparently followed the Mosiac regulations very carefully; nevertheless, when the Jews were not at the Temple, they lived like the pagan nations around them.  They murdered, committed adultery, lied, and worshipped Baal.  How could they stand before the Lord when their lives bore little evidence of consecration to God?

C.     Judah’s sin defiled the Temple (v. 11): These words, of course, recall the cleansing of the Temple during the life of Jesus.  He quoted this verse when he chided the money changers for their sacrilegious behavior in the Temple (See Matthew 21:12-16).

 

IV.              An Example of the Lord’s Judgment (Jeremiah 7:12-15)

A.     The establishment of Shiloh as a center of worship (v. 12): After Israel’s entrance into the Promised Land, God established Shiloh, for about a century, as the center of worship. Israel set up the Tabernacle at this site, and noteworthy men such as Eli and Samuel ministered in this place.  While the Bible gives no specific information about the devastation of Shiloh, apparently the city was destroyed by the Philistines about 1050 B.C. The Jews of Jeremiah’s day would have known about the ruin of Shiloh.

B.     God’s promise of destruction of Jerusalem (vv. 13-15):  Just as the Lord had abandoned Shiloh, he pledged to destroy the Temple.  Furthermore, the Lord predicted that he would judicially cast Judah out of his sight.  These are frightening words; yet, Judah refused to hear the Lord.

Questions for Discussion:

1.      Why did God send Jeremiah to confront his society at the center of Jewish worship?  What would God’s prophet say to the modern American church?

2.      Has the American church compromised with its idolatrous culture in similar ways to ancient Judah?  How?

3.      Does the modern church face similar temptations to Judah in regard to the security found in institutions and buildings?

4.      What relationship should exist between worship and conduct?

5.      What does this text teach about the treatment of the poor and helpless?