The Broken Covenant
11 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Hear the words of this covenant, and speak to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. You shall say to them, Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Cursed be the man who does not hear the words of this covenant that I commanded your fathers when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Listen to my voice, and do all that I command you. So shall you be my people, and I will be your God, that I may confirm the oath that I swore to your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as at this day.” Then I answered, “So be it, LORD.”
And the LORD said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: Hear the words of this covenant and do them. For I solemnly warned your fathers when I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, warning them persistently, even to this day, saying, Obey my voice. Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart. Therefore I brought upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did not.”
Again the LORD said to me, “A conspiracy exists among the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear my words. They have gone after other gods to serve them. The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant that I made with their fathers. Therefore, thus says the LORD, Behold, I am bringing disaster upon them that they cannot escape. Though they cry to me, I will not listen to them. Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry to the gods to whom they make offerings, but they cannot save them in the time of their trouble. For your gods have become as many as your cities, O Judah, and as many as the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up to shame, altars to make offerings to Baal.
“Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble. What right has my beloved in my house, when she has done many vile deeds? Can even sacrificial flesh avert your doom? Can you then exult? The LORD once called you ‘a green olive tree, beautiful with good fruit.’ But with the roar of a great tempest he will set fire to it, and its branches will be consumed. The LORD of hosts, who planted you, has decreed disaster against you, because of the evil that the house of Israel and the house of Judah have done, provoking me to anger by making offerings to Baal.”
The LORD made it known to me and I knew;
then you showed me their deeds.
But I was like a gentle lamb
led to the slaughter.
I did not know it was against me
they devised schemes, saying,
“Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,
let us cut him off from the land of the living,
that his name be remembered no more.”
But, O LORD of hosts, who judges righteously,
who tests the heart and the mind,
let me see your vengeance upon them,
for to you have I committed my cause.
Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the men of Anathoth, who seek your life, and say, “Do not prophesy in the name of the LORD, or you will die by our hand”—therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: “Behold, I will punish them. The young men shall die by the sword, their sons and their daughters shall die by famine, and none of them shall be left. For I will bring disaster upon the men of Anathoth, the year of their punishment.”
Jeremiah 11 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Is there ever a time to stop praying for someone?
That’s a hard question! I think our gut response is NEVER! And that’s what makes God’s word to Jeremiah so shocking –
“Do not pray for this people or offer any plea or petition for them…”Jeremiah 11:14
The people had broken their covenant with God again and again. Speaking through Jeremiah’s mouth, rebukes were given and led toward a threat on his life by his own. The reality was for centuries God had warned these wayward people and although they had reprieves of returning, for the most part they continued in their way. They were headstrong, disobedient and determined to do what they wanted.
Much like people today, without a complete turn around and dedication to following God, they do the same. Sometimes God uses whatever He will in order to bring them back. If people are so unrepentant and sorrowful for their ways, their prayers nor ours will not stop what God will do.
Consider Paul’s recommendation in 1 Corinthians with the man who was part of the congregation living in sin. Paul said to turn him over to Satan. On some levels this was a release from trying to coax him into the doing the right thing. It was to become a moment of ‘turning him over to his own devices’ and let him see how that works for himself. Paul of course went further and said to have nothing to do with the man.
This is all tricky however. For us who have maybe carried a burden for someone or witnessed such antagonistic behavior of one so opposed to the vibrancy of Christ it’s hard. Our hearts of compassion can move to absolute aggravation time and again as they reject Jesus. And sometimes the best thing is to let them go. Let them walk their path and fall. Let the wreckage come from their own choices. It’s an act of releasing them and then letting the Holy Spirit confirm that action in our hearts. If people are on a course of destruction, our prayers will not sway God’s plan to humble them completely and set the table for them to return.
The beauty of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians come full circle with his second letter. Evidently as the people followed the instructions, this man found himself on the outside, was broken and returned. Paul’s counsel was to welcome him back in. He had been let loose to allow the Holy Spirit to work in his life and sin.
If you are wrestling currently with a burden that is much the same, maybe it’s time to let them go. Maybe it’s time to release the burden to God and move toward another whom God is asking of you to intercede for. Yes, it may involve not praying for them for a season. Yes, it may involve putting them out of your life. But because God is bigger and all sovereign, if they return after being broken then welcome them back.
Jeremiah 11 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
The people of Judah and Jerusalem were not helpless. They continually chose their sin over God. The point being made in this chapter is that God’s justice is inevitable if sin becomes natural and essential to our character. Although this seems like a logical and fair conclusion, people today are shocked and offended that God would allow consequences to fall on the ungodly.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.Proverbs 1:7 NASB
Foolishly, the people of Judah and Jerusalem rejected the Lord. They gave Him lip service but did not fear Him. Because of this, their hearts were darkened and they worshipped false gods. Consequences would follow.
This is what grieved Jeremiah’s heart. It’s as if the people could not come to a healthy fear of God without this punishment. In many ways, this entire situation further illustrates our need for a Savior. With each historical event like this, humanity has proven that the law cannot change our hearts or free us from the wrath of sin. We needed atonement for our sins of the past, present, and future. We received that in Jesus Christ!