12 Righteous are you, O LORD,
when I complain to you;
yet I would plead my case before you.
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why do all who are treacherous thrive?
You plant them, and they take root;
they grow and produce fruit;
you are near in their mouth
and far from their heart.
But you, O LORD, know me;
you see me, and test my heart toward you.
Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter,
and set them apart for the day of slaughter.
How long will the land mourn
and the grass of every field wither?
For the evil of those who dwell in it
the beasts and the birds are swept away,
because they said, “He will not see our latter end.”
The Lord Answers Jeremiah
“If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you,
how will you compete with horses?
And if in a safe land you are so trusting,
what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?
For even your brothers and the house of your father,
even they have dealt treacherously with you;
they are in full cry after you;
do not believe them,
though they speak friendly words to you.”
“I have forsaken my house;
I have abandoned my heritage;
I have given the beloved of my soul
into the hands of her enemies.
My heritage has become to me
like a lion in the forest;
she has lifted up her voice against me;
therefore I hate her.
Is my heritage to me like a hyena’s lair?
Are the birds of prey against her all around?
Go, assemble all the wild beasts;
bring them to devour.
Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard;
they have trampled down my portion;
they have made my pleasant portion
a desolate wilderness.
They have made it a desolation;
desolate, it mourns to me.
The whole land is made desolate,
but no man lays it to heart.
Upon all the bare heights in the desert
destroyers have come,
for the sword of the LORD devours
from one end of the land to the other;
no flesh has peace.
They have sown wheat and have reaped thorns;
they have tired themselves out but profit nothing.
They shall be ashamed of their harvests
because of the fierce anger of the LORD.”
Thus says the LORD concerning all my evil neighbors who touch the heritage that I have given my people Israel to inherit: “Behold, I will pluck them up from their land, and I will pluck up the house of Judah from among them. And after I have plucked them up, I will again have compassion on them, and I will bring them again each to his heritage and each to his land. And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, ‘As the LORD lives,’ even as they taught my people to swear by Baal, then they shall be built up in the midst of my people. But if any nation will not listen, then I will utterly pluck it up and destroy it, declares the LORD.”
Jeremiah 12 Commentary
by Hank Workman
It’s almost like the comedian’s monologue who opened her stand up with the question: Can we talk?
Jeremiah is struggling. He watched as his words have gone out and no one heeds to what he’s spoken. He sees the wicked prospering despite the warnings from God. His frustration and hardship has grown personal as God speaks later of his own brothers giving lip service to him. They say one thing to his face but actually are betraying and speaking ill of him when they get a chance. His patience running on empty he wants to see those who are so rebellious against God receive His justice.
Been there? I know I have. There have been many times when I’ve been burdened for someone who has walked away or has even been brazenly defiant in their rejection of God. The heaviness strong at times, I pray that God will use whatever it takes to bring them in alignment with Him. And… nothing happens. All of the emotions Jeremiah has are front and center within me.
There’s a couple things worth noting. First, even though Jeremiah is speaking honestly (It’s that ‘Can we talk’ moment), asking for God to slaughter them. Yes, he’s gone that far. He also asks God to check his heart. He wants God to look into his thoughts. I think this is remarkable that although his anger and frustration may be justified on some levels, he wants to be on the same page as God in thought. How often do we do that?
But the second is simply God’s response to Jeremiah’s complaints. He doesn’t justify His actions. He doesn’t lay out the reasons even why things are still pending as to the judgment coming. Instead, He challenges Jeremiah! In essence, He’s saying, “If you can’t handle this, then what are you going to do with all the terrible things that will be coming when I act?”
The timing of God in what and how He acts in situations is exactly that, His timing. This is the first thing to recognize. Many times it’s not until way after the fact we are able to put some puzzle pieces together as to why He waited so long. If we believe He’s sovereign then we must trust Him with His timing.
The second thing is for each of us to consider the grace of God given to each of us personally. Seriously. When we can see those who are blatantly disobedient to God, we get riled. Reality check: we once were like that too. If God actually responded to us in what we deserved, well we wouldn’t have a chance at all.
Look, we all have burdens that take us places where our frustration and struggle is real. Make sure you’re in sync with God. Ask Him to test your own thoughts and guide your peace in the matter. And remember, many times those we are burdened for are lost and for some there is eternity in the balance. None of us personally would stand if it weren’t for God’s grace intervening in what we actually deserve.
Jeremiah 12 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
We have all been in a situation like this before. We cry out to God over something we just can’t take anymore. Jeremiah has had it. He’s calling out the hypocrites and asking God to intervene. He does it, however, with a humble spirit, reminding the Lord that He is always just when a case is brought to him.
Interestingly, God challenges Jeremiah back. Essentially, he says, get ready! If you think this is bad, just wait. God’s sovereignty is on display all throughout this chapter, but there are two places specifically where we see his overwhelming control. He is beginning to prepare Jeremiah for what is to come, knowing what is ahead in the future. Unlike Judah at this time, Jeremiah’s heart is fertile. He can accept rebuke and continue to grow in his relationship with the Lord. God knows he will need to get over these “smaller things” if he is to “run with the horses.”
God’s sovereignty is seen a second time at the end of this chapter. He outlines for Jeremiah the destruction that has to take place as a result of the disobedience. However, he foreshadows a glimmer of hope coming on the horizon. Our God is patient and full of grace and mercy! There is even hope for the evil neighbors of Judah, that if they would bend the knee to the true God, they will be spared and granted mercy! This is amazing to me.
Through the turmoil, the disrespect, and the outlandish sins of these people, God looks into the future and keeps His promise to uphold those who genuinely turn from their sinful past and place their trust and faith in Him.