76 Sermons on the Old Testament

44 Jeremiah in Jerusalem.


Jeremiah in Jerusalem

I am here, Jesus:

When we come to Chapter 5, beginning. 'Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem," Jeremiah had lived long enough in the Capital and had seen enough to make him realize that the worshipping of false gods in themselves was not that which would provoke evil conditions to overwhelm the land, nor the horrible practices resulting from them; but also the unethical behavior of the superior and wealthier classes towards the economically and socially downtrodden, as well as their licentious living which the Ten Commandments had expressly forbidden, yet the poor themselves were guilty of not doing justly, of seeking the truth, of refusing to receive correction. Thus, to Jeremiah, no man knew the way of the Lord.

'Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem,
And see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof,
If there be a man; if there be any that doeth justice,
That seekest truth; and I will pardon her' (the city).

This of course, hearkened back to Genesis, Chapter 18, verse 32, in the old story wherein God promised Abraham that Sodom would be spared if there were found only 10 righteous people therein. Jeremiah not very subtly was comparing Jerusalem to the wrecked city of Sodom, and thus aroused much resentment in all quarters against himself. Moreover, the prophet, on re-editing his writings many decades later, refused to delete or revise his words -- for, in his deep sensitivity to sin and impurity, he could not find one righteous man, Later, he complained:

For from the least of them, even unto the greatest of them,
Everyone is greedy for gain; And from the prophet even unto the Priest,
Everyone dealeth falsely. (Jeremiah, Chapt. 6, verse 13).

Jeremiah was especially incensed at the breaking of the Commandments of adultery and covetousness:

And when I had fed them to the full, they committed adultery,
And assembled themselves in troops at the harlots' houses.
They are become as well-fed horses, lusty stallions;
Every one neighed after his neighbor's wife.
Shall I not punish for these things? Saith the Lord.
(Jeremiah, Chapt. 5, verses 5, 7 & 9.

Now Jeremiah felt, when the statues to the different luminaries had been destroyed in the Temple and in the local high places, with no disastrous aftermath to show that stellar worship was futile, that the people should realize the heavenly bodies in themselves were simply creations of the Father and that men should worship the Creator, not the product. He told the people they were blind not to see this. He has God saying:

Declare this in the house of Jacob, and announce it in Judah, saying;
Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding;
That have eyes, and see not; that have ears, and hear not;
Fear ye not Me? Saith the Lord; Will ye not tremble at my presence.
(Jeremiah, Chapt. 5, verses 20 - 22).

In my own generation I felt as Jeremiah did and in some sermons I used similar words to indicate lack of comprehension when I revealed to them the Presence of the Father in my soul with the Divine Love.

It took some time to realize that God, as God of righteousness and mercy, could not call the Temple of Jerusalem His house of prayer, if the people who worshipped there were unclean in heart and deed. As I have mentioned, the prophet Micah, in the days when Assyria was on the march, had written of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple saying: "And Jerusalem shall become heaps; and the mountain of the house (the Temple area) as the high places of a forest." (Micah, Chapt. 3, verse 12).

Jeremiah came to that conclusion and spoke out against the Temple only after many years of silence as a prophet. Following his outburst against the immorality in the high places and the social injustices in Jerusalem, he had expected the Scythians of the north to come down and take the city, plundering and ravaging. It had not occurred, because the Scythians had turned off to the east in search of easier and more accessible prey, and in fact, after a troubled generation, their raids ceased to be a matter of concern. The people, therefore, felt that Jeremiah had not proven to be an accurate prophet and turned from listening to him, and the fact is that, with the land secure against enemy forays and attacks, there was no longer a need for him to voice warnings of disaster. If God permitted, was Jeremiah to protest?

Thus Jeremiah was silent for 14 years, dealing in herds and flocks for his livelihood, and studying the Hebrew laws and the prophets as well as seeking to know what God wanted of him. Then, once more, disaster suddenly looked Judah in the face. In a previous sermon I referred to the death of good King Josiah in 608 B.C. at the hands of Pharaoh Necho, who had assembled an army and passed up the highway through Palestine to help the Assyrians in their war against the Babylonians. The Pharaoh requested Josiah to meet him at a conference at Megiddo, where he could gauge the attitude of Judah towards the Assyro-Babylonian conflict and seek to persuade Josiah to join him. Now Josiah, under the influence of Isaiah's preachings against alliances with Egypt, refused to join Pharaoh Necho against Babylonla. Enraged, and having Josiah in his power, had him shot with an arrow as he was leaving in his chariot and he died on reaching Jerusalem, then imprisoned his son Jehoahaz and made another son, Jehoiakim the ruler in Judah.

Jesus of the Bible
Master of the Celestial Heavens


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