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mule July 27 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Jeremiah 5-6

Obstinacy and its Results

Some people are mulish and will not listen to anyone, even those who warn them or counsel them in their best interests. This usually leads to their destruction. We do not want them to destroy themselves so what do we do? (Note: This is a continuation of yesterday’s Bible study on backsliding).

In the early days of Jeremiah, the prophet to the nation of Judah, the people are in a backslidden condition. They are affected by the rampant idolatry which was practiced during the reigns of King Manasseh and Amon, kings of Judah in the 7th century B.C. Although Manasseh repents and makes some reforms late in his life, the damage is done and his son returns the nation to idolatry. There are idols on every street corner and in almost every house in Judah and Samaria. There are pagan priests and altars to serve false gods, and temple prostitution even in Solomon’s temple. People are also offering their children as burnt offerings to Molech, the god of the Ammonites (2Kings 23:4-20). Then Josiah begins his reign and purges all the land and the temple from its idols. He cannot remove the idolatry from their hearts, however, for the people have rejected God and are in a backslidden condition.

God instructs Jeremiah,

“Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city.

Although they say, 'As surely as the LORD lives,' still they are swearing falsely.”

[Jeremiah answered] O LORD, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent (Jeremiah 5:1, NIV).

In other words, these people are worse than Sodom and Gomorrah, for at least Lot and his daughters escaped judgment. Judah is so wicked she will not escape, even though she still swears allegiance to God. This behavior reminds us of Christians today who are living a sinful life but still claim allegiance to Christ: ‘I’m a Christian!” they say, but we would not know it by the rebellious lives they live. God is looking for those who worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24) - that includes our daily behavior, not just our Sunday worship.

Jeremiah searches Jerusalem but to no avail. Those who are in spiritual leadership are no better than those who are poor and uneducated; they cast off truth and service to God. They are thankless for all God has done for them and are totally unfaithful in their idolatry (which God likens to adultery). Are we thankful, or do we cast God aside, forgetting all He has done for us?

In addition to their thanklessness and idolatry, the people lie and live in denial of any consequences. They are only interested in hearing good words from their own prophets. They prefer to enjoy their wealth, not caring for the widows and orphans. Therefore, God tells Jeremiah, “I will make my words in your mouth a fire and these people the wood it consumes” (5:14, NIV). To those who are backslidden, the Word of God is like a destructive fire of judgment. That is why they avoid hearing it.

During the reigns of Manasseh and Amon, the nation of Judah experiences peace from foreign invaders and some measure of prosperity as Assyria and Babylon fight each other, but this will not last. Soon, because of their unfaithfulness, wickedness and idolatry, they will be conquered and exiled by Babylon (Jeremiah 6). Nevertheless, even though they experience the destruction of their nation, in future times the LORD will be merciful (Jeremiah 5:18).

The people of Judah are stubborn. They will not listen to the warnings of God’s prophets, and they will not fear the LORD, the one who has provided for them, protected them, and nourished them.

God instructs Jeremiah,

“When the people ask, ‘Why has the LORD our God done all this to us?’ you will tell them, ‘As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your own land, so now you will serve foreigners in a land not your own,’” (5:19, NIV). You do not fear the LORD but are stubborn and rebellious. “Your wrongdoings have kept these [blessings on their crops] away; your sins have deprived you of good,” (5:25, NIV).

The Certainty of Coming Judgment.

Soon, because of their obstinacy, Jerusalem will be so decimated by Babylon that shepherds will come and tend their flocks where Jerusalem once stood (6:1-3).

Therefore, God warns her to prepare for attack (6:4-5) because the city of Jerusalem must be punished for her oppression and left desolate (6:6-8).The wrath of God will be poured out because Jerusalem is not listening. Its leadership is acting with deceit, and they are acting with shameless conduct, ignoring the warnings of the prophets, and rejecting God’s Laws but offering expensive perfumes to curry favor with God (6:9-20). The army will come from the north (Babylon) to destroy them, and they are fierce and cruel.

Jeremiah's words from God are like a fire to test the mettle of the people, but their impurities cannot be purged because they are obstinate and will not listen. Therefore, as worthless metal, He rejects them. Are any of us like them? The answer to obstinacy is often to let the person experience the results of their actions. Should he come to his senses, he can find mercy like the rest of us by humbling himself, confessing his sins to God, and repenting of all evil.

Lessons to Live By

  • The obstinate are rebellious and live a lie.
  • God is looking for those who worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24) - that includes our daily behavior, not just our Sunday worship.
  • Be thankful. Do not cast God aside, forgetting all He has done for you, and live a hedonistic lifestyle.
  • To those who are backslidden and obstinate, the Word of God is like a destructive fire of judgment. That is why they avoid hearing it.
  • Fear the LORD so you will not be deprived of the good He will do for you.
  • The answer to the obstinate is first to warn him of the results of his behavior. If he continues in his obstinacy, pray for him and let the person experience the results of his actions. Should he come to his senses, he can find mercy like the rest of us by humbling himself, confessing his sins to God, and repenting of all evil (more...).

Today’s Bible Memory Verse

Psalm 31:22 (NIV) “In my alarm I said, ‘I am cut off from your sight!’ Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.”

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