If a given people have the Temple of God in their midst, might they think that they are indestructible because GOD’S HOUSE is in their town? This is similar to a very big guy standing between you (us) and someone who wants to fight or defeat us. What we forget is the attitude and idea of the big guy. Is he going to do anything to prevent an attack? Does he even care? Might he be a person in who we put hope but it is not in his mind to protect those who had previously abandoned him? Have we previously given the big guy little recognition?
This is the opening scenario in Jeremiah 7. This chapter is full of “what ifs.” We will concentrate on them with this blog. Most quotes will be from the CEV and when not, the translation used will be identified. We strongly recommend one reads this chapter before delving into the blog review and study of chapter 7.
The Kingdom of Judah is on the verge of collapse yet no one in Judah, the king, synagogue leaders, and general population wants to acknowledge it. The previously ruling dynasty of the Middle East was Assyria. Babylon under the leadership of Nabopolassar through off the overlord of Assyria and began the road to Middle East dominance. His son Nebuchadnezzar finished the job his father began by conquering Judah and defeating Egypt.
Now that the reader is up to date, let’s look at the defiance and bad attitude of the Kingdom of Judah just before this time of Assyria’s fall and Babylon’s rise to power.
Jeremiah was told by YHWH – God to stand by the gate of the Lord’s house and announce: “Confess or be punished for 70 years under the rule of a kingdom where you do not even know the language” [paraphrased]. Recall in our chapter 6 study, the people and leadership of Judah, to a soul, did not live an honest life.
Pay attention, people of Judah! Change your ways and start living right, then I will let you keep on living in your own country.” [v3]
Here is another one of those promises that begins with an “If you will….” God can do anything as He is sovereign, but man has a free will. We opt in or out; God only offers. To stay neutral means to NOT TO OPT IN so the end result is the same.
Verse 4 is unusual for scripture. It is common to find “verily, verily I say unto you.” But, here is something repeated three times.
‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’
God is not speaking here. It is the voice of the people of Judah and the leadership of false prophets. In modern terminology one might ask, who are you trying to convince? Me or you? Verses 5-7 list the prerequisite conditions God sets for preventing being overrun and dispersed into captivity by the Babylonians.
- Amend your ways
- Amend your deeds
- Execute justice
- Do not oppress the stranger or traveler, widow, poor
- Shed not innocent blood (child sacrifice)
- MOSTLY… get rid of those useless idols of stone, wood, wealth, position, influence
Verse 7 helps us to understand why in verse 4 screaming multiple times that “this is the temple of the LORD” is useless. The Lord is not IN THE TEMPLE TO SERVE THEIR PURPOSES handing out good enough certificates of protection. He has been abandoned by Judah for idols and other gods. It is just a building. This bothers me personally to realize the many churches where the LORD is not part of the service or worship and praise. They offer words to bounce off the ceiling but never get to the Lord’s ears. They sing catchy tunes with spiritually meaningless lyrics. They preach that God is Love and pass over the fact that He is also JUST.
Jer 7:9 You steal and murder; you lie in court and are unfaithful in marriage. You worship idols and offer incense to Baal, when these gods have never done anything for you.
Jer 7:10 And then you come into my temple and worship me! Do you think I will protect you so that you can go on sinning?
Ever hear the phrase NO BRAINER? It fits well with the above two verses. Somehow I think they people of Judah may be looking back at the Ark of the Covenant protection during times of battle and war. I like how Jon W. Quinn puts it… They were wrong about that [too]. It was at Shiloh where the Ark of the Covenant had been captured by the Philistines and the unfaithful people of Israel defeated (1 Samuel 4:10-11). It was as if they believed that the ark was like a lamp and God was a genie inside enslaved to whoever possessed the ark. That was certainly a mistake. What Jon is saying is that the Temple of the LORD is not going to protect an evil.
Jeremiah 7:8 reminds us of how some search the scriptures for support of whatever stance or issue for which s/he needs that third-person validation. “…ye trust in lying words that cannot profit.” In other words, we search or listen for that which supports our pre-desired opinion or outcome, then ignore the context or rest of the verse or chapter. As a 20 year college professor and Dean, I often saw this in papers from students. Instead of looking for the truth after stating a supposition, s/he only keeps that which supports his or her desired outcome. Commentators constantly say, “they believed lies.” We disagree. They desire it [lies] to be right as this is how they wish to live their lives. People do the same thing today by taking scripture out of context in a way it supports his or her lies, or self-deceit.
In Jeremiah 7:11 God – Jeremiah puts it all on the table. “You are thieves, and you have made my temple your hideout” [CEV].
I guess standing in a garage does not make one an auto mechanic. Neither does attending college make one a scholar. This is verse 11 in layman terms. Showing up to church and tithing does not make one a Christian. We hasten to remind our readers of James 2:19 and Romans 10:9 & 10.
James 2:19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.
Romans 10:9,10 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Jeremiah is not being unkind however today he would be crucified by the news and social media for being so very politically incorrect, discriminating and offensive of others rights to “shut him up.”