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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 11

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-8

Jer 11:1-8

Jeremiah 11:1-5

THE SINAI COVENANT BROKEN BY ISRAEL

This and the next two chapters are thought to have been written about the same time, coming in the early part of the reign of Jehoiachim, during that four or five year period while Israel was still feeling a false sense of security by reason of their friendship for Egypt. F1 This would have been about 620. B.C.

The great theme here is the breaking of the Sinaitic covenant by the Chosen People. That sacred covenant made by God with the Children of Israel at the time when he brought them up out of Egypt had been neglected and nearly forgotten for ages, until the copy of the Law of Moses was discovered by Hilkiah during the renovation of the temple during the days of Josiah the king (2 Kings 22-23).

Along with Feinberg, we are surprised that, "So much discussion has gone on among expositors as to ’which’ covenant is meant in Jeremiah 11:1-3, the one made with the nation at Sinai, or the one promulgated by Josiah." There is no doubt whatever that the Sinaitic covenant, all of it, as set forth in the Pentateuch, is the covenant in view here.

THE SINAITIC COVENANT IN VIEW HERE

We are fully aware that the radical critics have exhausted themselves in efforts to prove that the covenant mentioned here was only some small part of the Sinaitic covenant, limited to the Book of Deuteronomy, or even to some very small portion of Deuteronomy. That eighteenth century falsehood of Satan needs to be exploded.

God’s Word tells us what book was discovered. It was designated by Hilkiah as The Book of the Law (properly capitalized here, as should be the case in every mention of it) (See 2 Kings 22:3; 2 Kings 22:8). The king referred to it as The Book of the Covenant (2 Kings 23:21), as did also the inspired author of 2 Kings, who called it The Book of the Covenant (2 Kings 23:2). These references absolutely disprove the falsehood that anything less than the whole Pentateuch constituted that Book of the Law, or Book of the Covenant, which led to the extensive reforms under king Josiah. "Surely 2 Kings 22--23 makes it clear that Josiah was not introducing a new covenant but only calling for a reaffirmation of the old Mosaic Covenant."

Absolutely everything connected with the reforms of Josiah indicated the restoration in Israel of the entire Mosaic covenant. The whole Mosaic covenant is structured after the pattern of the old suzerainty treaties; and the invocation of the "list of curses" always attached to such treaties, as Henderson pointed out, "is indicated in the phraseology of Jeremiah 11:5 which is borrowed from Deuteronomy 27:26."

Furthermore, there is not even any difference between the covenant as it appears in Deuteronomy from the one in Exodus; for it is expressly declared in Deuteronomy that: "When Moses made an end of writing the words of this law in a book ... Moses commanded that it be placed by the ark of the covenant." (Deuteronomy 31:24) And upon that same occasion, Moses entrusted that Law to the custodianship of the Levites.

More and more scholars of the present era are accepting the proposition that no fragmentary or incomplete document ever invented by evil men can be substituted for that whole Book of the Law written by Moses. Note the following: "This covenant refers to the covenant made at Sinai, as related in Exodus 24, with its strong emphasis upon the moral law. The covenant (Jeremiah 11:1-8) is a reference to the covenant that Yahweh made at the time of the national deliverance of Israel from Egypt, as the condition of God’s continued blessing. It is a reasonable conjecture that ’this covenant’ refers to the Mosaic covenant of Sinai. The covenant was the historic agreement sealed centuries earlier at Sinai. "The words of this covenant" are, as is clear from the succeeding context, the words of the covenant recorded in the Pentateuch, known from the reading of the Torah.

Jeremiah 11:1-5

The word that came to Jeremiah from Jehovah, saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, and speak unto the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and say thou unto them, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel: Cursed be the man that heareth not the words of this covenant, which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the iron furnace, saying, Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you: so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God; that I may establish the oath which I sware unto your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as at this day. Then answered I, and said, Amen, O Jehovah.

This paragraph fully corroborates all that we stated above concerning what covenant is here under consideration. Jeremiah at the time indicated here possessed the whole Pentateuch at least, and he probably also had available to him a great many of the prophets, certainly including Isaiah. Nothing is any more unbelievable than the allegation of radical critics that there were no scriptures at that time except, maybe, some fragment of Deuteronomy. How could God have commanded Jeremiah to teach the people "the words of this covenant" if, indeed, he did not have them in his possession?

Besides that, it was not the whole people of Israel who had lost the Book of the Law; it was that gang of reprobate priests and scribes in the temple that had lost it! That there was, indeed, at this time, throughout Israel, a residual knowledge of the whole Law of Moses is evident. "The righteous remnant" would indeed have preserved countless portions of it. The proof of this is in 2 Chronicles 34, which reveals that, "The centralization of worship in Jerusalem preceded the discovery of the Book of the Covenant in the temple by Hilkiah."

In the light of all these things, how can we understand a remark like that of Cheyne, who substituted for "the words of this covenant" the totally inadequate expression, "the words of this ordinance!?" In the same breath, he admitted that "the words of this covenant" is a correct rendition of the text; but he declared it to be "unsuitable." Of course, it is "unsuitable" for all of the erroneous allegations the radical critics have thrown at the passages here.

The great significance of God’s appeal through Jeremiah to the Israelites at this juncture in their affairs, calling upon them to hear and obey the commandments of the covenant, derived from the fact that, "Whether the promised land would remain in the possession of Israel or not depended upon their observance, or non-observance, of the covenant."

Amen...

(Jeremiah 11:5). This is the standard response to a covenant; and it is Jeremiah’s pledge to recall Israel to the historic Sinai event when God promised to supply the material and spiritual needs of his people in their infancy as a nation, in return for their undivided worship and obedience.

Jeremiah 11:6-8

And Jehovah said unto me, Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, and do them. For I earnestly protested unto your fathers in the day that I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, even unto this day, rising early and protesting, saying, Obey my voice. Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the stubbornness of their evil heart: therefore I brought upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did them not.

Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah...

(Jeremiah 11:6) These words indicate that, for a period of time, at least, Jeremiah went about the various cities of Judah urging the people to renew their love and adherence to the ancient covenant, which also was their charter for remaining in Palestine. The Bible gives us no further information about such a traveling ministry by Jeremiah.

It has never been true that obedience to God’s commands in any sense, earns, merits, or deserves the promised rewards; but it is also true that disobedience of God’s commands can most certainly result in the forfeiture of the promised rewards and benefits. This principle was valid in the days of ancient Israel; and it is valid today under the grace of the Gospel of Christ. Just like many today, the ancient Jews did not believe it.

It is well nigh impossible to precisely date the discourses and activities contained in chapter 11–20. Naegelsbach feels that a date prior to the battle of Carchemish. should be assigned because of the lack of any reference to the Chaldeans. Most commentators, however, regard Jeremiah 13:18-27 as coming from the time of king Jehoiachin who reigned after the battle of Carchemish. One unit of this section, Jeremiah 14:1 to Jeremiah 17:18, originated during a time of famine which cannot be dated.

These ten chapters of the book contain excerpts from sermons, narratives and autobiographical elements. There are two collections of brief oracles, Jeremiah 14:1 to Jeremiah 15:9 and Jeremiah 17:1-18; and two parables, the parable of the linen girdle (Jeremiah 13:1-11) and the parable of the wine jars (Jeremiah 13:12-14). Of most interest, however, are the five confessions of Jeremiah which are contained in this section. These autobiographical glimpses into the inner thought processes of the prophet are unique in prophetic literature.

THE CONFESSIONS OF JEREMIAH

Jeremiah 11:18 to Jeremiah 12:6

Jeremiah 15:10-21

Jeremiah 17:14-18

Jeremiah 18:18-23

Jeremiah 20:7-18

The materials in Jeremiah 11:1 to Jeremiah 12:17 are related to two conspiracies. In the view of Jeremiah the people of Judah had conspired to violate the covenant which God had given at Sinai (Jeremiah 11:1-17). The prophet’s forthright preaching on this theme aroused hostility especially among the inhabitants of his home town of Anathoth. God reveals to Jeremiah that these acquaintances were conspiring to put him to death. The prophet went to his God in prayer about this matter and laid his case at the bar of divine justice (Jeremiah 11:18-23). Some time passed and the wicked schemers of Anathoth experienced no divine retribution. Jeremiah prayed again, this time calling upon God to pour out his wrath upon the wicked. God answered that prayer, but not in the way Jeremiah expected (Jeremiah 12:1-6). As the prophet wallows in self-pity he comes to realize what true pain God is experiencing because of the impending destruction of Judah, His beloved portion (Jeremiah 12:7-13). Finally, by revealing to Jeremiah the ultimate destiny of the wicked foreign nations God places the whole matter of divine judgment in proper perspective (Jeremiah 12:14-17).

Jeremiah was no innovator; he was a restorer. He wanted to see the ancient Sinai covenant restored to its rightful place in the life of the people of Judah. He exhorted his people to fulfill with their covenant obligations (Jeremiah 11:1-8). Yet even as he gave forth this exhortation he came to realize that the men of Judah were conspiring to violate that covenant (Jeremiah 11:9-17).

Exhortation to Keep the Covenant Jeremiah 11:1-8

The exhortation to keep the covenant of the Lord is usually dated by commentators just after 621 B.C., that crucial year when the lost law book was discovered in the Temple. Others would assign this material to the early years of king Jehoiakim. The truth of the matter is that either date remains somewhat speculative. However it is most difficult to read this paragraph and not think of the covenant recently renewed by king Josiah.

Six times in Jeremiah 11:1-8 Jeremiah calls upon the people of Judah to “hear” (i.e., obey) the words of the covenant. The imperative “speak” in Jeremiah 11:2 is plural. Jeremiah is exhorting the people to submit to the words of the covenant and then go out and convince others to do the same. The prophet is attempting to organize an evangelistic campaign to spread the word of the Lord to every inhabitant of the land. Only when preachers learn to enlist others in the task of proclamation will the Gospel make the impact which God would have it make upon this generation. It is the old covenant of Sinai which had been renewed several times in the history of God’s people that Jeremiah would have restored in his day.

Jeremiah’s message on the covenant begins on a negative note. Utilizing the language of Deuteronomy (cf. Deuteronomy 27:26) Jeremiah pronounces a curse upon any one who refuses to hear (obey) the words of the covenant (Jeremiah 11:3). The covenant to which Jeremiah alludes is that ancient covenant which God had made with the Israelites when ,He brought them forth from the land of Egypt. That trying and bitter experience of bondage in Egypt is metaphorically called the “furnace of iron” i.e., a furnace used for smelting iron. As the captivity of the past was a furnace of affliction even so would be the captivity of the future (Isaiah 48:10).

Two kinds of treaties or covenants were known in the ancient Near East. Parity treaties were drawn up between two parties who were equals. Vassal treaties were issued by a superior king to an inferior. The Sinai covenant was of the latter type. Man’s part in the treaty of the Great King is, in essence, obedience. Men do not bargain with God, they submit to Him. God commands and men obey. For the prophets, obedience was the fundamental duty of man. God expected Israel to heed His Voice and observe the individual commands which he had given to them. Israel’s unique relationship to God would continue only so long as the nation was obedient (Jeremiah 11:4). The land promises made to the Patriarchs were also conditional. They would continue to dwell in that land flowing with milk and honey only if they continued to be faithful to the covenant (cf. Deuteronomy 7:8 ff; Deuteronomy 8:18 ff.).

In Deuteronomy Moses instructed the children of Israel to gather at Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim in Canaan and renew the covenant with God. As the Levites pronounced certain prescribed curses upon those who were covenant breakers all the people were to respond by saying “Amen.” (Deuteronomy 27:11 ff.). Since God has just pronounced a curse upon those who disobey the covenant Jeremiah responds in the prescribed manner, “Amen, O Lord.” So be it! (Jeremiah 11:5). “Amen” is a formula of asseveration indicating that the statement just made is true, faithful and trustworthy. Jeremiah is ready to do what God has commanded.

Jeremiah is to travel the length and breadth of the land in preaching his message of obedience to the covenant. He is to call, cry, proclaim or perhaps read aloud these words of God in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. His object is to influence the people to obey the recently discovered law of God (Jeremiah 11:6). The message is nothing new. Over and over again, ever since the day He brought them out of Egypt, God had exhorted the children of Israel through their prophets to obey the divine voice (Jeremiah 11:7). The phrase “rising early and testifying,” a favorite expression of Jeremiah, means to earnestly and incessantly undertake a task. God had been very zealous in urging His people to be obedient. But the people of God did not hearken to His messengers. They continued in their own stubborn ways each man doing whatever he set his heart to do. As a result, all of the penalties for covenant breaking stipulated in the law of Moses had come upon the people (Jeremiah 11:8).

Verses 9-17

Jer 11:9-17

Jeremiah 11:9-13

And Jehovah said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear my words; and they are gone after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers. Therefore thus saith Jehovah, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and they shall cry unto me, but I will not hearken unto them. Then shall the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem go and cry unto the gods unto which they offer incense: but they will not save them at all in the time of their trouble. For according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to the shameful thing, even altars to burn incense unto Baal.

Conspiracy. among the men of Judah .....

(Jeremiah 11:9). There are two views of when this conspiracy occurred. Dummelow thought it happened during the reign of Josiah but Henderson placed it in the times of Jehoiachim’s first four years, When those who were hostile to Josiah’s reforms bound themselves to introduce again all of the idolatrous practices (popularized by Manasseh) which had been abolished by Josiah. A common denominator in both positions is that the whole population (except the righteous remnant) of the Chosen People (Israel and Judah alike) had given themselves completely to idolatry. This is the background of the crucial announcement in the following verse that all Israel had broken the covenant.

The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken the covenant...

(Jeremiah 11:10). Graybill observed that, God was now in the act of terminating the covenant and bringing the punishment; but, a better view appears to be that this declaration from God Himself then and there terminated the racial covenant with Abraham finally and irrevocably, except as it should be renewed in the New Israel without any racial overtones whatever.

Hosea’s unhappy marriage with Gomer was terminated exactly in the same manner at the time when he bought back his adulterous wife from slavery and returned her to his home, not as his wife, but as his slave. Prior to the terminal action registered here, the whole racial Israel had been judicially hardened (always with the exception of the righteous remnant), as repeatedly mentioned by both Isaiah and Jeremiah.

The pressing question that always surfaces in the consideration of such things is "Why did God continue to preserve Israel?" In the case of judicial hardening, except for Israel, it always meant the summary and final end of the person or cities hardened; why then was it to be different in the case of Israel? The answer lies squarely in the truth that the Messiah had not yet been born. Until that glorious event should come to pass, it was absolutely necessary for fleshly Israel to be preserved and continued as an identifiable entity upon the earth, because that only could make the identification of the Son of God absolutely indisputable for all time to come!

According to the number of the cities of Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem...

(Jeremiah 11:13) Such a proliferation of altars erected to Baal indicates that the rampant idolatry of the times of Manasseh had indeed come back full force, At this point the conspiracy which God revealed to Jeremiah had achieved one of its purposes. However, there was another purpose of it; and that included the destruction of the prophet himself, which would be revealed later in the chapter.

Jeremiah 11:14-17

Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me because of their trouble. What hath my beloved to do in my house, seeing she hath wrought lewdness [with] many, and the holy flesh is passed from thee? when thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest. Jehovah called thy name, A green olive-tree, fair with goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken. For Jehovah of hosts, who planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, because of the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have wrought for themselves in provoking me to anger by offering incense unto Baal.

Pray not for this people...

(Jeremiah 11:14). There is a climax of guilt which admits of no further intercessory prayer. Our minds should be at one with God in all that he is doing, even in the rejection of the reprobate. That this is really true appears in God’s command to Moses (Exodus 32:10), also in God’s forbidding Samuel to grieve any longer for Saul (1 Samuel 16:1). This is now the second time that God has forbidden Jeremiah to pray any more for the apostate nation (Jeremiah 7:16); and this admonition is still applicable to God’s people as in 1 John 5:16.

A goodly olive-tree, fair and goodly fruit...

(Jeremiah 11:15). This figure of Israel as the olive-tree was adopted by the apostle Paul in Romans 11:17-24.

What hath my beloved to do in my house, seeing she hath wrought lewdness with many? and the holy flesh is passed from thee...

(Jeremiah 11:15) This refers to the hypocrisy of cloaking their apostasy by offering sacrifices in the temple and passing themselves off as worshippers of God.

The holy flesh is passed from thee...

(Jeremiah 11:15). This is not a reference to the sacrifices and their lack of efficacy, because the sacrifices of hypocrites has no efficacy, or holiness. What is meant is that the lewd and immoral practices of the people have robbed them (the people) of that holiness, without which no man shall see God.

The evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah...

(Jeremiah 11:10; Jeremiah 11:17). The reason for the double reference repeatedly to both Israel and Judah is to show that the whole Chosen People are meant. In context, Israel means the northern kingdom; and Judah means the southern kingdom, the whole nation. The licentious worship of the Baalim had finally destroyed the whole nation of the Chosen People, morally, nationally, politically, and religiously, the righteous remnant alone being excepted.

JEREMIAH’S PERSONAL LAMENT (Jeremiah 11:18 - Jeremiah 12:6)

Ash identified the six passages in this prophecy which are classified as personal laments of Jeremiah thus: (1) Jeremiah 11:18 - Jeremiah 12:6; (2) Jeremiah 15:12-21; (3) Jeremiah 17:14-18; (4) Jeremiah 18:18-23; (5) Jeremiah 20:7-13; and (6) Jeremiah 20:14-18. He added that, "This is a form of writing unique to Jeremiah in the prophetic books."

Exposure of the Conspiracy Jeremiah 11:9-17

Sin is treason against the heavenly King! The people of Judah are accused of national conspiracy to renounce their allegiance to the Lord. This is not a cloak and dagger conspiracy carried on in secret but an open and evident revolt against God. The men of Judah were encouraging one another to engage in apostasy and idolatry and this in the eyes of God constituted a conspiracy (Jeremiah 11:9). For awhile under the influence of the godly king Josiah the men of Judah had discontinued the sin of their fathers; but now, says the prophet, they have returned to the sins of their “first fathers,” the Israelites of the wilderness period and the period of the Judges. Like their forefathers the present generation has walked after other gods to serve them. The house of Judah as well as the house of Israel had violated the terms of the ancient covenant made at Sinai (Jeremiah 11:10). Rebellion against the crown brings inevitable punishment. In that hour of calamity the men of Judah will desperately try to call upon God but He will not be inclined to answer their prayers (Jeremiah 11:11). They shall turn in that time of crisis to the gods they have continued to worship; but these man-made gods shall be powerless to save (Jeremiah 11:12). The Hebrew used here suggests that even while they were crying to God they continued to make offerings to their gods. Every city had its tutelary deity. Altars to Shame, i.e., Baal could be found on every street of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 11:13). Like the men of Athens the population of Jerusalem was very religious. But their religiosity would not save them from the wrath of the God of judgment.

Because of the apostate condition of the men of Judah it is useless for Jeremiah to continue to pray on their behalf. God will not hem. The Hebrew here uses a participle which implies that God will continue to refrain from hearing no matter how hard or long the people might cry unto Him (Jeremiah 11:14). Because of her adulterous apostasy God’s “beloved,” the nation Judah, no longer has any business in the House of God. As long as the nation continues in this treachery no amount of sacrifices will be able to remove their sin. Sacrifice without repentance and contrition is valueless. Far from feeling any remorse or shame because of their evil the people of Judah actually rejoiced in wrong doing (Jeremiah 11:15). In earlier days God had regarded Israel as beautiful green olive tree because the nation had produced the finest fruit. The olive tree is one of the most hardy and productive trees of Palestine. But that tree is now worthless. The branches are dead and unfruitful. When the tumult of battle is heard in the land the enemy soldiers will break off the branches of that tree and use them for firewood (Jeremiah 11:16). The Lord of hosts, who had planted that olive tree, has the power to also uproot it and that is just what He plans to do. The house of Israel and the house of Judah, the two branches of the olive tree, engaged in evil practices to their own hurt. They have provoked God by offering sacrifices to Baal. The Lord has therefore pronounced evil or calamity against His people. One branch, Israel, had already been destroyed by the Assyrian empire. The second branch, Judah, is about to experience the same fate at the hands of the Chaldeans.

Verses 18-23

Jer 11:18-23

Jeremiah 11:18

And Jehovah gave me knowledge of it, and I knew it: then thou showedst me their doings.

We have already observed that Jeremiah’s long life was most certainly a miracle. God preserved and protected him in a most unusual manner. The conspiracy (Jeremiah 11:9) recognized that Jeremiah was an obstacle in the way of their purpose completely to restore total idolatry in Israel; and they doubtless could have killed the unsuspecting Jeremiah if God had not warned and protected him.

Jeremiah 11:19

But I was like a gentle lamb that is led to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, [saying], Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered.

Just as Christ was rejected in his home town of Nazareth, Jeremiah’s home town of Anathoth was a party to this plot to kill him, reminding us of what the Lord said, "A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country." Another similarity in the lives of Jeremiah and of our Lord is seen in this mention of his being like "a lamb led to the slaughter." It was such similarities that caused some of the people to think that perhaps Christ himself was Jeremiah risen from the dead (Matthew 16:14).

Jeremiah 11:20-23

But, O Jehovah of hosts, who judgest righteously, who triest the heart and the mind, I shall see thy vengeance on them; for unto thee have I revealed my cause. Therefore thus saith Jehovah concerning the men of Anathoth, that seek thy life, saying, Thou shalt not prophesy in the name of Jehovah, that thou die not by our hand; therefore thus saith Jehovah 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 there shall be no remnant unto them: for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their visitation.

There shall be no remnant unto them...

(Jeremiah 11:23). In Ezra 2:23, the Scriptures mention among those returning to Jerusalem after the captivity certain men of Anathoth; and for that reason we must suppose that the denial of any remnant to be left to Anathoth was evidently limited to the actual conspirators against the life of Jeremiah and did not apply to the whole community.

Thou shalt not prophesy in the name of Jehovah, lest thou die by our hand...

(Jeremiah 11:21). At some point in the conspiracy, but after God had revealed it to Jeremiah, the men of Anathoth attempted to silence the prophecies of Jeremiah by threatening to kill him. Only the providence and protection of God could have preserved the prophet’s life through the dreadful dangers to which he was exposed. The bitter and implacable hatred of Satan and his followers is here revealed in its stark reality.

THE PLOT AGAINST THE PROPHET

Jeremiah 11:18-23

Jeremiah was to suffer much during his ministry. At times his enemies almost got the best of him. But God was faithful to His promise to deliver Jeremiah from his enemies. In the present paragraph Jeremiah experiences his first personal crisis. He learns through revelation that the men of his home town are plotting against him (Jeremiah 11:18-23). These developments seem to catch Jeremiah by surprise and in great distress he cries out to God in the first of his complaints or confessions. Probably this material is to be assigned to the early years of wicked king Jehoiakim.

The Case Which He Presents Jeremiah 11:18-20

Jeremiah learned that the men of his home town were plotting against him through special revelation from God. God caused Jeremiah to correctly analyze and interpret the deceitful deeds of these cunning adversaries (Jeremiah 11:18). Jeremiah had never suspected that they were plotting against him. He was as unsuspecting and trusting as a lamb being led to the slaughter. As Jeremiah had been comparing Judah to a tree which God would destroy (Jeremiah 11:16-17) so the men of Anathoth contemptuously refer to Jeremiah as a tree which must be destroyed. They wish to rid themselves of that tree and “its fruit.” Since Jeremiah had no children, the “fruit” of the tree probably refers to his life work, his prophetic ministry. If they could slay Jeremiah there would be no descendant to perpetuate his name. Thus they schemed and plotted in an effort to find an opportunity to assassinate Jeremiah or have him publicly executed (Jeremiah 11:19).

Upon learning of the plot against him, Jeremiah turns immediately in prayer to God. As a petitioner before a court of law the prophet presents his case to the righteous Judge knowing that the Judge of all the earth will do right. God alone can test or try the “kidneys and heart,” the innermost feelings and thoughts of a man. The Lord knows that Jeremiah has been utterly sincere in his ministry. There has been no guile or bitterness in his heart. On the other hand God knows the hypocrisy and the evil intent of the men of Anathoth. Jeremiah is confident of the verdict which the righteous Judge will render in his behalf. Divine vengeance will be poured out upon the evil schemers and thus the cause of God and His prophet will be vindicated. Jeremiah has only to “reveal” his case to God and the just verdict will be rendered (Jeremiah 11:20). God, of course, was aware of the plight of the prophet; Jeremiah is not telling God something which He did not already know. To “reveal” one’s case is to publicly, formally plead one’s case before the bar of justice.

When the conspiracy against Jeremiah was exposed the men of Anathoth openly and outwardly began to threaten the life of the prophet. Only if he ceased to prophesy in the name of the Lord would his life be spared (Jeremiah 11:21). Other prophets had been threatened. Amos was ordered to leave Bethel (Amos 7:10 ff.). Elijah had to flee for his life to Mt. Horeb (1 Kings 19:1-4). Some prophets had died because they fearlessly preached in the name of God. Zechariah was slain in the Temple (2 Chronicles 24:20-22) and Isaiah, according to tradition, was sawn asunder during the reign of king Manasseh. In Jeremiah’s own day a prophet by the name of Uriah, who spoke words similar to those of Jeremiah, was slain by king Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 26:20-23). The threats made by the men of Anathoth were not idle. These men meant business. From this day forward Jeremiah would be putting his life on the line every time he uttered an oracle in the name of the Lord.

The Verdict Which He Receives Jeremiah 11:21-23

The righteous Judge was quick to render His verdict in favor of the plaintiff. Punishment is about to fall upon the inhabitants of Anathoth. The young men of military age would die by the sword of the enemy. Younger children would die in the famine which would result because of prolonged siege (Jeremiah 11:22). No remnant of those conspirators would survive the calamity which God was about to bring upon the land. That the threat is limited to the conspirators is indicated by the fact that some men of Anathoth did survive the exile and returned to their home city. See Ezra 2:23. The year of their visitation or punishment is upon them (Jeremiah 11:23). They shall not be able to escape the ruthless armies of Nebuchadnezzar.

Jeremiah Prophesies Destruction - Jeremiah 11:1 to Jeremiah 13:27

Open It

1. What is an issue of fairness that has direct impact on your life?

2. If you knew that someone was trying to kill you, what would you do?

Explore It

3. Of what important era in their history did God want Jeremiah to remind Israel? (Jeremiah 11:1-5)

4. Why was God punishing His people? (Jeremiah 11:9-11)

5. What did God say the people would discover when they sought help from the gods they had been worshiping? (Jeremiah 11:12-13)

6. How did Jeremiah find out about the plot on his life, and where did he turn for help? (Jeremiah 11:18-20)

7. What did the Lord promise to do to the people of Anathoth who had threatened Jeremiah? (Jeremiah 11:21-23)

8. What questions did Jeremiah pose to God concerning His justice? (Jeremiah 12:1-4)

9. What did God reveal that He intended to do to His unfaithful people? (Jeremiah 12:7-13)

10. How would the response of the nations to God’s judgment on Israel affect those nations? (Jeremiah 12:14-17)

11. What physical demonstration did God require of Isaiah as a lesson to the people? (Jeremiah 13:1-7)

12. How was Israel like Jeremiah’s belt? (Jeremiah 13:8-11)

13. How did Jeremiah know that God was not going to change His mind about punishing Israel? (Jeremiah 13:12-14)

14. If Israel refused to listen to God, what would happen to them and to Jeremiah? (Jeremiah 13:15-17)

15. What future did God predict for all Judah? (Jeremiah 13:18-19)

16. What had it become impossible for Israel to do in her hardheartedness? (Jeremiah 13:20-23)

17. What sins caused God to declare the destruction of Jerusalem? (Jeremiah 13:24-27)

Get It

18. What has God promised to us, and what does this require of us as believers?

19. What idols (false gods) are worshiped in society today that pose a temptation even to believers?

20. Why do people try to silence people who speak for God or those who remind us of God’s commands?

21. Where do you see instances around you of wicked people seeming to prosper?

22. Why is it sometimes tempting to give up living God’s way if you see no immediate results?

23. Why is it unwise to claim to be "religious" if God does not reside in your heart?

24. What determines whether a person is useful to God?

25. If we cannot change our natural tendency toward sin, what hope is there for us?

26. Why are people who do not trust in God for their righteousness destined to shame?

Apply It

27. What do you want to remember the next time you see an unrighteous person prosper or get undeserved rewards?

28. In what area of your life do you need to be on guard against pride standing in the way of God’s blessing?

Questions On Jeremiah Chapter Eleven

By Brent Kercheville

1 What are the terms of the covenant (Jeremiah 11:1-5)?

2 What is God’s warning (Jeremiah 11:6-8)?

3 What is God’s message (Jeremiah 11:9-13)?

4 What is God’s message (Jeremiah 11:14-17)?

5 What was the plot against Jeremiah (Jeremiah 11:18-23)? What have the people told Jeremiah not to do?

6 What was God’s message to Jeremiah about what the people were plotting (Jeremiah 11:18-23)?

TRANSFORMATION:

How does this relationship change your relationship with God?

What did you learn about him?

What will you do differently in your life?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Jeremiah 11". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/jeremiah-11.html.
 
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