Jeremiah 7

Jeremiah is to live out the prophet of doom cliche.

God didn’t actually tell him him to wear a sandwich board saying “the end is nigh”. But he does tell him to stand at the gate of the temple announcing judgement on the people as they enter.

The theme again is their religious and moral hypocrisy. The Northern Israel kingdom has already fallen, but the temple in the South is the tangible place of God’s presence, and the people need to know that won’t protect them.

So his message is about Shiloh, the first place of worship in the premises land, where the 12 tribes were divided up. That was in the north and has now fallen and been abandoned by God. Just because somewhere once had God’s presence, doesn’t mean it always will.

The message continues that it is not about the people acknowledging God’s place or rituals. It’s about heartfelt obedience over time: walking in God’s way.

God then tells Jeremiah that he fully expects the people won’t listen to what he is saying, and that he is not to beg for mercy for them. He is to publicly morn them by cutting his hair.

The chapter ends ominously with God saying that the place where worship of the other Gods occurs, including where the child sacrifices are offered, will become known as the valley of slaughter, and there will be no one to bury the bodies piled up there as they are pecked by birds.

God still calls us to a life of sincere and consistent obedience. And we still prefer to rely on tokens of self righteousness rather than our calling: being good parents, working hard, maybe going to church or volunteering.

To make up for worshipping the trappings of success and power, sex or youth, and denying or failings rather than humbly recognising that we need God’s grace and building a life of obedience from there.

Jeremiah message is extreme, and repetitive. But so is our human ability to deny and ignore or creator.


Jeremiah 6

Having condemned and warned both kingdoms, Jeremiah does the same for Jerusalem, calling Benjamin, because it is in that tribes territory, his own tribe.

I do like the sense of great personal alarm and sadness coming though. You think of the fiery old testament prophets as being angry and self righteous, but this is a man in pain.

He goes though the drill: their evil has reached the limit, they must prepare for invasion which is God’s judgement. They will be devastated.

The variations for context include poignantly mentioning how delicate they are, unmatched for war.

Also more mention of how many warnings they have had, and how deaf they have been: uncircumcised ears.

And because it’s Jerusalem, reference to the religious rituals they should be doing to prepare, signs of true repentance, and how unacceptable the sacrifices they do offer are.

There is also reference to a surviving remnant, and a metal refining process.

I’m feeling a confusing bunch of emotions. Starting a new job next week. Slightly less pay, for a Christian organisation. It could be great. But the whole redundancy experience has been wearing. I don’t think I can complain that I’m being refined by fire.

I feel I need to hold onto some of the priorities and feelings from this time before I slip into busy complacency again.

Jeremiah 5

Picking up the theme that the southern kingdom of Judah is no better, maybe actually worse than the northern kingdom Israel because of their hypocrisy.

In Kings, it seems like the southern is better because at least some of their Kings follow God, where none of the northern kings do. But this is about the people.

It’s a picture of people hardened by prosperity and indulgence, incapable of spiritual responses. They are completly indifferent to the poor.

It includes hypothetical dialogue by the people saying that God will never do anything.

God talks about them being ripped apart like being attacked by a lion.

So ends the condemnation of both kingdoms. and most terribly the priests and prophets who act at direction of the corrupt.

When spiritual leaders become enablers of ignoring God, things are in a bad way.

Jeremiah 4

It’s the bleakest and most vivid picture of terror over the complete destruction of your society, of everything you know, that words can convey.

It’s cinematic leading the reader through a present tense eye witness description of the destruction.

Invading armies from the north are treated as synonymous with God’s wrath and judgment. It’s compared to a hot burning whirlwind.

There is too much imagery and poetry to describe in one entry per chapter. Apparently Charles Spurgeon peached a whole sermon on the image of evil thoughts being lodgers in our minds.

You see the futility of all institutions, army, king, priests and prophets. This even prompts a even a moment where he steps out from being God’s mouthpiece and accuses God of deceiving the people with promises of peace. His personal anguish is shot through it.

You see the people in makeup and finery now in terror.

It’s divided into 3: a call to repent, scenes of visceral chaos and judgement that echo genesis as a sort of anti creation, and a wail of mourning over the desolation.

It all stands in contrast to how society views my message, and how I view it. I need to brainstorm the content of the sign for our church. Hmm.

Jeremiah 3

An extension of the whore metaphor from the last chapter.

I mean it’s not entirely metaphorical because their religion involved sex practices under trees and on mountains. So it’s also a convenient literal shorthand for their faithlessness.

What’s worse than cheating? Cheating and lying about it.

In this respect Judah, the kingdom that has moments of faithfulness, is worse than Israel, which was blatantly unfaithful from day one. Judah which included Jerusalem, and at least kept up a show of the temple worship of Jehovah, was more hypocritical than Judah.

God’s truth confronts your failure to convey God’s hope.

So Jeremiah calls on Israel to return to God. He promises them shepherds to teach and guide them. They are so lost!

The ark of the covenant will become redundant – God will keep his promises. He will reunify Israel and bring all to Jerusalem, his throne, with all nations.

But the first step, the one they can never take, is to lie down in their shame. Acknowledge it, own it.

I’m struck how God despairs less easily than me. Increasingly people can grow up in Australia with no contact with religion hardly at all. It hard not to imagine they will never get it, to just live and let live. But God has hope for all, he never gives up.

I would love to do something to cast the net out to the people who know nothing of God. I’m a way too private Christian.

Jeremiah 2

OK you wonder what the rest of the 50 chapters are going to hold. Jeremiah has become a noun describing a negative person “don’t be a Jeremiah”.  Because of chapters like this.

Israel have rejected God and will be judged.

Mind you, it is beautiful.  There is a gentleness and patience in the way God feels he must plead his case, and he can only do it beautifully in poetry.

The general theme is of wasted effort, needless insecurity.  Like a rich person begging for money, God’s chosen people keep acting like they are un-chosen.

I loved the water motif.  God is already reminding them of Exodus, and he refers to his love and promises as springs of living water. But he says, you made your own cisterns, your own plumbing – which they literally did contemporaneously in Kings instead of preparing for the enemy by trusting God.

Then he extends the metaphor by saying they drank from the Euphrates and Nile rivers, referring to political alliances with Syria and Egypt, instead of trusting God.

Its like a verse of “looking for love in all the wrong places. Indeed there is the image of a bride who has forgotten her jewellery, a prostitute comparison, its all there.

But focus is so hard.  Do I not do the same?  I’m trying hard to get a new job, which is appropriate, but why sink into panic or despair?  Its in his hands. I can’t even listen to a sermon all the way through. Just reading chapter 2, I diverted off to google stray thoughts that crossed my mind multiple times.  Its hard to stay fixed on God.

Give me perspective Father. Thank you that you are patient, love beauty, and love me. 


Jeremiah 1

A one man City.

Jeremiah lives and speaks God’s word during the actual fall of Jerusalem.

It’s an extraordinary calling story. Jeremiah as destined to be a powerful prophet before he was born, before he was conceived even.

God touches his lips, like Isaiah.

His first vision is an almond branch, symbol that God is watching over, guarding, his word. It will seem like god has left the scene, but Jeremiah will be the living proof that God still cares as Jerusalem is destroyed.

And everyone will hate him. He will announce judgement in the form of conquest from the north. He will have to be strong like a city against attacks from the kings, the religious leaders and the people. Lonely and tough.

I’m certainly feeling stressed and freaked out having lost my job. Opportunities abound to use my time for God.

Help me focus on my true purpose. Supporting my family is part of it, but I should not be selfish with an abundance of time.

Isaiah Overview

Hope after destruction: new shoots from a stump, children of a promise

1 A searing vision of Judah and Jerusalem destroyed for their sins
2 God will be elevated, social order turned upside down
3 More intimate snapshots of peoples pride being broken
4 There will be survivors of the cleansing and burning
5 God lists what they have done to lose his love and how judgment will come
6 Visions: God’s grace to Isaiah in a burning kiss, and salvation through fire
7 A child’s birth reminds Isaiah’s scared king to trust god, and symbolises God’s promises when he doesn’t
8 Isiah’s role of binding God’s words, and his message – in 3 children: his own 2, named for the destruction of the north and south kingdoms, and a 3rd, Emmanuel
9 Truths about the north: it will be destroyed, and the messiah will be born there
10 Assyria will bring judgement on Israel’s North.  It will also be judged. Only a remnant will be saved. 
11 The shoot from the cut off stump will become the messiah, the full flowering of God’s peace and plan for mankind
12 Birth, regrowth – a song of hope and praise for those facing destruction

Prophesies about other nations, and grace to all nations

13 Cinematic vision of the eventual fall of Babylon, the conqueror of the south
14 More on the eventual downfall of kingdoms, Babylon, Assyria and Phillistia
15 Moab bought low – economy broken
16 Empathy for Moab, told to shelter them. They have history. 
17 The north’s slow march to ruin via bad alliances is actually an opportunity for repentance as they dwindle, some turn back to God – a message for our church?
18 Prophesy about Cush – they will learn from Israel’s judgement
19 Ongoing rant of judgement against neighbours (here egypt),  turns into a vision of grace to all nations
20 Israel warned against alliances.  The judgement is God’s, he is the only escape.
21 The bullies now will later be bullied… the times they aren’t a’ changin
22 re Israel – its not so special any more. 2 types of security contrasted, Judah hopes in what they can see, but should hang their hopes on God
23 Lesson of Tyre: wealth cannot protect you, its all God’s
24 Universal judgement to all nations, followed by a world without oppression
25 Vision of a feast on a mountain where death is swallowed up, a vision of calvary
26 The cities we can see are wind, God’s city not visible, is solid, made of salvation
27 How Judah will bless all nations like wildly abundant fruit. A picture of the messiah and god’s nurturing and strengthening 
28 The work and rewards of self discipline, particularly about alcohol

Reality of coming judgement

29 Wise fear.  Like waking from a dream of fear. Israel is panicked about local enemies, when they should be panicked about the judgement of god they represent
30  Bleak vision of destruction from judgement, reminder of Christianity’s urgency
31 Make your alliances with God not man
32 Some good times before destruction don’t change judgement. God sends good and bad
33 Surrounded by powerful enemies, Isaiah speaks of a day when roles will be reversed and they will see justice
34 Bleak vision of judgement leaving the earth empty but for the birds
35 God’s redeemed, a ragtag bunch: deaf, lame, blind, leaping for joy as they approach the city of god down a wide highway laid for them as god says “fear not”
36 Envoys from Assyria threaten the southern kingdom. They can’t imagine a greater power, and taunt them with “who do you trust”
37 The people, the king pray about the Assyrian threat, but Isaiah knows gods mind already
38 King Hezekiah gets 15 extra years and to know his death date. I think about the implications of that
39 Squandering grace… King Hezekiah uses his extra 15 years to boast to and ally with the Babylonians, who would become their conqueror.  Earthly hope, not heavenly
40 Encouraging view above the fray – moving hearts is like moving mountains
41 Encouraging them to fear nothing, they have hitched their wagon to the true, mighty God
42 Out of the message of failure, blessing and comfort. Isaiah starts to speak of the servant.
43 Pictures of God’s love and power, to prepare them to be judged and feel abandoned
44 Narrative jumps into the future and talks of the joy in the return from exile
45 Isaiah’s massive plot twist, enlarging God to the saviour of all nations, and bringing him down to the size of one baby
46 The living god vs dead idols of Babylon and Assyria. Idolatry still has us in a trance, into which the God who can speak says ‘love’
47 The comeuppance of Babylon. In which I repent of my obsession with US politics and promise to channel my thirst for justice elsewhere

Isaiah 66

Choice of destiny

The end, the very end of the book is a vision of hell for the rebellious. The choice is to be humble, acknowledging God the creator and source of truth. Or not.

Building great edifices to God does not earn his favour…. I’ve already made the heaven and the earth, he says, I don’t need more.

False hypocritical religion generally makes things worse.  It may look like you are serving him with sacrifices and religious obedience, but if it is empty, you bring upon yourself the harshest judgement.

The bulk of the chapter consists of beautiful images of God’s kingdom.

Coming into being like childbirth in eden, easy and fast and without pain.

Where God comforts and jiggles you on his knee and carries you on his hip as only one who gave birth can, like everyone’s first image of God, a mother.

Where peace is like a river, broad, unstoppable and calm, with tributaries of all nations.

But shot through this is the choice – our time on earth has eternal significance. The wicked will suffer judgement. As Wham! would say: choose life.


Isaiah 65

The wicked and the new Jerusalem.

We are back to God’s voice after the last two prayers.

First is a fierce rejection of the wicked, people who refuse to acknowledge God, repeatedly rubbing his nose in their worship of their own Gods.

Then a promise not to judge them all, and the promise of a new Jerusalem, where pain is gone, aging is gone. It is his holy mountain. (there is so much mountain imagery in the Bible!) God delights in it.

So for me that is a bit now, because Jesus said the kingdom of God was at hand, and a bit at the end times.

I can revel in the promise of the new earth of God’s presence, but I should also sense the urgency of telling people about God’s judgement. I’m terrible at this. All I can do is blog!