Jeremiah 17 Commentary
It is all about the heart. The LORD searches the minds and tests the hearts of people. Judah’s sin is great and solidly engraved within people’s hearts. The LORD has seen it and will punish it.
This can be scary! What is the condition of my heart? Yes, even behind supposedly good actions – let alone bad ones. We have an impossible question here. We cannot fully understand our own hearts; only the LORD can. We may not be as righteous as we think.
Jeremiah is pondering an important subject that only the New Testament fully unpacks. Sin is in the heart of an individual. That is exactly the reason behind the sin of ‘action-less’ sexual immorality, for example. We have more murderers than the human population. You have killed more people than you care to count! It is all in the heart and the LORD cares, sadly for us.
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139 verse 23. The psalmist isn’t stupid. It’s not like he cannot tell wrong from right. Maybe he can’t; neither can we. Only the LORD can.
Jeremiah doesn’t know what to do. Pray that disaster comes? And why not? Won’t the world ridicule the LORD even further for His empty threats? And the justice of the LORD, where would we turn to if the LORD stands down and allows wickedness to continue? Lawlessness sponsored by Heaven’s inaction! And the prophet himself, another false prophet with false alarms?
And the prophet’s own life is in danger. The fear generated by his messages has become nothing but ‘mockery’, if not wrath against God’s spokesman. An enemy of public peace. Jeremiah prays for help. Let the LORD take the punches. He, Jeremiah, is simply a spokesman. Let him not suffer the punishment of the wicked. “You are the one I praise.”
The last section is yet another instruction for the Sermons by the Gates of Jerusalem – a sequel to the Temple Gate sermons. It’s about the importance of the Sabbath. It is about rest. The reader is reminded of the words of the LORD Jesus Christ: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
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