Bible Study, Commentary

Jeremiah 17 – Solitary Man

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Jeremiah 17

January 24, 2024 4:08 PM
Solitary Man


(Please refer to the Preface and Introduction sections found in the Jeremiah Chapter 1 commentary for some general information about this chapter by chapter study of Jeremiah).

Jer 17:1 The sin of Judah is written (inscribed) with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven (engraved) upon the table (tablet) of their heart, and upon the horns (corners) of your altars;

The chapter begins with a description attempting to convey just how permanently inscribed sin was found in their hearts. You know what it’s like when you use a permanent marker, how hard it is to erase. You may also have seen someone burn into wood a name or some such thing. You can relate to letters chiselled into stone, or drilled into metal. All these images describe something permanent, and that is what God saw in these wicked men. Where did he see such permanent, non-erasable sin? In two places. In their hearts and in their altars of false worship. Their hearts were stamped with sin, there was no way they could erase it by their own devices. But also it was stamped outwardly in their false houses of worship. How many churches would fall under this same category today?

Jer 17:2 Whilst their children (sons) remember their altars and their groves (ash-ay-raw – Asherah or Astarte) by the green (flourishing) trees upon the high hills.

Altars brought to mind Moloch worship, while groves would be associated with Ashtoreth. Not only were the parents so steeped in sin that is was written on their hearts, but they had taught their children to look to the altars and groves where the false gods were worshipped. What sort of behaviours have we allowed our children to see that have led them to worship evil things?

Jer 17:3 O my mountain in the field, I will give thy substance and all thy treasures to the spoil (plunder), and thy high places for sin, throughout all thy borders.

God now directly addresses the land. He informs Zion that it shall be given over to the spoilers. The mountain probably refers to the mountain of the Lord, where the temple was located. Instead of it being the place to worship the one true God, it would become a place of sin. So many churches today are exactly that.

Jer 17:4 And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue (I will fling you down) from thine heritage (inheritance) that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve (be enslaved to) thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger (in my nostrils), which shall burn for ever.

How many in the body of Christ have been separated from their inheritance. Not just the forfeiture of eternal rewards, but even of heaven itself. I think the most horrifying thing is for someone who thinks that they’ve been a Christian all their life, according to what they’ve been taught, to find out at death that they are flung out of heaven. Let us ensure that we truly belong to Him.

God does believe in slavery. If you won’t serve him, he will cause you to be enslaved to your enemy. The land may be a foreign land, or your land may be transformed into a land that you cannot recognize. God says that you have kindled a fire within him that cannot be put out. A little hyperbole perhaps, but thoroughly terrifying nonetheless.

Jer 17:5 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth (puts confidence in, makes his refuge) in man, and maketh flesh his arm (his source of strength), and whose heart departeth (turn off, withdraw) from the LORD.

We are learning this lesson in spades from 2020 onward. It seems that no man can be trusted. How many do we know that initially looked like they were on the side of truth and freedom, only to find out that in certain critical areas, they are as dark and evil as the rest. A certain president who still boasts in 2024 that his proudest accomplishment in office was that he became the father of the jab. A certain world renowned evangelist who stated the jab was a gift from God. A certain prominent alternative media truth teller whose antisemitism has utterly consumed him since October 7. Then of course how many of us have been blindsided by family and friends over the covid narrative. What we thought of as normal people with functioning brains turned out to be some sort of alien creature whose thought processes were as foreign to us as some previously unknown species of life.

God ties two things together here. Only those whose hearts have departed from the Lord will end up looking to someone else to put their faith in. Note that this is describing someone who once followed the Lord, but turned away. Few preachers spend much time on the very ugly truth that many turned away from Jesus throughout his ministry. I think far more people started to follow but fell away, then stuck with him right to the end. This is the sad reality of real Christianity. His yoke may be easy, but most will somehow allow themselves to be talked out of continuing the path to the very end.

This is not a game. This generation will be by far the hardest generation to endure in, at least for us North Americans.

Jer 17:6 For he shall be like the heath (juniper) in the desert (arabah – a sterile valley of the Jordan), and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit (lodge in) the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.

The man without God will struggle to eke out an existence like a desert plant. They will be too consumed with the cares of the world to recognize when God shows up and offers them salvation. Instead, they will find themselves in a barren place, all alone, with no real friends. To be outside a relationship with the creator is a barren, lonely place.

Jer 17:7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.

A rare passage of hope in the midst of the bleak reality of final judgment. This should remind us that even if our nation cannot be saved, we most certainly can be. God is no respecter of persons. If you rely on Jesus, and Jesus alone, you are blessed, even in the midst of apocalypse.

Jer 17:8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful (afraid) in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

What a contrast to the lost soul! Instead of dying of thirst and loneliness, you are well watered by the word and by the life giving spirit of God. Your discernment will grow so that you will be reaching new revelations from far flung places. You will not be shaken and distracted by every fearful tale that the world is spinning to hobble the sheeple out in the world. Instead, you will be healthy, and not panic over every new crisis the cabal manufactures. The end result is that all that fear that was supposed to paralyze you will not touch you, but your ministry will grow. This is the promise for the man whose hope and trust is in Jesus, and Jesus only. Not Jesus and Trump, not Jesus and your bank account, not Jesus and anything else. Only Him.

Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful (fraudulent, crooked, perverted) above all things, and desperately wicked (frail, feeble, incurably sick): who can know it?

Suddenly God gives us this most famous verse. In context, he is speaking about those who truly, truly trust the Lord, and no one else. You may think you qualify, but God jolts us with another holy jab of truth. Even after we’re saved, we are left with the task of renewing our minds (Rom 12:2, 8:6). If we do not immediately being filling our thoughts with the word of God, our inner unredeemed thoughts are just waiting to take back control of the rudder of our lives. How will we know where we really stand? Through pressure. God will test you, try you, not for his enlightenment, but for yours. You think you know yourself, this verse says you do not. What did you do when a real serious trial showed up? Did you fall on your face and bless God, or did your heart fail you because of fear, terror, or self pity? A true man or woman of God will continually be aware of the true nature of man. We are not generally good people, as the classical liberal would like us to believe. We are rotten to the core. Just look at how easy it was for the vast majority of our neighbours to turn against us when they were talked into believing a dangerous plague was upon the land (with no evidence, i might add). How many snitched on their neighbours, for violating some absurd mandate? How many lives did the government, the medical establishment, the employers destroy? And for what? A fairy tale. A fantasy. Facts were irrelevant. God unleashed covid just to reveal to all what was in each person’s heart. Our hearts were feeble, frail, full of fraud and perversity. Who knew? God did, and now so do we.

Jer 17:10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins (kidney – the mind, the inner man), even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings (works).

God did exactly what we just spoke about. He tried all men upon the earth, and found the vast majority wanting. God then promises to give to every man according to his deeds. Where have we heard that before? All over the new testament. Yet most don’t want to talk about this eternal principle. We rather talk about all that free grace stuff. Free stuff is much more exciting than getting what you deserve.

How has God rewarded us so far after covid? Well, it took most people off the fence. Either you submitted to the antichrist agenda, or you did not. Those who submitted in ignorance are still submitting in the vast majority of cases. No one really wants to talk about it, even years after the fact. Thus God has allowed our hearts to harden against the truth. The longer they refuse to acknowledge reality, the less the odds become that they will ever wake up.

Have you noticed old people mostly get grumpier and more sour, not less? So many who once had the touch of God in their lives tell themselves that they will get really serious about God once they get older. Yet lifelong habits rarely change. We all know that most conversions happen in younger folks, before they have cemented in values and choices about their futures. Those who chose to ignore God’s tug on their hearts when young, almost always have no desire to all of a sudden get right with him in old age. Thus, God allows us to reap what we have sown.

Do not wait one second longer to turn your half committed life around. Time has simply run out.

Jer 17:11 As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth (or begat) them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right (mishpat), shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool (nabal – a stupid, vile person).

If we take the rendering the partridge sits on eggs not her own (who did not beget them), then this would refer to a popular Jewish belief of the time that the partridge stole eggs from other birds, and added them to her own. While this was not the case, the cuckoo would often lay her eggs in the nest of the partridge, giving the appearance that the partridge stole them. Note the accuracy of the text. Contrary to what the Jews believed, the word did not back up the Jews incorrect belief, but it simply observed the partridge did sit on eggs not her own! You can take the bible to the bank in every area of life. Many modern believers think they can believe the word as being infallible as far as what it says about Jesus, but can disregard anything that speaks of scientific realities. If God cannot be trusted to tell you the truth about the universe that he himself created, why would you believe him about anything else?

It seems sort of strange that a proverb like verse is found here. Yet God is trying to describe the one who really trusts God. Sometimes we think we’ve received the true riches from our denomination or seminary teaching. You did not birth the revelation in the spirit by paying the price and buying your oil straight from the father in heaven. You sat on the eggs of someone else’s version of the truth. God states that you did not acquire your spiritual wealth righteously, using correct judgment and decision making. What will happen is that this false treasure shall be abandoned at the first sign of trouble, when the cares of this world hit, and the trials of life fall. You will find that someone else’s revelation, if it is not real and earned by you, will be worthless. Because you wasted your spiritual life taking shortcuts because you could not find time for your God, you will end up as just another stupid, vile person that has no worth as far the kingdom of God is concerned.

Jer 17:12 A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary.

The ‘is’ is in italics. It’s probably better to leave it out and try and connect this verse to verse 13. Thus this begins a series of exclamations. God is a glorious high throne, a place of sanctuary to all those that truly trust in him.

Jer 17:13 O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake (leave, relinquish) thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written (engraved) in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain(source) of living waters.

The declaration continues. God, you are the hope of all your people. Those that stop following you shall end up eternally ashamed and confounded. These earth dwellers do not have their names written in heaven. When you forsake God, your name gets blotted out of the book of life. You will forever be known as an earth dweller, a Babylonian, a child of the evil one. God is the only source of life. No matter how hard the fallen angels try to combine various dna to create one abomination or other, true life can only come from the hand of God.

Jer 17:14 Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.

The stress of being God’s mouthpiece in the day of judgment often causes Jeremiah to cry out for help, or simply to vent, or to ask for vengeance upon his enemies. Here, he knows that if God truly touches him, there will be no doubt that his infirmity will disappear.

This is so in contrast with way too many testimonies where people want so bad to have a miraculous testimony, that they talk themselves into believing that God has truly touched them. They may even momentarily feel better. The pressure of being asked in front of a strange crowd in public makes them say things that are not true. Then later when it’s obvious they’re not healed, they will still maintain that they feel a little better, and the rest will come. Or what’s worse, is that the minister will intimidate and manipulate them in telling them that it’s totally up to them to maintain their healing. As if Jesus’ power is not enough to do the job, and you have to keep confessing it hundreds of times to make it stick!

The retarded things we were taught as charismatics makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time. About the only story I can think of in the entire bible where healing was partial was when Jesus put spit on someone’s eyes, and they first saw blurry images. But notice Jesus immediately completed the healing. He didn’t tell him to go home and confess his healing a hundred times because it was now up to him. He did not prescribe 100 ‘by his stripes I am healed’ confessions and then call him in the morning!

Why were we (and still are) so gullible? Jeremiah knows if God heals, it’s done. If God saves, same thing. Because of this, God, and God alone, is Jeremiah’s source of praise.

Jer 17:15 Behold, they say unto me, Where is the word of the LORD? let it come now.

Here are the mockers and the scoffers of Jeremiah’s age. If the prophetic word of judgment does not come to pass immediately, we mock. Yet if it’s a personal word of blessing, we will hold on to it forever. I know of one preacher, a good man, who believes God told him that 95% of his town would be saved. 35 years later, he is still waiting. I make no judgment on the truth or error of this personal word, it’s only to point out that we will cling to things we want to hear, but look for any excuse to reject the negative.

Wicked people keep asking for fresh words. A dangerous thing when you have rejected the word of judgment multiple times. Things never seem to change. Remember Jesus story in Mt 12:38-39? How could anyone ask for a sign, after Jesus had performed untold miracles right before them? Yet here they were. A wicked heart filled with unbelief.

One can almost feel the arrogance, the disdain of the people as they challenge Jeremiah to make his prophecies come to pass right now. As if anyone truly wants the day of the Lord immediately. But we will touch more on that thought in the next verse.

Jer 17:16 As for me, I have not hastened from being a pastor (shepherd) to follow thee: neither have I desired (wished for, coveted) the woeful (melancholy, desperately wickedly incurable) day; thou knowest: that which came out of my lips was right before thee (the face).

A better rendering would be: ‘I have not sought to stop being a shepherd that follows thee’. The sense is that Jeremiah has not intentionally tried to get out of this calling. He sees his prophetic ministry as also containing a shepherding quality to it, as he is trying to shepherd his people back to Yehovah. The prophet may use the rod more than the staff, but all of God’s ministers are ultimately attempting to draw people toward God.

The last part could be rendered: ‘I spoke God’s word only that came to my face, not words of my own’.

Second, Jeremiah does not desire the day of calamity that he is speaking of. For him, it was the imminent destruction of the temple. In a broader fulfillment, it’s the final day of the Lord. Why would any normal, sane person wish for, covet after the woeful day? I have heard several believers say that this is the most exciting time in history to be alive. I think they just need to wait a few more days. Their tune will change when the awful reality of the depth of evil that we will all experience starts coming to pass. Covid was the pre game show. How many more verses do we need to read about the mass deaths, the unbelievable suffering, the victory after victory by the wicked, before we come to our senses? You may be excited about Jesus’ return, but what is right in front of us is this day of woe that no one is really prepared for.

I believe there are two reasons Christians are still so naive in their attitude of living in the apocalypse. First is they haven’t interviewed enough victims yet. Go talk to the j6ers and their devastated families. Go talk to the jab injured, dying and dead. Go visit any public school and see with your own eyes what is being done to our children. Go into any inner city and see the unbelievable homelessness, drug use, and violent crime. Go to the border and check that out. And yet these are simply the beginning of birth pangs.

The second reason is the conscious or unconscious belief in the pre trib rapture. Subconsciously, most Christians still believe Hal Lindsay’s the late great planet earth and left behind theology that those works represent. We can watch in fascination from a safe distance in our as of yet safe suburb and see various bible prophecies coming to pass. We know according to these popular teachings that God will whisk us away in the nick of time before the really bad stuff comes to our front door. So even if current events are making us a little nervous, don’t worry, God is too loving to let us suffer any real harm.

Well, tell that to the Nigerian believers where 100, 000 have been killed and 3 million rendered homeless by the Muslims over the last 20 years. Tell that to the North Korean believers in concentration camps, where 70% never come out alive, having their body parts hacked off as they are slowly tortured to death. Tell that to the Chinese church, whose members can be rounded up at any time, and many have suffered organ harvesting procedures done on them while they were still alive and awake, as that preserves the freshness of the organs. Imagine the horror for just one second.

If God so chooses to allow these precious souls to undergo such horrific things, then why do you think you will be spared? Exactly who do you think you are? Are you better than them? Does God love you and hate them? Does being American mean that even God wouldn’t date to lay a hand on you?

Our attitudes are insane.

Jer 17:17 Be not a terror unto me: thou art my hope (shelter) in the day of evil.

Instead of Jeremiah confidently confessing about some sort of get out of apocalypse free card, he pleads with God to not be a terror unto him. Sometimes the things God allows in our life are truly terrifying. Sometimes his anger can be truly frightening. His mishpat – his verdicts, his course of action, render us paralyzed with fear – think of the global flood.

Jeremiah reminds God that he trusts him alone. If anything touches the heart of God, it’s those whose heart is fully his. He can work with someone like that. Those are the ones most likely to be sheltered in the evil day.

Jer 17:18 Let them be confounded that persecute me, but let not me be confounded: let them be dismayed, but let not me be dismayed: bring upon them the day of evil, and destroy them with double destruction.

It is perfectly ok to pray vengeance down upon the wicked. Many will not agree with me. They will look to the new testament. They will find more than one verse where we are encouraged to pray for our enemies. They will see contradiction in the word, so they will say the new supersedes the old. Or, they won’t admit contradiction, but they will say the doctrine has changed, and the new replaces the old. Both are wrong.

Let us forever settle this in our hearts. The word never contradicts itself. If you truly believe it does, then please stop reading, as you don’t belong here. Second, you better be very careful when you begin to espouse any sort of replacement theology. God does not like it.

People go to the sermon on the mount and point to passages where Jesus spoke that it was said this, yet now I say that. However he never annuls the original command. He may elaborate on it, or make it more comprehensive. In the same way when he quotes the lex talionis – the eye for an eye, he does not annul it. He simply says that in the case of a personal enemy, there is even a higher law that I want you to obey. That is the law of forgiveness. We are to showcase the reality of God’s grace and forgiveness wherever possible, in order to make men consider the fact that God will forgive them, should they repent. That does not mean that Jesus invalidated verses such as these. He simply says that I am challenging you to rise up even higher than Jeremiah rose. He was a faithful mouthpiece of mine, yet he reached his breaking point more than once. While I do not rebuke him for asking for vengeance on his own personal enemies, why don’t you try and win them to me by exhibiting the grace of God instead? Do you think you could possibly do that for me?

If praying for vengeance for your personal oppressors was sinful, then why is that activity taking place in heaven right now (Rev 6:9-11)? They were not rebuked for sinning, or told to shut up. Their question actually got an answer.

Now praying death to God’s enemies I believe is even on safer ground. David loved to pray so called imprecatory prayers, that is, asking God to send his wrath upon God’s enemies. In fact, 74 out of the 150 psalms have some sort of reference to smiting the wicked in some form or fashion. I thought the Psalms were all lovey-dovey, the Lord is my Shepherd type of stuff. Well, think again.

Jeremiah even recalls the fact that God likes to punish in multiples, so he asks for a double dose of God’s wrath on these reprobates, who continually rejected the true word of God. How many churches have been destroyed throughout the ages because no one had the guts to remove the wicked man (or woman) from amongst them, as Paul commands (1 Cor 5:13).

Jer 17:19 Thus said the LORD unto me; Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by the which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem;

From here on to the end of the chapter, these commands were given earlier in time, when people still had hope of averting God’s total judgment, maybe at the start of Jehoiakim’s reign. Remember that Jeremiah’s prophecies do tend to jump around chronologically a bit.

Jeremiah was not told to go to some obscure corner of the temple and mumble the word of the Lord, and count that as obedience. No, God put him in the most conspicuous place, where the most powerful men would be sure to hear. Let us not try to weasel our way out of potential persecution by trying to deceive ourselves into saying we’ve obeyed the voice of the Lord by executing his will in a manner not pleasing to him at all.

Jer 17:20 And say unto them, Hear ye the word of the LORD, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that enter in by these gates:

Jeremiah was to immediately get their attention. This is God speaking, not man.

Jer 17:21 Thus saith the LORD; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem;

Now here is a strange thing. Why would God pick this one law out of all the laws that were being broken? In our minds, wouldn’t idol worship, or gross immorality, rank higher on the priority list than Sabbath breaking?

A few thoughts come to mind. First, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel emphasize the Sabbath. Thus, God is emphasizing it. All three were priests, so it would naturally be one of the most important rules in their minds. God places more emphasis on the Sabbath than most of us realise. This is why you will run across certain believers who still honor Sabbath keeping. Nothing wrong with that, as long as you don’t try and impose it on others, as Paul clearly made it a choice of each believer’s conscience.

Perhaps we shouldn’t get hung up on why this law, but why only one request by God. Why didn’t he command them to repent and return to Torah – all of it?

I believe God is testing them. He asks them to return to obeying this one thing. If they couldn’t even obey this one thing, which every Jew knew about, how could they ever be expected to obey all things? In the same way, if God has told you to do one thing and you won’t do it, he will never entrust you with greater things.

Jer 17:22 Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow (consecrate, sanctify) ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.

God reminds them that this law was there from the get go. This is not some new thing. There should be no debate, no confusion.

Jer 17:23 But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear (shama), nor receive instruction (chastisement, reproof, warning).

Don’t be like those whom you’ve read about. Things did not end up well for them. An act of the will is always behind the rejection of God’s command.

Jer 17:24 And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken (shama) unto me, saith the LORD, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but hallow the sabbath day, to do no work therein;
Jer 17:25 Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain for ever.
Jer 17:26 And they shall come from the cities of Judah, and from the places about Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin, and from the plain, and from the mountains, and from the south, bringing burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and meat offerings, and incense, and bringing sacrifices of praise, unto the house of the LORD.

It all comes down to shama, and our proper understanding of this word. Never does it just mean to hear. Think of a soldier (a normal, typical soldier, not some woke numbnuts you may find on youtube today). He stands at attention and hears an order. He immediately acknowledges it, salutes and is off to obey it, and will die trying to obey. That is probably as good a picture as any as to what God expects each and every one of us to do. He isn’t interested in hearing you whine about how hard it is to obey God. About how hurt you are, and are still dealing with issues and need inner healing or deliverance, or need to be cut more grace. Perhaps that would work if you just got saved last week, but if you did, chances are you are not reading this commentary.

Notice all God is asking for the continuation of Judah’s existence is the simple keeping of one command. One command! Obviously, this must of been one of Jeremiah’s first prophecies ever given, as what we have mostly read thus far is a guarantee of no deliverance, no survival of the nation, and no eternal promise of anything but tribulation. They should of taken this deal while it was still on the table, don’t you think?

Jer 17:27 But if ye will not hearken (shama) unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.

To shama or not to shama? Sadly, we all know the answer. No shama, no blessing. No shama, no hope. Unquenchable fire. Palaces being eaten up. Not good.

Perhaps we can see the strong emphasis on Sabbath keeping as God entreating each and every one of us to come regularly to our quiet place of rest and solitude with him.

May we all truly find our own Sabbath rest in our daily walk with him.

Solitary Man

Photos courtesy Depositphotos


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