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Judah’s Unwillingness To Repent and Its Consequences - Jeremiah 5

The total lack of anyone (except the One) to deliver us from the curse

Jeremiah 4:19-21, 5:1-31; Ezekiel 18:23,32, 33:11; Genesis 18:20-33; Joshua 6:16-17; Deuteronomy 20:16-18; Hebrews 9:27-28; Romans 8:23; Galatians 5:5; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; 2 Timothy 4:7-8; Revelation 22:7,12,20

Sep 16, 2012 12:00 PM

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The book of Jeremiah takes up more biblical real estate than any other book.  Jeremiah’s text is the longest of all the biblical authors.  And it would be safe to say the major theme which runs throughout this text is the theme of judgment to come.  That is one reason why relatively few sermons are ever preached from Jeremiah, and almost no one preaches through the entire book.  Judgment Day just isn’t a very popular topic.

In chapter 4, it seems that Jeremiah himself grew weary of his own prophecies:

My anguish, my anguish!  I writhe in pain!  Oh the walls of my heart!
My heart is beating wildly; I cannot keep silent, for I hear the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.
20 Crash follows hard on crash; the whole land is laid waste.
Suddenly my tents are laid waste, my curtains in a moment.
21 How long must I see the standard and hear the sound of the trumpet?
(Jeremiah 4:19-21 ESV)

Who wants to talk endlessly about the wrath to come?  We’ve already pointed out that multitudes of believers will quickly quote John 3:16 without even being aware of verse 18 and the proclamation that all who do not believe in Christ are under the condemnation of God ALREADY.  

The media enjoys talking about bad news and doom and gloom.  They have created an entire industry committed to reporting nothing but whatever is depressing and discouraging and shocking and loathsome.  If it weren’t for bad news, we’d have no news at all!

Why would God commit so much verbiage to what seems like endless negativity?  Jeremiah is the most verbose of all the prophets and he dedicates the vast majority of his verbosity to things like “Woe is us!  We are doomed!”  

But the other Old Testament prophets are much the same way.  They also are sent to the people of Israel and Judah, NOT with “glad tidings of great joy”, but with message after message after message of warning of future destruction.  Why be such a downer?  Why is there SO MUCH bad news?

Because of love.  Parents get paranoid when it comes to their kids as they grow up.  

•    Don’t touch the stove!  You’ll burn yourself.  Don’t get near the stairs!  You’ll break your neck.
•    Be careful on your bike!  You might break a leg.
•    Be careful with that fish hook!  You might stick it in your finger!
•    Be careful with your pocket knife!  You might cut your hand off!
•    Be careful with your BB gun or you’ll put somebody’s eye out!  
•    Don’t run with scissors!  Don’t run in the house!  Don’t run down the street!  Just don’t run anywhere!  Don’t speed!  Watch where you’re going!  No, you can’t buy a motorcycle.  You’ll get killed!  
•    Look both ways before you cross the street!  Look both ways before you cross the railroad tracks!  Look both ways when you step off the bus!  Just look both ways all the time, for cryin’ out loud!

Why do they do that?  Why do parents make their kids nervous wrecks?  No wonder they need to be medicated!  It’s because of love.  And high medical costs, for sure.  But mostly because of love.  

A large portion of the Old Testament is taken up with the books of the major and minor prophets.  And most of what they say is based on the theme “Repent or Else”, “Turn or Burn”, “Stop your idolatry or get smashed by the Babylonians” or some other very unsavory people.  Not fun stuff.  But it is motivated by the love of God!  

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? (Ezekiel 18:23 ESV)

For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live. (Ezekiel 18:32 ESV)

Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel? (Ezekiel 33:11 ESV)

Turn with me to Jeremiah chapter 5 please.

1 Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look and take note!  Search her squares to see if you can find a man, one who does justice and seeks truth, that I may pardon her. 2 Though they say, "As the LORD lives," yet they swear falsely. 3 O LORD, do not your eyes look for truth?  You have struck them down, but they felt no anguish; you have consumed them, but they refused to take correction.  They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent.
4 Then I said, "These are only the poor; they have no sense; for they do not know the way of the LORD, the justice of their God. 5 I will go to the great and will speak to them, for they know the way of the LORD, the justice of their God."
But they all alike had broken the yoke; they had burst the bonds. 6 Therefore a lion from the forest shall strike them down; a wolf from the desert shall devastate them.  A leopard is watching their cities; everyone who goes out of them shall be torn in pieces, because their transgressions are many, their apostasies are great. 7 "How can I pardon you?  Your children have forsaken me and have sworn by those who are no gods.  When I fed them to the full, they committed adultery and trooped to the houses of whores. 8 They were well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for his neighbor's wife. 9 Shall I not punish them for these things?  declares the LORD; and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this? 10 "Go up through her vine rows and destroy, but make not a full end; strip away her branches, for they are not the LORD's. 11 For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have been utterly treacherous to me, declares the LORD. 12 They have spoken falsely of the LORD and have said, 'He will do nothing; no disaster will come upon us, nor shall we see sword or famine. 13 The prophets will become wind; the word is not in them.  Thus shall it be done to them!'"

14 Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of hosts: "Because you have spoken this word, behold, I am making my words in your mouth a fire, and this people wood, and the fire shall consume them. 15 Behold, I am bringing against you a nation from afar, O house of Israel, declares the LORD.  It is an enduring nation; it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language you do not know, nor can you understand what they say. 16 Their quiver is like an open tomb; they are all mighty warriors. 17 They shall eat up your harvest and your food; they shall eat up your sons and your daughters; they shall eat up your flocks and your herds; they shall eat up your vines and your fig trees; your fortified cities in which you trust they shall beat down with the sword." 18 "But even in those days, declares the LORD, I will not make a full end of you. 19 And when your people say, 'Why has the LORD our God done all these things to us?' you shall say to them, 'As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve foreigners in a land that is not yours.'" 20 Declare this in the house of Jacob; proclaim it in Judah: 21 "Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not. 22 Do you not fear me? declares the LORD.  Do you not tremble before me?  I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over it. 23 But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and gone away. 24 They do not say in their hearts, 'Let us fear the LORD our God, who gives the rain in its season, the autumn rain and the spring rain, and keeps for us the weeks appointed for the harvest.' 25 Your iniquities have turned these away, and your sins have kept good from you. 26 For wicked men are found among my people; they lurk like fowlers lying in wait.  They set a trap; they catch men. 27 Like a cage full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; therefore they have become great and rich; 28 they have grown fat and sleek.  They know no bounds in deeds of evil; they judge not with justice the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the needy. 29 Shall I not punish them for these things? declares the LORD, and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this?" 30 An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: 31 the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes?


Do you recall Abraham’s conversation with the Lord regarding the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah?

20 Then the LORD said, "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know."

22 So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD. 23 Then Abraham drew near and said, "Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?" 26 And the LORD said, "If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake." 27 Abraham answered and said, "Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?" And he said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there." 29 Again he spoke to him and said, "Suppose forty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of forty I will not do it." 30 Then he said, "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there." He answered, "I will not do it, if I find thirty there." 31 He said, "Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it." 32 Then he said, "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there." He answered, "For the sake of ten I will not destroy it." 33 And the LORD went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.
(Genesis 18:20-33 ESV)

Guess what!  There weren’t ten righteous people in Sodom.  And the LORD destroyed it.  When the people of Israel surrounded the city of Jericho, one family was spared only because they asked for mercy and feared Jehovah:

Joshua said to the people, "Shout, for the LORD has given you the city. 17 And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the LORD for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. (Joshua 6:16-17 ESV)

But God’s standing order to the armies of Israel were these:

16 But in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, 17 but you shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the LORD your God has commanded, 18 that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 20:16-18 ESV)

Beloved, please remember, there are no inherently righteous people anywhere in all the world.  The whole world is under the curse of God.  The whole world is Sodom.  The whole world is devoted to complete destruction.  There is none righteous, no, not one.  There is not a single innately righteous person upon the face of the entire earth.  Never has been since Adam, and there never will be.  All the sons of Adam are corrupt.  All of our righteousnesses are filthy rags.  This is why the Lord destroyed the world with a flood, because the thoughts and intents of all their hearts were only evil continually.  This is the plight of the human race!  Not a happy thought, but a true one, and God has loved us enough to tell us the truth.

Look at Jeremiah 5:1 again.  Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look and take note!  Search her squares to see if you can find a man, ANY man, just one! who does justice and seeks truth, that I may pardon her.

Jerusalem would have been spared if Jeremiah could have found one righteous man.  But there were none then, and there are none now.  All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  It is a miracle of tolerance that God lets any of us live at all.  But a second, and possibly greater miracle is that He has loved us enough to send prophets and pastors and missionaries to call people to repentance and to life and salvation in Christ.  As Sam so ably put it a few weeks ago, how is it that a good God lets such good things happen to such bad people?  How is it that a holy God even sends a warning to rebellious, sin-loving people like us?

Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look and take note!  Search her squares to see if you can find a man, ANY man, just one! who does justice and seeks truth, that I may pardon her.

Praise be to God that there was one righteous Man who walked the streets of Jerusalem.  But God Himself had to supply that One righteous man!  He had to send His own Son into the world as THE righteous man to stand in the gap for us all or we would all be destroyed.  Based upon His provision of the Man that God could not find anywhere else, He commands all men everywhere to repent and trust in that Man, Jesus Christ, so they might secure a pardon from an offended God.

In looking throughout Jerusalem for just one righteous man, Jeremiah finds according to verses 5 & 6,

But they all alike had broken the yoke; they had burst the bonds.  . . . their transgressions are many, their apostasies are great.

So God’s answer to this is, "How can I pardon you? (v7) For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have been utterly treacherous to me.” (v11) Shall I not punish them for these things? declares the LORD, and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this?" (v9) An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes? (vs 30-31).

What will you do when the end comes?  There is an end coming.  There is an end to the patience and tolerance and longsuffering of God.  The entire world is moving towards that end, that last day, the final judgment, the consummation of this life, or as some are strangely fond of saying, “the end of the world as we know it”.  There was an end coming to Jerusalem, but that event was typical of The End, when Christ returns to put all of His enemies under His feet.  What will you do when THAT end comes?

For the Christian, that day is the day we long for.  

27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.  (Hebrews 9:27-28 ESV)

We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23 ESV)

For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. (Galatians 5:5 ESV)

God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed,  (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 ESV)

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.  (2 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV)

7 “And behold, I am coming soon.  Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”  (Revelation 22:7 ESV)
12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.  (Revelation 22:12 ESV)
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20 ESV)


What will you do when the end comes?  I will marvel at Him.  The day which I have eagerly awaited, the day when I will finally see the lover of my soul, will have arrived, and all of His people, all of His brethren, all of God’s children will be awestruck by His glory and power and love for them.  Finally, we will be made righteous, being granted a crown of righteousness because we have loved His appearing.  Our eager waiting for the hope of righteousness will finally be realized.  And King Jesus will inflict His vengeance upon all who have scorned Him and rejected His rule over them.

So I ask one more time, “What will you do when the end comes?”


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