God calls Jeremiah to tell the people that they have ONE MORE CHANCE. It is their only hope but He also tells Jeremiah that they won’t listen.
Jeremiah is to bring the words of the Lord to the people. He is NOT to pray for them or intercede on their behalf with God. There is to be no Abraham like bargaining this time. From God’s words, they aren’t past the point of no return YET. “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your won harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever” (verses 5-7).
There are several things that are required to receive this last-minute reprieve, but they all start by adhering to the final condition. “If you do not go after other gods to your own harm.” Every requirement stems from that change in heart. For going after God with your whole heart results in the above changes. Continuing to chase after other gods brings right back in the above offenses.
I’m wondering when this message was given. Was it during Josiah’s reign? If so, is it before or after the people swear allegiance to God after the Law is read to them? Was their swearing true? Or was it for Josiah’s benefit? If this is after Josiah’s reign, the people had no incentive from the throne to obey. The influence of the throne was NOT godly.
While pointing out what was required of the people, God had a clear example to show them of what NOT to do. Of why they should listen to Him. It was not an abstract example that they had to work hard to understand but one that showed EXACTLY what would happen to them if they refused to obey; continued on their present course. Israel and Shiloh. The people of Judah KNEW what happened to Israel; their own kin. They probably interacted with the few people who remained. The evidence of God’s judgment was right outside their doorstep. And He promised the same to them if they continued on their present path.
Even after all the warnings, from the first day until this one, God KNEW what they would choose. He knew they would ignore Jeremiah and go on about their lives as usual. He held no illusions of repentance.
If I were Jeremiah, I might ask God why I even had to try. “They are not going to listen. I’m not allowed to pray for them. And even if I did, He promised that my pleas would fall on deaf ears. Why did You call me to this job in the first place if You knew it would be futile?” Jeremiah didn’t say that though. He walked out EVERY word that God told Him to do. Including doing an act that the people of Judah would consider completely humiliating. He cut off his hair.
We don’t know how short God told him to go with this demonstration. Did he cut it at the root; shave his head? Did he cut it off at the neck? Did he just cut the ends off? I’m leaning towards the first example. This would be what one would do with fulfilling a vow to the Lord; a Nazarite vow. It would certainly draw more attention to his actions than the other two options would. The people would see his bald head and take notice. They might question him about it. They might even take notice of what he did with his hair; scatter it as Judah would be scattered one day. And Jeremiah’s words would reach some of the people. His words would sustain them during the dark times that were coming. His actions were NOT futile! For God’s word NEVER returns unto Him void. It accomplishes that for which it was sent to do.
Father God, thank You for reaching out to me. Over and over again until I finally listened. Thank You for continuing to reach out to me when I wander from Your path. You don’t give up on me. I trust that You are using my words to reach out to at least a few of Your people. Let Your word have its perfect work here Father.