Jeremiah 11 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson
You don’t have to read Hebrew to see the repeated words in 11:1-10. We keep reading hear, obey, listen, and incline your ear. God tells Jeremiah to tell His people to listen and hear God’s Words. Why? So they can obey Him. He wants us to listen or incline our ears so we will have a blessed life obeying God.
Why are we so deaf to God? We can blame the Jews of Jeremiah’s day but how sensitive are you to God’s Word? When I think of how well I have been taught and how poorly I have lived, I should not be sitting in judgment against these Jewish believers. Rather, I should repent about how much I know and how little it shows.
Now in 11:11-17 God warns them again (as you read this book, these warnings just keep coming). If you think God is always accepting and always forgiving (looking at you Voltaire who said, God will forgive. That is his job), look at these verses 11ff, “Therefore, thus says the LORD, Behold, I am bringing disaster upon them that they cannot escape. Though they cry to me, I will not listen to them. 14“Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble. 17 The LORD of hosts, who planted you, has decreed disaster against you, because of the evil that the house of Israel and the house of Judah have done, provoking me to anger by making offerings to Baal.”
I would not want God to decree disaster against me or have God tell a prophet not to pray for me or have God say He “will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble.” Where can we run to get away from God who says he is bringing disaster that we cannot escape? This shows what a serious position these believers are in – if they are believers.
Judaism is monotheistic meaning they (and Christians also) believe in one God. How could verse 13 ever be true? In v. 13, “For your gods have become as many as your cities, O Judah, and as many as the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up to shame, altars to make offerings to Baal.” What treachery, rebellion, and wickedness for this nation to come to such idolatry. But it will get worse. Much worse. This is only the beginning of this book.
In vs. 18-23, we see Jeremiah wrestling with God over His calling. These are Jeremiah’s words as he is rejected by His own people. Jeremiah cares so deeply for their eternal souls. “The LORD made it known to me and I knew; then you showed me their deeds. 19 But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. I did not know it was against me they devised schemes, saying, “Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more.” 20 But, O LORD of hosts, who judges righteously, who tests the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have I committed my cause.”
You will find the prophets can protest to God. In fact, God’s people’s complaints are in Scripture so we will read them until Christ returns. And there are a lot of complaints. The Psalms and this book are full of complaints (see the next chapter!). Of course, there is plenty that could be bad when a believer complains but for a moment, let me give a defense of complaining to God.
One, you are wrestling with God. Complain to the Person who is responsible, who can change things, and who loves and listens to you. Wrestle with God if you must. Christians from all ages have had a beef with God. Second, you are being honest. Your honesty might not be pleasant when it comes out raw and unvarnished. But let Him have it. Why did she/he die? Why is my wife/husband/Dad/son/job/life etc. like this? I don’t like this. Be honest and wrestle with God. Third, don’t stop with just that. Read where other people have complained in the Bible. Jonah was spitting mad at God. Jeremiah complained often. The disciples were always complaining about something. And if those don’t help, read the Psalms. These will all give you ammunition against God and fuel your complaints.
But . . . then as you read, you will hopefully listen to His Word, His Spirit and your complaints. You will begin to soften and realize after a time (it may take you a long time – be patient with yourself) that God has been so very good to you. You will realize that God’s people have always been complaining about something to God. You might just see there is even benefit to pain. So, it is alright, if you must, to get very close to God in this manner. It is far better to not have to go through the complaining stage in the first place. But if you must, get in line. Someone is always mad at God. Someone is always complaining to Him. In fact, if you want to hone your complaints, you could take words right out of the Bible and fashion a better complaint than the one you could muster. God can take it. Some of his very best servants complained as well.