Jeremiah 23-25 For twenty-three years the word of the LORD has come to me and I have spoken to you, but you have not listened

From Jeremiah 23-25

24 25 Jeremiah Lamentations thumbJeremiah served the LORD a long long time. His ministry was even more difficult because he preached a message the people did not want to hear. In today’s passage we briefly consider what the duration of Jeremiah’s ministry says about his character. We look at what Jesus asks of us if we are to follow him.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

The writing is on the wall for Judah. In today’s passage the LORD condemns Judah for her behaviour and issues their punishment.

25 The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah (that was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), 2 which Jeremiah the prophet spoke to all the people of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem:

3 “For twenty-three years, from the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, to this day, the word of the LORD has come to me, and I have spoken persistently to you, but you have not listened. (Jer 25.1-3)

Jeremiah has been in ministry for twenty three years so far and the people have refused to listen to his message, repent of their sins and return to the LORD.

Twenty three years is a long time and Jeremiah saw no results for his labour.

23 Not Listening4 You have neither listened nor inclined your ears to hear, although the LORD persistently sent to you all his servants the prophets, 5 saying, ‘Turn now, every one of you, from his evil way and evil deeds, and dwell upon the land that the LORD has given to you and your fathers from of old and forever. 6 Do not go after other gods to serve and worship them, or provoke me to anger with the work of your hands. Then I will do you no harm.’ 7 Yet you have not listened to me, declares the LORD, that you might provoke me to anger with the work of your hands to your own harm. (Jer 25.4-7)

The LORD has been faithful in sending so many prophets to turn them back. But they have not listened or repented.

Is there someone you should be listening too?

23 golden idolThe chief sin they have been committing is idolatry. They have gone after other gods and worshiped them. They have pushed the LORD too far.

8 “Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: Because you have not obeyed my words, 9 behold, I will send for all the tribes of the north, declares the LORD, and for Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these surrounding nations. I will devote them to destruction, and make them a horror, a hissing, and an everlasting desolation. (Jer 25.8-9)

Because they have not listened to the LORD or repented of their wicked deeds over more than twenty three years the LORD will send ‘tribes from the north’ (Babylon) to punish them.

The LORD will devote them to destruction. They will become a horror and a desolation.

Other nations will look on the fate of Judah wit dread and scorn.

10 Moreover, I will banish from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the grinding of the millstones and the light of the lamp.

11 This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the LORD, making the land an everlasting waste. 13 I will bring upon that land all the words that I have uttered against it, everything written in this book, which Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations. 14 For many nations and great kings shall make slaves even of them, and I will recompense them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.” (Jer 25.10-14)

The LORD will banish joy. There will be no more weddings. Industry and trade will stop. Simple luxuries such as lamps will be gone. Their standard of living will be dramatically reduced.

They will serve Babylon in exile seventy years and then the LORD will punish their captor.

Babylon may be serving the LORD’s justice to Judah. The LORD will still hold them accountable for their own sins and wrongdoing. Particularly for how they have treated the LORD’s people. They in turn will become the slaves of other nations (Persia) and the LORD will judge them according to their deeds.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Babylon was to fall to the Medo-Persian Empire under the emperor Cyrus in 539 BC (see 2 Ch. 36:20–23). The seventy years may be counted either from 605, the date of the present prophecy and the year in which Nebuchadnezzar first took exiles, to 539, or soon after, when exiles began to return; or from 586, the date of the destruction of the temple, to 516, when it was rebuilt. (Carson, D.A. et al. eds., 1994. New Bible commentary: 21st century edition 4th ed., Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.)

Story of Jesus

Twenty-three years of experience is an excellent test of character. This length of time would be easily sufficient to eliminate accidents and rare incidents revealing the general conduct of a person.

“We should not judge a man by his latest action, perhaps a hasty and quite uncharacteristic one; to be fair, not to say charitable, we should consider the whole course of his life. To know ourselves we must look back on the years of our lives, and not pass a superficial judgment on our present mood.” (Spence-Jones, H.D.M. ed., 1909. Jeremiah, London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.)

Jeremiah spent his whole life serving the LORD. He made a lifetime commitment. In the gospel Jesus asks us to count the cost of following him.

25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. (Lk 14.25-33)

Are you ready to give your whole lifetime to follow Jesus?

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