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mule July 27 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Jeremiah 5-6

Obstinacy and its Results

Some people are mulish and will not listen to anyone, even those who warn them or counsel them for their best interests. This usually leads to their destruction. We do not want them to destroy themselves so what do we do? (Note: This is a continuation of yesterday’s Bible study on backsliding).

In the early days of Jeremiah, the prophet to the nation of Judah, the people were in a backslidden condition. They were affected by the rampant idolatry practiced during the reigns of King Manasseh and Amon, kings of Judah in the 7th century B.C. Though Manasseh repented and made some reformations late in his life, his son returned the nation to idolatry. There were idols on every street corner and in almost every house in Judah and Samaria. There were pagan priests and altars to serve false gods, and temple prostitution even in Solomon’s temple. People were even offering their children as burnt offerings to Molech, the god of the Ammonites (2Kings 23:4-20). Then Josiah began his reign and purged all the land and the temple from its idols. He could not remove the idolatry from their hearts, however, for the people had rejected God and were in a backslidden condition.

God told Jeremiah,

“Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city.

Although they say, 'As surely as the LORD lives,' still they are swearing falsely.”

[Jeremiah answered] O LORD, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent (5:1, NIV).

In other words, these people were worse than Sodom and Gomorrah, for at least Lot and his daughters escaped judgment. Judah was so wicked she would not escape though she still swore allegiance to God. This behavior reminds us of Christians today who are living a sinful life but still claim allegiance to Christ: ‘I’m a Christian!” they say, but we would not know that by the rebellious lives they live. God is looking for those who worship him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24) - that includes our daily behavior, not just our Sunday worship.

So, Jeremiah searched Jerusalem but to no avail. Those who were in spiritual leadership were no better than those who were poor and uneducated; they cast off truth and service to God. They were thankless for all that God had done for them and were totally unfaithful in their idolatry (which God likened to adultery). Are we thankful, or do we cast aside God, forgetting all he has done for us?

In addition to their thanklessness and idolatry, the people lied and lived in denial of any consequences. Therefore, God told Jeremiah, “I will make my words in your mouth a fire and these people the wood it consumes” (5:14, NIV). However, they were only interested in hearing good words from their own prophets. They preferred to enjoy their wealth, not caring for the widows and orphans. To those who are backslidden, the word of God is like a destructive fire of judgment. That is why they avoid hearing it.

During the reigns of Manasseh and Amon, the nation of Judah experienced peace from foreign invaders and some measure of prosperity as Assyria and Babylon fought each other, but this would not last. Soon, because of their unfaithfulness, wickedness and idolatry, they would be conquered and exiled by Babylon (Jeremiah 6). Nevertheless, even though they would experience the destruction of their nation, in future times God would be merciful (Jeremiah 5:18).

The people of Judah were stubborn. They would not listen to the warnings of God’s prophets, and they would not fear the LORD, the LORD who had provided for them and protected them and nourished them.

God said,

“when the people ask, ‘Why has the LORD our God done all this to us?’ you will tell them, ‘As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your own land, so now you will serve foreigners in a land not your own,’” (5:19, NIV). You do not fear the LORD but are stubborn and rebellious. “Your wrongdoings have kept these [blessings on their crops] away; your sins have deprived you of good,” (5:25, NIV).

The Certainty of Coming Judgment.

Soon, because of their obstinacy, Jerusalem would be so decimated by Babylon that shepherds would later come and tend their flocks where Jerusalem once stood (6:1-3).

Therefore, God warned her to prepare for attack (6:4-5) because the city of Jerusalem must be punished for her oppression and left desolate (6:6-8).The wrath of God would be poured out because Jerusalem was not listening. Its leadership was acting with deceit, and they were acting with shameless conduct, ignoring the warnings of the prophets, and rejecting God’s Laws but offering expensive perfumes to curry favor with God (6:9-20). The army would come from the north (Babylon) to destroy them, and they were fierce and cruel.

Jeremiah's words from God were like a fire to test the mettle of the people, but their impurities could not be purged because they were obstinate and would not listen. Therefore, as worthless metal, he rejected them. Are any of us like them? The answer to obstinacy is often to let the person experience the results of their actions. Should he come to his senses, he can find mercy like the rest of us by humbling himself, confessing his sins to God, and repenting of all evil.

Lessons to Live by:

  • The obstinate are rebellious and live a lie.
  • God is looking for those who worship him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24) - that includes our daily behavior, not just our Sunday worship.
  • Be thankful. Do not cast God aside, forgetting all he has done for you, and live a hedonistic lifestyle.
  • To those who are backslidden and obstinate, the word of God is like a destructive fire of judgment. That is why they avoid hearing it.
  • Fear the LORD so you will not be deprived of the good he would do for you.
  • The answer to the obstinate is first to warn him of the results of his behavior. If he continues in his obstinacy, pray for him and let the person experience the results of his actions. Should he come to his senses, he can find mercy like the rest of us by humbling himself, confessing his sins to God, and repenting of all evil (more...).

Today’s Bible Memory Verse: Psalm 31:22 “In my alarm I said, ‘I am cut off from your sight!’ Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.” (NIV)

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