Good morning! In what might now seem to be a familiar pattern, today’s passage (Jeremiah 10-12) expresses disgust at idolatry, promises the vengeful wrath of God through military defeat, and then permits a periodic prose reminder that not all will be destroyed. Along the way, we get more of a sense that this calling costs Jeremiah dearly, alienating him from both people and God in the peculiar pinch that comes with prophecy.
Jeremiah’s incredulous description of idol worship opens chapter 10. In the face of alternatives for divine worship, the prophet contends that Judah’s God alone has power; all the rest of the deities are empty husks. In light of that declaration, it must have been all the more challenging to profess that this same powerful God stands idly by as imposing forces come against Judah. Nay, more: according to Jeremiah, this very God is sending the enemy against them in retribution for their idolatry. Not a message that would win him many friends!
Chapter 11 places Jeremiah’s situation in broader context. The opening (later) prose restates God’s covenant from the time of Egyptian escape to the present, a cornerstone of which is loyalty to the living God. But the Judeans have not been faithful in this regard, so when God comes against them the idols they have given allegiance to will be proven false. This creates a bind for Jeremiah: God forbids him to intercede for the people or entreat them to repent, and then the people threaten him for giving unpopular prophesies.
Jeremiah laments his lot at the beginning chapter 12, replying that God has put him in an impossible situation. He sounds much like Job, contesting the justice of God when wickedness continues to prevail on earth. God essentially responds with, “It’s tough for me too”, describing what it has cost to give “the beloved of my heart into the hands of her enemies”. It’s only the hand of a later writer who captures the sentiment that this hardship is not final. God will show compassion to those who are faithful among the Hebrew people in the midst of their calamity. Happy reading!
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Jeremiah 13-15. Thanks for reading!