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Jeremiah 11:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from Yahweh saying- Jeremiah is not a chronological book. This could refer to the time when the book of the covenant was discovered by Josiah; or it could be a reminder at a later point that the people ought to have been obedient to that covenant which had been discovered and proclaimed.

Jeremiah 11:2 Hear the words of this covenant, and speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem-
See on :1. The allusion is indeed to the book of the covenant discovered by Josiah. But we should also consider that according to Jer. 31, Ez. 20 etc., God offered a new covenant to the people at this time, seeing they had broken the old covenant in the form of the Mosaic law.

Jeremiah 11:3 And say to them, Thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel: Cursed is the man who doesn’t hear the words of this covenant-
The allusion is to how the old covenant was pronounced, and this same curse was made binding. Like us, Israel were reminded that His covenant with His people was not a mere historical incident. His word is living, and the covenant applied to them just as much as it did to those who first heard it; with the attendant blessings and cursings. We can likewise reflect how the promises to Abraham are similarly personally relevant to us, being the basis of the new covenant.

Jeremiah 11:4 Which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the iron furnace saying, Obey My voice, and do them, according to all which I command you: so you shall be My people, and I will be your God-
They had been saved from the furnace of Egypt, but they were now within the furnace of Jerusalem (Ez.  22:18,20). Just as they had been saved from the Egyptian furnace, so now they also could be from that of Divine judgment. But the deliverance was to be conditional upon obedience. The commandments to be obeyed were not mere tests of obedience or loyalty; "so you shall be My people" means that they were designed in order to facilitate in practice the relationship between God and His people. The deliverance from the furnace of Egypt was in order that they become God's people (Dt. 4:20; 1 Kings 8:51). But if they didn't want to become God's people, then deliverance would be pointless. The furnace was to be a refining process (Is. 48:10), but if they didn't want this, then they would be destroyed in that furnace.

Jeremiah 11:5 That I may establish the oath which I swore to your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as at this day-
We need to remember in our preaching that success is potentially possible; God is working through us to give those we intersect with the chance of a real salvation. Their rejection shouldn't be so discouraging the more we perceive that we on God's side in all this, He is working through us to try to appeal to them. And appreciating this will give a far greater intensity and urgency of appeal to our preaching. In Jer. 11:4,5 God speaks of how obedience is required in order for Him to fulfil the promises to us which He so wishes to fulfil: "Be my people... and this will allow me to carry out the oath that I swore to your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as I have in fact done" ["as at this day"]. We see here how God allows Himself to be limited by us- we can 'allow Him' to carry out His purposes, or not. And yet in this example we see His grace, in the words "As I have in fact done". For Israel weren't obedient to the covenant- and yet He still gave them the promised land. His grace shines through, breaking even His own conditions.

Then answered I and said, Amen, Yahweh- This is reminiscent of Israel saying "Amen" to the covenant. Jeremiah acts on their behalf, just as his prayer at the end of Jer. 10 is in the first person, but is representative of all Israel.

Jeremiah 11:6 Yahweh said to me, Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem saying, Hear the words of this covenant, and do them-
In Jer. 5:1, Jeremiah was asked to run to and fro in those streets, representing God in search of man. The medium of God's searching for man is the word of offer of covenant relationship with Him. Obedience to this commandment would have taken Jeremiah some time. "The cities of Judah" had not yet fallen to the Babylonians, so this prophecy must be relatively early in his ministry. Hearing and doing is the classic language of obedience to the covenant (e.g. Dt. 4:1). James alludes to it in saying that those under the new covenant likewise are to both hear and do. We note that Jeremiah doesn't repeat the covenant here; perhaps because he is referring to the book of the covenant found by Josiah (:1,2).

Jeremiah 11:7 For I earnestly protested to your fathers in the day that I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, even to this day, rising early and protesting saying, Obey My voice-
Again we have the sense of God's living word, speaking to every generation. What He said to their fathers was spoken to  every subsequent generation "even to this day". This is the art of faithful Bible reading- perceiving God's historical voice as coming to us personally. "Protested" is the same word translated "testify" in the records of the giving of the covenant; and that testifying was "by heaven and earth" (Dt. 30:19), whom Israel were now worshipping as Babylon worshipped them, rather than seeing in them evidence of Yahweh's creation.

Jeremiah 11:8 Yet they didn’t obey, nor turn their ear, but walked each one in the stubbornness of their evil heart-
Inclining or humbling / bowing down the ear means that true response to God's word ought to be a humbling experience. We cannot come away from engagement with God's word without being humbled. And this very phrase is used of how God bows down / inclines His ear to human prayer (2 Kings 19:16; Ps. 17:6; 31:2; 71:2 and often). We see here the mutuality possible between God and man, and the interplay between Bible reading and God's response to our prayers. We speak to God in line with our understanding of His word, and He responds to our prayers. Bible reading and prayer therefore mesh together in the Christian life, as part of the upward spiral of spirituality. God is not silent to our prayers- He reveals Himself in response through His word.

Therefore I brought on them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they didn’t do them- Again we see God's grace. Because not all the curses for covenant breaking were brought upon Israel. In wrath He remembered mercy, even when they were impenitent.

Jeremiah 11:9 Yahweh said to me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem-
The conspiracy against Jeremiah by his own local people and family (:19) was itself a reflection of how these men had as it were made a conspiracy against God. As Jeremiah's positive view of his own people seems to have prevented him from perceiving it, so God reveals Himself as shocked that as it were 'in secret', His people had conspired against Him. We see here the unity between God and His servant. The idea of a conspiracy suggests a wilful, conscious decision to rebel against God. It is the consciousness of their disobedience which is so stunning. They were led into this by their false prophets telling them that they could serve Yahweh in ways which were disobedient to His covenant. Hence the contemporary Ez. 22:25 says that the "conspiracy" (s.w.) was amongst the false prophets.

Jeremiah 11:10 They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear My words; and they are gone after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken My covenant which I made with their fathers-
Judah were continually being reminded by Jeremiah that they were not better than the ten tribe kingdom of Israel, and would meet a similar destruction and exile as they had. The breaking of covenant was a conscious act, indicated by it being a "conspiracy" (:9). If they had "turned back" to God, then the exiles would have been "turned back" to Zion. But instead they had "turned back" to the sins of their fathers. This point is significant in that Ez. 18 reflects how they considered they were being unfairly punished for the sins of their fathers. But here they are reminded that they were committing the very same sins as their fathers.

Jeremiah 11:11 Therefore thus says Yahweh, Behold, I will bring evil on them, which they shall not be able to escape; and they shall cry to Me, but I will not listen to them-
And yet the many prophetic messages at this time showed that they were "able to escape". But they chose not to. We noted on :9 and :5 how Jeremiah personally was representative of Judah. They were told here that prayer was going to be pointless for them; hence Jeremiah personally was commanded not to pray in their name (Jer. 7:16; 11:14; 14:7). This is perhaps the nadir of all existence; for God's people to be unable to pray to Him. This is the picture of condemnation; this will be the reason for gnashing of teeth.

Jeremiah 11:12 Then shall the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem go and cry to the gods to which they offer incense: but they will not save them at all in the time of their trouble-
The time of Jacob's trouble was to come at the Babylonian entry into Jerusalem. In that moment, Jacob should surely have cried to his God; but tragically, they cried to the gods of their invaders. As observed earlier, idols always fail at the point of critical testing; the Babylonians should have learnt from the way their idols never saved Jerusalem from destruction. Here we see God's wonderful hope, that even Babylon would repent. We give up on people far too easily compared to Him. In Jer. 2:27 God had fantasized that His people in the "time of their trouble" (s.w.) would cry to Him. But now He as it were faces the reality that they would cry to their idols and not to Him. And yet whilst crying to the idols, they would also cry to Him (:14). We have the picture of them crying out to every god they had ever worshipped, as well as Yahweh. But that is not the singular faith in Him which He can respond to. He is not one of many options and loves of our lives. He is to be the passion of our faithful, loyal hearts.

Jeremiah 11:13 For according to the number of your cities are your gods, Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have you set up altars to the shameful thing, even altars to burn incense to Baal-
 Each street of Jerusalem was named after an idol, just as was the case in Babylon (Jer. 11:13)- and thus Jerusalem shared Babylon’s judgment. If we don't come out from Babylon, we will share her judgments (Rev. 18:4). Zion lost her children and also her husband whilst still a young woman (Is. 49:21; 54:6), just as Babylon would (Is. 47:9).

Jeremiah 11:14 Therefore don’t pray for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry to Me because of their trouble-
See on :12. For the sake of our prayers, in some cases sins of others can be forgiven when otherwise they wouldn’t be. For the sake of our conversion of our erring brethren, they can be saved from eternal death and have their sins covered. The Lord’s prayer says as much- we ask God to forgive us our  sins; not ‘me my sins’. Likewise only once Israel had passed a certain level of sinfulness was Jeremiah told to cease prayer for them (Jer. 7:16 cp. 11:14). Until that point, God seems to have been willing to read Jeremiah’s prayer for them as their prayer (his “cry” was seen as theirs). And Ez. 14:14,18 imply the same- Noah, Daniel and Job could have delivered Israel up to a certain point, but they were so hardened in sin at Ezekiel’s time that even those men wouldn’t have saved a nation which otherwise, for a lower level of sin as it were, they could otherwise have saved. If we have any grain of love in us, we will likewise dedicate ourselves to fervent prayer for our brethren, seeing it does have effect and validity within certain boundaries.

Christ did not pray for the world (Jn. 17:9), which in the context seems to refer to the unrepentant Jewish world (cp. Jer. 11:14; 1 Jn. 5:8) as well as the surrounding (Roman) world.

Ez. 22:30 says that if a person had been found at this time who would have powerfully interceded for Jerusalem, 'stood in the gap', God wouldn't have destroyed Jerusalem - "that I should not destroy it" in Ez. 22:30 is an allusion to Abraham interceding for Sodom in Gen. 18:28. But there was not such a person, because they were "all" dross (Ez. 22:18,19). Jeremiah was in the land at the time and was surely righteous, but he had been told not to intercede for the people (Jer. 11:14; 14:11). It seems that if another like him had been found, in addition to Ezekiel in exile, then the judgments could have been averted. There were simply so many possible scenarios! And this is what we must expect if even time periods can be shortened or extended in response to human behaviour. And yet Jeremiah himself seems to have been too 'pro' Israel. He was shocked at the depth of their weakness and even naive to it; and in Lamentations he seems to consider God had acted too harshly against His people. So perhaps in any case Jeremiah was not the appropriate interceder.

Jeremiah 11:15 What has My beloved to do in My house-
Despite casting them out of His house, God still calls them His "beloved". This is really love amazing, and grace without compare.

Since she has worked lewdness with many, and the holy flesh is passed from you? When you do evil, then you rejoice- LXX: "Will prayers and holy offerings take away thy wickedness from thee, or shalt thou escape by these things?". GNB: "Do they think they can prevent disaster by making promises and by offering animal sacrifices? Will they then rejoice?". It's clear from :12,14 that they cried out to their idols when in their final desperation, and yet Jer. 2:27 says that at that point they cried to Yahweh as well. Likewise it seems they were madly offering sacrifices to every god they knew, including Yahweh. And that was exactly why God didn't respond to them.

Jeremiah 11:16 Yahweh called your name, A green olive tree, beautiful with goodly fruit-
The Lord’s words as He carried the cross "If they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?" is packed with allusion to O.T. Scriptures (Ez. 17:24; Jer. 11:16,19; Ps. 1; Jer. 17:5-8). His preceding words to the women were likewise; His quotation from Hos. 10:8 is set in a context so appropriate to the situation He was in. If they did these things to Him, the green and healthy shoot, what would be done to the dry dead wood of Israel…? His concern was always with the sufferings others would experience rather than being lost in His own introspection. Without getting too deeply involved in the actual exposition, a simple lesson emerges: He was not so overpowered by the terrible physicality of His human situation that He ceased to be spiritually aware. His mind was full of the word, not just out of place quotations flooding His subconscious, but real awareness of the spirit of the Father's word and its' intensely personal relevance to Himself. In this He sets a matchless example.

With the noise of a great tumult he has kindled fire on it, and its branches are broken- I explained on Jer. 10:8 that the wooden idols were likened to the kindling wood, as it were stacked around Jerusalem. God kindled the fire, although it sounded like ["with the noise of..."] the invaders had done so. He worked through them. Both Yahweh and Israel are described as kindling the fire of judgment; He responded to what they had done (Jer. 11:16; 15:14; Lam. 4:11 cp. Jer. 17:4). God "broke" the tree of Israel (s.w. Jer.  25:29), but so did the invaders. The rejected are witnesses against themselves (Is. 44:9; Mt. 23:31). Herein lies the crass folly and illogicality of sin. Jeremiah pleaded with Israel: "Wherefore commit ye this great evil against your souls [i.e. yourselves], to cut off from you man and woman...that ye might cut yourselves off" (Jer. 44:7,8, cp. how Jerusalem cut her own hair off in Jer. 7:29). In the same passage, Yahweh is the one who does the cutting off (Jer. 44:11); but they had cut themselves off. Likewise as they had kindled fire on their roofs in offering sacrifices to Baal, so Yahweh through the Babylonians would set fire to those same houses (Jer. 32:29). Thus Israel were the ones who had kindled the fire of Yahweh's condemnation (Jer. 17:4).

Jeremiah 11:17 For Yahweh of Armies, who planted you, has pronounced evil against you-
They were planted by God when they left Egypt and entered covenant with God (Ex. 15:17; Num. 24:6), and also when they entered Canaan and God cleared the land of the Canaanite tribes (Ps. 44:2; 80:8). Having done everything possible through their planting that they might produce fruit (Is. 5:2), it was appropriate for God to also destroy them when they failed to respond. Likewise we have been "planted" in a manner and position optimal for our spiritual fruitfulness; we cannot therefore blame our lack of spiritual fruit on bad environment.

Because of the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have worked for themselves in provoking Me to anger by offering incense to Baal- Judah were continually being reminded by Jeremiah that they were not better than the ten tribe kingdom of Israel, and would meet a similar destruction and exile as they had. They had both produced the judgment for themselves; sin is essentially a sin against ourselves as well as God.

Jeremiah 11:18 Yahweh gave me knowledge of it, and I knew it: then You showed me their evil deeds-
Jeremiah speaks here of how he came to see Israel for who they were; he realized their conspiracy against God, and also their conspiracy against himself. He was therefore underlined as really being God's representative on earth, emotionally passing through similar experiences. Ezekiel was shown “what the house of Israel is doing in the dark” (Ez. 8:12). To pass through human life with this level of sensitivity must’ve been so hard. Psychologically and nervously, the stress would’ve been awful. It seems to me that the prophets had to be somehow psychologically strengthened by God to endure living that sensitively in this crass and unfeeling world- hence God made Ezekiel and Jeremiah as a wall and “iron pillar” to Israel, hardened their faces, so that they wouldn’t be “dismayed at [the] looks” of those who watched them with anger and consternation (Jer. 1:18; 15:20; Ez. 2:4-6; 3:8,9,27). This psychological strengthening was not aimed at making them insensitive, but rather in strengthening them to live sensitively to sin in a sinful world without cracking up. And He will do the same for us, too.

Jeremiah 11:19 But I was like a gentle lamb that is led to the slaughter-
On Jer. 10:19 we noted that Jeremiah alludes to the great Messianic prophecy of Is. 53, feeling himself the bearer of Israel's griefs. He continues that allusion here, this time to Is. 53:7 "a lamb to the slaughter". Jeremiah had naively believed they had good intentions, hence GNB "like a trusting lamb". His overly positive view of his people reflected that of God. For the conspiracy against Jeremiah was reflective of that which they had as it were made against Yahweh (:9).   


And I didn’t know that they had devised devices against me saying, Let us destroy the tree with its fruit- LXX "Come and let us put wood into his bread", suggesting an attempt to poison him. But the destruction of a tree is the figure just used in :16 for the cutting down and burning of the tree of Israel. The idea may be that the tree of Israel was destroyed because of their plot to kill Jeremiah and thus nullify, as they thought, his words. The book of Jeremiah isn't chronological. It may be that Jeremiah had earlier specifically been warned that his family were trying to kill him (Jer. 12:6) but he ignored it. This would again be reflected in how Yahweh knew on one hand that His people were conspiring against Him (:9), and yet acted as if He didn't know that, such was His love and hope for them.

And let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered- This alludes to Is. 53:8, where the suffering servant is to be cut off out of the land of the living. See on :21. Jeremiah was attempting to be the sin bearer for Israel in the terms of Is. 53. Perhaps this is why many of the prophecies of judgment were ameliorated in their outworking. But their sin was such that his willingness was not enough to save them from condemnation. Or perhaps Jeremiah's struggling spirit against God's ways, which at times does appear in the record (e.g. Jer. 12:1), meant that he was not righteous enough; hence the final fulfilment of Is. 53 in the Lord Jesus and not Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 11:20 But, Yahweh of Armies, who judges righteously, who tests the heart and the mind-
The 'testing' of Judah was to be through melting them in the furnace of Jerusalem, caused by the fire of Babylonian judgment (Jer. 9:7; Zech. 13:9). We learn here that the essential purpose of that was to try / test / purify / reveal their heart and mind; for that was and is of utterly paramount importance to God.

I shall see Your vengeance on them- But when he did see this, he bitterly laments over it, in Lamentations. We must be careful what we ask for, lest we receive it. There is more information about Jeremiah's feelings about his persecutors at Jer. 20:10-12. The book of Jeremiah isn't arranged chronologically, and it seems Jer. 11:20 refers to the same time as Jer. 20:10-12.

For to You have I opened up my cause- The fact God sees and knows all means that we might as well open our lives up before Him in prayer and meditation. Jeremiah "revealed my cause" before the Lord because he knew that God "tests the heart and the mind". This may be why men like Jeremiah were somewhat 'rough' with God; whatever they felt about God, they told Him. They so knew that God knew their thoughts... there was and is no point in saying fine words to God in prayer, whilst feeling harder about Him in ones heart.

Jeremiah 11:21 Therefore thus says Yahweh concerning the men of Anathoth, who seek your life saying, You shall not prophesy in the name of Yahweh, that you not die by our hand-
The Lord may have alluded here in saying that a prophet always lacks honour amongst his own people (Mt. 13:57). For as noted on :19, Jeremiah was clearly a type of the rejected Lord Jesus. If we enquire why they had such specific hatred for him, it was clearly because subconsciously they knew themselves to be indeed worthy of death as Jeremiah had been saying. And so they projected their sin onto the innocent, and wished to then punish him with the punishment they knew they themselves deserved. This is why those who secretly commit adultery are often eager to judge and punish others in the church who commit adultery. It's not simply hypocrisy; it's all the same story of psychological transference- of their own sin and desert of punishment onto another.

Jeremiah 11:22 Therefore thus says Yahweh of Armies, Behold, I will punish them: the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine-
This specifically speaks of the people of Anathoth (:21). The children died not because they were punished for the parents' sins, but because sin has collateral damage. That is part of what sin is; the results of it affect others who did not commit that sin.

Jeremiah 11:23 And there shall be no remnant to them: for I will bring evil on the men of Anathoth, even the year of their visitation
- But by grace there was a remnant left to Judah. God here speaks in the fire of His wrath, but in wrath remembers mercy; although it could be that Anathoth being on the great north road, directly in the line of the Babylonian advance, was indeed totally liquidated and left with no remnant.