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Jeremiah 5:1 Run back and forth through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places of it, if you can find a man, if there are any who does justice, who seeks truth; and I will pardon her- This reflected how God is in search of man. What joy therefore when He finds a man, and the man who is searching finds Him. This is the joy of the lost being found in the parables of Lk. 15. Jeremiah's search for believers was a reflection of God's. God hunts for us like a lion, Job came to realize; and in this "You show yourself wonderful to me" (Job 10:16). And we are searching for God. God is not indifferent to our searching for Him. Those awestruck moments of wonder, of radical amazement, are where God finds us at the time we are searching for Him. Both sides are seeking each other; and in those moments, they meet. As a Jewish poet put it: "And going out to meet thee / I found thee coming toward me". In those moments, heaven and earth kiss each other. There is a click, a flash, between Almighty God and us- as we stand at a bus stop, turn left into Acacia Avenue, lay there on our bed meditating.

Here is another allusion to the situation during the Assyrian invasion; see on Jer. 4:5,8. Hezekiah obtained forgiveness and acceptance for those who kept the Passover “otherwise than it was written”- thanks to his prayer (2 Chron. 30:18). In Hezekiah’s time, all Israel had to repent to avert total destruction- but even though they didn’t, the prayer of Hezekiah saved the nation (Jer. 26:13,19). All of Jerusalem would have been forgiven if there was even one that truly executed judgment, after the pattern of Phinehas (or is this a reference to Messiah?).

"Seeks truth" can also be "is not greedy". Jeremiah speaks of running to and fro in the streets of Jerusalem, searching her squares, to see if he could find a single man who did justice and wasn’t greedy (Jer. 5:1,5; 6:6,13; 8:10). Why get so ballistic because people are greedy and have no real sense of justice? Isn’t that part of the human deal, don’t we see it every single day? Yes we do. But the challenge of the prophets is to feel its’ awfulness and realize that for this, an awful judgment is coming from God. It is indeed hard to see the world from God’s perspective; but this is what the spirit of prophecy was and is all about.

We wonder whether there were really no other righteous in Jerusalem apart from Jeremiah. There was Josiah, but he died in disobedience to God's wishes, fighting against Egypt for Babylon. There was Baruch, but he seems to have had a heart for materialism (Jer. 45:5). Ezekiel was not in Jerusalem but already in captivity.

Jeremiah 5:2 Though they say, ‘As Yahweh lives;’ surely they swear falsely-
Josiah's reformation had clearly not touched their hearts. The implication is that God's people swore that "Yahweh lives" but without moral justice and right behaviour. To believe that God exists is therefore to act like Him, in truth, justice and righteousness. To live otherwise is to effectively deny His existence. His very existence is therefore an imperative to live and be as He is.

Jeremiah 5:3 O Yahweh, don’t Your eyes look on truth? You have stricken them, but they were not grieved. You have consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction. They have made their faces harder than a rock. They have refused to return-
Jeremiah had similar oscillations of feeling as God also had. This is his response to the command to go and search for even one man who did righteousness (:1). He is complaining that surely God sees the situation anyway, which he had to report- Israel had not grieved to repentance. And they were psychologically hardened against that possibility. But then in :4,5 his pity for them returns and he as it were tries again.
We are hardened in our path, one way or the other. The Lord hardened His face like a rock (Is. 50:7; Lk. 9:51); and yet the wicked similarly harden their faces like a rock to go in the way of the flesh (Jer. 5:3). Jeremiah had his face hardened in response to his own hardening of face (Jer. 1:17; 5:3), and the wicked in Israel likewise were hardened (Jer. 3:3; 4:30)

Jeremiah 5:4 Then I said, Surely these are poor. They are foolish; for they don’t know the way of Yahweh, nor the law of their God-
See on :3. Jeremiah apparently relents from his giving up with the people in :3. He realizes that the people simply don't know God's way and law- because the priests, of whom he was one, had not taught them. "Poor" is better "lean"; skinny and foolish is the language of a misled flock. The priests had not led them as intended. Notice how "the law" is not a set of disconnected, discrete commandments and regulations; it was to inculcate a way of life and thought, "the way of Yahweh", with which here it is paralleled.

But "law" is better "judgment", as AV. Knowing God's present judgment should have a powerful practical effect upon us. If we know the judgment of God against certain types of behaviour, we will keep away from them totally. It is only the rejected who refuse to know "the judgment of their God" (Jer. 5:4 AV). We are living our lives under judgment. Knowing God's judgment-principles, we will wish to separate from all that will finally be condemned and destroyed. Israel chose to be oblivious of what they well knew; there was no (awareness of) God's judgment in their way of life (Is. 59:8) and therefore they lacked that innate sense of judgment to come which they ought to have had, as surely as the stork knows the coming time for her migration (Jer. 8:7).

Jeremiah 5:5 I will go to the great men, and will speak to them; for they know the way of Yahweh, and the law of their God. But these with one accord have broken the yoke, and burst the bonds-
As so often, there is an intentional ambiguity as to the speaker. This is Jeremiah's response to the command to go and seek at least one man to stand in the gap; but by :7 we have God speaking. Again we see how Jeremiah's feelings and positions were so meshed with those of God; as should be with us, the Spirit of God had become part of his spirit. Jeremiah speaks as if he had expected that those amongst "the great men" would know Yahweh's law and way; but he is disappointed, he finds not a single one there ("all with one accord..."). Again we see Jeremiah's overly positive and hopeful view of Israel; which was also a reflection of God's view, so in love with them was He still. Breaking the bonds suggests they had broken their covenant relationship. Judah had "broken the yoke and burst the bonds" of their covenant relationship with God, but He by grace had broken the yoke and bonds of those who enslaved them (Jer. 2:20; 30:8).

Jeremiah 5:6 Therefore a lion out of the forest shall kill them, a wolf of the evenings shall destroy them, a leopard shall watch against their cities; everyone who goes out there shall be torn in pieces; because their transgressions are many, and their backsliding is increased-
Even in this expression of wrath, there is the implication that the people would still be safe within their cities [an intensive plural for the great singular city, of Jerusalem?] if they remained within it. As explained on Jer. 4:5,8, one of the many potential possibilities was that the cities would be destroyed apart from Jerusalem, and if they repentantly fled into Jerusalem they would be saved.

Jeremiah 5:7 How can I pardon you? Your children have forsaken Me, and sworn by what are no gods-
The tension within God is apparent. Hosea’s the clearest on this. God wants nothing more to do with His adulterous people; and then He pleads with them to come back to Him, breaking His own law, that a put away woman can’t return to her first husband. “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?... mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together” (Hos. 11:8). And Jeremiah has more of the same: “How can I pardon you… shall I avenge myself on a nation such as this? Shall I not punish them for these things?” (Jer. 5:7-9,28,29). God reveals Himself as oscillating between punishing and redeeming, judging sin and overlooking it. God is open to changing His stated plans (e.g. to destroy Nineveh within forty days, to destroy Israel and make of Moses a new nation). He isn’t like the Allah of Islam, who conducts a monologue with his followers; the one true God of Israel earnestly seeks dialogue with His people, and as such He enters into all the contradictory feelings and internal debates which dialogue involves. ‘God loves the sinner and hates the sin’ has always seemed to me problematic, logically and practically. Love is in the end a personal thing; in the end love and hate are appropriate to persons, not abstractions. And the person can’t so easily be separated from their actions. Ultimately, it is persons who will be saved or condemned. The prophets reveal both the wrath and love of God towards His people, in the same way as a parent or partner can feel both wrath and love towards their beloved.

When I had fed them to the full, they committed adultery, and assembled themselves in troops at the prostitutes’ houses- Here and in :8 there is continued the tragic theme that the more God blessed His people with material blessings, the more they went away from Him. This continues a major Biblical theme- that God's loving material blessings of His people led them to idolatry (Dt. 32:15). The prosperity Gospel must give due weight to this sad experience of God's people historically. Those blessings gave them a taste for materialism, which led them to madly seek more such blessings from anybody and anything which might immediately yield them. The prostitutes were representative of the various idols they served, although that service often involved sleeping with the cult prostitutes. 

Jeremiah 5:8 They were as fed horses roaming at large-
We all know the downward spiral into sin… how once we start, we can’t stop. But when Israel were like this, they are likened to a female horse camel in insatiable heat (Jer. 2:23-25; 5:7-9). We’d just rather not read that, or retranslate the words to make it seem somehow different. But we’re dealing with serious matters here. Sin is serious to God.

Everyone neighed after his neighbour’s wife- Being unfaithful to their covenant with God led them to being unfaithful to their marital covenant. Our relationship with God is reflected in our family lives.

Our early morning thoughts are fair indicators of how we really are with God. Interestingly, Israel are criticized for their early morning attitudes- in the mornings (AV) they fantasized after their neighbours' wives (Jer. 5:8; Hos. 7:6), got up and wanted to get drunk again (Is. 5:11), had unjust thoughts about others (Jer. 21:12; Mic. 2:1). That's quite some emphasis- God was so unhappy with what His people thought about in the mornings. And Zeph. 3:7 is perhaps the most challenging of all- God condemned His people because they rose each morning and cast off all their opportunities (Heb.), despite Him every morning [potentially] revealing His word to them (Zeph. 3:5). They allowed themselves to be simply too busy to see all that God potentially enabled for them every single day. And what about us? God has prepared huge potential achievement for each of us- but we tend to fritter our days away in busyness and poor planning and lack of a self-disciplined life.

Jeremiah 5:9 Shouldn’t I punish them for these things? says Yahweh; and shouldn’t My soul be avenged on such a nation as this?-
God had been Israel's wife and was in love with her. His deep desire for avenging was therefore absolutely connected with His great love for her. There had to be response from Him. This rhetorical question, enquiring as to whether Yahweh should take vengeance on Israel, is thrice repeated in Jeremiah (Jer. 5:9,29; 9:9). The answer of course is "Yes, God would be justified in doing so". And that answer was perhaps the repentance which God sought in order to avert the coming of His judgment.

Jeremiah 5:10 Go up on her walls, and destroy; but don’t make a full end. Take away her branches; for they are not Yahweh’s-
The destruction of the branches implied that the stock of the vine [a prophetic symbol for Israel] was to remain. This was another way of saying that a "full end" would be made, although Jeremiah was to walk around the walls of Jerusalem and prophecy their fall- the collapse of all human strength.
See on :10. We see here the power of the prophetic word- Jeremiah uttering these prophecies was as good as the destruction happening, and he therefore was the vehicle through which it would happen. Realizing this may account for the psychological breakdown of Jeremiah we see in Lamentations. On Jer. 4:5,6 we saw that an earlier prophetic potential had been that Jerusalem would be saved, but the fortified cities of Judah would fall. Now it seems that possibility had been precluded by their impenitence, and so Jerusalem too would fall. This is how God works in our lives too, working out various prophetic potentials.

Jeremiah 5:11 For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously against Me, says Yahweh-
This was why Jerusalem was going to fall, and the plan for her survival as outlined on Jer. 4:5,6 was now cancelled. "Treachery" means literally to cover; they thought God would not notice, and this was the reason for His anger with them. And we can take a lesson from this. His omniscience requires from us a totally open attitude toward Him and ourselves.

Jeremiah 5:12 They have denied Yahweh and said, It is not He; neither shall evil come on us; neither shall we see sword nor famine-
This was a denial of the very essence of Yahweh, "I am that I am"; and they said "It is not He", or "He is not". This was effectively atheism, although they would have hotly denied that charge. The damage of false teaching is that this is where it leads people; for it was the false prophets who taught that there would be no evil coming, and the predictions of sword and famine by Jeremiah and Ezekiel would not happen (:13). To deny God's word is therefore to deny Him, to say "He is not". For "the word was God", He is identified with His word, and our attitude to His word is our attitude to Him.

Jeremiah 5:13 The prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them. Thus shall it be done to them-
This appears to be a statement of the people and false prophets about Jeremiah and the faithful prophets (so :14 implies). "Spirit" and "wind" are the same word in Hebrew. They treated the spirit within Jeremiah as just air, a wind that would pass away. This is why God responds in :14 by saying that His word in Jeremiah would become a fire and not simply wind. Again there is the implication that it was Jeremiah's words which would bring the fire of destruction upon Jerusalem, and this accounts for Jeremiah's psychological breakdown in Lamentations when he views the results of that fire.

Jeremiah 5:14 Therefore thus says Yahweh, the God of Armies, Because you speak this word, behold, I will make My words in your mouth fire and this people wood, and it shall devour them-
See on :13.
The prophetic word in Jeremiah's mouth was like fire, and it was the people who were to be "devoured" by it (Ez. 15:5; s.w. Jer. 5:14; 17:27; 21:14). The amazing grace explained in Ez. 15 was in the fact that the 'devoured by fire' vine twig would be refined in Babylon and still used by God to re-establish His Kingdom.

Jeremiah 5:15 Behold, I will bring a nation on you from far, house of Israel, says Yahweh. It is a mighty nation. It is an ancient nation-
Babylon was "ancient" in that God had raised it up for this time and purpose. Whatever the geopolitical issues of the day, it was Yahweh who would bring this distant nation against Israel. We wonder why Babylon is not named at this point, whereas it clearly is in Jeremiah's later prophecies. Perhaps it was because these prophecies were still conditional; they were capable of fulfilment in peoples other than the Babylonians, had Judah at that time repented; although the judgment for their sins had to come at some point. But the channel of those judgments was still flexible, depending upon their repentance. See on Jer. 6:3.

A nation whose language you don’t know, nor understand what they say- This was to be part of their judgment, and it is applied in 1 Cor. 14:21 to those in the church at Corinth who falsely claimed that speaking in unintelligible babble was the Spirit gift of speaking in foreign languages. This was in fact therefore a sign that the church was judging itself, acting as if they were the sinful Jews of Jeremiah's day whose judgment was to be dominated by those speaking a language they didn't understand.

Jeremiah 5:16 Their quiver is an open tomb, they are all mighty men-
The idea was that every arrow in their quiver would bring death; but this was because the tongue of the Jews had been as deadly arrows (Jer. 9:8). They were "mighty men" in that they were the earthly representatives of the Angelic elohim, God's "mighty ones". Ezekiel makes the same point- the Angel cherubim chariots were to be the chariots of Babylon.

Jeremiah 5:17 They shall eat up your harvest and your bread, which your sons and your daughters should eat. They shall eat up your flocks and your herds. They shall eat up your vines and your fig trees-
"Eat up " is used of how Babylon "consumed" Jerusalem with fire (Neh. 2:3,13 etc.). The people and their land were to be "consumed" by the fire which was contained in the words Jeremiah spoke (Jer. 5:14,17). But all who devoured / consumed them would be "held guilty" (Jer. 2:3; 10:25; 30:16). And yet in depression, Jeremiah lamented that the fire had consumed (Lam. 2:3; 4:11), when it was His owns words which had been that devouring fire. His lament was therefore tantamount to a statement of regret that he had been used as the vehicle for this devouring fire.

They shall beat down your fortified cities in which you trust with the sword- There was to be destruction in the land, but there was potentially safety / salvation in Jerusalem for those who were obedient and repentant (Jer. 4:5-7). This was a test to Judah, because they trusted in their defenced cities (Jer. 5:17). But the prophecy of Jeremiah 4 (and Mic. 5:11) asks them to believe that these cities would fall, and there would be salvation only in Jerusalem. And yet they were disobedient, and did go into those other defenced cities (Jer. 8:14).

Jeremiah 5:18 But even in those days, says Yahweh, I will not make a full end with you-
Earlier God had threatened to make a full end, the same phrase is found in Is. 10:23 and Zeph. 1:18. But now God promises that He will not make a full end (Jer. 5:10,18; 4:27; 30:11; 46:28). God is not capricious; but His love and pity is such that He is unafraid to not do according to His wrath. In wrath God remembered mercy; or perhaps responded to some degree of repentance or intercession from a minority. And this God is our God.

Jeremiah 5:19 It will happen, when you say, ‘Why has Yahweh our God done all these things to us?’ Then you shall say to them, ‘Just like you have forsaken Me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve strangers in a land that is not yours’-
Jeremiah was commanded to prophecy this when the judgment happened. Perhaps he did, but Lamentations records him struggling with the "Why, God...?" questions, and concluding that it was all unreasonably severe judgment. He really is portrayed as a man in struggle with God, despite being of His mind and Spirit in so much.

Jeremiah 5:20 Declare this in the house of Jacob, and publish it in Judah saying-
This was to go to all Judah and not just Jerusalem, as previous prophetic words.

Jeremiah 5:21 ‘Hear now this, foolish people, and without understanding; who have eyes, and don’t see; who have ears, and don’t hear-
These words are quoted about the Jews in the Lord's day. But it is not to say that they were incapable of hearing or seeing, for this is part of an appeal to hear and respond (:22). The idea is that they had the eyes to see, but wouldn't. It's like the appeal to break up their fallow ground (Jer. 4:3)- they were to use their potential. They were without understanding because they chose not to open their eyes and ears. Not understanding Divine teaching therefore has a moral basis to it; it's not mere intellectual failure, but is rooted in a deep psychological desire not to repent.

Jeremiah 5:22 Don’t you fear Me?’ says Yahweh ‘Won’t you tremble at My presence, who have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it can’t pass it? and though its waves toss themselves, yet they can’t prevail; though they roar, yet they can’t pass over it’-
They refused to fear God and sense His presence because they were persuaded that they had done nothing wrong (:12). This is the narrative story that is endlessly repeated in the hearts of so many: 'I am a good person, I don't sin, the problem is with us, get off me and stop trying to make me feel my behaviour displeases God'. They had the potential to understand this (:21), but refused to live according to it. The reference to the sea and waves being limited as to their destructive effect is clearly a reference to the seas of the Gentile invaders; God had promised not to make a full end of Israel, and so the waves of the invaders would not be allowed to totally destroy the land / eretz. This was part of God's covenant with Israel, His "perpetual decree". It was this experience of grace which ought to have made Judah tremble at the presence of the God of such grace.

Jeremiah 5:23 But this people has a revolting and a rebellious heart; they have revolted and gone-
Again the issue is with their heart; they were the stubborn and rebellious son of Dt. 21:18,20 (s.w.) who had to be slain. Their refusal to understand (:21) was not therefore a case of intellectual failure, but was rooted in a desire to revolt from the God who had so loved them and walk away ("gone") from Him.
Jeremiah mourned Israel’s lack of spiritual sensitivity and failure to live up to their potential- they had eyes, but didn’t see, they were God’s servant, but a blind one; His messenger, but unable to hear any message (Is. 42:19). So the prophets weren't satisfied just because a minority responded to their message of God's love. They were heartbroken because the majority rejected it. I suspect we tend to think that 1 response in 1000 is good, 1 in 10,000 isn’t bad. But what about the other 999, or 9,999, who receive our tracts, hit our websites, hear our witness- and don’t respond? Is our witness in the spirit of the prophets? Are we happy that the tiny minority respond, and don’t spare a thought for the tragedy of the majority who don’t? Not only their tragedy, but the tragedy for God?

Jeremiah 5:24 Neither do they say in their heart, ‘Let us now fear Yahweh our God who gives rain, both the former and the latter, in its season; who preserves to us the appointed weeks of the harvest’-
Yet again the emphasis is upon the heart. They failed to perceive that the rains in Palestine were arranged by God for the optimal times- just after sowing and just before harvesting, and then no rain during the harvesting season. Those "weeks of the harvest" were appointed by God for them. But they refused to "see" that (:21).

Jeremiah 5:25 Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withheld good from you-
The rains, so carefully designed to give them an optimal growing season and harvest (see on :24), were turned away from them because these were the blessings of the covenant which they had broken. The potential good that was planned would not come. This failure to realize potential is such a major theme of the prophets, and it can be seen in human life just as much today.

Jeremiah 5:26 For among My people are found wicked men. They watch, as fowlers lie in wait. They set a trap. They catch men-
God had told Jeremiah at the start of his ministry that He would watch over His word to perform it; but in the false Israel, there were false prophets who likewise watched over the fulfilment of their evil plans. "Trap" is the same word used about the "mount of corruption" in Jerusalem which Josiah had destroyed (2 Kings 23:13). But his reforms were only tokenistic; the false prophets remained, setting up similar traps of corruption. It is the same word translated 'destruction', which the Babylonians would bring (Jer. 51:25; Ez. 5:16). But as the Babylonians would entrap Jerusalem in the siege, so they had in essence done to themselves already.

Jeremiah 5:27 As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit. Therefore they became great and grew rich-
The bird traps featured live birds within them, encouraging other birds to fly in to the trap or cage. This is how advertising works- see how this wonderful thing happened to this person, so why not join them within the cage. The wealth of the false prophets attracted the people to act like them.

Jeremiah 5:28 They have grown fat. They shine; yes, they excel in deeds of wickedness. They don’t plead the cause, the cause of the fatherless, that they may prosper; and they don’t judge the right of the needy-
The "wicked men" of :26 were therefore the spiritual and civil leadership, and their wealth was gained through oppressing the poor. This was mentioned rather than their idolatry, because it is attitudes to the poor which are of such huge significance to God. The very same reasons are given by Ezekiel for the Babylonian judgment at this time (Ez. 22:29).

Jeremiah 5:29 Shall I not punish for these things? says Yahweh. Shall not My soul be avenged on such a nation as this?-
See on :9. The judgment was against the "nation", whereas :26-28 appear to condemn the ruling classes. God does not judge the righteous along with the wicked. The corruption of these men had spread throughout society; as noted on :27, they were a self-advertisement for getting wealth by abusing others, and all society were attracted to it. The abuse of the leadership was 'loved' by the people (:31).

Jeremiah 5:30 An astonishing and horrible thing has happened in the land-
God was 'astonished' in that again, He limited His omniscience in order to enter fully into relationship with His people. He had higher hopes for His people, and is portrayed as shocked and shattered when those hopes were dashed. The false prophecies uttered in His Name and supported by His priests were particularly shocking to Him (:31).

Jeremiah 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own authority; and My people love to have it so-
The entire society was guilty because leaders only act as the people want; see on :29. The priests were to teach the people God's law, but the prophets who claimed to give God's word gave false words in His Name. Hence there was a conspiracy between prophets and priests. And yet all Israel were to be priests. Although there was a special priesthood, it was clearly God's intention that all Israel should be like priests; they were to be a "Kingdom of priests" (Ex. 19:6). Israel were all “saints”, and yet saints and priests are paralleled in passages like Ps. 132:16. Israel in the wilderness had clothes which didn’t wear out- just as the Priestly clothes didn’t, and were handed down from generation to generation (so Ex. 29:29 implies). Israel were to teach every man his neighbour and brother, saying, Know the Lord (Heb. 8:11). God therefore saw all Israel as represented by the priests (Hos. 4:9; Is. 24:2; Jer. 5:31; 8:10).

What will you do in the end of it?- This is typical of the rhetorical questions in Jeremiah. They were designed to elicit an acceptance by the people that all this would come to an appropriate end in a dramatic destruction. And it was a recognition of this which was vital for repentance. All the time, God is seeking to elicit repentance- from people we would likely have given up with long before.