For I earnestly protested unto your fathers in the day that I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, even unto this day, rising early and protesting, saying, Obey my voice. — Jeremiah 11:7
Do you take weather warnings seriously? Bob and Ann Dixson of Greensburg, Kansas, did so on May 4, 2007. They knew the weather service had been tracking a storm, and they had about twenty minutes of warning that it was severe and headed for their town. When the warning sirens blared, Bob and Ann went to their basement, surrounded themselves with furniture, and pulled area rugs over themselves. Ann said, “When the tornado was over, there was nothing above us. The whole house was gone, but we were unharmed.”(1)
When Ann was growing up, her mother had always taken tornado threats seriously. No doubt the family lost track of the number of times they went to their basement and no tornado came. Still, on May 4, 2007, Bob and Ann heeded the warning. The Dixsons had a 1912 Victorian house, which they could have thought safe because it had probably survived many storms, but they took the necessary precautions.
Often, however, people do not heed the warnings. Why? Perhaps they do not have a place of safety or they are sleeping and do not hear the alerts. Or maybe they just don’t think the storm will come to their area or be as bad as the prediction.
In Jeremiah’s time, the people of Judah had received many warnings. The focus verse says that God “earnestly protested.” He exhorted, warned, and pleaded with them to obey His Voice from the day they left Egypt until Jeremiah’s day, over eight hundred years later. He did not tell them just once, but many times. If they would have heeded, all of God’s covenant promises, His favor, and mercy, would have been theirs. The offer was open for many generations, but they stubbornly refused. Verse 8 says, “Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear.” And so God said He would bring judgment upon them.
Likewise, today the Lord warns, encourages, and reminds us. To do what? To obey His Voice, make the changes we need to make, take the action He has been calling us to. If we heed, His blessings await us. His Word — including His promises and judgments — is fully reliable, and what He has said will come to pass. Today is a great day to heed God’s warnings and be certain that we are doing what He wants.
Jeremiah’s fourth sermon to Judah, begun in this chapter, opens with a reference to the covenant God made with Moses at Mount Sinai. God had fulfilled His part of the covenant by liberating the Israelites from Egypt and giving them the Promised Land. The Sinai covenant contained promised blessings if Israel would be obedient, as well as curses that would accompany disobedience. However, Judah and its forefathers had walked in their own way and served other gods. God warned them that the curses in the covenant would come to pass as a result of their wickedness.
In verse 9, the conspiracy may have alluded to Judah’s resistance to King Josiah’s attempts to reinstate the Sinai covenant after a copy of the Law was discovered in the Temple. The people of Judah and Jerusalem ignored Josiah’s appeal for reform, and turned back to their idolatrous ways.
God said that because of their breach of the covenant He would not respond to their cries for deliverance when judgment came. Judah’s pagan gods, equal to the number of cities in the nation, and its incense altars for Baal, equivalent to the number of streets in Jerusalem, would be unable to save them in their time of trouble.
For the second time, God admonished Jeremiah not to pray for the people of Judah because He would turn a deaf ear. God’s beloved people had forsaken Him and joined themselves to other gods — yet they continued to offer sacrifices and practice their ordinances in God’s House, the Temple.
The olive tree was valuable in Palestine, and its oil was used for light, cooking, body salve, and medical remedies. It was also considered an emblem of prosperity and beauty. God likened Judah to a green olive tree that would be disfigured and destroyed by a great storm. Even though God had “planted” the nation and desired that its people would prosper, their wickedness and idolatry had caused Him to pronounce evil against them.
In verses 18-23, Jeremiah found out about a plot against his life by the men of his hometown, Anathoth. God had apparently revealed their conspiracy, and Jeremiah was astounded at how unsuspecting he had been of their intentions. Jeremiah then asked God to vindicate him and bring justice to those who were behind this scheme. God assured Jeremiah that He would destroy those of Anathoth who sought to take his life.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The pronouncement of judgment against Judah
A. The condemnation of the prophet
4. The fourth sermon: The broken covenant
a. The exhortation to obey the covenant (11:1-5)
b. The violation of the covenant (11:6-13)
c. The abrogation of the covenant (11:14-17)
d. The hostility at Anathoth (11:18-23)
The promises of God will work on our behalf if we obey His Voice. If we heed His warnings, we will be glad that we did.
1. Bryan Painter, “Heed Warnings, Survivor Advises,” NewsOK, March 8, 2009, <http://newsok.com/heed-warnings-survivor-advises/article/3351373>
20 Mar. 2009.