God’s Saving Word: Justice and Peace
Jeremiah 7:1‒15: The prophet Jeremiah lived during the latter part of the seventh century and the first part of the eighth century B.C. During his long ministry, he warned God’s people of the catastrophe that would fall upon the nation because of their idolatry and sin. Today’s reading is often referred to as the “Temple Sermon.” Jeremiah is instructed to warn the people to change their ways in order to be spared God’s punishment. The reading concludes with a reference to Shiloh, a place of priestly power and a shrine to the LORD in the northern kingdom where the LORD no longer dwells (see Joshua 21:1, 2; 1 Samuel 1:3, 9) since the northern kingdom fell to the Assyrians in 721 B.C. because of the people’s disobedience.
Jeremiah Preaches in the Temple
7 1-3 The Lord sent me to the gate of the Temple where the people of Judah went in to worship. He told me to stand there and announce what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, had to say to them: “Change the way you are living and the things you are doing, and I will let you go on living here. 4 Stop believing those deceitful words, ‘We are safe! This is the Lord’s Temple, this is the Lord’s Temple, this is the Lord’s Temple!’
5 “Change the way you are living and stop doing the things you are doing. Be fair in your treatment of one another. 6 Stop taking advantage of aliens, orphans, and widows. Stop killing innocent people in this land. Stop worshiping other gods, for that will destroy you. 7 If you change, I will let you go on living here in the land which I gave your ancestors as a permanent possession.
8 “Look, you put your trust in deceitful words. 9 You steal, murder, commit adultery, tell lies under oath, offer sacrifices to Baal, and worship gods that you had not known before. 10 You do these things I hate, and then you come and stand in my presence, in my own Temple, and say, ‘We are safe!’ 11 Do you think that my Temple is a hiding place for robbers? I have seen what you are doing. 12 Go to Shiloh,[a] the first place where I chose to be worshiped, and see what I did to it because of the sins of my people Israel. 13 You have committed all these sins, and even though I spoke to you over and over again, you refused to listen. You would not answer when I called you. 14 And so, what I did to Shiloh I will do to this Temple of mine, in which you trust. Here in this place that I gave to your ancestors and you, I will do the same thing that I did to Shiloh. 15 I will drive you out of my sight as I drove out your relatives, the people of Israel. I, the Lord, have spoken.”
Today’s Key Verse: Jeremiah 7:5
[The LORD says:] “Change the way you are living and stop doing the things you are doing. Be fair in your treatment of one another.”
Today’s reading issues a warning about believing in those who speak deceitful words. The people thought the LORD’s Temple would keep them safe, but the LORD says that they have made the Temple “a hiding place for robbers” (verse 11). According to verses 5‒7, what behavioral changes need to take place for the people to be spared God’s punishment? According to verse 13, the LORD had spoken to the people “over and over again.” What does this convey about God’s concern for the people? In what ways might we discern God speaking to us “over and over again” today?
Lord God, teach me to listen each day for your voice and heed what you say. You are truly patient, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Whenever I stray from your teachings, thank you for continually reaching out to me in love and with forgiveness and drawing me back to you. Amen.
Jeremiah 23:1‒8: Hope for the future.