22 May, 2024

June 18 | Warning for Temple Worshippers

by | 12 June, 2023 | 0 comments

Unit: Jeremiah (Part 1) 
Theme: Warning—Danger Ahead 
Lesson text: Jeremiah 7:1-15, 21-23 
Supplemental texts: Psalm 78:56-62; Jeremiah 26:4-9; Ezekiel 13:10-16; Matthew 24:1-2 
Aim: Put your hope and security only in the Lord. 

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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the study by Mark Scott, the Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions by Michael C. Mack): LOOKOUT_June18_2023.

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By Mark Scott

Misplaced trust can lead to feelings of betrayal or disappointment. A politician lies. A sports figure uses muscle-enhancing drugs. A believer (you can fill in the blank). Judah had given themselves false hope by placing their faith in the temple instead of the God who inhabited the temple. Jeremiah 7–10 forms what is called the Temple Address. 

God’s people had undergone physical circumcision, but their hearts still required spiritual circumcision (Jeremiah 4:4). They had chased after their own lusts (5:8). They did not know how to blush over their sins (6:15). They had failed to ask for the ancient paths (6:16). Therefore, God remained committed to bringing disaster on them from the north—i.e., Babylon (4:6).  

Misplaced Trust 
Jeremiah 7:1-11 

God’s word came to Jeremiah again, and Judah was challenged to hear it. Jeremiah was to stand at one of the gates of the temple and proclaim (call) the Lord of hosts’ (armies) message as the people entered the temple. Judah was told to reform your ways and your actions. The word reform means “to be pleasing or to be good” toward someone. If Judah would just do this they could continue to dwell in the temple and the Promised Land. Unfortunately, they were deaf to Jeremiah’s challenge. The temple of the Lord had become a good luck charm. They were trusting in deceptive words that were worthless.  

Their presumptuous actions peaked in their blatant sinful behavior while speaking about the temple of the Lord as a magical formula. They were involved in several sins while placing their false hope in the temple. They were not executing justice. They oppressed the sojourner. They oppressed the fatherless and the widow. They murdered people who were innocent. They enthusiastically pursued the idol gods to their own harm (evil). They broke Commandments six through nine that God handed down to Moses. They made offerings to Baal. They boasted that they had been rescued but went on doing all these detestable (desecrating or unclean) things. The temple, in which they had placed their trust, had become a den of robbers. Jesus used this very phrase when he cleansed it (Matthew 21:12-13).  

Antecedent Theology 
Jeremiah 7:12-15 

Walter C. Kaiser emphasizes the use of “antecedent theology” when reading the Bible. His position is that instead of borrowing freight from later pages of the Bible to understand the text, the reader should interpret the Bible from what has gone before. That strategy of interpretation can be employed here. The tabernacle, after it had served its purpose during the years the Israelites were roaming in the wilderness, came to rest in Shiloh. (Shiloh means “place of rest”; the ark of the covenant temporarily rested there, as well, after the people of God had crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land—see 1 Samuel 4:4.)  

The people were proud to have the symbol of God’s presence so close by—Shiloh was in the tribal area of Ephraim—but they put their trust in it as opposed to God himself. They continued to practice evil. God spoke to them and called them, but they did not listen or answer him. About 500 years earlier, God had allowed judgment to fall on his people. It was hoped a historical reference such as that would give God’s people pause about the way they were acting during Jeremiah’s day. God pronounced judgment on the people by casting them out of his sight.  

This Is the Way 
Jeremiah 7:21-23 

God had given Judah “the way” to follow. But their persistent sinful behavior, evident in verses 16-20, caused God to say, “Don’t even pray to me about this.” It was wasted breath.  

The way of God is obedience. The people thought the key was jumping through all the hoops of their religion (e.g., burnt offerings, sacrifices, etc.). But they had their priorities in the wrong order. The formula from Egypt forward was deliverance, obedience, and sacrifices. God gave them deliverance (out of Egypt), then called for their obedience (the Ten Commandments), and finally gave them the rules about sacrifices (Leviticus 1–7). All the sacrifices in the world could not atone for a disobedient heart. If they obeyed God, then it would go well with them. Misplaced trust does not bode well with God. False hope will not get us home. 

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