CLICK HERE to read Jeremiah 5.
The first verse of this chapter calls for Jeremiah to look through the streets of Jerusalem and see if he can find anyone at all who is righteous. The Lord says that for even one righteous soul, He will pardon all of Jerusalem for their sins.
This reminds us of Genesis 18, when Abraham is talking to the Lord about Sodom and asks if the righteous must be destroyed because of the wicked. The Lord says He will not destroy the city if Abraham can find 50 righteous souls. When Abraham cannot find 50 righteous people in the city, the Lord says He will not destroy the city if Abraham can find 45 righteous souls. Abraham asks again about only 40, and only 30, and only 20, and only 10. The Lord says He will not destroy the city if Abraham can find even only 10 righteous souls in the city. He wants us to be well and happy and safe and healthy and home with Him, and will deliver those who do what is required to make that happen.
But the Lord knows when the people are not doing what is required, and grieves when they prevent Him from helping them (verse 2). He knows when the people refuse to receive correction and will not repent (verse 3). These are foolish people, He says, because they do not really understand the way things work or what is happening to them as a consequence (verse 4).
He can, however, speak to those who listen to Him. This is how He finds and calls prophets, and He knows that these righteous souls endure many things because of their faith and yet have conquered the sin pervasive around them by living the laws of the Lord (verse 5).
But those who do not listen will be destroyed, with more predators from the adversary to conquer them with greater and greater temptations until their “transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased” (verse 6). The people, who were chosen and set apart as holy, have forsaken Him and even declared there are no gods, committing sexual sins and engaging in pursuit of power by selfish gain (verse 7).
While the Lord cared and provided for them, the people strayed and sinned against the very blessings that provided for and protected them (verse 8). The Lord is bound to respond to this, and the people earn their own consequences (verse 9). All that is not His will be destroyed (verse 10) because of their betrayal of His laws (verse 11). They think they have gotten away with their sins, that they can do as they please, that there is no God to hold them accountable (verse 12), and they persecute prophets sent to them to warn and explain and plead for their return (verse 13). Because of this, their consequences stack up against them and must be played out now (verse 14).
The Lord warns Judah that because of all this, their destruction is about to be delivered by an oppressive and foreign country that comes against them already (verse 15). The Lord will give this nation strength to deliver the consequences to Judah that Judah has earned (verse 16), and it will happen so quickly that the other country will be the one to harvest what Judah has planted, eat this year’s flocks and herds, and drink this season’s fruit and wine (verse 17).
But even then, the Lord says, those are just the consequences the people have chosen, and does not have to be their final destruction (verse 18).
Even now, still, I wait for you. Return to me.
When the consequences are delivered to the people for what they have done, it will cause them to ask why God does this to them (verse 19). The prophets will explain that it is because the people have forsaken God, served false gods, sought power instead of caring for others, and not lived by His laws. Because they have made themselves strangers to God and would not serve Him, now they will be in bondage to strangers in another land.
This is what Jeremiah is to teach the people (verse 20) because they are foolish and do not understand (verse 21). The Lord tells the people they should fear Him (verse 22), not in an afraid-of-oppressive-tyrant kind of way, but in an awe and respect for the great things He has done for them. But instead of being grateful, the people have been rebellious (verse 23). Instead of thanking Him for all He has blessed them with, the people blame Him for the consequences they themselves chose (verse 24). It is their own sins that have brought about this destruction, and prevented the Lord from blessing them or protecting them (verse 25).
The people have set their own trap by not living the laws the Lord promised would keep them safe and happy (verse 26), and now they are ruined from the inside out (verse 27). The people seek wealth and power through selfish gain instead of caring for the poor and serving others and helping the needy (verse 28). The Lord must deliver the consequences the people have chosen (verse 29), and it will be equal to the degree which the people have sinned (verse 30). The people will not be prepared for this hard experience, because instead of listening to true prophets they have followed what is popular and easy, setting up their own false prophets and celebrities that tell them they can live how they want (instead of living God’s laws) (verse 31).