CLICK HERE to read Jeremiah 12.
Jeremiah testifies that the Lord is righteous, but asks Him why a good God would allow the bad guys to win or want people to be destroyed (verse 1). The prophet reminds the Lord that these are His chosen people, with whom He has made covenants, and whom He has protected and provided for and nourished – yet he also acknowledges that the people have gone far away from where the Lord has guided them, and that they are living outside the bounds the Lord has set (verse 2). Jeremiah knows his job as prophet is to call the people back to the Lord, but also knows that at this point the people have rejected the prophets already. This changes his role, so that his job now is to simply announce the consequences the people have chosen (verse 3). He says that even the Earth testifies against the people (verse 4).
Jeremiah makes a comparison, saying the people cannot keep up with horses when they get worn out just running with people (verse 5). He means that the people have already lost the Melchizedek priesthood (when building the golden calf at Sinai while Moses was receiving the Torah in Exodus 32), and so were left with only Aaronic priesthood. He is saying that the people say they want spiritual power, and that this is why they make false gods and idols; however, the people cannot obtain spiritual power (Melchizedek) if they cannot even follow a physical law (Aaronic). They cannot receive spiritual blessings if they will not even be obedient.
Jeremiah says the people are full of hot air, saying good words but not doing what they should be doing (verse 6). They are not keeping their covenants, and not living up to their inheritance (verse 7). If they want to be the Lord’s chosen people, they should already be acting like it. When they do not live as a holy people, their own behavior testifies against them (verse 8). When they are not obedient, their own bad choices are what deliver the consequences against them (verse 9).
Jeremiah declares that the Lord knows false priests (“many pastors”) have perverted the ordinances (“trodden my portion under foot”) until the people are corrupted instead of empowered (“destroyed my vineyard”), so that the people as a whole are ruined (“desolate wilderness”) instead of prospering (verse 10). Even the land upon which they live has turned against them (verse 11), and this is because the people have corrupted holy places with iniquity (verse 12). They have earned their consequences, and will suffer them instead of flourishing (verse 13).
Jeremiah says that the Lord has declared that since Israel has not testified to its surrounding countries by being righteous and holy, the surrounding countries will conquer Israel (verse 14). The Lord says that when the people finally turn to Him, He will have compassion on them and let them return to their land (verse 15). But He cannot deliver them until they obey Him and return to the ordinances He has established (verse 16). If the people will not turn to Him, and will not obey Him, and pick up the wicked ways of the surrounding cultures instead of being set apart and holy, and so also fail to testify to those around them, then these wicked ways will destroy them – and Israel will be held accountable for the sins of their neighbors as well (verse 17).