Pastor Steve Ellison
The Bible contains many questions asked by the Creator. Some He asks of individuals. Some He asks of groups. Almost all of them are rhetorical; there is no answer that will not incriminate the one called on to answer. There is always an expected answer; one that will not be flattering to the answerer. The repetitive nature of these questions carries the subtlety of a jackhammer. These questions are designed to make the original hearer and the reader of every age consider the condition of his own heart. Unless our hearts are very hard, we cannot meditate on these questions without being driven to repentance. In our often-painful journey, we have arrived in Jeremiah 5-6 where we have seen our own guilt and need for discipline which should be the beginning of wisdom as we begin to learn to fear the Lord.
The last verse of Jeremiah 5 asks the first of a series questions continued in chapter 6, Jeremiah 5:30-31, An appalling and horrible thing Has happened in the land: 31 The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule on their own authority; And My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it? (NASU) Biblical prophets do not necessarily predict the future. In fact, they usually simply speak truth to people who have the power to hurt them (or worse). Thus, false prophets are usually people who simply refuse to speak the truth of God and instead say things that please those in powerful positions. God is here declaring that prophets and priests at that time in Judah were speaking from their own ideas and to benefit themselves. The answer to the question is: those who love the falsehood will suffer the consequences.
Jeremiah 6:13-15 continues the series, From the least of them even to the greatest of them, Everyone is greedy for gain, And from the prophet even to the priest Everyone deals falsely. 14 “They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace. 15 “Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done? They were not even ashamed at all; They did not even know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; At the time that I punish them, They shall be cast down,” says the Lord. (NASU) This question is aimed not at those who love the false teaching but those doing the false teaching for sordid gain. The answer is more than expected; it is spelled out. They are too ignorant and despicable to be ashamed of their actions and their punishment is certain.
Jeremiah 6:19-20 points out the unacceptable nature of Judah’s superficial attempt at appeasing the wrath of God, “Hear, O earth: behold, I am bringing disaster on this people, The fruit of their plans, Because they have not listened to My words, And as for My law, they have rejected it also. 20 “For what purpose does frankincense come to Me from Sheba And the sweet cane from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable and your sacrifices are not pleasing to Me.” (NASU) We should all learn from this very blunt response of the Lord to His people. Their leaders led falsely. The people loved it. They all refused to be ashamed or sorrowful over their disgraceful behavior. Now, the guilty before the Lord seem to think they can make things right with God through incredibly cheap means. God has no need and no use for material offerings, no matter what it is or where it comes from. Repentance and obedience are called for.