The Lord tells Jeremiah not to marry or have a family because the ones born in Judah along with their parents “shall die a gruesome deaths”. He also says don’t mourn for the ones who die because they will die as a result of their great sins and unrepentant hearts.
However, the Lord gives “hope despite the disaster”. He is sending some into captivity and one day He will bring them back to their land. On that day, the people will no longer say that the Lord lives who brought His people out of Egypt but, “‘The Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands where He had driven them.’ For I will bring them back into their land which I gave to their fathers.”
God curses the man whose trust is in man and blesses the man whose trust is in Him. The Lord says that He is the one who knows the heart of each person and He knows the ones who truly have a heart for Him – “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.” And only the ones who have a heart surrendered to the Lord will receive salvation on the day of His final judgment.
As a potter shapes clay, so the Lord shapes the nations according to His divine purposes. If He speaks to destroy a nation and the nation repents, then He will relent of the disaster He was going to bring. If He speaks to build up a nation and the nation turns to evil then He will relent of the good He was going to bring. Therefore the Lord tells Jeremiah to tell the people, “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” However, the people reject the warning from the Lord – “And they said, ‘That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart.’”
The Lord rebukes Judah for saying it was hopeless for them to obey Him; and He uses the example of the Rechabites obeying their earthly father as an illustration of obedience. The Lord asks why is it so hard for Judah to obey their Heavenly Father, the God of Creation, when the Rechabites can obey their earthly father. To prove the Lord’s point, Jeremiah commands the Rechabites to drink wine but they refuse because their earthly father, Jonadab, forbade it. The Lord then tells the Rechabites that since they obeyed their father, Jonadab, they, “Shall not lack a man to stand before Me forever.” But as for disobedient Judah, “Behold, I will bring on Judah and on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the doom that I have pronounced against them; because I have spoken to them but they have not heard, and I have called to them but they have not answered.”
Tomorrow Judah receives a new king, so keep reading.
(Jeremiah 16:1-18:23, Jeremiah 35:1-19)