Opening Prayer

Almighty God, still my worries and quiet my mind. Open my ears to hear your Word and my heart to be filled with your Spirit.


Not One Is Upright

5 “Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem,
    look around and consider,
    search through her squares.
If you can find but one person
    who deals honestly and seeks the truth,
    I will forgive this city.
Although they say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’
    still they are swearing falsely.”

Lord, do not your eyes look for truth?
    You struck them, but they felt no pain;
    you crushed them, but they refused correction.
They made their faces harder than stone
    and refused to repent.
I thought, “These are only the poor;
    they are foolish,
for they do not know the way of the Lord,
    the requirements of their God.
So I will go to the leaders
    and speak to them;
surely they know the way of the Lord,
    the requirements of their God.”
But with one accord they too had broken off the yoke
    and torn off the bonds.
Therefore a lion from the forest will attack them,
    a wolf from the desert will ravage them,
a leopard will lie in wait near their towns
    to tear to pieces any who venture out,
for their rebellion is great
    and their backslidings many.

“Why should I forgive you?
    Your children have forsaken me
    and sworn by gods that are not gods.
I supplied all their needs,
    yet they committed adultery
    and thronged to the houses of prostitutes.
They are well-fed, lusty stallions,
    each neighing for another man’s wife.
Should I not punish them for this?”
    declares the Lord.
“Should I not avenge myself
    on such a nation as this?

10 “Go through her vineyards and ravage them,
    but do not destroy them completely.
Strip off her branches,
    for these people do not belong to the Lord.
11 The people of Israel and the people of Judah
    have been utterly unfaithful to me,”
declares the Lord.

12 They have lied about the Lord;
    they said, “He will do nothing!
No harm will come to us;
    we will never see sword or famine.
13 The prophets are but wind
    and the word is not in them;
    so let what they say be done to them.”

14 Therefore this is what the Lord God Almighty says:

“Because the people have spoken these words,
    I will make my words in your mouth a fire
    and these people the wood it consumes.
15 People of Israel,” declares the Lord,
    “I am bringing a distant nation against you—
an ancient and enduring nation,
    a people whose language you do not know,
    whose speech you do not understand.
16 Their quivers are like an open grave;
    all of them are mighty warriors.
17 They will devour your harvests and food,
    devour your sons and daughters;
they will devour your flocks and herds,
    devour your vines and fig trees.
With the sword they will destroy
    the fortified cities in which you trust.

18 “Yet even in those days,” declares the Lord, “I will not destroy you completely. 19 And when the people ask, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all this to us?’ you will tell them, ‘As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your own land, so now you will serve foreigners in a land not your own.’

20 “Announce this to the descendants of Jacob
    and proclaim it in Judah:
21 Hear this, you foolish and senseless people,
    who have eyes but do not see,
    who have ears but do not hear:
22 Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord.
    “Should you not tremble in my presence?
I made the sand a boundary for the sea,
    an everlasting barrier it cannot cross.
The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail;
    they may roar, but they cannot cross it.
23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts;
    they have turned aside and gone away.
24 They do not say to themselves,
    ‘Let us fear the Lord our God,
who gives autumn and spring rains in season,
    who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’
25 Your wrongdoings have kept these away;
    your sins have deprived you of good.

26 “Among my people are the wicked
    who lie in wait like men who snare birds
    and like those who set traps to catch people.
27 Like cages full of birds,
    their houses are full of deceit;
they have become rich and powerful
28     and have grown fat and sleek.
Their evil deeds have no limit;
    they do not seek justice.
They do not promote the case of the fatherless;
    they do not defend the just cause of the poor.
29 Should I not punish them for this?”
    declares the Lord.
“Should I not avenge myself
    on such a nation as this?

30 “A horrible and shocking thing
    has happened in the land:
31 The prophets prophesy lies,
    the priests rule by their own authority,
and my people love it this way.
    But what will you do in the end?

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Darken the room in which you find yourself. Close your eyes. Experience the limitations, the oppression of the absence of light. Invite the Lord to enter.

Think Further

God sets Jeremiah a task. He is to scour the streets of Jerusalem for someone, just one person, who does justice and seeks for truth. What does he find? He discovers arrogance among those who wield power (vs 3,5) and ignorance among the uneducated (v 4). There is rampant, depraved immorality (vs 7–9) and complacency that God will do nothing (v 12). Finally, there is the root cause: the serving of foreign gods in the land God has given. God’s response through Jeremiah’s voice is like a flame-thrower. An invader will come and lay waste the kingdom of Judah.

Yet, in this judgment, there exist two glimmers of light. First, there is the sense that God longs to pardon his disobedient people (vs 1,7). He is a God who is both righteous and loving. He can abide no disobedience, no rejection, no evil, but he longs for his people to return to him. He wants a mutual, loving relationship. That is his nature. Second, there is the indication that destruction will not be total: ‘do not destroy them completely’ (vs 10,18). He will not eradicate Judah.

This commentary was written during a period of deep global darkness. On the one hand, the pandemic threatens every nation. On the other, political instability threatens many nations. In addition, the Christian faith is under threat worldwide from ignorance, complacency and greed. Yet God has not changed. He is not asleep. He is not detached from his creation. While his righteous judgment condemns, his merciful love, demonstrated in Jesus, stretches to every corner. ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.’1


Hold up before God five people – local, national, or international figures – who you believe are doing justice and seeking truth. Pray that they may be lights in the darkness.

Closing prayer

Mighty God, you are present in the light and in the dark. When I fall into the blackness of depression, come to me in my darkness. Let me see you.

Last Updated on April 24, 2023 by kingstar

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