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God’s Word for You

Jeremiah 9:3-6

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, September 15, 2014

3 They bend their tongues like bows to deceive.
   It is not by truth that they prevail in the land.
They go from evil to evil,
  and they do not acknowledge me,
     declares the LORD.
4 Everyone should be on guard against his friend.
     Do not trust any brother,
for every brother is truly a deceiver,
  and every friend spreads slander.
5 Everyone betrays his friend,
   and no one speaks the truth.
They have taught their tongues to lie.
  They wear themselves out with sinning.
6 You live in the middle of deception!
     In their deceit they refuse to acknowledge me,
     declares the LORD.

In the previous verses, Jeremiah called the people of Judah adulterers, and a congregation of traitors. Now he focuses our attention especially on the things people say. He makes a perfect picture of how far a lie travels by depicting the tongue as a bow stretched to send an arrow far away. And the thing that people should be doing—acknowledging the Lord—is the other side of the same sin. These are Second Commandment transgressions and (depending on the circumstance) Eighth Commandment sins. The Second Commandment protects the Lord’s name and reputation, and commands us to use God’s name for holy purposes only. The Eighth Commandment compels us to use the name and reputation of our fellow man with honor and to his benefit. In the same way that God holds each of us responsible for his holy name, he holds each of us responsible for the names of the people in the world with us, whether they seem holy to us or not.

Jeremiah even warns the faithful to be wary of their own family: “For every brother is truly a deceiver, and every friend spreads slander.” The betrayal of a brother is a sin that has existed since the beginning of creation, when Cain betrayed Abel with a lie and murdered him (Genesis 4:8).

In verse 6, there is a warning from God to Jeremiah. The “you” at the beginning of the verse is singular. God is speaking to Jeremiah directly. “You live in the middle of deception!” God says. And the situation is getting worse. In verse 3, the people “do not” acknowledge God. But now in verse 6, the people “refuse” to acknowledge God. Their sins are turning from mistakes into rebellion. They are hardening their hearts.

Jeremiah was going to suffer persecution and imprisonment because of the people’s unbelief. They would not stand for his preaching, but God encouraged him to keep on telling the truth. That’s our encouragement, too. Some people may refuse to listen to God’s word (Jeremiah 13:10), but that doesn’t mean that we should ever stop sharing it. The Apostle Paul didn’t think he could save the whole world by preaching the gospel, but he was willing to do anything necessary “so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). It’s for the “some” that we keep preaching and sharing the gospel. And we thank the Lord that we are part of his “some.”

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.