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God’s Word for You

Jeremiah 7:27-34

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, September 2, 2014

27 You will say all these things to them, but they will not listen to you. You will call to them, but they will not answer you. 28 Say to them, “This is the nation that did not obey the LORD its God or accept discipline. Truth has perished, and has disappeared from their lips. 29 Cut off your hair and throw it away. Sing a lament on the barren heights, for the LORD has rejected and forsaken this generation under his wrath.”

When people disagree with one another, they typically stop listening to what’s being said. That’s never true of God, but it’s too often true of mankind when God condemns a sin of ours. Here God showed that he knew the people wouldn’t listen to Jeremiah, but he wanted the prophet to say these things, anyway—at the very least so that we would benefit from what was being said.

When God says “Cut off your hair and throw it away,” the Hebrew term for “hair” isn’t the usual word, which would be se’ar (like Absalom’s long hair in 2 Samuel 14:26). Here, the word is nezer, the consecrated hair of a Nazirite, which was the sign of the vow and of the special covenant with God and which was not to be cut (Numbers 6:5). Earlier God told the Israelites that they might as well eat their sacrifices because he would not accept them anymore. Now he’s telling them to throw out every physical sign of their covenant because they no longer held a special relationship with God. They had thrown him away, and he was doing the same thing with them.

30 The people of Judah have done evil in my sight, declares the LORD. They set up their detestable idols in the house that bears my name, and they have defiled it. 31 They built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire—a thing I did not command, nor did it enter my mind. 32 That is why the days are coming, declares the LORD, when that place will no longer be called Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter, for they will bury the dead in Topheth because there will be no other place left. 33 The corpses of those people will become food for the birds of the sky and the beasts of the land, and there will be no one to frighten them away. 34 In the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem I will bring the sounds of joy and happiness to an end, as well as the voices of groom and bride, for the land will become desolate.

These verses are terrifying. The Israelites had done unspeakable things in the worship of false gods, things that shocked God himself. These are not easy things to read in Scripture, but we must remember this: God is as appalled by any of our sins as he is by this kind of horrific idolatry. There is no difference, Paul said, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:22-23).

The desolation God proclaims for the sins of Judah is something we have escaped only by the blood of Jesus Christ, sacrificed as the one true, pure and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God on behalf of all mankind, as payment for all of the sins of all mankind. Through Jesus, we have comfort and peace.

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.