The Concern of Jeremiah’s Heart

Title: The Concern of Jeremiah's Heart

Bible Book: Jeremiah 8 : 1-12

Author: Donnie L. Martin

Subject: America; God and Country; Call of God



The nation of Israel had enjoyed God's blessings in an unprecedented way. God had personally chosen them to be His people from among all the peoples of the earth. According to the Scriptures, this was not due to any special attractiveness or merit on their part. God, in His infinite wisdom, chose this insignificant people as the vehicle through whom He would show His love, mercy and grace, and fulfill His eternal purposes. Deuteronomy 7: 6 and 7 says of Israel, "...The Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people."

Yet in spite of the fact that God chose, cared for, and cherished Israel, they betrayed Him over and over again, by turning to false gods. God Himself referred to the children of Israel as a "stiffnecked people" (Deut.9: 13b). That simply meant that they were rebellious and stubborn. The accuracy of God's evaluation of Israel has been verified numerous times throughout their history. However, in spite of Israel's failures and foibles, God remained faithful.

In Jeremiah chapters 7-10, Jeremiah bemoans the spiritual condition of his people. He did not mince words when describing their waywardness and corruption. As one examines Jeremiah's sad account of Israel's backslidden condition, the similarity to our own nation is readily seen. For instance, one of the issues that Jeremiah addressed was the futility of religious activity apart from obedience (Jeremiah 7: 21-28). Like many modern-day Christians in America, Israel of old had the mistaken idea that, as long as they went through the motions of religious activity, God would somehow overlook their disobedience. The judgment that God pronounced upon Israel through Jeremiah, proved that idea to be a tragic miscalculation on their part.

As we examine the words of "the weeping prophet," I want us to not only notice the similarities between Israel's condition and that of our churches and nation, but also realize that if we are to experience revival and the presence and power of God, we will have to be willing to do what God told Israel-stop trusting the efforts of the flesh, and start seeking God.

I. His People's Folly

A. Jeremiah Saw Captivity and Question

Jeremiah foresaw the captivity of his people, and we note their inquisitive response.

Jeremiah 8:18-19, "When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me. Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the Lord in Zion? is not her king in her?"

B. Jeremiah Saw God's Response

Jeremiah foresees God answering their impetuous query with an inquiring reply.

Jeremiah 8:19c, "...Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities?"

C. Jeremiah Pronounces God's Judgment

Jeremiah concludes that all hope of deliverance is gone, due to Israel's ignoring repentance.

Jeremiah 8:20, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved."

Jeremiah is using the harvest time to illustrate the hopelessness of Israel's condition. The picture being given here is of one who has not taken the opportunity to harvest any crops from April to October, and thereby has nothing stored for the winter months. There would be no way to survive. Jeremiah's proverbial statement simply means, "...the people had lost every opportunity given them by God, and now they were entirely without hope. One favorable time after another went unheeded" (Frank E. Gaebelein, General Editor, The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Zondervan Publishing House: Grand Rapids, Michigan, pg. 438). Like Israel, many people of our day aren't serious about repentance.

The sure test of the quality of any supposed change of heart will be found in its permanent effects. "By their fruits you shall know them" is as applicable to the right method of judging ourselves as of judging others. Whatever, therefore, may have been our inward experience, whatever joy or sorrow we may have felt, unless we bring forth fruits meet for repentance, our experience will profit us nothing. Repentance is incomplete unless it leads to confession and restitution in cases of injury; unless it causes us to forsake not merely outward sins, which others notice, but those which lie concealed in the heart; unless it makes us choose the service of God and live not for ourselves but for Him. There is no duty which is either more obvious in itself, or more frequently asserted in the Word of God, than that of repentance.

Charles Hodge.

Folks, the Bible says that God is merciful and longsuffering. But that same Bible also indicates that there comes a time when God's patience runs out. When that happens, judgment is inevitable. I fear that our nation and its backslidden churches are quickly reaching the end of God's patience.

James Nankivell has written a piece called, "Some Things We Can't Do." He says that we can't, "Sow bad habits and reap a good character; Sow jealousy and hatred and reap love and friendship; Sow wicked thoughts and reap a clean life; Sow wrong deeds and live righteously; ...Sow dishonesty and reap integrity; Sow profane words and reap clean speech; ...Sow cruelty and reap kindness; ...Sow neglect of the Lord's house and reap strength in temptation; Sow neglect of the Bible and reap a well-guided life..."

From an e-mail devotion by Timothy A. West at [email protected].

God doesn't always pay up every Friday at 5:00 p.m., but He never fails to settle His accounts. Payday is coming. The only thing that will avert God's judgment is for God's people to repent and seek God's face with their whole heart.

II. His People's Foolishness

Jeremiah 8:22, "Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?"

Gilead was a mountainous region just east of the Jordan River, famous for the resin of the storax tree, which was used medicinally to heal sores and sicknesses. Jeremiah is speaking metaphorically of Israel's spiritual malady. He wants to know why they have not recovered spiritually when there was a remedy available, and physicians to apply it. The problem was not that there was no cure, but that there was no concern; only callousness on the part of the people. It was simply foolishness on the part of the people not to avail themselves of God's remedy for their spiritual sickness.

Could we not ask the same question today?

Why are our churches cold and indifferent and in need of revival? Is it because we don't have the remedy of the Word of God available to us? Is it because there are no preachers, evangelists, and other saints of God who know about the remedy, and are available to administer it? Since the answer to all of these questions is, "No," then why are we in this condition?

Why is our nation in the shape its in? Why is it okay in our nation to display a picture of Jesus hanging on the cross, drowning in a sea of urine, but wrong to display a copy of the Ten Commandments in our courtrooms? Why is it okay to kill a child in the womb, but wrong to kill a child outside the womb (over 50,000,000 babies aborted to this point)? Why is it okay to scream four letter words and make obscene gestures during a ball game, but wrong to pray to God before the game? Since we have Bibles in millions of homes, and churches on almost every corner in America, why is our nation in this condition?

III. His Passionate Feelings

Jeremiah 8:21, "For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me."

Jeremiah 9:1, "Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!"

Jeremiah didn't gloat over the fact that his predictions of judgment were coming to pass. He was brokenhearted over the things that were befalling his people, even though they had vigorously opposed him.

Folks, if we really want to see God's presence and power fall upon our church and this area in mighty revival, we're going to have to be willing for God to give us a broken, agonizing heart over the situation.

Not Anger but Anguish

What we need today is not anger, but anguish, the kind of anguish that Moses displayed when he broke the two tablets of the law and then climbed the mountain to intercede for his people, or that Jesus displayed when He cleansed the temple and then wept over the city. The difference between anger and anguish is a broken heart. It's easy to get angry, especially at somebody else's sins; but it's not easy to look at sin, our own included, and weep over it.

Warren W. Wiersbe, The Integrity Crisis, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991, pp. 75-76.

If we want to see unconcerned and hardened sinners saved, we're going to have to be willing for God to give us a compassionate heart that is broken for their condition. Spiritual aloofness will not produce spiritual alterations.

Posted in


Scroll to Top