Dealing With Deceit

A father and son were driving down a country road and saw a watermelon patch a little way off the highway. The father said to the boy, “Keep a lookout here while I go get a melon.” He snuck into the patch, lifted a choice melon from the vine, and then called to th … More

Deceit

The prophet calls for his head to be an inexhaustible source of water, feeding his eyes with an unceasing supply of tears so that he might weep day and night over his people (v. 1). His message is one of judgment and impending doom. Even at the “assembly” for divinely appointed festivals, the deceivers were present. The sinfulness of the people was so bad that Jeremiah wanted to separate himself from them. He said it was better to be in a traveler’s hut in the desert with all its discomforts than to dwell with the breakers of the covenant in comfort (v. 2). He speaks out against the sins of the tongue: lies, slander, double dealing, deceit, etc. People used their tongue as an archer would use a bow as it became a weapon to shoot lies (v. 3). Honesty was not practiced by those living in Judah. A person had to watch his friends and no one could trust his brothers (vv. 4-5).

Heaping oppression upon oppression, and deceit upon deceit, they refuse to know me, declares the Lord (v. 6). As the very fabric of society unraveled, no one would speak the truth. God answers Jeremiah by showing him that there is no alternative but divine judgment (vv. 7-9). God must place Judah in the crucible of judgment and deal with her deceit. Conventional wisdom could not explain the disaster which would befall Judah (vv. 10-11). This area would be left so desolate by the vengeance of God that the sounds of birds and cattle would no longer be heard (v. 10). Jerusalem and the other cities of the land would be left in ruins inhabited only by wild animals. Those who pretended to receive divine revelations had no word of explanation. Yahweh alone could answer the question “Why is the land ruined?”

Application

Jeremiah was angered by the sin of the people, but he also had compassion on them. He was set apart from them by his mission for God, but he was also one of them. This is the way it should be with me today. I need to hate sin, but love the sinner.

Jeremiah 9:1-11 (English Standard Version)

Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! Oh that I had in the desert a travelers' lodging place, that I might leave my people and go away from them! For they are all adulterers, a company of treacherous men. They bend their tongue like a bow; falsehood and not truth has grown strong in the land; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know me, declares the LORD. Let everyone beware of his neighbor, and put no trust in any brother, for every brother is a deceiver, and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer. Everyone deceives his neighbor, and no one speaks the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they weary themselves committing iniquity. Heaping oppression upon oppression, and deceit upon deceit, they refuse to know me, declares the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: "Behold, I will refine them and test them, for what else can I do, because of my people? Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceitfully; with his mouth each speaks peace to his neighbor, but in his heart he plans an ambush for him. Shall I not punish them for these things? declares the LORD, and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this? "I will take up weeping and wailing for the mountains, and a lamentation for the pastures of the wilderness, because they are laid waste so that no one passes through, and the lowing of cattle is not heard; both the birds of the air and the beasts have fled and are gone. I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins, a lair of jackals, and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation, without inhabitant."

View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »