“Then Jeremiah came from Topheth, where the Lord had sent him to prophesy, and he stood in the court of the Lord’s house and said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold, I am bringing upon this city and upon all its towns, all the disaster that I have pronounced against it because they have stiffened their neck, refusing to hear my words.”
– Jeremiah 19:4–5
This whole chapter is a very sobering chapter as we see God’s judgment being pronounced upon his people. I just want you to hear these three realities reflected especially in Jeremiah 19:4–5, what I just read. So first reality, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold, I am bringing upon this city and upon all its towns, all the disaster that I have pronounced against it.”” Here’s the reality. Sin is serious before God in his holiness. Because he is holy, he hates sin. Because he is just, he judges sin.
Sin is no light matter before God. Sin warrants his holy judgment and wrath. This is what we’re seeing in Jeremiah 19:4–5, we see it in a variety of places as Jeremiah is proclaiming the judgment of God for sin. So that’s first reality, that we need to remember today, that we need to cause us to run from sin, not to toy with sin, not to rationalize sin but to run from sin, to pursue holiness. Because we know holiness is good, and sin warrants judgment, consequences before God in his holiness.
Jeremiah 19:4–5 Gives Us a Picture of a Sin
Second, this picture of sin, and it’s really twofold, so this is the second and third reality, it is sin to stiffen your neck against God. What a phrase, they have stiffened their neck. Instead of being moldable and malleable and humble before God as we read about clay in the hands of a potter in Jeremiah Chapter 18. This is the opposite. Stiffening their neck. Do you or I ever stiffen our neck against God, saying, “We want our way more than your way.” One of the phrases earlier in Jeremiah Chapter 19, God says, “I’m going to make void all of your plans. All the things you said you would do that were better than what I was calling you to do, when you stiffened your neck and refused to follow me.”
And that’s the third phrase here. “Refusing to hear my words,” so this is an elaboration on what it means to stiffen your neck. It is a serious thing to refuse to hear the words of God. May it not be so in our lives. I just want to encourage you, challenge you, to think right now, are you waking up in the morning and going throughout your day, going to bed at night, meditating on the word of God? Listening to it, digesting it, studying it, memorizing it, or are you refusing to hear it? Maybe giving token attention to his word, and in the process, practically refusing to listen to him.
Treating Sin Seriously
Oh God, we pray in light of these realities in Jeremiah Chapter 19, that these things would not be true of us. One God, that we would treat sin seriously, that we would run from sin today, in our thoughts, in our desires, in our words, in our actions and everything we do, we pray that you would help us to be holy and pure, to obey your words and not to stiffen our neck against you.
God, please, keep us from stubborn rebellion, that we are prone to in our sinful nature. And God, we pray that you would help us to gladly hear your words, to seek your word, to digest your word, to study it, to meditate on it, to memorize it, to live according to it. Because we know that this will lead to life, that this will lead to you, that this will lead to good in our lives. This will lead to good for others as we obey your word and we share your word with them in a world where so many people don’t have your word.
Jeremiah 19:4–5 Leads Us to Pray for Israeli Jews
God, we pray today specifically for Israeli Jews in Israel. Almost five million of them and so many of them, and God as we pray for Israeli Jews, we think of this passage and passages we see all throughout your word, where the people of Israel specifically are stiffening their neck and refusing to hear your words, refusing to hear ultimately in the New Testament the gospel.
God, we pray for the salvation of Jewish people spread around the world. In Israel, beyond Israel, around us. God, we pray you would open their eyes and soften their hearts to believe your word, to trust the gospel. God, we pray for that. In their lives, we pray for this in our lives. God, we pray that you would help us to heed your word in Jeremiah 19:4–5. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.