The first sermon delivered in the Temple Courts, first of all, revealing the progress of iniquity and the diminishing patience of God, resulting in reprobation: Going in the order of how the Chapters were organized in the Book of Jeremiah, this is the first sermon (specifically cited) that Jeremiah preached while standing “in the Gate of the LORD’s House” (Jer. 7:2) and the first message delivered in the backslidden Kingdom of Judah. Necessarily, this happened during Jehoiakim’s reign, as it perfectly characterizes the situation of Jeremiah’s early ministry to the idolatry-bound people of that generation. Remember, the people in office at the Temple Courts were Jeremiah’s brethren, uncles, cousins, and family members, all of them being fellow Priests & Levites.
The people’s relationship to the Temple and the Law is brought into view in Jeremiah 7:4 and 8:8, in that they said, “The Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD, are these”, and, “We are wise, and the Law of the LORD is with us”. But, was it true? Were these sincere confessions? If such confessions were originally made during Josiah’s reign, they would have been true! But, seeing that they were mindlessly quoted in the mouths of men whose hearts were far from God in Jehoiakim’s reign, they were false! Concerning the people of Jeremiah’s prominent ministry, Jeremiah exclaimed: “Thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins” (Jer. 12:2)! Ah, but it was not always so! The Temple which Josiah restored and the Law which he found in the process, during the 18th year of his reign, were rightly hallowed and ordinately related to during his time. As a matter of Biblical fact, the restoration of the Temple and the repossession of the Law did usher the nation into a genuine revival for the remaining 13 years of Josiah’s reign! As evidence of this, let us remember what was written of the man Josiah, that “he caused all that were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin to stand to it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the Covenant of God, the God of their fathers” (2 Chron. 34:32). But, fearfully! Just a few years removed from this time of restoration and obedience… perversity revived!
These should-be holy confessions of the people in Jehoiakim’s day, formerly quoted (Jer. 7:4, 8:8), became lying words! God said, “Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit” (Jer. 7:8)! The people had an erroneous relationship to the benefits granted to and the graces utilized by Josiah via the Temple and the Law. Consequentially, the destruction of the Temple was threatened by God, and, yet… it was avoidable! If the people repented (see the progression from Jer. 7:1-12 to Jer. 9:18-22), the LORD would not destroy the Temple. The Lord, being full of compassion, made verbal pleas that the people would come to repentance, offering to the people life and peace therein. One can almost hear the longing heart of God, in the words, “that it may be well unto you” (Jer. 7:23)! …but, at last, the Lord said: “And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising early and speaking, and ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; Therefore…”, God said, “I will cast you out of My sight” (Jer. 7:13-15). Furthermore, the Lord said to Jeremiah, “Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to Me: for I will not hear thee” (Jer. 7:16). The people were engrossed in idolatry the whole time (Jer. 7:17-20), even while they maintained their religious devotions to the LORD via sacrifices and the like (Jer. 7:21-23); all of which, the LORD utterly rejected as vain and contemptable in His sight!
Implicit of the length of time spent and the volume of words prophesied in Jeremiah’s ministry, the process of eventual reprobation is clearly detailed, and the reprobation vindicated, because the Lord pled the cause abundantly before annihilation ensued (Jer. 7:13, 25-28). Jeremiah’s ministry is included in this indictment of the people’s deafness to the word of God, in the saying, “they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee” (Jer. 7:27). The people were clearly poised to do as they had already done to the prophets theretofore. Therefore, this people as a generation deserved the title: “the generation of [God’s] wrath” (Jer. 7:29). This people as a single family deserved the title: “evil family” (Jer. 8:3).
What is the conclusion of the whole matter? God was leaving. The LORD would no longer dwell in Zion! Her King would no longer be in her! Hence, there would be no more balm in Gilead, and no Physician to apply it, and thus the health of God’s people would become unrecoverable and fatal (Jer. 8:19-9:3). The state of the people became profoundly wicked (Jer. 9:1-9)! There was only one remedy left: The Baptism of Fire. Speaking of this, the Lord said, “Behold, I will melt them, and try them; for how shall I do for the daughter of My people” (Jer. 9:7)? By this, the habitations of the wilderness would be burned up, the Cities of Judah and Jerusalem would be reduced to heaps, and more. The people would be scattered among the heathen and therein suffer so many afflictions that, the Lord said, “death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue of them that remain of this evil family, which remain in all the places whither I have driven them” (Jer. 8:3). How so? The Lord said, “I will scatter them also among the heathen, whom neither they nor their fathers have known: and I will send a sword after them, till I have consumed them” (Jer. 9:16).
You see, my reader, through the increasing increments of the chastisements inflicted by the LORD, God was intent upon removing the wicked from the Land of Judah, the Church, but… seeing that the people of Judah refused to purify the Church by judgment – which would result in the removal of the wicked from among the people – at last, so great a Baptism of Fire was kindled so that “there [was] none shut up, or left” (Jer. 6:28-30, Deut. 32:36). In other words, if “the wicked are not plucked away” from the Church by the means of correctional chastisements which, by design, leave the place and people of the Church intact so as to enable the people to repent and do the judgment necessary to remove the wicked from their midst, then the Lord would demolish the place and destroy the people to accomplish the judgment Himself (Jer. 6:28-29, 7:14-15, 8:3, 9:1-3, 7, 16, 10:19-20). You see, my reader? The Lord was listening! They repented not of their wickedness, the Lord said. The Lord was right in their presence and among the people, LOOKING UPON THEM! He said, “I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented his of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? Every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle” (Jer. 8:6).
The message preached sounded the alarm of coming desolation (Jer. 26:9, 7:33-34, 9:12, 10:22) insomuch that even the scattered peoples would find no peace in foreign Lands because the LORD would send a sword after them until they were consumed (Jer. 8:3, 9:16)! Pathetic appeals of mercy, forgiveness, and hope were indeed given (Jer. 26:2-3), but as the LORD God of Israel was standing, looking, and listening if anyone would repent, NONE DID: no, not the people (Jer. 8:5-6), the prophet or priest (Jer. 8:10-12), nor those who were foremost to blame (Jer. 8:7-9), all because none understood nor were there any who were wise (Jer. 9:12)! It was a bleak situation because of the progress of depravity from generation to generation (Jer. 7:25-27).