How can you say, “We are wise, for we have the law of the Lord ,” when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely? The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped. Since they have rejected the word of the Lord , what kind of wisdom do they have? Therefore I will give their wives to other men and their fields to new owners. From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when they are punished, says the Lord . “ ‘I will take away their harvest, declares the Lord . There will be no grapes on the vine. There will be no figs on the tree, and their leaves will wither. What I have given them will be taken from them. ’ ” Why are we sitting here? Gather together! Let us flee to the fortified cities and perish there! For the Lord our God has doomed us to perish and given us poisoned water to drink, because we have sinned against him. We hoped for peace but no good has come, for a time of healing but there is only terror. The snorting of the enemy’s horses is heard from Dan; at the neighing of their stallions the whole land trembles. They have come to devour the land and everything in it, the city and all who live there. – Jeremiah 8:8-16
God is really speaking His mind through Jeremiah in this passage, and He is not holding back. God is accusing the people of misinterpreting the law of the Lord. This passage suggests that it is the scribes who are “handling it falsely”. This sounds to me like the scribes are not accurately conveying the word of God and the result is a contamination of God’s commands.
The consequences of the misinterpreting God’s commands is that “The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped.” The wise are misleading the people they are supposed to be leading. They are failing the “Meribah Test” miserably by leading those that are following them away from God rather than toward Him. They “wise” are probably dismayed because they think, with their brains, that they are following God’s commands. They are trapped because they are creating an artificial edifice of their own construction rather than serving as a conduit for God’s truth.
God’s condemnation seems to fall on everyone even “prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit”. What is going on here? God seems to be really fed up with not only the stubborn rebellion of His people but also those who are supposed to be leading while following God. They “dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace.” It seems like the priests and the prophets are trying to heal the people on their own without relying on God’s grace and healing. The underestimate the harm they can do by their actions.
They do not have peace because they are rejecting the one who promises peace like a river and springs of living water. God will make their efforts barren, “I will take away their harvest, declares the Lord . There will be no grapes on the vine. There will be no figs on the tree, and their leaves will wither.” God planted a vineyard and it is simply not bearing the fruit for which it was planted. The people are given a chance to respond with repentance, but instead they choose to run from God.
The people accuse God of giving them “poisoned water to drink”, because they have sinned against him. God has in fact offered living water for all who choose to partake of it, but to all who reject the spring of living water the alternative is bitter water that is not fit to drink. This is what it looks like for those who choose to separate themselves from God’s will and commands. It is not a pleasant picture. Even in the midst of the wave upon wave of calamity that is besetting the people they still have the choice of turning to God, but they also have the choice of being free of God if they choose. They do not seem to be choosing wisely.
There is a warning here for all who seek to follow God, especially those entrusted to lead others. We need to be so connected to the spring that we have a constant supply of living water. Even when times get hard and we feel like we are under siege. It is these times, when we feel like we are in a furnace being refined, that God needs our souls to remain strong and courageous.
Prayer: God You give us every opportunity to turn and follow You. Help us to be strong and courageous, setting aside the things that keep us from You.