Jeremiah 5 | Faithfulness

“O Lord, do not Your eyes look for truth?”  Jer 5:3

CandleThat was how Jeremiah responded to God’s command to roam through the streets of Jerusalem and see if he could find even one man who did justice and sought truth (Jer 5:1).

The answer to Jeremiah’s rhetorical question is yes.  “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His (2 Chron 16:9).”  But what did God’s eyes see when He looked at Jerusalem?

“Although they say, ‘As the Lord lives,’
Surely they swear falsely.”  Jer 5:2

They superficially acknowledged God, but their hearts did not belong to Him.  They were very much like the rebellious men of Crete that the Apostle Paul described to Titus in this way:  “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him.” (Tit 1:16)

What does God see when He looks at your heart?  Does he see a man who does justice?  Does he see a woman who seeks truth?  Or does He see superficiality and hypocrisy?

The Hebrew word translated “truth” in Jeremiah 5:1-3 is emuwnah, which literally means “faithfulness”.  It is used in two ways in the Old Testament:

  1. In an intellectual sense, emuwnah describes the facts that are used to determine whether something is true or false.
  2. In an existential sense, emuwnah is an attribute of a person, i.e. faithfulness.

Emuwnah means that your words match who you actually are.  It means firmness, faithfulness, and fidelity.  Emuwnah is also used in connection with God, not just man.  In Deuteronomy 32, the Song of Moses, we learn that God Himself is:

“A God of faithfulness (emuwnah) and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.”  Deut 32:4

So, God is looking for men and women like Himself, and it is not too much for Him to expect.  We are commanded to be holy, because He Himself is holy (1 Pet 1:16, Lev 11:44, Lev 19:2).  Praise God that, because of Jesus Christ, we have the Holy Spirit to transform us into His image of faithfulness (2 Cor 3:18)!  This sanctification is a work of God, but we also have a responsibility to seek truth.  How? Dig into the word of God, the Bible, and you will discover the truth yourself.  By consistently devouring the word of God, your mind will be renewed, and you will be transformed (Rom 12:2).  You will become a man, a woman of faithfulness!

From Jeremiah, we learn about the dysfunctional relationship between the people of Judah and truth (emuwnah):

  • God’s people refused to obey His word.  Truth (emuwnah) had perished (Jer 7:28).
  • Lies and not truth (emuwnah) prevailed in the land.  The people proceeded from one evil to another (Jer 9:3).
  • Their apostasies were numerous (Jer 5:6).  Apostasy means to turn away from something that you once held to be true.  Judah had turned away from truth.  They had turned away from God.
  • They had “broken the yoke and burst the bonds” (Jer 5:5).  They refused to be constrained by truth, and their obstinacy resulted in evil.

Think about it.  Doesn’t that list describe the United States of America today?  Listen to what God says:

“Shall I not punish these people,” declares the Lord,
“And on a nation such as this shall I not avenge Myself?”  Jer 5:9

How can we expect anything other than the judgment of God for our unfaithfulness?  In Romans 1:16-18, Paul restates these precepts on a personal level.  The righteous man will live by faith.  On the other hand, ungodly men suppress the truth; they forcibly hold truth down by their unrighteousness.  The result is God’s wrath.

But the people of Judah didn’t stop at disobedience:

They have lied about the Lord
And said, “He will do nothing;
Misfortune will not come on us,
And we will not see sword or famine.”  Jer 5:12

Not only were they guilty of harlotry, but they flat out lied about God.  When God called the people to repentance through His prophet, Jeremiah, the people responded by proclaiming that God would not judge them.  They lied!  They denied the truth in their unrighteousness (Rom 1:18).

In Jeremiah 5:15-17, God begins to describe the nation He will use as the instrument of His judgment against rebellious Judah.  We will later see that this is the nation of Babylon (modern-day Iraq).  Babylon would ruin everything, including the fortified cities in which they trusted (Jer 5:17).  Even so, there was still hope for the people of God:

“Yet even in those days,” declares the Lord, “I will not make a complete destruction.”  Jer 5:18

Yes, the people would go into captivity (Jer 5:19), but God had made unbreakable promises to their forefathers concerning the nation of Israel.  Because God is faithful (emuwnah), He will never utterly destroy Israel.  Today, we are witnesses to God’s faithfulness.  After nearly 2000 years of being scattered throughout the world, the state of Israel was reborn in 1948.  Truly, God’s faithfulness is unquestionable!

Sadly, the people of Judah were “foolish and senseless” (Jer 5:21).  Translated literally, they were people “without heart”.  Faithfulness (emuwnah) is a matter of the heart.  Therefore, it is the fear of God that will be a boundary to protect your heart from rebellion (Jer 5:22).  The fear of God will foster faithfulness in you.  Without the fear of God, you will be stubborn and rebellious, and you will walk away from God (Jer 5:23).  And in case you are ever tempted to blame God for His righteous wrath, He reminds us that we have only ourselves to blame in the face of judgment (Jer 5:25).

God’s eyes were looking for truth (Jer 5:3), but what He found was wicked men (Jer 5:26) who excelled in deeds of wickedness (Jer 5:28).

Jeremiah 5 closes with an indictment on the leaders of Judah and the people of Judah:

“An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land:
The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority;
And My people love it so!”  Jer 5:30-31

To be candid, many in the church in America today “prophesy falsely”.  They teach lies, because that is what people want to hear (2 Tim 4:3).  Many in the church today want to ignore sin and its devastating results.  They only want to hear about health, wealth, and happiness.  They want their ears tickled by lies, because sin and judgment are uncomfortable subjects.

Likewise, our leaders rule on their own authority rather than look to the God of truth.  There is no fear and trembling, only pride and power.

God asks:

“But what will you do at the end of it?”  Jer 5:31

In other words, how will you respond when God’s sure judgment comes?  Will you be swept away, or will you be able to stand because God sees faithfulness (emuwnah) when He looks at you?

” … if a country sins against Me by committing unfaithfulness, and I stretch out My hand against it, … even though these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves,” declares the Lord God.  Ezek 14:13-14  (emphasis added)

If you determine to be a man of faithfulness or a woman of faithfulness, you must seek “the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it” (Jer 6:16) as we will see next time.

This is part of a series of notes on Jeremiah:

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