Jer 5.1-31 continues with the theme of the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem by the Babylonians and what caused it. The sins and corruption of the people were so common that a search for a just and faithful man was unfruitful, leading to destruction.
v 1…”Roam to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and look now, and take note. And seek in her open squares, if you can find a man (4.25), if there is one who does justice, who seeks truth, then I will pardon her (Jerusalem).
v 2…And although they say, ‘As the Lord lives’ (common form of an oath), surely (nevertheless) they swear falsely (not sincere).
v 3…O Lord (Yehovah), do not thine eyes look for truth (Hebrew “emunah” and the word for faith-Luke 18.8)? Thou hast smitten them (with one calamity after another), but they did not weaken (remained stiff-necked); thou hast consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refued to repent (to do teshuvah or turn).
v 4…Then I said, “They are only poor, they are foolish (uneducated in Torah); for they do not know the way of the Lord (in the Torah because they were too busy trying to make a living) or the ordinance (“mishpat” or judgments) of their God.”
v 5…”I will go to the great (leaders) and will speak to them (the educated in the Torah) for they know the way of the Lord (the Torah), and the ordinance (mishpat) of God.” But they too, with one accord, have broken the yoke and burst the bonds (of the commandments).”
v 6…Therefore a lion from the forest shall slay them, a wolf of the deserts shall destroy them, a leopard is watching their cities (the lion, wolf and leopard shows the characteristics of the Babylonians). Every one who goes out of them shall be torn to pieces, because their transgressions are many, their apostasies are numerous (the root cause).
v 7…”Why should I pardon you(it would be inconsistent with me)? Your sons have forsaken me and sworn by those who are not gods (trusted in idols). When I had fed them to the full, they committed adultery (spiritual) and trooped (root is “gad” in Hebrew meaning a throng) to the harlot’s house (false temples).
v 8…They are well-fed lusty horses, each one neighing after his neighbor’s wife (a chronic behavior).
v 9…Shall I not punish these things,” declares the Lord, “and on a nation such as this shall I not avenge myself (how could Yehovah not withhold his anger)?”
v 10…”Go up (he says to the Babylonians) through her vine rows and destroy, but not execute a complete destruction (this attack will cause some to repent); strip away her branches (unbelieving branches to burn), for they are not the Lord’s (pruning the unhealthy growth-Rom 11.17).
v 11…For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt treacherously with me,” declares the Lord (the reason for the attack-some of the ten tribes were in Judah).
v 12…”They have lied about the Lord (denied him, thinking what was happening was just chance and were just the natural order of things) and said, “Not he (who has spoken); misfortune will not come upon us (his hand was not in the events); and we will not see sword or famine (war and its consequences).
v 13…And the prophets (of Yehovah) are as wind (no purpose, all their threats were meaningless) and the word (true prophecy from God) is not in them. Thus it (the evil) will be done to them (they thought the evil that the true prophets were prophesying about would come on their own heads, but they are wrong)!”
v 14…Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of hosts (armies including the Babylonians), “Because you have spoken this word, behold, I am making my words in your mouth (Jeremiah) fire (judgment) and this people wood, and it will consume them (as fire does to dry wood).
v 15…”Behold (see for yourself, take note), I am bringing a nation against you from afar (historically Babylon, but eschatologically the kings of the east), O house of Israel,” declares the Lord. “It is an enduring nation (lasting), it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language you do not know, nor can you understand what they say (1 Cor 14.22 says that tongues are a sign to those who do not believe, but what does that mean? It is clear that Yehovah has spoken plainly through the prophets to Israel, Judah and to us. even a child could understand what the prophets like Jeremiah said. Yet, they were obstinate and stupid and didn’t listen. So, God used another method. He would speak to the people through the Babylonians (later the Persians, Greeks, Romans, etc. The foreign tongues of the Babylonians would finally get the attention of the people and that they were being punished for their sins. This would be the one sign they would finally believe, and would know that what Jeremiah and the prophets were saying was the truth all along, but it was too late).
v 16…Their quiver (of the Babylonians) is like an open grave (very accurate and will deal mortal blows), all of them are mighty men (strong warriors).
v 17…And they will devour your harvest and your food (a great army needs food); they will devour your sons and your daughters (eat the food meant for them); they will devour your flocks and your herds; they will devour your vines and your fig trees; they will demolish with the sword your fortified cities in which you trust (for their protection; in a spiritual sense, “Babylon” and its false teachings will rob us of our spiritual food also).
v 18…Yet even in those days (“B’yamim” and an eschatological term for when the Messiah comes. This has a historical application here, but these verses can be applied to the birth-pains. Yehovah will not destroy Israel),” declares the Lord, “I will not make you a complete destruction.
v 19…And it shall come about when they shall say, ‘Why has the Lord (Yehovah) our God (notice he is their God) done all these things to us?’ Then you shall say to them, ‘As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve strangers in a land that is not yours (this is an example of “midah kneged midah” or “measure for measure.” The penalty corresponds to the sin. They wanted the idols of Babylon, to Babylon they would go).’
v 20…”Declare this in the house of Jacob (here is a concept, when “Jacob” is used it alludes to the flesh; when “Israel” is used it alludes to the spiritual) and proclaim (publish) it in Judah, saying (for the benefit of the whole nation),
v 21…’Hear this, O foolish and senseless (without the heart of understanding) people, who have eyes, but see not (spiritually); who have ears, but hear not (spiritually).
v 22…Do you not fear me?’ declares the Lord, ‘Do you not tremble in my presence (be in awe)? For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea (his power keeps the sea within its barriers; in the same way, restless humanity can only go where God says to go), and eternal decree, so it can not cross over it. Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail; though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it.
v 23…But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart, they have turned aside and departed (revolted).
v 24…They do not say in their heart, “Let us now fear the Lord our God (Yehovah Eloheynu), who gives rain in its season (a blessing because you don’t want rain out of season), both the autumn (former) rain and the spring (latter) rain, who keeps for us the appointed weeks of the harvest (the seven weeks between Bikurim and Shavuot-Exo 23.16, 34.22; Deut 16.9-very little rain fell so they could harvest).”
v 25…Your iniquities have turned these away (the rains) and your sins have withheld good from you.
v 26…For wicked men (rashim) are found among my people (so many it was difficult to find a righteous man-Jer 5.1, they watch like fowlers lying in wait (looking for victims); they set a trap, they catch men (to rob them, like Jezebel did to Naboth in 1 Kings 21.9-10).
v 27…Like a cage full of birds, so their houses are full of deceit (full of their ill-gotten gains and fraud); therefore they have become great and rich.
v 28…They are fat, they are sleek (lazy), they also excel in deeds of wickedness (over and above the normal levels of greed), they do not plead the cause (of right and justice), the cause of the orphan, that they may prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the poor.
v 29…Shall I not punish these?’ declares the Lord, ‘On a nation such as this shall I not avenge myself?’
v 30…”An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land;
v 31…The prophets prophesy falsely (lies), and the priests rule on their authority (willingly follow the false prophets-it’s the same today); and my people love it so (willingly follow them)! But what will you do at the end of it (when they are taken into captivity; how are they going to like that)?”