Imaginations of the Heart

November 5, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 2 Comments
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In Jeremiah Chapter 9 the prophet continued his lament, specifically related to the treacherous dealings among the people. They believed they had left God at the Temple and were free to live according to their own Godless standards. They became duplicitous – experts at being two-faced for gain.

Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men.

Jeremiah 9:1-2

Jeremiah was experiencing the kind of weeping – almost a complete emotional breakdown – that made him want to just get away from it all. You can probably relate, but that was never an option for him.

Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother: for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbour will walk with slanders.

Jeremiah 9:4

How sad for a preacher to have to warn his people not to trust anyone or believe anyone!

And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity.

Jeremiah 9:5

It’s not that they were lazy and wouldn’t work hard, but, rather, that all their energy was given over to lying and deceit and evil schemes, as though those were good things to pursue and upon which to expend energy.

Their tongue is as an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit: one speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait.

Jeremiah 9:8 (emphasis added)

Do not get the impression that lies are harmless things. Here, they are compared to weapons – deadly arrows – and notice how they reveal that the evil heart is the source of lying. The arrows come from the heart, because a trap has been concocted in the heart. You and I might release a lie or some gossip, and find, like an arrow, it can not be called back once it has been shot.

And the LORD saith, Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein; But have walked after the imagination of their own heart, and after Baalim, which their fathers taught them:

Jeremiah 9:13-14

God did not here blame the pagans for introducing idols to His people. He blamed the people themselves, whose hearts, rather than surrendering to the Covenant laws, “imagined” their own plans and followed after the idols that their idol-producing hearts had manufactured.

Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink.

Jeremiah 9:15

Because of their gullibility, God would make their punishment fit their crime. They were so quick spew forth lies that now they would be just as quick to drink the poison that God would offer them.

There is a break in the narrative of this oracle, where God had Jeremiah give one of his most important teachings, helping us to understand something of the nature of God and men.

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:

Jeremiah 9:23

What do we have that has not been given to us? Wisdom? No. Might? No. Wealth? No. Our intelligence, our strength, and all our material possessions and blessings come from God. Therefore, it makes no sense to “glory” – to boast or be proud – in any of these things. Pride is perhaps the most dangerous sin because it makes us think more highly of ourselves than of God and of others. There is something in us that wants to glory – to make a big deal out of something – and here God tells us where that desire MUST find its outlet if we are to please Him

But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 9:24

We must try to understand God with our mind and know Him with our heart. Intimate fellowship and relationship with God can only come through Christ. We will be neither truly loving, nor truly kind, compared to God – or apart from God. We will not make the right decisions about our own lives, nor will we be able to help anyone else the way that God could help them. This is why the kindest and most effective thing we can do for people is to try to get them to God. On our own we will not live rightly because our so-called “righteousness” apart from Him is really filthy rags. Our only hope is to put on God’s righteousness, having been declared righteous by Him in Christ.

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  1. […] The people, after Verse 11, would have asked, “Why are we being punished for what our ancestors and parents did?” So Verse 12 counters that they are responsible for their own behavior – which is worse! Also, there is a repetition of the idea of “walking” after their own ways. Those who walk after vanity become vain, but the reason they did this was because their HEARTS were evil. […]

  2. […] “bad” happens to ME. Jeremiah 9:23 and I Corinthians 4:7 remind us to ask: “Why do I glory in wisdom or might if they are only gifts? Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of […]


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