Jeremiah 7 has our prophet getting a direct word from the Lord to “Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word”. It doesn’t get more direct than that. Jeremiah needed plenty of courage and boldness to do his work. It wasn’t a popular job he had, and there was plenty of people who didn’t want to hear what he said and certainly didn’t want to feel the pressure of God’s plan. It’s easy to imagine Jeremiah speaking to the busy crowds of people and priests coming in and out of the temple area. Perhaps many stopped to listen, but apparently none truly heard his word from the Lord.
The message he had was actually very clear. “Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place….if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever”. Jeremiah tells them they have to change how they live. Change is always a difficult message to deliver. No one likes change, particularly when it is personal and individual. But God had His requirements of what it would take to continue to receive the blessing of His land. And Jeremiah was the messenger of that truth.
The real issue was that Baal had become part of the daily lives of the people. They had placed other gods in a place where only God deserves to be. But they didn’t really think God would do anything about it. They had been living this way for some time and nothing had happened yet, so Jeremiah’s words were falling on deaf ears. So God’s message gets amped up. “Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it because of the evil of my people Israel”. God plays the bluff card and tells the people to go see what happened where another group of people ignored His commands. Shiloh enjoyed glory for hundreds of years, but it came to an end abruptly. First, when the Philistines in overran it and finally when the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom. It was living proof that God means business.
God gets direct with Jeremiah and tells him “As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you”. Jeremiah was passionately preaching God’s message but God didn’t want him interceding and getting in the way of what was to come. The requirement was still the same. “Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you”. God requires obedience. It’s pretty simple, yet the people didn’t listen nor hear. “They did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward”. Bad choice that will lead God to respond in a strong way!