Jeremiah 11

DateVersionReading Plan
@July 3, 2023ESV (2016)ESV Prophets Plan 2023


  • The broken covenant


The chapter opens with an admonition given by God to keep the Mosaic covenant; obedience will bring blessing while disobedience will bring a curse. The words were to be proclaimed by Jeremiah to the people to both “Hear the words of this covenant and do them.” (Jer. 11:6). It was not enough just to hear the instruction, it should result in action.

But as we see in Jer. 11:8, the people neither heard nor obeyed, but instead “walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart.” The manifestations of their disobedience are given in Jer. 11:10, that they had 1) refused to hear God’s words, 2) gone after other gods and 3) broken the covenant made with their fathers. This leads into the consequences in Jer. 11:11 that God will bring upon them inescapable disaster.

In the thick of judgment, the people will vainly seek deliverance from other gods that cannot save. This contrast highlights the poor choice of the people to worship the gods that could not save rather than the living God who can.

In Jer. 11:14, Jeremiah is commanded not to pray for the people, because he “will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble.” He had given them ample opportunity to turn to Him in repentance, but that time had now passed. In Jer. 11:15, the Israelites are imaged as an unfaithful wife and the LORD asks, “What right has my beloved in my house, when she has done many vile deeds?” As a faithful Husband, God grieves over His wife’s adulterous conduct with other gods but is also just in His corrective response.

In Jer. 11:18-20, Jeremiah describes how the LORD made known to him the wicked deeds of the people. Because he had not suspected all their plots and schemes against him, he was like a docile lamb led to the slaughter, looking to “cut him off from the land of the living” (Jer. 11:19).

However, in the final verses of the chapter (Jer. 11:21-23), we see that God will bring punishment to those in Anathoth seeking to end Jeremiah’s life. Anathoth was Jeremiah’s hometown and, presumably, his family and other residents had thought that Jeremiah’s prophetic message was bringing disgrace upon them. This also foreshadows Jesus’ observation in Matt. 13:57 that a prophet is only without honor in his hometown.


The call to both hear and obey the direction of the LORD seemed a strong theme in this chapter. Much like His people in Jeremiah’s day, we are called to both listen and act. But how do we foster this desire to live in such obedience?

It is a work of the Spirit that as we spend time with Him, He stokes a fire within us to serve and bless others. Rooted in His Word and prayer, this fire grows beyond containment and spreads into the hearts of those who cross our path. What joy we should have that He not only dwells within us but so fills us to the point of bursting that we cannot help but speak and live for Him.

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