Jeremiah 7:1-3. The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Stand in the gate of the LORD’S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings; and I will cause you to dwell in this place.
Many of them thought that, if they went up to the temple, it was all right with them, if they did but go through the outward ritual, they would certainly be accepted. They must have been astonished when Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, met them at the temple door, and told them that the best worship of God was holiness, not the mere outward ceremony but the renewal of the life, the cleansing of the heart before him.
Jeremiah 7:4-7. Trust ye not in lying words, saying The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD. The temple of the LORD, are these. For if ye thoroughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; if ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers for ever and ever.
The blessing is not to the temple and the temple worshippers, the blessing is to holy men, to such as love righteousness, to such as obey the living God, and do justice between man and man, and especially between themselves and the poor and needy of the earth. It is needful to say this even now, for there are some who talk of being regenerated by baptism, of being saved by sacraments, they trust in their priests, and rely upon their performances. “Trust ye not in lying words;” that is the Scriptural description of all that kind of thing,-just lying words, and nothing better.
Jeremiah 7:8-10. Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; and come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?
Will you quote the very decree of God as an excuse for your sin? Will you make it out that even he is partaker in your criminality? That will never do; only a lying heart could conceive of such an abomination.
Jeremiah 7:11-16. Is this house, which is callest by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD. But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness, of my people Israel. And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your father, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim. Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make interception to me: for I will not hear thee.
You know how, through the sin of Eli’s sons, God forsook Shiloh; and the tent of his house and the ark of his covenant were removed, and Shiloh became an utter desolation. This will God do to any church that becomes unfaithful to him. Go ye to Rome, and see what she is today,–mother of harlots, though once she seemed to be the chaste spouse of Christ. Her idolatries are as many as those of the heathen, for she forsook the truth of God, and turned aside from the Most High. Think not that God is tied to any place, or to any ministry. If we walk not before him aright, he may take the candlestick out of its place, he may take the talent away and give it to others, and then “Ichabod” shall be written on the walls whether it be of Shiloh or of Jerusalem. Jeremiah has thus shown us clearly that no confidence can be placed in holy places or outward ceremonies; the state of the heart and the life is the all-important matter.
Jeremiah 7:21-22. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices:
You have heard what God said to them when they came out of Egypt.
Jeremiah 7:23-26. But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their car, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.
Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them: yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers. God grant that these words may never be a truthful description of us! Oh, may we keep the covenant of our God, and walk before him with a holy, reverent fear, and serve him all our days! Amen.