Jeremiah 9:3-11 - Cordial Death Trap
Can you trust your friends & family? Are you sure?
Read / Listen
Read Jeremiah 9:3-11
CONTEXT: The people of Israel had a false confidence that because they had God's temple and they went through the religious motions, that everything was good even though their lives were full of sin. In this passage, God identifies their sin, which is rooted in breaking the 9th commandment and reveals His plans to discipline His people.
3 “They make ready their tongue
like a bow, to shoot lies;
it is not by truth
that they triumph in the land.
They go from one sin to another;
they do not acknowledge me,”
declares the Lord.
4 “Beware of your friends;
do not trust anyone in your clan.
For every one of them is a deceiver,
and every friend a slanderer.
5 Friend deceives friend,
and no one speaks the truth.
They have taught their tongues to lie;
they weary themselves with sinning.
6 You live in the midst of deception;
in their deceit they refuse to acknowledge me,”
declares the Lord.
7 Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty says:
“See, I will refine and test them,
for what else can I do
because of the sin of my people?
8 Their tongue is a deadly arrow;
it speaks deceitfully.
With their mouths they all speak cordially to their neighbors,
but in their hearts they set traps for them.
9 Should I not punish them for this?”
declares the Lord.
“Should I not avenge myself
on such a nation as this?”
10 I will weep and wail for the mountains
and take up a lament concerning the wilderness grasslands.
They are desolate and untraveled,
and the lowing of cattle is not heard.
The birds have all fled
and the animals are gone.
11 “I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins,
a haunt of jackals;
and I will lay waste the towns of Judah
so no one can live there.”
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 112
Q. What is God’s will for you
in the ninth commandment?
A. God’s will is that I
never give false testimony
twist no one’s words,
not gossip or slander,
nor join in condemning anyone
without a hearing
or without a just cause.
Rather, in court and everywhere else,
I should avoid lying
and deceit of every kind;
these are devices the
devil himself uses,
and they would call down on me
God’s intense anger.
I should love the truth,
speak it candidly,
and openly acknowledge it.
And I should do what I can
to guard and advance my
neighbor’s good name.
Sometimes the best way to know something is to study its opposite. In other words, if we want to understand what it means to "love the truth and speak it candidly," we can begin by examining the consequences of doing the opposite: what happens when people who "taught their tongues to lie... and in their deceit refused to acknowledge the Lord (v5-6)?"
As we see so often in scripture, there's a direct link between your tongue and your overall actions. The truthfulness of your words is directly correlated to the honesty of your daily living. As God describes it, a life steeped in deceit has terrible consequences: trust is shattered and slander abounds. Even as the people "all speak cordially to their neighbors, in their hearts they set traps for them (v8)."
Israel's descent into falsehood left God no choice. "What else can I do?" asks God in v7, "I will refine and test them." He continues, "Should I not punish them for this? ...Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this?"
In many ways, the constant lies and deception you are bombarded with - both from the media and from the people around you - are nothing new. But be on guard: Know that God will punish people severely, both in this life and the next, who continually exchange the truth for a lie.
Truth is much more than giving an accurate accounting or a correct definition. Truth is a bedrock upon which a solid community can be built, but that solid bedrock quickly turns to shifting sand when truth is replaced with deception. When that happens, you can't trust even your friends or family, because no one speaks the truth (v4-5).
Although deception can take many forms, it always springs from the same source. God refers to this source twice in today's passage: "in their deceit they refuse to acknowledge me (v3, 6)." When people lose their knowledge of God, they lose their grip on truthfulness, and it doesn't take long after that for entire societies to implode.
The best way to reverse our own society's implosion is to restore people's knowledge of God so that they turn to Him in repentance and once again find solid footing in the bedrock of truth. And the best way for you to restore other people's knowledge of God is to continue building up your own! You can't stop other people from sliding unless you're firmly planted in the truth!
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The LORD God, who will punish those who do not acknowledge Him;
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that your knowledge of God will increase so that your influence will cause others to find the bedrock of truth once again;
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - John 9