Jeremiah 12

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Read Jeremiah 12

Jeremiah’s Complaint

12 You are always righteous, Lord,
    when I bring a case before you.
Yet I would speak with you about your justice:
    Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
    Why do all the faithless live at ease?
You have planted them, and they have taken root;
    they grow and bear fruit.
You are always on their lips
    but far from their hearts.
Yet you know me, Lord;
    you see me and test my thoughts about you.
Drag them off like sheep to be butchered!
    Set them apart for the day of slaughter!
How long will the land lie parched
    and the grass in every field be withered?
Because those who live in it are wicked,
    the animals and birds have perished.
Moreover, the people are saying,
    “He will not see what happens to us.”

God’s Answer

“If you have raced with men on foot
    and they have worn you out,
    how can you compete with horses?
If you stumble in safe country,
    how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?
Your relatives, members of your own family—
    even they have betrayed you;
    they have raised a loud cry against you.
Do not trust them,
    though they speak well of you.

“I will forsake my house,
    abandon my inheritance;
I will give the one I love
    into the hands of her enemies.
My inheritance has become to me
    like a lion in the forest.
She roars at me;
    therefore I hate her.
Has not my inheritance become to me
    like a speckled bird of prey
    that other birds of prey surround and attack?
Go and gather all the wild beasts;
    bring them to devour.
10 Many shepherds will ruin my vineyard
    and trample down my field;
they will turn my pleasant field
    into a desolate wasteland.
11 It will be made a wasteland,
    parched and desolate before me;
the whole land will be laid waste
    because there is no one who cares.
12 Over all the barren heights in the desert
    destroyers will swarm,
for the sword of the Lord will devour
    from one end of the land to the other;
    no one will be safe.
13 They will sow wheat but reap thorns;
    they will wear themselves out but gain nothing.
They will bear the shame of their harvest
    because of the Lord’s fierce anger.”

14 This is what the Lord says: “As for all my wicked neighbors who seize the inheritance I gave my people Israel, I will uproot them from their lands and I will uproot the people of Judah from among them. 15 But after I uproot them, I will again have compassion and will bring each of them back to their own inheritance and their own country. 16 And if they learn well the ways of my people and swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives’—even as they once taught my people to swear by Baal—then they will be established among my people. 17 But if any nation does not listen, I will completely uproot and destroy it,” declares the Lord.

Go Deeper

Jeremiah’s posture in verse one sets an example for how we approach the Lord in our suffering and confusion. He praises God’s righteousness, reminding himself of the Lord’s goodness, and then asks his question in gratitude.   

Jeremiah asks God why unrepentant hearts seem to be blessed. They prosper, yet they would take the Lord’s name in vain. Jeremiah may be struggling with a Jewish teaching of his time, that retribution comes for those who do evil, yet despite Judah’s evil they have not experienced wrath. In verse 3, Jeremiah stumbles by boasting in his righteousness compared with Judah’s evil. But God has declared already, “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom… [but] that they have the understanding to know me” (Jeremiah 9:23-24). Jeremiah is asking the Lord to overthrow his enemies on account of his suffering and how righteous he thinks himself, but who is able to claim this but the Son of Suffering himself, Jesus?   

So, the Lord responds with little comfort for Jeremiah. Essentially, Jeremiah has not experienced the extent of Judah’s betrayal. It is as if he is saying, “I see your suffering, and I raise you mine.” Jeremiah has not been made to empathize with the betrayal and two-facedness of Judah yet, but he will. He will experience betrayal from his family and the falseness of those who would speak poison-laced kindness. God’s judgment here alternates between grief and wrath as he pours out his heart. There is wrath so deep because of grief so deep because of love so deep, yet “there is no one who cares” (v. 11). 

Verses twelve and thirteen call back to what Jeremiah previously complained, that Judah seems to prosper. God answers that while they have sown in their unrighteousness, they will not be the ones to reap this pitiful harvest. The armies of Nebuchadnezzar are coming to pillage the land and destroy Judah’s counterfeit glory. Psalm 127 warns: “Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” The Lord has turned his face away from Judah; their end is imminent.  

The last part of Jeremiah 12 is a foreshadowing of the Gospel to come. While the wrath of the Lord is scorching, those of all nations who repent will be brought into the fold of the Good Shepherd. This foreshadows the salvation of those who mourn their sin and repent, as well as Jesus opening the door to the Gentiles.  


  1. Galatians 6:8 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” What are you sowing to please the flesh? Ask God to redirect your passions to align with his heart.  
  2. How can you relate to Jeremiah’s confusion and questioning of God’s hand in judgment?  
  3. What has the Lord done that has confused you, and how have you seen it work for His purposes? 

A Quote

“When we are most in the dark concerning God’s dispensations, we must keep up right thoughts of God, believing that he never did the least wrong to any of his creatures. When we find it hard to understand any of his dealings with us, or others, we must look to general truths as our first principles, and abide by them: the Lord is righteous. The God with whom we have to do, knows how our hearts are toward him.” – Matthew Henry

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4 thoughts on “Jeremiah 12”

  1. Jeremiah’s humanity is on display as he’s bone weary of the wickedness around him. He’s embraced the call to prophesy to his people but things continue to worsen. He knows God to be righteous but impatiently questions his justice. We could easily voice the same concern in our present culture. 2 Peter 3:9 reminds us “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Yesterday at HC, Grant reminded us how God describes himself from Genesis to Revelations—compassionate. At the close of this chapter we see God’s declaration to his people, “But after I uproot them, I will again have compassion and will bring each of them back to their own inheritance and their own country” proof that God’s justice and mercy exist together. Today, I’ll be pondering and praying over any evil way in me that needs uprooting, so I can be planted of the Lord to display his love and mercy to a world that desperately needs to know of his saving grace.

  2. “Preach the Gospel to yourself every single day!” You are where it starts. Thank you Grant for yesterday’s sermon. WOOHOO!!! BUT GOD!!! God wants/desires us all to have the chance at eternal life with Him. In Jeremiah, He wanted to give Judah the freedom of choice, chance to turn from their wicked ways, if they would bend their knee to Him, the one true God, they would be spared and granted mercy. It burdened both Jeremiah and God that they were not turning from their evil ways. God is preparing Jeremiah’s heart to what is to come and how truly even more rebellious they are going to be. Through the chaos and the disrespect, and the craziness of sins of people, God looks ahead and keeps His promise to those who truly turn from their sinful ways and place their trust and faith in Him. We too should be prepared for what is coming in this world. But in the mean time we should be preaching the Gospel to ourselves daily and then living it out like there is no tomorrow. Verse 1 Righteous are you, O LORD, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you.
    BUT GOD!!! Eph2:4-6 4 BUT GOD being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. His compassion! His Glory!! His edification!!! His Honor!!!!! We have been saved, raised and seated. We should put this on in our hearts daily to know that we know where we stand so we can preach/live that Gospel, WOOHOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    God thank You for salvation from my trespasses and sins. Thank You that You can shine a light for me to follow You and not the darkness of this world. Thank You God for being rich in mercy and full of great love for me, Amy, that I am seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus!!! WOOHOO!! Thank You for this free gift from You God. I am Your workmanship, designed to do a work in such a time as this that You have prepared beforehand for me. Thank You for giving me Your love goggles to see Your people, Your voice to speak love, arms to hug and cherish and listening ears to hear them today, in these minutes of this day in Jesus name amen.

  3. Yes! Amen and amen!

    1 “Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
    Why do all the faithless live at ease?”

    Too often I grumble, “It’s not right! It’s not fair!”. Instead, I need to focus on uprooting the unrighteousness in my life and leave everything else for God to address as He sees best. Another reminder that He’s God . . . and I’m not!

  4. Diane Frances Rogers

    I can relate to the impatience of Jeremiah. When it comes to seeing injustices in our world, I too grow impatient until I realize that my sin put Jesus on the cross. Would I want God to rightfully give me what I deserve? “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Psalm 51:1

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