Jeremiah 16

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Read Jeremiah 16

Day of Disaster

16 Then the word of the Lord came to me: “You must not marry and have sons or daughters in this place.” For this is what the Lord says about the sons and daughters born in this land and about the women who are their mothers and the men who are their fathers: “They will die of deadly diseases. They will not be mourned or buried but will be like dung lying on the ground. They will perish by sword and famine, and their dead bodies will become food for the birds and the wild animals.”

For this is what the Lord says: “Do not enter a house where there is a funeral meal; do not go to mourn or show sympathy, because I have withdrawn my blessing, my love and my pity from this people,” declares the Lord. “Both high and low will die in this land. They will not be buried or mourned, and no one will cut themselves or shave their head for the dead.No one will offer food to comfort those who mourn for the dead—not even for a father or a mother—nor will anyone give them a drink to console them.

“And do not enter a house where there is feasting and sit down to eat and drink. For this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Before your eyes and in your days I will bring an end to the sounds of joy and gladness and to the voices of bride and bridegroom in this place.

10 “When you tell these people all this and they ask you, ‘Why has the Lorddecreed such a great disaster against us? What wrong have we done? What sin have we committed against the Lord our God?’ 11 then say to them, ‘It is because your ancestors forsook me,’ declares the Lord, ‘and followed other gods and served and worshiped them. They forsook me and did not keep my law. 12 But you have behaved more wickedly than your ancestors. See how all of you are following the stubbornness of your evil hearts instead of obeying me. 13 So I will throw you out of this land into a land neither you nor your ancestors have known, and there you will serve other gods day and night, for I will show you no favor.’

14 “However, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ 15 but it will be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ For I will restore them to the land I gave their ancestors.

16 “But now I will send for many fishermen,” declares the Lord, “and they will catch them. After that I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them down on every mountain and hill and from the crevices of the rocks. 17 My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes. 18 I will repay them double for their wickedness and their sin, because they have defiled my land with the lifeless forms of their vile images and have filled my inheritance with their detestable idols.”

19 Lord, my strength and my fortress,
    my refuge in time of distress,
to you the nations will come
    from the ends of the earth and say,
“Our ancestors possessed nothing but false gods,
    worthless idols that did them no good.
20 Do people make their own gods?
    Yes, but they are not gods!”

21 “Therefore I will teach them—
    this time I will teach them
    my power and might.
Then they will know
    that my name is the Lord.

Go Deeper

Jeremiah 16 might seem like a challenging chapter at first. The NIV titles it the “Day of Disaster.” Signs of the coming judgment of the Lord upon the sin and evil of the Israelites snake throughout its pages. In the first few verses, the prophet Jeremiah is commanded not to take a wife, not have sons or daughters, not to mourn with others, and not to feast with others. What a strange thing for the Lord to command! Let’s unpack why he asks this of Jeremiah.

The nation of Israel is steeped in sin. Verse 11 explains that the Israelites have forsaken the Lord and sought after false gods. They have committed worse evils such murder, sexual abuse, and child sacrifice (just to name a few). God laments as each person “follows his stubborn, evil will, refusing to listen to me” (v 12). Considering the wicked deeds of these people, a perfect and just God has every reason to unleash His wrath on them. However, before He follows through with this judgment, He graciously gives Israel a warning through his prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah is told by God to live as though the judgment of God has already come so that the people can begin to see a small picture of what the consequence of their sin is. God lays out the depths of his wrath against sin for the Israelites to see. 

Then, the chapter takes a turn. The Enduring Word commentary explains that, “As if God could not help Himself, that word of despair is immediately followed by a wonderful and gracious promise.” It’s in His nature to show mercy to his children, and Jeremiah begins to tell of the days to come in which the Lord will restore Israel. God promises that more displays of His power and kindness are to come—ones even greater than his rescue of his people from Egypt.

Looking through the lens of the New Testament, we can see that Jesus’s death and resurrection was the ultimate act of God’s restorative power. As sinful humans, we are each deserving of God’s judgment and wrath in the form of death and eternal separation from Him. However, if anyone would call upon His name, turn from their sin, believe in his resurrection, and declare that He is Lord, they can be swept up in the loving grace of the Savior!


  1. What stuck out to you on your first read through this chapter? Why? 
  2. How does it make you feel to know that God is a just God who has the power to punish sin and evil in the world?
  3. To repent means to turn from one thing to something or someone else. Have you experienced turning away from a particular sin and turning to God?

Pray This

Second Chronicles 7:14 says “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Take some time to pray for our nation, its repentance, and that the Lord would heal our land!

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3 thoughts on “Jeremiah 16”

  1. Verse 17 caught my attention as I read this chapter, “My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes.” We may try to isolate and hide our sin from others, but God knows our innermost thoughts and motives. As I’ve carefully taught students through the years, anything that you must try to hide or conceal is usually wrong. Just because we may be able to secretly commit sin for a time, not for one moment does God not know. For Christ followers, this realization should drive us to immediately repent. 2 Chronicles 16:9 shows us that “The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” Instead of grieving the heart of God, may we carefully inventory our lives asking the Holy Spirit to expose “ any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:24).

  2. Thank you! Amen!

    20 “Do people make their own gods?
    Yes, but they are not gods!”

    Yes, we do. And no, they’re not!

  3. Faithfulness=Jeremiah. Boy, oh boy, Jeremiah was faithful to God even when God says “No wife, no kids, no celebrations, no funerals”. He was already a social outcast but now even more so and yet he was faithful. Imagine laying down one of your deepest desires. Think about what it would mean for God to say to you, “No, you will not do or have that.” Could you do that? Would you? My brain is scrambling because of course I want to say and think YES!!!! but in reality I would wrestle hard with it. Jesus gave His life for me, if I truly want to follow Him I do have to give some “idols” up. BUT GOD gave His son and His Son gave His life so that we can have eternal life with God and Holy Spirit to guide us through this world. 1 Corinthians 10:31b “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Do not divide your life into secular or spiritual, live all your life to the glory of God, meditate on His Word, pray to renew your mind to His Word, offer all our acts to God, work hardily unto God not man, say what you mean and mean what you say, Love like Jesus, rest like Jesus, be generous like Jesus, be of service like Jesus, have community like Jesus, feed like Jesus.
    God’s Word shows us all the way through it how to follow Him. Faithfulness=Jeremiah=Jesus.

    God thank You for illuminating Your Word. Thank You for all the help You give in guiding me to You. God I am beyond grateful, thankful and blessed!!!! (Revelation 4:11) Worthy are you, MY Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created.” in Jesus name amen.

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