There is no balm in Gilead – Jeremiah 8:1-22
t that time, says the Lord, the bones of the kings of Judah, the bones of its officials, the bones of the priests, the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be brought out of their tombs; 2 and they shall be spread before the sun and the moon and all the host of heaven, which they have loved and served, which they have followed, and which they have inquired of and worshiped; and they shall not be gathered or buried; they shall be like dung on the surface of the ground. 3 Death shall be preferred to life by all the remnant that remains of this evil family in all the places where I have driven them, says the Lordof hosts.
The Blind Perversity of the Whole Nation
4 You shall say to them, Thus says the Lord:
When people fall, do they not get up again?
If they go astray, do they not turn back?
5 Why then has this people turned away
in perpetual backsliding?
They have held fast to deceit,
they have refused to return.
6 I have given heed and listened,
but they do not speak honestly;
no one repents of wickedness,
saying, “What have I done!”
All of them turn to their own course,
like a horse plunging headlong into battle.
7 Even the stork in the heavens
knows its times;
and the turtledove, swallow, and crane
observe the time of their coming;
but my people do not know
the ordinance of the Lord.
8 How can you say, “We are wise,
and the law of the Lord is with us,”
when, in fact, the false pen of the scribes
has made it into a lie?
9 The wise shall be put to shame,
they shall be dismayed and taken;
since they have rejected the word of the Lord,
what wisdom is in them?
10 Therefore I will give their wives to others
and their fields to conquerors,
because from the least to the greatest
everyone is greedy for unjust gain;
from prophet to priest
everyone deals falsely.
11 They have treated the wound of my people carelessly,
saying, “Peace, peace,”
when there is no peace.
12 They acted shamefully, they committed abomination;
yet they were not at all ashamed,
they did not know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
at the time when I punish them, they shall be overthrown,
says the Lord.
13 When I wanted to gather them, says the Lord,
there are[c] no grapes on the vine,
nor figs on the fig tree;
even the leaves are withered,
and what I gave them has passed away from them.
14 Why do we sit still?
Gather together, let us go into the fortified cities
and perish there;
for the Lord our God has doomed us to perish,
and has given us poisoned water to drink,
because we have sinned against the Lord.
15 We look for peace, but find no good,
for a time of healing, but there is terror instead.
16 The snorting of their horses is heard from Dan;
at the sound of the neighing of their stallions
the whole land quakes.
They come and devour the land and all that fills it,
the city and those who live in it.
17 See, I am letting snakes loose among you,
adders that cannot be charmed,
and they shall bite you,
says the Lord.
The Prophet Mourns for the People
18 My joy is gone, grief is upon me,
my heart is sick.
19 Hark, the cry of my poor people
from far and wide in the land:
“Is the Lord not in Zion?
Is her King not in her?”
(“Why have they provoked me to anger with their images,
with their foreign idols?”)
20 “The harvest is past, the summer is ended,
and we are not saved.”
21 For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt,
I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.
22 Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then has the health of my poor people
not been restored?
What does the passage say?
V. 1-3 God prophesies the punishments of the leaders. Not only that the bonds will not be buried, but God also means that the bones will be exposed to the objects that the leaders have been worshiping. “They will be exposed to the sun and the moon and all the stars of the heavens, which they have loved and served and which they have followed and consulted and worshiped” (v2. NIV) When other objects take the place of God, these objects will be the reason we become ruined.
V. 4-13 God is carefully watching how God’s people is living. It is like a parent watching over their children who are not walking on the right path. They are attentive to their every move. However, the more God observes, the more God sees the disobedience of God’s people.
They have the law, but they do not live according to the law. They consider themselves wise because they possess the law, but God proclaims that the ‘wise will be put to shame,’ since they don’t live according to the law. If we don’t read and live according to it, why say that we have it?
As a result, people live according to their own will. Without knowing the law, their hearts are hardened and don’t even know they are sinning. It says, “Each pursue their course like a horse charging into battle” (v. 6. NIV)
V. 14-22 As a result, God shows them the consequence of their wrong directions. Whether or not it is God orchestrating the disaster or the sin that people created collapsing on top of the people, they are suffering the consequence of sin. However, there is still hope.
Matthew Henery Commentary says, “At length, they begin to see the hand of God lifted up. And when God appears to us, everything that is against us appears formidable.”
What does this mean to me/us
We have to see if we are living according to God’s will. We are called to live for a purpose. When we live obedient to the word of God, we can fulfill that purpose. And this purpose makes us a whole.
Are we attentively living for that purpose in our lives?
We will see that the world has not cured for our emptiness. The word says, “there is not balm in Gilead.” (Gilead is an expensive balm for healing).
The only balm and healing comes from our Lord.
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