Jeremiah chapter 5             Back to Bible Studies

Verse 1 of chapter 5 of Jeremiah reminds us of what is said in Genesis 18:26-33 regarding Sodom and Gomorrah: "The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake. ” Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?” “If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.” Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?” He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.” Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?” He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.” Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?” He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.” Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?” He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.” The number of righteous people God is looking for in this passage, starts with 50, then 45, then 40 and eventually ends with ten. In stark contrast we find that the Lord asks Jeremiah to find just one single person who deals honestly and seeks the truth and on the basis of that single one, he will forgive the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Clearly, Jerusalem was even worse than Sodom and Gomorrah at this time.

Next, we focussed on verse 10 and specifically the original Hebrew behind the English text. The Hebrew word 'Netyishah' is correctly translated as 'Tendrils of a vine'. So verse 10 reads: "Go up within Jerusalem's walls and destroy her vines, but do not make a full and complete end. Trim away the Tendrils of her vines, for they are not the Lord's."

The following, taken from the Encyclopedia Britannica, gives us a clear picture of what a Tendril does: "Tendrils are prehensile and sensitive to contact. When stroked lightly on its lower side, the tendril will, in a minute or two, curve toward that side. As it brushes against an object, it turns toward it and—the shape of the object permitting—wraps about it, clinging for as long as the stimulation persists. Later, strong mechanical tissue (sclerenchyma) develops in the tendrils, thus rendering them strong enough to support the weight of the plant. In addition to their twining character, some tendrils produce terminal enlargements that, on contact with a firm surface, flatten and secrete an adhesive, firmly cementing the tendril to the substrate"

The people's "Tendrils" were obviously wrapped around all kinds of other supports and they were clinging to these instead of God alone. Hence the Lord's instruction to the invading army to 'Trim away her Tendrils'. As we can see from the above, Tendrils (and we have those too!) just naturally seek something to hold on to. Perhaps we need to ask the Lord to 'trim away our Tendrils' so that it may be revealed whether we are clinging to Him alone, or whether our Tendrils have imperceptibly wrapped themselves around other things... It is further interesting to note that God's instruction is to 'not destroy completely' (v10 and v18). This clearly conveys the message that God has a specific plan with stripping away the Tendrils and that plan is always the same throughout history - to draw people back to Him in repentance.

The rest of the chapter deals with the nation's unfortunate response to Jeremiah's warnings - not the response God was looking for. Hence He describes them as rebellious, senseless and obstinate, refusing to humble themselves before God in reverent fear. To make matters worse, the prophets and priests were speaking lies and giving the people a false sense of security - not unlike our present time where ministers no longer warn people regarding the state of their hearts but speak insipid words about God being an understanding, caring loving, excusing god and as long as you are helping your fellow man, god is wonderfully pleased with you. Let us never look down on the Jewish nation of Jeremiah's time and think we are any better than they are. Let us cry out to Him to search our hearts, cleanse us from all unrighteousness and make His home in us. Amen.

© 2011 Werner Schreiber

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