Certainly, Jeremiah’s task was not going to be easy. Maybe some people might find perverse pleasure in pointing out people’s sins, but most would find it to be very unappealing work, especially because of the reactions their words would provoke. Though some, when they hear the words of rebuke, might repent and reform, that’s usually not the case, especially when the rebuke itself is very pointed and strong. And indeed, as with all of the prophets, the words of Jeremiah were just that: pointed and strong!
Read Jeremiah 17:1–4. What were some of the warnings that Jeremiah gave to the people?
The imagery of the sin engraved on the heart is especially powerful. It shows the depth of the corruption. The idea isn’t just that the sin is written there, as with a pen, but that it is engraved there, etched in with a tool. This all becomes even more powerful when one remembers the words of the Lord to Judah’s ancestors: “If you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 30:10, NIV; compare with Ps. 40:8 and Jer. 31:33). It was out of their hearts that they were to love God and obey His law; now, instead, their sin—the violation of that law (1 John 3:4)—is etched in their hearts.
“Let none who claim to be the depositaries of God’s law flatter themselves that the regard they may outwardly show toward the commandments will preserve them from the exercise of divine justice. Let none refuse to be reproved for evil, nor charge the servants of God with being too zealous in endeavoring to cleanse the camp from evil-doing. A sin-hating God calls upon those who claim to keep His law to depart from all iniquity.”—Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, p. 416.
Sin engraved on the heart? That’s a scary thought, is it not? What does that image say about just how deep and intense the work of purifying our hearts is? What’s the only way to accomplish it?
Adventist Sabbath School Lesson for Adults Q4 2015 «Jeremiah» Lesson 4 – Rebuke and Retribution