II. ISRAEL’S BREAKING
OF THE COVENANT OF THE LAW
AND GOD’S PUNISHMENT OVER THEM
Chapters eleven through thirteen of Jeremiah speak both of Israel’s breaking of the covenant of the law and of God’s punishment over them.
A. Israel’s Breaking of the Covenant of the Law
"The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken My covenant which I made with their fathers" (Jer. 11:10c). This clearly reveals that Israel broke the covenant of the law.
1. By Their Idolatrous Worship
Israel broke the covenant of the law by their idolatrous worship (11:10b, 13, 15a, 17b; 13:10b, 27a). Such worship is against the first five commandments of the law.
2. By Their Evil Conduct
Israel broke the covenant also by their evil conduct (11:8, 10a, 19; 12:2b, 4a, 14a; 13:27a). Such conduct was against the last five of the commandments of the law. By their conduct and behavior in their daily living, Israel absolutely broke the commandments concerning murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and coveting. Thus, by their idolatrous worship and by their evil conduct, they completely annulled the law. As far as they were concerned, the law was of no effect.
B. God’s Punishment over Israel
1. Needed for the Sake
of His Righteousness and Holiness
Although God’s intention in giving Israel His law was to test and expose them, He still needed to punish them for the sake of His righteousness and holiness. Holiness refers to God’s nature, and righteousness, to God’s acts. Because of their idolatry (11:8, 10b-11, 13-14, 17; 13:10b, 27) and their evil conduct (11:10a, 11, 15b-16, 19-23; 13:9), God had to punish Israel. His holiness and righteousness required this punishment.
2. God Eventually Returning to Them
and Having Compassion on Them
Jeremiah 12:15 reveals that eventually God will return to them and have compassion on them and bring them back from their captivity.
III. JEREMIAH THE PROPHET’S REACTION
Finally, in 13:17 we see Jeremiah the prophet’s reaction to Israel’s breaking of the covenant and to God’s punishment over Israel. Jeremiah said that his soul will weep in secret places for their pride, and his eye will weep bitterly and shed tears because the flock of Jehovah has been taken captive.
(Life-Study of Jeremiah and Lamentations, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)