Our reading today begins with a command form God to Jeremiah not to be married or have children in Judah (16:2). Why? Because the judgment will be against everyone in the land (v. 3). No one is exempt from the coming destruction. We again see a gruesome description of the dead that will be left unburied (v. 4, 6 – see 8:2). We also see the motif of sword (death at the hands of the Babylonian army) and famine (death during the siege) once again (see 14:2). God again tells Jeremiah not to lament for the people, or mourn over the fact that He has forsaken them (v. 5). No one will mourn for them (v. 7). And Jeremiah will see first hand the coming destruction (v. 9).
God then tells Jeremiah to prophesy of this destruction (v. 10). And when the people ask him why God has pronounced this judgment, he is to tell them that they have forsaken Him by worshiping other gods (v. 11) and have refused to listen to Him (v .12). So God will send them into another land where they can worship other gods as much as they want (v. 13).
In the middle of this declaration of judgment is the promise of restoration. That God saved Israel from Egypt at the Exodus will be irrelevant (v. 14). God will be glorified for a new Exodus out of the lands of captivity (v. 15 – see Isa 43:15-21, 48:20-21). God will gather His people from all over the world! He is sending “fishers” to catch them (v. 16 – see Matt 4:19). Though He knows they are sinful (v. 17) and though they will be chastised for their idolatry (v. 18), yet will God call to Himself all nations from the end of the earth (v. 19 – see Acts 1:8). God then speaks of the false gods that the nations worship (v. 20). They are not gods, and when God calls the nations to Himself, these so-called gods will know that He is Lord!
God now turns His attention to Judah, whose hearts are permanently turned to idolatry (17:1). Because they worship other gods (v. 2), God will give them and the land to Babylon (v. 3). It is the price the people will pay for their false worship. They will lose their inheritance, the Promised Land, and will serve in another land (v. 4). God is sending them back from where He took them: they will be slaves in a foreign nation. Notice that God says His anger and their punishment will last forever.
God then curses those who turn their hearts from Him to idols (v. 5). Those who trust in man will die (v. 6). Then, He blesses those who trust Him (v. 7). These will live forever (v. 8)! It is a matter of who holds our heart. The heart of fallen man is deceitful and sick unto death (v. 9). God knows who has given their heart to Him (v. 10). Those that have not will lose all they have (v. 11). Those that forsake God will lose even their life (v. 13).
Jeremiah then prays to God for salvation. He has just been told that he will see the coming destruction (16:9), so he prays that he would not be destroyed (v. 14). His heart belongs to God. He has prophesied according to God’s command (vv. 15-16) so he prays for God’s protection through the coming disaster (v. 17). Let Jeremiah’s enemies be destroyed instead (v. 18).
God then sends Jeremiah to preach repentance to Judah. He sends him to command that no work be done on the Sabbath Day (vv. 19-22). The people have disobeyed this commandment (v. 23). If they will obey (v. 24), then God will restore the fortunes of Judah (v. 25). If they continue to disobey, then God will judge them (v. 27). God is still willing to forgive if only they would repent! God is always willing to forgive if only man would repent!!