In an earlier post I suggested some ways to determine how Jeremiah has structured his message:
repeated words and phrases, changes in content or theme, and changes in point of view (for instance, from first person to second or third) are all indicators of turning points in Jeremiah’s presentation.
In Jeremiah 5 it seems to me that a repeated grammatical form, the imperative, serves as the structural marker for Jeremiah 5:1–31. The LORD gives commands to Jeremiah in 5:1, 5:10, and 5:20, and each command is followed by a change in content, so that the flow of thought in the chapter falls out like this:
Jeremiah 5:1–9, Israel Unrepentant
Jeremiah 5:10–19, Israel Under Judgment
Jeremiah 5:20–31, Israel’s Under Isaiah’s Hardening
There is also a flow of thought moving through these early chapters of Jeremiah: Jeremiah is called as a prophet like Moses in chapter 1, he indicts Israel for her spiritual adultery in chapter 2, calls them to repent and be restored in 3:1–4:4, instructs them to wash their hearts from evil in 4:5–31, and then the nation refuses to repent in chapter 5.
On Sunday, October 23, 2011, it was my privilege to preach Jeremiah 5: The Refusal to Repent at Kenwood Baptist Church. May the Lord give us repentant hearts.