As I indicated in a previous post, it seems that Jeremiah 1:18–19 and Jeremiah 6:27–30 are bracketing Jeremiah 2–6 as a unit in which there is a progression from Israel’s sin to Israel’s rejection for their refusal to repent.
This would place Jeremiah 7 at a strategic juncture introducing the next section of the book of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah cycles through a call to repentance, an indictment of sin, and an announcement of judgment three times in chapter 7:
|7:1–7, Israel Called to Repentance: You Trust in the Temple but Deny It with Your Actions||7:16, Don’t Pray for Them (Repent!)||7:21–24, Repent of Your Worthless Worship: Your Deeds Nullify Your Sacrifices|
|7:8–11, Judah Breaks the Ten Commandments||7:17–18, Judah Worships Other gods||7:25–28, Israel Rejects the Prophets and Jeremiah|
|7:12–15, God Will Judge the Temple as He Judged Shiloh||7:19–20, The Temple Will Be Judged and All Creatures Will Suffer||7:29–8:3, Judgment on the Generation of God’s Wrath|
The first two statements of judgment (Jer 7:12–15 and 7:19–20) speak directly of the destruction of the temple.
The third description of judgment uses the imagery of the visitation of wrath enacted by Josiah in 2 Kings 23 to describe a future visitation of wrath. From the context, this visitation of wrath also pertains to the coming destruction of the temple, but imagery is used in Jeremiah 7:33 that will be used by John to describe the judgment Jesus will bring at his return in Revelation 19:17–19.
So a past visitation of wrath, what Josiah visited in 2 Kings 23, is being used to point forward to the future visitation of God’s wrath that Jeremiah is describing, which in part is the destruction of the temple that will happen in 586 BC. I say “in part” because another destruction of the temple will fulfill what Jeremiah is describing, the one Jesus spoke of in John 2:19–22, and both of these point also to the visitation of wrath Jesus will bring when he returns in Revelation 19.
Jeremiah is preaching in the temple (Jer 7:2), he indicts Israel for making the temple a den of robbers (7:11), and then he warns of the destruction of the temple (7:14). Jesus quotes Jeremiah’s “den of robbers” line when he cleanses the temple (e.g., Mark 11:17) because the wicked in Jesus’ day are like the wicked of Jeremiah’s day and because the judgment visited on the temple in 586 is a type of the judgment to be visited when Jesus, the replacement of the temple (John 2:19–22), dies on the cross.
In the midst of the third description of judgment, Jeremiah speaks of “the generation of his wrath” in 7:29. This is an interesting use of the word “generation,” and it supports the typological understanding of what Jesus says in Mark 13:30, “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”
The judgment Josiah enacted in 2 Kings 23 is used by Jeremiah when Jeremiah describes the “type” of thing God will do when he enacts judgment and destroys the temple. The judgment of God that will fall on the temple is also a type of the judgment of God that will be fulfilled when Christ dies on the cross, and Jesus will fulfill the pattern of Josiah when he visits judgment on the cosmic temple at his return.
In keeping with all this, the word “generation” does not refer to a group of people alive at a specific point in time but to “the sons of disobedience” (Eph 2:3), the “crooked and depraved generation” (Phil 2:15), the “scoffers” (2 Pet 3:3) of all generations who gather together against the LORD and his anointed.
On Sunday, November 6, 2011, it was my privilege to preach Jeremiah 7: The Temple Sermon – Indictment of Unrepentant Israel at Kenwood Baptist Church.