Summary: Prodigal people are prodigal because of a broken commitment which leads to a brazen contempt and a blinding confusion.



INTRODUCTION: Jeremiah has gone from his own shelter to the square; from the square to the sanctuary; from the sanctuary now to the streets (11:16). He lived in a day where there was no love for God, no loyalty to God and, therefore, no light from God. God was a by-product in their conversation, a burden on their conduct and a blight in their community. It was a day of sensuality, sensationalism and sin (see 7:24). It was to this people that Jeremiah was sent to be God’s prophetic voice. It was nothing short of a pleading God to a prodigal people.

If you will recall, Luke 15 tells the story of a prodigal son who forsook his father and lived life on his own terms. The passage before us is not the picture of a single son gone astray but that of a multitude of prodigal people. The word “prodigal” means reckless, wasteful or riotous. Today, let’s look at and learn from prodigal people.


People are prodigal because of a broken commitment. Pay close attention to the word “covenant” in verses 2, 3, 6, 8, 10. Covenant is a word that means agreement, pact or alliance. This is not a new covenant. It was the same one made with the forefathers (see Exodus 19:3; 24:3). God’s covenant was both relational and conditional. God had never failed to keep His end of the bargain but the people had. When it comes to our commitment we need to:

A. Reminded Constantly (11:2, 6-7). Look at the words ‘listen”, “tell”, “proclaim” and “follow.” It means to honor it. F.B. Havergal wrote, “Faithfulness to principle is only proved by faithfulness in detail.” True faith shows up in faithfulness.

B. Regarded Seriously. A professor once told his class, “You can either take this class seriously or you can take it over.” Many in Jeremiah’s day, like many today, never take commitment seriously. A lack of commitment manifests itself in several ways.

1. The Prayer Closet. “The one concern of the Devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.” Samuel Chadwick. O, how we neglect the prayer closet.

2. The Good-Book. “There is dust enough on some of your Bibles to write “damnation” with your fingers.” C.H. Spurgeon. Jesus said “Search the scriptures…” What would you say of a doctor who never read a medical book, or a lawyer who never read a law book? Then what about a Christian who never reads the Bible?

3. The Church-House. The Bible says “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together as has become the habit of some.” Something is drastically wrong when we have to beg our crowd to come to church to hear about the Good News.

4. The Offering-Plate. “The basic question is not how much of our money we should give to God, but how much of God’s money we should keep for ourselves.” J. Oswald Sanders.

C. Rebuked Severely (11:9-14). As to commitment, when we are not reminded constantly and don’t take it seriously, we will be rebuked severely. See the word “disaster”. For the lost that means Hell. For the believer it means you lose your influence. The Great Commission does not say “teach” but “teach to observe.”


Tell people about misplaced trust, misguided theology and misleading teachers and they will pretty quickly get hot under the collar. See Prov. 9:7. Oftentimes they resent criticism and will react in revenge. Note three things here.

A. Their Place (11:21, 23; 12:6). This is his family and friends! Preaching the truth does not always make you popular with your audience.

B. Their Plot (11:18-19). Jeremiah was a bit naïve. He quickly found out how cold, ruthless and inhuman people can be.

C. Their Punishment (11:22-23). Here it is obvious that Jeremiah is totally human. He did not deny his anger or desire for justice, but neither did he take matters into his own hands. He casts himself on the mercy of God. We need to understand the contrast between Jeremiah and Jesus. Remember how Jesus prayed on the cross. How do you handle a plot? Do what Jeremiah did. Carry it to God.


When studying this chapter note:

A. The Parable (13:1-7). This was another of Jeremiah’s “enacted parables”. It is pretty self-explanatory. The belt became ruined, rotted and contaminated. It was filthy and useless. It’s a picture of the condition of the people. How did they get this way?

B. The Pride (13:8-11). They had lifted up themselves and left out the Savior. See Prov. 8:13; 16:18. Pride is what got Satan expelled from Heaven and the people exiled from the land. Pride lead to their idolatry, immorality and irreverence. Pride has been called the vice of fools and the ruin of nations.

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