Jeremiah 11:18-20 – Like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter
Updated: Feb 6, 2021
It was the Lord who made it known to me, and I knew; then you showed me their evil deeds. But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. And I did not know it was against me that they devised schemes, saying, “Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name will no longer be remembered!” But you, O Lord of hosts, who judge righteously, who try the heart and the mind, let me see your retribution upon them, for to you I have committed my cause.
This is an optional Old Testament selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. In the numbering system that lists each Sunday in an ordinal fashion, this Sunday is referred to as Proper 20. If chosen, it will next be read aloud in an Episcopal church by a reader on Sunday September 23, 2018. It is important because Jeremiah spoke from the depths of prophecy, seeing through the eyes of Jesus Christ, as one totally in a committed relationship with God.
Verse eighteen is better translated by stating, “And the LORD gave me knowledge [of it], and I knew [it]; then thou showest me their doings.” The inclusion of “of it” and “it” are additions through assumption, based on the prior verses that are unknown here. The “it” is made part of the translation as “evil deeds.” “It” is “evil.”
Evil was described by Jeremiah as “found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” (Jeremiah 11:9) “They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear My words … [having] broken My covenant.” (Jeremiah 11:10) They will have brought the evil of the world upon themselves, building altars to Baal. The “evil deeds” are then the sacrifice of the innocents to the gods of evil.
Moloch was a child sacrifice god, as Baal Hamon in Carthage.
When this is understood, we then read Jeremiah say, “But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter.” This is a statement of willing sacrifice for a higher purpose. Jeremiah was channeling Jesus Christ, who would be the sacrificial lamb later in history, who had to die in order to release his soul so “it” could fill countless others. Still, Jeremiah was like all who would become Saints, as there can be no fear of evil deed doers; persecution is to be expected.
The literal Hebrew states, “I was like a lamb docile brought to the slaughter.” The word “I” is the word of the ego, stating “Myself.” This is then Jeremiah saying he was a lamb of God, who was brought to the point of self-slaughter willingly. It is the inner peace that one feels while in prayer with the Lord and the glory of God’s presence around one at other times that is most gentle. It is the comfort that keeps one from fearing anything, other than losing that closeness that God brings. This is then Jeremiah telling how the sacrifice of self-ego is an act of love for God.
Jeremiah then continued to tell of his prophetic sacrifice at the hands of priests serving Baal, saying, “And I did not know it was against me that they devised schemes, saying, “Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name will no longer be remembered!”
This is illuminating the deception used by those who practice evil deeds. For Jeremiah to say “I did not know,” this is not a statement of his being unaware of plots against him. Instead, it says he did not live deceptively, by plotting against others.
When Jeremiah quoted the killers of righteousness as saying, “Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,” the Hebrew word translated as “tree” (“ets”) can also mean “wood, timbers, and logs,” with the implication of a “carpenters” handiwork, including a “gallows.”
Required for assembly: Two trees, large manual drill, wooden mallet and wood chisel.
Thus, the statement can also be seen as the use of a cross to destroy the fruit, rather than support the fruit of a grapevine.
Long before the Romans would dominate the lands of Israel and Judah, the planned destruction of the “tree with its fruit” was then to turn the pure grapes of Yahweh, through the Israelites delivered into “the land of the living,” by letting them turn to wild grapes, to be eaten by scavenger birds. The corruption of the religion that was based on Mosaic Law was to be degraded until no one remembered the name Moses. Jeremiah was a prophet of Judah who saw the evil deeds of its kings and the evil deeds of impure priests, leading to the fall of Judah and Jerusalem, with the Temple destroyed. This is the lament of this song; and it is the constant danger that surrounds all who serve the Lord.
When verse twenty says, “O Lord of hosts,” the Hebrew says “Yahweh tsaba.” This states who the true LORD is – Yahweh – and the “hosts” are the angels of Heaven, not a worldly army of believers. Thus, the judgment of Yahweh is said to be based on how the people of earth live their lives. The righteous are awarded Heaven, to dwell among the hosts; but the wicked will find nothing waits for their souls beyond the world they love so dearly.
The translation that says, “who try the heart and the mind,” can be better grasped as those who “test” the LORD and are “tested” for righteousness. When Jeremiah was inspired to write, “the heart and the mind,” this is the sequence that will determine the results of the tests. The righteous have found the Lord through their hearts, so their minds are led by the Will of God. Those whose lives are led by the brain they will harden their hearts to the Lord, instead loving the illusions of the earthly realm. Thus, as goes the heart, so goes the soul.
When Jeremiah sings, “let me see your retribution upon them,” the word translated as “your retribution” (“niq·mā·ṯə·ḵā”) is better understood as “your vengeance.” This seems to be Jeremiah taking delight in the punishment that God will set onto others, but that misses the duality of “’er·’eh” (“let me see”).
Jeremiah is actually praying to the Lord to “see” the path of righteousness, because without the insight of Yahweh guiding one, one will become lost. Those who refuse to seek God’s guidance are then the ones who will use “great violence or force” (definition of “vengeance”) towards those who are devoted to God. All the vengeance of God’s judgment is then of their own making, not that of a vengeful God.
When Jeremiah then ends this stanza by singing, “for to you I have committed my cause,” he was stating his love of God. A servant of God can only act out of love for the Lord. That love is a commitment to serve Him completely.
The Hebrew word translated as “I have committed” is “gil·lî·ṯî,” equally says, “I have revealed,” “I have set forth,” and “I have opened.” This is the intimacy of a heart for a lover, where all defenses are removed and the oneness of union is the natural result. It is then the marriage of one to God, as a wife surrendering the self-ego so his or her (human gender is meaningless) cause is that of the Lord.
As an optional Old Testament reading selection for the eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s personal ministry for the LORD should be underway – one has seen through the schemes of the world and found them lacking – the message here is to allow one’s soul to enter into marriage to God. It is the commitment to His cause that should be sought.
As an alternative to Proverbs 31, where Solomon listed the characteristics of a good wife and the truest intent means a “good wife” is a soul married to God, cleansed of sin by His Holy Spirit (a true sacrament of Baptism), one should not be shocked that Jeremiah was singing praises to the same commitment. Since these readings are brought up every three years in the Episcopal Lectionary cycle, Christians have long had access to these words, with Jews even longer. The problem is then how no one seems to know, or most people have huge misconceptions about, what “commitment” means.
Can all Christians since the Roman Emperor Constantine, leader of a failing empire, claimed he saw a vision in battle (a cross formation of clouds in the sky) and suddenly began to believe in a Jew named Jesus, beginning a devised plan to subject other believers of Jesus Christ in a new Kingdom of Rome, not see themselves as part of this plan? Does the verse that says, “And I did not know it was against me that they devised schemes” not explain the ignorance of lambs led to the slaughter?
Has not the system of Christianity that was devised by the Roman Catholics, to strip all believers of any concept of marriage to God, through His Holy Spirit, thus begetting a myriad of baby Jesus Christs (i.e.: Saints) in the world – to Save it – not been a fulfillment of Jeremiah’s words: “Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name will no longer be remembered!”? Did they not sacrifice Saint Peter, who was in the name of Jesus Christ, so no more would Saints and Apostles proliferate?
Lots of Saints called “pope” between 32 AD and 537 AD, but then a sputtering began, turning the papal seat over to corporate heads.
American Christians have been born into splinter groups of that false premise, making all conclusions based on that also false. We do not know anything about being married to GOD, because His name has been sacrificed when the corpse of Jesus of Nazareth was never allowed to rise from death and be reborn in true Christians. Women like the idea of marrying Jesus, while menfolk (gruff, gruff) have to keep a hard heart so they can bring home the bacon each month. Jeremiah’s songs of lamentation were echoing the loss of a true religion by both men and women born into the religion created by God’s hand; given over into the hands of men who loved an icon name Baal, more than the true God. It is a story that keeps on keeping on because believers love to be subservient to a human leader, simply because they can physically sense that presence.
The message is there to be known – marry God. Love God with ALL your heart. It is just clouded, such that to see through the mist one needs to be led inwardly, by the All-Seeing Eye of God (not a Masonic promotion).
So many have turned away from God because of the schemes of deception, revealed as false. They ones wanting to believe in the unseen have mentally discerned Church deceptions as equating Christianity to the flaws of men. Ears have turned deaf to the truth, simply because so many lies have been told and foolishly believed.
In the Gospel message for the same Sunday this optional Old Testament reading might be chosen, Jesus foretold of his being killed by men. That prophecy fits this song of Jeremiah. It was the plot of pretending holy men then, and it has been the same since Moses took a bunch of slaves from Egypt into the wilderness. From pretending an idol of a golden calf could rescue the people, to pretending to breathe new life into a land lost, by rebuilding a Temple destroyed, believers have married to concepts and icons, but rarely God. Only when Jesus died and his soul was freed by God to be reborn in Apostles has that marriage been known. Men (and women now) do not like believers who have their own relationship with God and Christ.
It is the message of the Gospel that the greatest will be the least. That is a prophecy that says one cannot depend on another human being who says he or she is the greatest disciple of Jesus, because braggarts only have one soul’s interests at heart – their own; not anyone else’s.
Sunday after Sunday the message says, “God is the way to redemption and an eternity in Heaven.” For that way to be one’s own, one has to be more than human. For that to happen, one must surrender the human soul to God, which means become one with God. That is the truth of marriage. Once one has become one with God, then one stops knowing anything that would get in the way of complete servitude to God. In return, God allows one to know everything necessary, to be given to those seeking a good husband, possessing good wife potential.
Maybe one day all human souls will have the epiphany and their eyes will see that some spell has been cast over them, keeping them from accepting God’s proposal of marriage. As they wake up to divine understanding, maybe they will walk away from the human schemes and look at the true offer from God.
Maybe one day the world will be filled with only Saints. Maybe that day all souls will be in Heaven, not on earth.