6 The Lord said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: ‘Listen to the terms of this covenant and follow them.
7 From the time I brought your ancestors up from Egypt until today, I warned them again and again, saying, “Obey Me.”
8 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts. So I brought on them all the curses of the covenant I had commanded them to follow but that they did not keep.’”
This chapter is entirely about Judah/Jerusalem breaking the covenant the Lord made with their ancestors.
9 Then the Lord said to me, “There is a conspiracy among the people of Judah and those who live in Jerusalem. 10 They have returned to the sins of their ancestors, who refused to listen to my words. They have followed other gods to serve them. Both Israel and Judah have broken the covenant I made with their ancestors
What covenant did Judah break with God? Literally it was the same covenant Israel (the ten northern tribes) had broken and broken time and time, again and again until they were not exiled, but dispersed throughout the nations. In Judah this prophecy was believed to have been delivered in the times of Jehoiakim who followed the reign of Josiah. During the time of Josiah there was a return to the ways of the Lord, but his son Jehoiakim was wicked and rebelled against the Lord. He set about leading Judah into all forms of idolatry. His sin was so great later in Jeremiah 22 we will read
18 Therefore this is what the Lord says about Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah:
“They will not mourn for him: ‘Alas, my brother! Alas, my sister!’
They will not mourn for him: ‘Alas, my master! Alas, his splendor!’
19 He will have the burial of a donkey—dragged away and thrown outside the gates of Jerusalem.”
There are some that believe Jeremiah was holding the book of Deuteronomy in his hands, opened to chapter fifteen, as he provided the words the Lord gave him. He would have been referring to
15 “Cursed is anyone who makes an idol—a thing detestable to the Lord, the work of skilled hands—and sets it up in secret.”
So what caused all of this from Jehoiakim to all the people of Judah? It was their decision to follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. The Lord makes sure we know where the problem is … in their hearts! In their stubborn hearts, where they refused to consider what happened to the northern kingdom and see it was their future as well is they followed the example of the north.
This is the same type of choice everyone has today. Everyone has the choice of accepting the free Gift of Grace or refusing it. The choice could not be clearer.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
It is a choice. Believing is not forced on anyone. Sadly many will choose to follow their stubborn hearts.