Before we look at that verse, let’s read verses 1 & 3: “Righteous are You, O LORD, that I would plead my case with You; Indeed I would discuss matters of justice with You: Why has the way of the wicked prospered? Why are all those who deal in treachery at ease?…But You know me, O LORD; You see me; and You examine my heart’s attitude toward You. Drag them off like sheep for the slaughter and set them apart for a day of carnage” (NASB). It was revealed to Jeremiah in chapter 11 that there was a plot to kill him by the people of his own city. In his words of response to the Lord he acknowledges that the Lord is righteous in His dealings with men, but he can’t for the life of him figure out why He would allow them to prosper while he suffered. Then he calls upon the Lord to judge them instantly.

Now let’s read the Lord’s response to Jeremiah in verse 5: “If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out, then how can you compete with horses? If you fall down in a land of peace, how will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?” I’m sure God’s reply surprised His faithful servant Jeremiah, for he, no doubt, expected to receive praise and comfort from the Lord. Instead, he is mildly rebuked and told that THINGS ARE ONLY GOING TO GET WORSE! The Lord uses two analogies in verse 5 to drive home this point. In essence He is saying to Jeremiah, “If you are growing weary and stumbling now as you deal with wicked men (footmen) in your own city (a land of peace), how will you possibly cope when bigger troubles (horses and the thicket of the Jordan) come?” One of the “bigger troubles” is then pointed out in verse 6: “For even your brothers and the household of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you, even they have cried aloud after you. Do not believe them, although they may say nice things to you.” Here Jeremiah learns that not only had the wicked men of the city plotted his death, but even those “in his own family” had joined in this treacherous plot to take his life. If you have ever been betrayed by a family member you know somewhat of the pain that Jeremiah must have felt when he learned that those “closest to him” were actually “against him.” We can often endure the hatred and persecution of those outside the family circle, but when our foes are those of our own household, it pierces the heart with more force than a deadly sword. The Lord is letting his servant know the truth in order to forewarn him. They will use deceit to trap him, but he is warned, “Do not believe them, although they may say nice things to you.”

The lesson for us in this passage is simple. We too should not expect things to get better, for THINGS ARE ONLY GOING TO GET WORSE. The apostle Paul told us this in 2nd Timothy 2:13, “But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” Like Jeremiah we need to be patient and allow the Lord to righteously judge the wicked in His own time instead of questioning His timing. We also need to know that we may have enemies within our own family who oppose us and the truth. Our Lord forewarned us of this in Matthew 10:34-36, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household’” (NKJV). They too may “say nice things to us” when in their hearts they are plotting against us. Proverbs 26:24-25 speaks to this: “He who hates, disguises it with his lips, and lays up deceit within himself; When he speaks kindly, do not believe him.”  (222.7)  (DO)