The word of the Lord also came to me, saying, “You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place.” For thus says the Lord concerning the sons and daughters who are born in this place and concerning their mothers who bore them and their fathers who begot them in this land: “They shall die gruesome deaths; they shall not be lamented nor shall they be buried, but they shall be like refuse on the face of the earth. They shall be consumed by the sword and by famine, and their corpses shall be meat for the birds of heaven and for the beasts of the earth.”
For thus says the Lord: “Do not enter the house of mourning, nor go to lament or bemoan them; for I have taken away My peace from this people,” says the Lord, “lovingkindness and mercies. Both the great and the small shall die in this land. They shall not be buried; neither shall men lament for them, cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them. Nor shall men break bread in mourning for them, to comfort them for the dead; nor shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or their mother. Also you shall not go into the house of feasting to sit with them, to eat and drink.”
For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Behold, I will cause to cease from this place, before your eyes and in your days, the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride. And it shall be, when you show this people all these words, and they say to you, ‘Why has the Lord pronounced all this great disaster against us? Or what is our iniquity? Or what is our sin that we have committed against the Lord our God?’ Then you shall say to them, ‘Because your fathers have forsaken Me,’ says the Lord; ‘they have walked after other gods and have served them and worshiped them and have forsaken Me and not kept My law. And you have done worse than your fathers, for behold, each one follows the dictates of his own evil heart, so that no one listens to Me. Therefore I will cast you out of this land into a land that you do not know, neither you nor your fathers; and there you shall serve other gods day and night, where I will not show you favor.’” (Jeremiah 16:1-13)
Jeremiah Forbidden To Marry
Being a prophet during the tumultuous times of divided Israel could be a challenging experience. God told Hosea to marry a prostitute and when Ezekiel’s wife died, he was told not to mourn her, weep for her or let tears run down his face. Jeremiah was a prophet during the days of Josiah, king of Judah, until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, until the carrying away of Jerusalem to captivity in Babylon. The Lord tells Jeremiah not to take a wife and to bear sons and daughters. In the lives of each prophet, a living example was given for the people to see the will of the Lord. Forbidding Jeremiah to marry became a sign of the severity of God’s wrath upon Judah. Knowing the fierceness of what was coming through the hand of the Babylonians, God spared Jeremiah the grief of watching his family die gruesome deaths.
The severity of God’s anger is described by the people dying from disease. No one will mourn for them or bury them, and they will lie scattered on the ground like manure. They will die from war and famine, and their bodies will be food for the vultures and wild animals. What father could bear to see his family destroyed with such ferocity as the judgment of the Lord God upon His own people? There would be no mourning or lamenting what happened to Judah. God had taken His peace away from the people. The Babylonians came by the hand of the Lord and their cruel and barbaric warfare would devastate the people and the land. There would be no lovingkindness or mercy from the Lord. Young and old would die. There will be so many dead bodies, and no one will take time to bury the corpses. All joy and hope would be taken away. Babylon would come as the scourge of the Lord God Almighty in great wrath.
Because of the sins of the people, the Lord took away His presence from the land. Babylon would be allowed, through the will of God, to destroy Judah. The Babylonians marched into the Temple and entered the Most Holy of Holies with impunity. They took the holy items of the Temple with no resistance. In 586 B.C., the House of the Lord, built by Solomon more than three hundred years earlier, burned. The city of Jerusalem was left in ruin, smoldering as a heap of stone and broken gates. All the glory of Israel was taken away. It would be seventy years before a remnant would return to a city destroyed. Jeremiah would preach the message of doom to a forsaken people and his life would show the veracity of the will of God. The prophet was forbidden to marry in part to spare his family from the incredible hardships. It was also to prove to rebellious Judah that God’s word was true.
The people could not understand why God had deserted them. All the disasters that came against them puzzled the people. They did not understand why the Lord would allow such a thing to take place. Jeremiah would tell them it was because their fathers had forsaken the Lord and the people of Jeremiah’s day had done worse than their fathers. The previous generations were unfaithful to God and worshiped other gods and served them. They abandoned the Lord and did not obey the word of God. Jeremiah tells the people they were worse than their ancestors! They stubbornly followed their own evil desires and refused to listen to the pleas of a loving Father. God’s wrath was all that was left. Jeremiah became a symbol of the severity of that wrath.
God does not forbid anyone from marrying but the prophet Jeremiah remains a powerful illustration of the judgment of the Lord upon unrighteous nations and ungodly people. Those who deny the reality of perdition do not understand the parable of Jeremiah. Judgment is real against those who forsake the Lord. As the Lord cast out His own people from the land, the righteousness of God will cast out those who serve the gods of this world. Sin damns a soul and the promise of God is real. Jeremiah was forbidden to marry to tell a lesson still relevant to modern man.