Jeremiah 1:7 Thou Shalt Speak
Against the backdrop of Babylonian conquest Jeremiah, as a lone voice in the wilderness of Israel’s idolatrous rebellion, cries, yea, weeps at their intransigence but to no avail. Prophesying 100 years later than Isaiah’s somewhat more successful results during the Assyrian invasion at which time it did not quite suit Jehovah’s purposes to deliver Israel up to its enemies, Jeremiah must now deliver a most unpopular ultimatum.
If Israel will repent there may yet be deliverance, but if not the “seething pot” of God’s wrath will certainly overflow and “out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land” (v.14).
God was preparing to discipline His people and since He was going to retrieve His sabbaths of one year in every seven during which they, in their disobedience, had not let the land lie fallow (unplanted), He must have exactly the right nation to be His disciplinary hand. That would be Babylon, a nation whose 70 years existence was exactly enough to fit the bill for it had been 490 years that His people had been disobedient and 70 years were needed. His rod was in His hand!
Perhaps there was no one who was keeping track of those years of failure and no one who was familiar with Leviticus 26:14-46 but especially vs.34 and 35 except Jehovah, but there was no doubt whatever that He was completely on top of it (II Chron.36:21).
His man of the hour would be Jeremiah whom He had set apart for the task, ordaining him while he was still in his mother’s womb (v.5). The message he must deliver was never popular but it soon made him look like a traitor once God told him that Israel must surrender to the Babylonians in order to survive and he began to preach that to the people.
However it was God’s message and Jeremiah had no choice but to deliver it for he had been commanded to do so (v.7).
Jeremiah 2:13 Broken Cisterns
While reading on the subject of aquifers I stumbled on the fact, in the Encyclopedia Britannica, that in upper Mesopotamia near where the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers lie only 2000 paces apart there is an amazing spring, the largest known in the world. It disgorges 11,000 gallons of water per second. If this were under pressure it would be spectacular!
I believe it is just such a fountain that made up the headwaters of 4 major rivers as they flowed out of the Garden of Eden and probably was what Jehovah had in mind when He spoke metaphorically of Himself as “the fountain of living waters.”
In fact, our Bible from cover to cover uses such terminology to depict God’s relationship with us (Ps.1:3; Jer.17:8 and Rev.22:1&2). Surely the fountain in Gen.2:6 (mist in Hebrew is translated fountain in other passages) pictures His presence establishing the type.
Regardless of any of that, this is how God sees Himself and that is what is important. All of our springs are in Him (Ps.87:7). That living water was brought to the woman of Samaria in an earthen vessel named Jesus and whoso drinks of this contagious fluid will become a carrier of the same (John 7:38).
How pathetic the case of Israel which in contrast is depicted here by Jehovah as having chosen to drink instead from the broken cisterns of their own efforts. Here is the stark difference between law and grace magnified. What they had in the day of their “espousals” (v.2) they had forsaken to go after strangers (v.25). This book grows almost tedious with this message.
Unfortunately the Church today still is often guilty of the same foolish choice of changing their glory for that which does not profit. Broken cisterns never have worked!
Jeremiah 3:1 They Say
From the beginning of the previous chapter, on through our present one and into the beginning of chapter 4, the marriage figure persists. It is Jehovah and His bride, Israel. At times the two kingdoms, Judah and Israel are spoken of separately (v.11) and at other times together (v.18) but throughout, there is the marriage relationship (v.14).
Could any bride ever want a better husband? What God is in all His perfections, His intentions toward Israel were those of a perfect spouse and it is obvious that He thoroughly enjoyed using the picture. To be the object of perfect love. To be His exquisite choice, sought after, carefully selected, treated as a flawless jewel, admired as beautiful, delicate, appealing. Such was the case as Jehovah remembered the love of espousal (2:2). Could Solomon be classed as a greater lover? No wonder He was sought after in the wilderness. Then was the “time of love,” the time when the Lord GOD said, “thou becamest mine” (Ez.16:8).
Can such love, such abundant love, such unrestrained yea, exuberant love be found anywhere to equal His? Does any story of true love exceed the story of God’s love? If so then in that sense, He is not God. But our Bible tells us that God is love. He is the very epitome of love. Of faithful, true, though unrequited, love.
This perhaps is Israel’s reason to be, to put infinite matchless love to its ultimate test. But according to Deut. 24:4, can even God’s love prevail in such a case as we find here (vs.8&9)? Apparently so, as we read in Ezekiel 16:60-63. The law came by Moses...but grace...
Jeremiah 4:20 Destruction Upon Destruction
It was clearly stated in 3:6 that the events of this section (of which the first two verses in our present chapter are considered to be a part) take place “in the days of Josiah the king.” Reference to Israel here meaning the Northern Kingdom which had been carried captive by the Assyrians.
I call attention, for more historical background to a paragraph that I recently discovered in G.Campbell Morgan’s book on Studies in the Prophecy of Jeremiah which should be helpful as background material.
“The three remarkable events that must always be borne in mind if we are to understand the period (are): first, the battle of Carchemish between Judah and Egypt, in which Josiah died; secondly, the battle again at Carchemish, between Egypt and Babylon, when Babylon won its victory over Egypt, and all that region passed under the sway of Babylon; and finally, the fall of Jerusalem itself. Jeremiah exercised his ministry in a period when these epoch-marking events succeeded each other, events of world-wide interest and influence.”
So it may be seen beginning at verse three that Jeremiah’s appeal is to the Southern Kingdom of Judah which is being threatened by “evil from the north and a great destruction.” This, of course, is Babylon and is now the nation with which the prophet will be dealing throughout the book.
Calvin thinks verse 18 is sarcasm regarding the false peace predicted by all the prophets not sent by Jehovah.
Beginning with verse 19 we have a classic true prophecy. Note the repetition of words. Also note the contrast between the closing words of verse 22 and Paul’s words in Romans 16:19. The words “form and void” are exactly those of Gen.1:2 and powerfully express the great devastation Judah will undergo at the hands of the Babylonians, making “the whole land...desolate.” But always the blessed hope as they are reminded of God’s covenant “yet I will not make a full end.”
Of course, our blessed hope is of Christ’s return which cheers our hearts no matter how bad things may seem.
Jeremiah 5:31 In the End
We use the term “wonderful” always in a positive sense but in the next to the last verse of
chapter five this word is used very differently. Here the Hebrew word means astonishing, devastating, stunning, cause of amazement, etc. The companion word has the sense of something causing one to shiver with great fear.
And what is it that thus seriously affects Jehovah or the prophet? The fact that the message being promulgated by the leadership of the people is entirely false but is one that pleases the people, none the less. “My people love to have it so.”
Conditions around them were deteriorating momentarily but no one could see or hear it (v.21). Thrice it is said of them that they were foolish like children with no understanding. No one could be found who really wanted to know the truth (v.1).
Such is the picture throughout this book. Such were the people to whom Jeremiah had been sent. There is none so blind as they who will not see.
The sad thing is, there were plenty of people among them, the great ones, who once knew the way of the LORD and His judgement but these all had “kicked over the traces” and had forsaken Him.
Shall not God be avenged on such a nation as this? That is the question and the answer is, “Lo I will bring a nation upon you from far, O house of Israel.” As Amos said, “prepare to meet thy God, O Israel” (4:12).
In view of all this treachery and rebellion, God’s grace shines forth in His frequent statement of promise, “yet will I not make a full end” (4:27 and verses 10 and 18). It is not what they will do in the end but what He will do that really counts.
Jeremiah 6:10 Uncircumcised Ears
If you know what is good for you, you will get out of Jerusalem. These children of Benjamin were the sons of His joy (the meaning of the word if you will remember how Jacob changed his son’s name on the day of his birth). Are we who are the saved not all sons of Jehovah’s joy? Assuredly so and like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, if we are wise we will flee from the city of Destruction. Those who would be wise would do as Jeremiah said and would not listen to those who sought to heal the people with the false message of peace (v.14). Ezekiel, in one of his prophecies, spoke also in this vein when he talked of using untempered mortar. It spoke of the “silly putty” of much of the popular message of the day. It doesn’t work and yet how people will cling to it (Ez.13:10-15).
These days when people go church (s)hopping they should “ask for the old paths” but like Israel, they have often already made up their minds “we will not walk therein” (v.16).
Come join with us, we will do you good “Hearken to the sound of the trumpet” but they say no thanks it’s not what we are looking for “we will not hearken” (v.17).
They say we have incense from Sheba - you know, that far country called the world. Our worship team is some sweet – prayer meeting, what is that?
Ah, you say, but our pastor preaches the word of the LORD and sometimes his sermons are three quarters of an hour of pure instruction (v.8)!
But sadly, they turn away, it was nice to visit but that is not what we really delight in (v.10).
Jeremiah 7:2 Heard at the Gate of the LORD’s House
One very helpful concept when expounding a text of the Scriptures is the observance of a repetitive theme. Though the chapter divisions are not considered to be inspired as a part of the text and occasionally are even somewhat of a problem, on the other hand, for the most part, they seem to be well done with each chapter having its own particular emphasis, often observable by such a theme.
An example is clearly seen in our present chapter by comparing verses 10-14. Three times in five verses are found the words “this house which is called by my name.” While the particular emphasis in these verses seems quite negative, it is rather the basic concept of Jehovah having a “house” called by His name that draws our attention. Of course, that would refer to the tabernacle and, later, the temple built by Solomon and is referred to in Isaiah 56:7 as a “house of prayer for all people.”
All three of the synoptic gospels record the episode during the ministry of our Lord Jesus of His driving out the money changers from Herod’s temple with the words “my house shall be called the house of prayer but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Matt.21:13). He probably had our present text in mind when He referred to it as such (v.11).
The robbery of which God spoke through Jeremiah could perhaps be summed up in the thought that Israel was robbing Him of His glory through their adultery and idolatry. How sad that Jeremiah was commanded by Jehovah not to pray for the people (v.16).
To us God would say today, “Obey my voice and I will be your God and ye shall be my people and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you that it may be well unto you” (v.23).
We are God’s house, called by His name and prayer is our present privilege. Let us not rob Him of His glory and lose it.
Jeremiah 8:22 There is a Balm in Gilead
As the dark shadows gather and despair grips the hearts of the very few that are faithful to the LORD, the lamentations grow more intense and the cry more specific in the doomed and damned city once named for Jehovah’s peace-(Jeru-salem). Is not the LORD in Zion?
When summer ends and the harvest is gathered, there should re-echo the shouts of joy, but unfortunately there were no such sounds, especially for those who had been carried captive. It is suggested that their sentiments reflected their thoughts that another season had passed and no one had come to rescue them.
While we may feel like weeping with the prophet (9:1) there was no doubt but that the judgement being experienced was totally deserved for had they not “rejected the word of the LORD” (v.9)? The prophets and the priests from the least to the greatest were given to covetousness and dealt falsely with the people, attempting to pacify them with promises of peace when in reality there was no real peace to be had (v.10).
How many times have we heard some well-meaning person in an effort to help a friend say, “it’s going to be ok” when they actually have no basis to make such a promise. It is only words.
But, praise God, there is indeed a balm for our healing for our great Physician is available Who has healing in His touch. Isn’t it a wonderful thing that we who know Him can share Him with others if they will only let Him minister to their needs. Most, of course, will not, but those who will come He will not turn away.
Jeremiah 9:3 Valiant For The Truth
Our Lord Jesus, standing before Pilate, answered one of his questions with the statement, “to this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” To this Pilate made the well known response, “what is truth?” (John 19:37&38).
Don’t lose sight of the simple fact that God’s word reveals to us the mind of Jehovah which is the basis for all truth and anything that is contrary to that revelation is a lie which ultimately goes back to Satan who is the “father of lies.” He has done a masterful job of sowing this world full of lies and one of his achievements has been the capturing of the wise, the rich and the mighty leaders of our world with the deceitfulness of vain philosophy. Men like Hegel, Kant, Marx, Lenin, Dewey, Darwin, De Sade, Camus, William James, Bultmann, Sartre, Frothingham, Tillich, Nietzsche, Fuerbach, Berkeley, Hume and Descartes to name but a few. Each of these has poured a poison stream of lies that sometimes sound so ridiculous that it is difficult for those who know the truth to believe that sane people could ever seriously believe such rubbish. But the fact is that our educational system, our politics and our religious institutions have been so taken over by the thinking of evil minds one might equate it with demonic influence.
It is no wonder that when the prophet beheld in his day the inroads being made by treacherous men among his people, he wept sore and wished he could escape into the wilderness to get “away from it all” (vs.1&2).
Let us who are of the day be rather “valiant for the truth” and seek to know the LORD Who exercises loving kindness, judgement and righteousness in the earth for it is in these things that He delights (vs.23&24).
Jeremiah 10:23 Direct Our Steps
Here is an opportunity to call attention to the misuse of Scripture. The Jehovah Witnesses are fond of using verses 3 and 4 to show naive hearers that it is wrong to put up a Christmas tree. What is being spoken against here is the making and worshiping of a false god (Hab.2:18&19; Isa. 44:9-20). This is said not in defense of putting up Christmas trees, but rather to point out the misapplication of Biblical truth.
Some wonderful things are said of our God in contrast to these idols fashioned by human hands. He is called here the “King of nations” and I believe this is the only place in the Bible where this term is used of Him. It is a reminder to us that all nations will come to Jerusalem to worship Him (Zech.14:16). Also, in the N.T. we read that every knee shall bow to our Lord Jesus Christ (Phil.2:10).
We are reminded (v.6) that there is “none like unto thee” among all of the wise men of the nations. Actually these men are foolish because they take a stock of a tree, cover it with silver or gold and worship it in contrast to worshiping the true and living God, “the everlasting king” (v.10).
In contrast to the false gods who had nothing to do with creation (v.11), our God made the earth by His power and established the world by His wisdom (v.12). He, in fact, is in control of the elements! In verse 16 we have an interesting term used of our God. “He is the former of all things.” The sense is that He squeezed everything into shape, He molded or framed everything. It reminds us of the N.T. where it says, the worlds were framed by the word of God (Heb.11:3; Ps.33:6).
Tucked into this difficult chapter is a wonderful little prayer directed to this mighty and wise God of ours. “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” It seems like His guidance about how to observe Christmas ought to be better than anything a Jehovah Witness might have to say on the subject. There might be other ways to utilize this information as well.
Jeremiah 11:4 Obey My Voice
Five years after Jeremiah was called by Jehovah to be a prophet the book of the law was found by Hilkiah the high priest (II Kings 22:8). The young king Josiah led the people in a spiritual awakening and at that time the Passover was kept (23:21). It was stated in the history books that this was done “as it is written in the book of this covenant.”
It may be noted that in the opening of the prophecy here in chapter eleven the term covenant is found five times in the first 10 verses thus clearly establishing its theme. Its words were God’s words and they were to be obeyed! “Obey my voice, so shall ye be my people and I will be your God” (vs.4&7).
When Jeremiah heard these words he said, “Amen” in the Hebrew which is translated here “so be it, O LORD” (v.5).
As a consequence of not being obedient Jehovah ceased to hear them when in evil times they called upon Him (vs.11&14). A wise and loving Father would be doing His children a great disservice if He continued to answer their prayers under such conditions, principles true in any dispensation hence the application of these verses is obvious.
Jeremiah has been called into service to make sure that his fellow-men did not miss the point. Their treatment of him called forth some imprecatory comment (v.10) but God intended their punishment anyway and whether He was unhappy with the prophet’s attitude, we are not informed.
This is but the beginning of the prophet’s sorrows as we shall soon see.
Jeremiah 12:2 Reins
The last few verses of the previous chapter form the background for these opening words. Jeremiah’s complaint against his own countrymen stirs up the age old question, “Why do the wicked prosper?” They are such hypocrites.
I am always tempted to think in terms of horse reins when I see that word. How many times I have looked it up in Strong’s only to verify that it literally refers to the kidney. The Greek equivalent is the word nephros from which we get the word “nephritis” or inflamation of the kidney. I wish I knew more about why in both Hebrew and Greek the term kidney is used to speak of “the inmost mind” and is often coupled with the word heart (Jer.11:20, 17:10, 20:12 and Rev.2:23).
The idiom in verse five simply means, if you think you have problems from your relatives at Anathoth, just wait until the leadership of the nation starts in on you, or, in other words, Jeremiah, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
Next we see the lament of Jehovah, “I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hands of her enemies.” He sees “the sword of the LORD” devouring from one end of the land to the other (v.12). All of this desolation as the birds and the beasts come together to peck on Israel, the speckled bird (v.9).
In the last 4 verses we have the promise of restoration - first to Israel which will be restored to the land (v.15) and then to the offending nations if they will repent of their actions toward Israel, otherwise they will be destroyed. This looks forward to the millennium (Isa.60:12).
As we close, let us have a little discussion about our kidneys. We certainly would want the LORD to possess them (Ps.139:13). Even give us a transplant if necessary. If we think more highly of ourselves then we ought we hope He might prick our kidney to deflate our ego (Ps.73:21). Perhaps He will use arrows from His quiver to do this (Lam.3:13), or to cleave our kidneys asunder and pour out our gall upon the ground as He did with poor old Job (16:13). From Rev.2:23 it seems we can rest assured that when the Lord gives our hearts a good search, He will also include our kidneys and that has to be a good thing, whatever.
Jeremiah 13:7 Profitable for Nothing
Sometimes it is difficult to find a single worthy subject in these chapters for comment other than, of course, that of Israel’s failure and Jehovah’s judgement which occur and reoccur with such regularity that we tend to tire of the repetition. We must, however, let the very sameness of the message be the subject that assaults our conscious minds. Over and over, again and again, Jehovah kept appealing to His people and, as we become very aware, without success.
In our chapter today, the message is basically the same, and do not weary of it, it will be the same throughout this section of our Bibles. It might, in fact, be helpful to vary one’s reading to include portions of the more devotional or instructive parts of the Scripture rather than read only in the prophets for days, weeks or even months at a time.
Having said that, we hasten to note that today’s message is couched in very interesting parabolic figures, that of the marred girdle and of the full wineskins (ox-hides from whence we get our word hogs head).
It is an easy transition to make the application to ourselves. “Keep us Lord, oh keep us cleaving to the Lord and still believing,” etc. Then, there is the obedience of the prophet – two round trips to the very area where the remnant will reside for 70 years – four hundred miles!
Designed to be a people for His Name, for His praise and for His glory, sadly Israel must be subjected to conditions that mar her pride and stain her glory. Thy once beautiful flock (v.20) stumbling in darkness upon the mountains. In contrast, may we, being filled with new wine edify one another and demonstrate the miraculous changes that show that once “accustomed to do evil” we may “do good” (v.23).
We, like the prophet, feel like weeping over Israel’s pride (v.17) for we know that their sojourn in a Euphratean “hole of the rock” is but a foretaste of what yet lies ahead for a people which continues to “walk in the imagination of their heart” but they “would not hear.”
Jeremiah 14:19 Behold Trouble
Remember, it may help in understanding these prophecies to keep in mind that they are not chronological. For example this one is considered by J.F.B. to be nearly 30 years later than the opening date of the book (629 B.C.) Perhaps the terrible drought gave Jeremiah some hope that it might bring about a spirit of repentance even as late as it was (601) for he pleads with Jehovah with an attitude that Halley says “is as near an approach to the spirit of Christ as is to be found anywhere in the O.T. He was persistent. God was immovable” (Handbook, pg.279).
Observing the chronology of J.F.B., we could conclude that here is where Jeremiah is first told by Jehovah not to pray “for this people for their good. When they fast I will not hear their cry and when they offer burnt offering.. I will not accept them.” (Even though there is previous mention in 11:14 of this book.)
We see the prophet reasoning with the LORD as though saying “but LORD it is not so much the fault of the people as of the (false) prophets” (v.13) but Jehovah is quick to reply that “the prophets prophesy lies in my name.”
God never refuses true prayer. “The cause of his refusing to hear now was, all their services were formal and unaccompanied with true repentance of their sin” (Isa.1:15; v.12, J.F.B.)
I thought it was interesting that in the text used by J.F.B. the term “O the Hope of Israel” used a large case H (v.8) but not in 17:13. Why the difference? Anyway, here in these verses Jeremiah makes an eloquent appeal. “Though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name’s sake. Thou, O LORD art in the midst of us and we are called by thy name; leave us not.” But, as we learn later (15:6) Jehovah was “weary with repenting.”
Finally, though Jeremiah’s eyes “run down with tears night and day” and though this chapter ends with a further ardent appeal, it is obvious from His response (15:1) that there will be no redress. If ever Jehovah might have been turned it would seem that it would have been here, but it was not to be. Israel’s 70 years of captivity was set in stone in more way than one!
Jeremiah 15:16 The Joy and Rejoicing of Mine Heart
Like so many of his countrymen (and women) our prophet was given a name that contained the name of Jehovah. In his case it is the latter half, the iah part. The first part was a simple concept, viz. to be high or to raise. If there are special rules governing how the two parts are to be joined, I do not know and I lament the fact that the study of Hebrew was never in my academic training. The sense may be a prophetic statement – Jehovah will rise or express the desire of a parent that in this their son Jehovah might be exalted. It was obviously an honor to bear God’s Name in one’s own.
Was this what Jeremiah was expressing in v.16 when he said “for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.”? We remember that he was ordained to be a prophet before he was born (1:5) so, no doubt, his parents were influenced by Jehovah in the very naming of their child. At the beginning of his ministry God had touched his mouth and said to him, “Behold I have put my words in thy mouth.” Of course he was not the only one in Scripture so chosen (Ez.3:3 and Rev.10:9&10).
Both Ezekiel and John spoke of the sweetness of the word and Jeremiah describes why it was sweet like honey. It was because it was unto him the “joy and rejoicing”of his heart. What a glorious truth it is and one that believers have found in their own experience over and over again. David beautifully expressed it this way, “more to be desired are they than gold yea than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb” (Ps.19:10) as he spoke of Jehovah’s commandments, statutes and judgements.
When we think how blessed we are to have the Bible in our language, we can only imagine what it must be like for those who have not as yet been afforded this privilege. Physically the expression of Jonathan’s experience when he partook of the honeycomb and was enlightened in some way (I.Sam.14:27) is an expression that emphasizes the joy and rejoicing of the heart of the believer who loves the Word of God. May it ever be so to each of us.
Jeremiah 16:19 My Refuge in the Day of Affliction
The prophecy of chapter fifteen continues in this one as God requires from Jeremiah a further testimonial to his people by denying him the joys of family life at the same time revealing the underlying realities of this extreme measure. Who could wish to bring upon family members such judgements as those described in verses 4-9? Horrendous experiences can but be the lot of a people from whom Jehovah has withdrawn His peace, even His lovingkindness and His mercies (v.5). Ordinarily the sunshine and the rain fall alike on the unjust as well as the just when Providence smiles but what unimaginable horrifying evils are unleashed from the fingers of an angry Deity which cannot help but, in turn, affect the righteous like Jeremiah as well as the wicked.
But when we contemplate the judgements of the Great Tribulation, the period of “Jacob’s trouble” we are thankful that from that cataclysm the righteous will be delivered, for, “God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thess.5:9). We are comforted by such words, are we not?
When did we last read the list of vial judgements of the wrath of God which has yet to be poured out upon the earth (Rev.16)? For those of us who are saved it is certainly a great comfort to read the promise in I Thess.4: 13-18 that should we be alive when such terrible events befall our planet, we would not be here but rather be safely in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ having been caught away much like Elijah and so to be forever with Him. Praise the LORD (v.21) Who is our Strength, our Fortress and Refuge in the day of affliction (v.19)!
Jeremiah 17:9 Desperately Wicked
Why is it that after all Jehovah has done for His people Israel they have abused Him so? Here is the reason, ably expressed by the prophet Jeremiah, but, let us not forget, ably put because he was writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron and with the point of a diamond it is graven upon the table of their heart.” With what eloquence the Spirit traces their intransigence to the very heart of the matter. We are told also in our present text that the “heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” This followed by the question, “who can know it?”
The answer comes swiftly back, “I the LORD search the heart.” Yes, He is the only One Who does really know the heart of “every man,” and it is a fact that original sin is indeed indelibly stamped on every heart as if engraved by a diamond point. It is as if Satan says “I reign supreme in this realm - see, here is my seal.”
So, the question raised has only one explanation, it is because of the fact of total depravity that Israel and yea, even our own hearts are so adamantly unresponsive to the warmth of Jehovah’s love. Ezekiel sixteen is one of the best commentaries on this subject that we have in our Bible. There we see how God chose Israel to be a special people through no merit of their own (Deut.7:6) and though He showered His love upon Jerusalem (His chosen) yet was He spurned. Unfortunately it will continue to be the case until the time of the Great Tribulation when by supernatural means God will cause Israel’s repentance and “a nation shall be born at once” (Isa. 66:8).
Just like Israel, not one of us would ever respond to the LORD. He must take all of the initiative. A new birth, a new heart, a new creature, it is all of grace. “We love him because he first loved us” (I John 4:19).
Jeremiah 18:13 A Very Horrible Thing
I think perhaps there is a relationship between the turning away from the cool fresh flow of snow water from the mountains and the two references that we find earlier where Jehovah refers to Himself as the Fountain of living waters (2:13 and 17:13). We will remember that back in the earlier passage (ch.2) He contrasts the thought of hewing out cisterns which have become broken and actually cannot even hold any water as a choice when one may have a living (moving) stream of fresh cold water in its place. Here we see where that water comes from. It is the melting of the snow on Mt. Lebanon which He sees them as forsaking (v.14). (Note this word in both of the earlier passages - also especially the emphasis in 16:11.)
Again we have to go back to the previous chapter to see the results of such a choice, the difference between the cursed man (17:5) and the blessed man (v.7). What a contrast between those who trust in man (broken cisterns) and those who trust in the LORD. (Note, do not fail to call to mind Psalm one.)
The lesson from the potter we will see continued in chapter 19, verse 10, the simple truth being that I will break this people (18:7)! Also in verse seventeen, “I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy.”
Dear reader, it is my hope that you will not be so caught up in poems and hymns that have been written on the subject of the potter and the clay that you fail to weep with Jeremiah over a people determined to walk after their own devices and do the imaginations of their evil heart. These are God’s people! “The virgin of Israel.” “They have done a very horrible thing” (v.13).
I do not know what to do with Jeremiah’s very human reaction to the way he was being treated, what do you think?
Jeremiah 19:3 Tingle, Tingle
How many ways can we say “I love you?” Apparently the implication is that there are indeed many ways. How many ways can Jehovah say (through the prophetic word), “I am going to destroy you”? “I am going to make your ears tingle with the message – do you see this bottle? - crash! I am going to smash you like this bottle!” Thus the warning continued on and on. “So many of you will die that the name of this valley will be changed and will be called the valley of slaughter.” Most of this message had been given earlier (ch.7) but needed repeating. This time a new dimension was added.
It was stressed that they had indeed “filled this place with the blood of innocents.” Manasseh had done that (II K.21:16) but to that accusation was added the details. It is here in this valley that the people had burned their children in the fire in Baal worship and now Jehovah promises them that in retribution not only would their carcases be given to be meat for the birds and beasts of prey but an even more horrible affect of the siege would transpire.
So horrible, in fact, that I prefer not to write it. If you wish to know you may read it for yourself in verse nine of our text.
It was on the occasion of the announcement that the curse was punctuated by the loud crash of the potter’s vessel and it was effective enough that, according to the opening words of the next chapter, it landed Jeremiah in the stocks (v.2).
That’s okay, friend, our Lord Jesus has a word for you, “Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven” (Matt.5:11&12) and we can be sure that he is basking in the blessing and the bitterness is forgotten. God bless you my brother.
Jeremiah 20:6 All Thy Friends
Let us allow brother Fausset of J.F.B. to round out the story of Jeremiah’s run-in with Pashur, chief governor of the temple, a member of the “same family as Jeremiah” making matters even worse, striking him a blow as he did.
Stocks were a five-hole torture instrument used, it would seem, to twist or rack the body as evident in the Hebrew. “This marks Pashur’s cruelty.”
Upon being released from the same the next day we hear a message from Jehovah Who was apparently extremely displeased at the treatment of His servant and Who had a new name for Pashur. The new name was just one more testimonial of what was soon to take place in Jerusalem. There would surely be fear on every side as Pashur and his friends would soon find out.
It was to these friends that Pashur had prophesied lies (v.6) and it would not be long before they would find him out. God had said he would be a terror to himself and to all his friends. What good would it be to have friends at a time like that? It sounds like what we might overhear from the worldly crowd today, “so what, I’m going to Hell, - all my friends will be there!”
I suppose that Pashur made lots of friends because of his position and influence. We have in Luke’s gospel (16:9) an interesting admonition directly from our Lord Jesus on this subject. He said that we should use our resources and influence to make friends with eternity’s values in view. These are the friends we should hope to have when we arrive within the gates of pearl. They will be especially glad to see us if our friendship with them has been spiritually beneficial.
As a postscript let us note that Fausset states that the word translated deceived in verse seven has a softer sense like, enticed or allured. That helps, doesn’t it?
Jeremiah 21:8 The Way of Life
J.F.B. places this chapter, in point of time, between chapters 37 and 38, (note 38:2 and compare with verse 9 of our present chapter). Also the above commentary distinguishes this Pashur as distinct from the man by this name in the previous chapter .
Having taken care of the technicalities let us deal with the message of this short chapter. Basically it is evident that the king and his cohorts cannot come to grips with the reality that Jerusalem is actually going to be invaded by Nebuchadnezzar. Surely, in spite of everything, the LORD will deliver us eventually like He always has and the Babylonians will withdraw. Such was the wishful thinking of the leadership in the city right to the bitter end regardless of all the warnings they had been given. They chose to believe the false prophets (20:6) rather than Jeremiah.
The key verse in this chapter, and a principle theme throughout the book is seen in verse eight. Jehovah, as we know, will not be dissuaded from His course of action. Israel has passed the point of no return, He will allow Babylon to destroy Jerusalem. He calls this evil nation His servant in doing so and rewards their service. There is no way, however, that the proud rebellious Jews could get this through their thick (end wicked) skulls. Jeremiah alone, among its leaders, understood and had the message straight.
There was one course left for those who might wish to please Jehovah, that was to go over to the enemy. He called it falling to the Chaldeans. Of course it looked for all the world like becoming a traitor and Jeremiah as the biggest one of all for suggesting it.
God had indeed set before the people “the way of life and the way of death.” It was indicative of the N.T. principle of the way of the cross and is seen so often in O.T. stories. Think about Ruth and Esther. In fact, just about every character distinguished by faith in Hebrews eleven was so designated because they chose a self denying path by faith that led ultimately to the path of life. Can we discern similar choices in our own lives?
Jeremiah 22:18 “Ah My Brother”
As has been noted, these prophecies are not in any order and we are told by commentators that this material proceeds that of chapter 21. It is thought that Jeremiah often grouped his prophecies “by similarity of subjects” and what we have here is an example wherein several of the latter kings of Judah are in view. The kings succeeding Josiah may be seen in order in II Chr.36 though some of their names may vary. (Jehoahaz is Shallum (v.11); Eliakim’s name was changed to Jehoiakim by the king of Egypt whose puppet he was; Jehoichin is the same as Jeconiah or Coniah).
Consulting a commentary (J.F.B. is excellent) one may see how specifically the narrative in this chapter speaks of the various kings of Judah. For example, verses 13 and following speak of actual sins of Jehoiakim. The “burial of an ass” reference alerts us to what must have been his fate as Nebuchadnezzar left him unburied on the side of the road (v.19). What a difference from the lamentation for the godly Josiah (II Chr.35:25) of which Jeremiah was a part.
Recently our church was the scene of such a lament as we said goodbye to a sister in the Lord. At her funeral friends and relatives said, in effect, “Ah, sister.” How we will miss you. You were always here in your place whenever the doors were opened. In the end you came with an oxygen bottle and in a wheel chair but you came as long as you could. Your prayers for the pastor and the members of the congregation were often and valued. We look forward to seeing you soon.
It is to God’s glory that we be remembered for faithfulness when we have departed this life. Let it be so for each of us.
Jeremiah 23:28 Faithful Shepherds
The LORD in my shepherd. Jehovah-Raah. This is a wonderful word, this word shepherd. It is the same word as is translated pastor in this chapter, which, incidentally, is the only place in our Bible where such is done. A shepherd is, to tend, to lead to pasture, to keep the sheep. These should be the chief functions of a spiritual shepherd, a pastor, and woe be to any shepherd who, conversely, does anything detrimental to the flock, because it is God’s flock.
Such were the prophets to be in relation to Israel but instead they were doing the very opposite and thus driving the flock away (v.2). The word visited here means to care for and has the sense of the pastor being an overseer of the flock (Acts 20:28; I Pet.5:2).
Jeremiah’s heart was broken over the failure of the leaders of God’s people (v.9). Much of this chapter concerns these false prophets who were speaking “a vision of their own heart and not out the mouth of the LORD” (v.16).
To me, the most striking part of this chapter is where God contrasts the dreams of the false prophets with His word in verses 28 and 29. “He that hath my word let him speak my word faithfully, what is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. Is not my word like as a fire saith the LORD and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” What a powerful declaration!
And who is this One Who affirms His word to be so important? THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS (JEHOVAH TSIDKENU -v.6). Another of His compound names! What a wonderful day when the righteous Branch shall reign and prosper and shall execute judgement and justice in the earth (v.5). Hallelujah!
In the meantime praise God for all the pastors that He gives us who declare His word faithfully. Don’t forget to pray for them daily.
Jeremiah 24:5 Good Figs
The difference between these two baskets of figs illustrated the difference between obedience and disobedience. Any of the people could have been very good figs (vs.5-7) and have been among those who would return to the land at the end of 70 years (providing they were in the proper age group). Those classified as naughty figs were those who would not accept Jeremiah’s message. Some one has said, if ever faced with a choice, the hardest way is usually the right way. The way of the cross is the way that is hard for the flesh to accept. Here is a classic example.
Obedience is the very best way to show that we believe and often turns out tobe harder but in the end we will be better off, in other words, as Jehovah says here, “I did it for their good.”
God always knows what is best for us so even if it goes against common sense and our so-called better judgement, be it unpopular and makes us look stupid, be thankful for a Jeremiah and listen to him.
How many tests in life come to us to expose our hearts? Verse seven is the key in this text. God wants to give us a heart to know Him. Wholeheartedness is what He is looking for every time.
As for Israel, if there had just been heart obedience, they would never have been at this juncture of their lives. In fact they had been here before (Deut.8:2) and should have learned.
We can imagine that in this test, a man’s foes could well have been those of his own household. It would be very hard to be called a traitor by someone you love but that is the price many of these good figs paid for the stand they took. It is these that we read about in Ezra and Nehemiah as they returned to Jerusalem at the end of the captivity in Babylon. They had proved that obedience was the very best way after all.
Jeremiah 25:12 Seventy Years
Jeremiah tells us at the beginning of this chapter exactly when it was written. It is important to take note of this and to realize that these chapters are not in chronological order. Here we are specifically told that he had been warning Judah for twenty-three years that if they did not repent God would judge them. This started during the 13th year of the good king Josiah and perhaps the indifference of the people was due to the powerful influence he exerted. We are told that in the 18th year of his reign he had orchestrated the greatest Passover feast since Samuel’s days (II Chr. 35:18).
Probably most people felt much like folks described in II Peter 3:4. It is typical for us to have short memories, but Jehovah does not. The wickedness of Manasseh (II K. 21:16) had not been repented of, but rather had flourished during his son Amon’s brief reign and now as a result the people found themselves under the puppet king Jehoiakim being ruled in reality by Pharoah-Necho whose army had slain their leader (II Chr.35:23-25).
Prophets like Zephaniah along with Isaiah and Jeremiah had been faithful in their service but were ignored (v.8) so now God says that He has another servant, Nebuchadrezzar. They will be unable to ignore him!
Here for the first time is the seventy year captivity announced (v.12) and becomes the very scripture that caused Daniel, years later, to pray fervently for Israel’s emancipation (Dan.9:2), prayers that moved a heathen king to proclaim their deliverance resulting in their return to the land (II Chr. 36:22).
All of this demonstrates that God has an eternal purpose that He is working out in this world and He is still on the throne – praise God!
Jeremiah 26:3 Evil
In this verse we see the word evil appearing three times: first there is the appeal for men to turn from their evil ways, secondly, Jehovah speaks of repenting of the evil He purposes to do unto them and lastly He will do this to them because of their evil doings. The fact that this Hebrew word or words, as is the case is/are used in such broad application makes an interesting study, though, as we said, there are two words, ra and roa being used but they both come from the same root word raa. Perhaps an Hebrew scholar could help us see a difference between ra and roa, but all I have to work with is Strong’s Concordance and the lexicon. The reason for speaking about it, however, is because of the use of the word evil in relation to Jehovah which might seem on the surface to be contradictory since we read elsewhere that God and evil don’t mix (James 1:13) but this is a Greek word and is entirely different (kakos).
Getting back to ra, roa, and raa let us see how this word evil is used in our Old Testament. Ra can mean bad and can be translated adversity, affliction or wretchedness. Roa can mean anything from naughtiness to sadness, whereas raa simply can mean spoil and is used in reference to rotten figs, for example, and is found in a great many compound uses running the gamut of being good for nothing to doing wickedly.
So, when we read of the possibility of Jehovah doing evil we must think in terms of His causing adversity or something of that nature. We certainly know, from other Scriptures, that our God is a holy God and One Who could never, ever, be guilty of doing anything wicked. On the other hand, and as we certainly see in these prophecies, He hates the sinful wicked practices of depraved humanity so much that He condemns to eternal suffering those who fail to repent. There is never any inconsistency on this subject with Jehovah. (I Peter 1:16; Lev.10:10).
Jeremiah 27:11 Under the Yoke
Jeremiah was told to wear a yoke around his neck which was to symbolize servitude. The ox is well known as an animal that serves and the familiar yoke it wore was the means by which it was attached to its burden or task. God chose this instrument to illustrate the fact that He was temporarily placing His people under the rule of Babylon. A yoke similar to that worn by Jeremiah was also to be worn by all of the associated kings of the area (v.3). If they would thus humble themselves it would result in their being able to dwell in their own land but if they would not, they would die.
In reality Jehovah had placed an unseen yoke around the neck of Nebuchadnezzar and though he was not aware of it, he was the unwitting servant of God. There is a really great statement of Jehovah’s sovereign power in verse 5 where He makes it clear that by His outstretched arm He made the earth along with man and beast and that He would give it to whomever He wished. Isaiah 42:5 includes the heavens (also 45:12) and Daniel 4:17 gives the very occasions when He made this truth known to Nebuchadnezzar in a dream and implied that He had made him ruler though he was the “basest of men.”
The false prophets were telling the people that the Babylonians would actually return the vessels they had taken from the LORD’s house (v.16) but God told Jeremiah that if they did not repent and yield to the yoke, all that remained would likewise be taken. True, they would be restored at a later date but the priests and prophets would not live to see it.
Of course, the picture of the yoke makes us think of the one spoken of by the Lord Jesus (Mt.11:29) in whose service we find rest and though it be a cross when we embrace it, the way of yieldedness becomes the way of life and joy. It could have been so for Israel.
Jeremiah 28:17 In the Seventh Month
What a contrast between two men with the same name. I refer to Hananiah. The one we know best is one of the three friends of Daniel and is remembered for his courageous faith in standing up for His God. The son of Azur, on the other hand, is completely sold out to pleasing the religious liberals of his day. Tell the masses what they want to hear, tickle their ears and you will be a popular guy.
Put yourself on the receiving end. Which would you rather hear, the power of positive thinking or the doom and gloom preaching of an old-fashioned pessimist? The world has even coined a term for the godly prophet’s negative harangues. Jeremiads, they call them.
What do you expect to hear when you do your duty and spend a whole hour on Sunday playing church (oops)? The worship team really makes the longest hour in the week go a bit faster and it helps a lot if there can be some entertaining special music. If the preacher breaks the unwritten rules and speaks past twelve o’clock one notes folks checking their watch or throwing a quick glance at the clock on the back wall. Come back on Sunday night! Now that’s getting a bit fanatical, soon you will be telling me that I should attend meeting prayer or join the choir or teach Sunday School. Do I get to wear one of those neat yoke pins if I do?
Seriously, our church is suffering from a lack of commitment. Hananiah’s message would be acceptable to half of the Sunday morning crowd, I am afraid. Too many would applaud the breaking of Jeremiah’s yoke and sadly, they do not see the day of reckoning coming. It is in that seventh month that it will be proven that wearing the yoke was the right thing to do after all. Too late!
Jeremiah 29:11 An Unexpected End
Back when dealing with chapter twenty-five we noted what God said He would do to Babylon when He got through using that nation as a means of disciplining Israel and we also were reminded that it was those prophecies of Jeremiah that stirred Daniel to pray for the promised conclusion of their seventy years of captivity (Dan.9:2). Now, here in this chapter we have much additional information about the subject of the Babylonian captivity.
In verses 1-14 we see that Jeremiah wrote a letter to those who had been carried away as captives. He tells them to pursue a normal life while in that “strange land” (Ps.137:4) though they found it difficult to sing the LORD’s song for it was there by the rivers of Babylon that this remnant wept when they remembered Zion.
Twice (vs.4 &7) Jehovah tells them that it is He Who has caused them to be carried away from Jerusalem as He reminds them that it is their duty to pray for peace for their captors (v.7).
Again the LORD tells them that He will “perform my good word toward you in causing you to return” (v.10). He comforts them by telling them the very thoughts that He is thinking toward them. These are “thoughts of peace and not of evil” as He plans for them “an expected end” (v.11). This was their blessed hope, it was to be what they lived for. In one place the word expected used here was translated the thing that I long for.
In this we are reminded of our blessed hope which is the expected end promised us. Unlike Daniel who could establish a date, we do not know when the end shall come but we expect it any moment. Like Israel it will not really be an end, but the beginning. Like Daniel, however, we should prayerfully and wholeheartedly seek the LORD calling upon Him. “Even so come, Lord Jesus.”
Jeremiah 30:24 The Latter Days
It was a good thing that Jeremiah was told to write a book in a much more direct manner than Isaiah (30:8), it would seem, whose directions probably involve only an aspect of his ministry, but obviously that too was written for the latter days as the reference to the “time to come for ever and ever” might be rendered. We are grateful that these books were indeed written for our edification “upon whom the ends of the world are come” (I Cor.10:11) and thankful that Job got his wish as well (19:23). There is, I fear, a tendency to read these commentaries on the books rather than reading the inspired books themselves. Let us not be guilty of such a mistake.
It is generally considered by dispensational Bible teachers that the references to the future for Israel in this passage, as in many others, relate to the end times yet to come. In verse seven the “time of Jacob’s trouble” probably refers to the Tribulation Period. Comparing this section with that in Joel 2:10&11 and 3:12-16 (see also Rev.14:15) would encourage this interpretation.
What terrible consequences have Israel suffered as foretold in Deut.28:63 due to disobedience. The holocaust in our time is but a foretaste of this period that lies ahead known as Jacob’s trouble but the encouraging word here is that “he shall be saved out of it” (v.7). “Strangers shall no more serve themselves of them” (underlining mine). Note also in verse eleven Jehovah’s reserved treatment of His people compared to His judgement upon the nations that abuse them. Certain nations today would utterly destroy Israel if they could, but we may be certain that they cannot.
As verse 22 declares, Israel is God’s people and we watch intently to see Him perform “the intents of his heart” on their behalf.
These do seem to us to be the latter days, don’t you agree?
Jeremiah 31:3 Drawn With Lovingkindness
The story of God’s “everlasting love” for Israel continues in this chapter leaping across the chapter heading as the forest flame leaps a highway or some other artificial barrier and a people “left of the sword” continue to find “grace in the wilderness.” So in Babylon, they found that even in such a strange land they could find rest because they were of the “families of Israel.”
In fact together have we not stepped suddenly from prophetic wilderness into a veritable watered garden, pregnant with the promises of a covenant keeping God? Is it not like Jehovah to lead us by still waters “as a shepherd doth his flock” (v.10)?
“O virgin of Israel” soon your mourning will be turned to joy as I build and plant you back in your land for the day is coming when the watchman will cry “arise ye and let us go up to Zion unto the LORD our God” (v.6).
There is no doubt that these wonderful promises extend far beyond the return of Israel from captivity. It is exciting to read of Ephraim’s repentance (v.18) and reference to him as the firstborn (v.9) and even Jehovah’s dear son upon whom He now has mercy (v.20). This is surely grace for remember Ephraim represents the “lost ten tribes”.
J.F.B. is quick to tell us that verse 22 speaks of the virgin birth but we suspected it anyway. Helpfully a list of reasons in provided in case we would go further. (In my edition an error occurs with #5 being omitted.)
Isn’t the word satiate delicious? Used only here, twice, but it is the same Hebrew word as watered garden and see Ps.36:8 for another great English translation. In this way the weary souls (v.25) are satisfied with His goodness (v.14).
Of course, the covenant spoken of being made with the house of Israel is not the new covenant made with the Church though there are dear brothers who do not see it that way. But oh, what of these promises to Israel and to literal translation if they be right? I say it in love, do not fear, sadly they are not!
Jeremiah 32:17 Nothing too Hard for Thee
In one year the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadrezzar (Nebuchadnezzar) would be entirely successful and the city would be captured, an event that both king Zedekiah and Jeremiah would live through. As we know, the prophet had become exceedingly unpopular for telling the people the truth. False prophets had contradicted him saying in effect, “it will never happen” and now that it was happening, it was still just as hard to convince his hearers that those who were being taken captive would ever be allowed to return.
The previous chapter spells out the message plainly that Jehovah had every intention of fulfilling these promises that He had caused to be written by Jeremiah “in a book” (30:1) and now He instructs the prophet to put his money where his mouth is as we would put it in today’s vernacular.
In this interesting episode, faith in God’s word is illustrated as Jeremiah obediently carries out His instructions buying a piece of property at a most inopportune time. One can almost hear Hanameel laughing up his sleeve at the naivete of his nutty religious cousin as he walked away from a sweet deal with seventeen shekels of silver jingling in his pocket! It was almost as big a swindle as selling the Brooklyn Bridge and he probably could hardly wait to brag about it to his friends.
The fact was, of course, that the prophet knew exactly what he was doing as he affirmed in his prayer to “the Great, the Mighty God” Who had “made the heaven and earth by [His] great power”stating, “there is nothing too hard for thee” (v.17). How quickly he was answered (v.27)!
In closing today’s lesson, see how helpful the center column reference is, in verse 25 change the for to though. Note also the interesting comment of Jeremiah on the subject of inspiration found at the end of verse 8. “Then I knew...”etc.
Jeremiah 33: 6 The Abundance of Peace and Truth
Through a series of circumstances in which false hopes had been raised in Jeremiah’s heart and quickly dashed, he now finds himself confined in an open prison whence he is not free to leave but where he might receive visitors, called “the court of the prison” (32:2 and 37:21).
I think that this chapter is a good example of the two-fold nature of many prophecies. In verses 1-13 Jeremiah speaks of the promises that will be fulfilled at the return from captivity at the end of the seventy years. Though Israel is mentioned (v.7) it seems that Judah is primarily in view (vs.4, 10 and 13).
At verse 14 the writer, speaks of the days that shall come for both houses. Again in verse 24 he speaks of two families and in between these two references he speaks of the covenant that Jehovah has made with David and the throne of the house (sing.) of Israel.
This is the second time the prophet has mentioned this great covenant (31:33-37 and 33:20-22) in extravagant language bringing into play passages in the Psalms (89:34-37) and though the Psalmist seems to question God’s faithfulness here, there is ample evidence in these two references in Jeremiah to indicate that Jehovah said it and meant it. His word on this subject (the Davidic Covenant) is as trustworthy as the fact that ordinances of nature cannot be changed.
Two other great thoughts must be mentioned ere we close as revelation is made unto us of God’s peace and truth as well as unto them (v.6). The first is the great prayer promise of verse 3 which we of Evangel Baptist (now- The Bucksport Bible Church) claimed since the church began. The second is that great statement quoted earlier, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS(23:6). There it was Judah and Israel (he) being called by this great name, here (v.16) it is Jerusalem (she). The former speaks of the Person of Christ (He), the second of the church which shares this imputed righteousness (she). They are all of One (Heb.2:11).
Jeremiah 34:8 Proclaim Liberty
When Nebuchadnezzar was on the verge of final conquest Zedekiah along with the princes and people did a magnanimous thing. They went to the temple and before Jehovah they made a covenant (v.14) to release all of their Hebrew bond servants just as would be done in the 7th year (Deut. 15:12).
The covenant consisted of a specific ceremony, that of the walking of the covenant parties between the severed halves of a calf “cut in twain” (v.19). J.F.B. suggests that the sense being given is, may we be thus severed by Jehovah if we do not keep our word (Matt.24:51).
Apparently after this ceremony ended, Pharaoh-hophra appeared on the scene in Israel’s behalf and the Babylonian forces withdrew whereupon, the masters of the freed servants immediately reneged and reclaimed them (v.11).
Of course, Jehovah condemns this hypocrisy indicating a return of Nebuchnezzar and his thorough destruction of the cities of Judah including Jerusalem stating that the dead bodies of the hypocrites would be meat for the birds and beasts (v.20).
The one exception in the process of God’s judgement was the pronouncement to Zedekiah that though he would be carried captive to Babylon, his life would be spared and he would die “in peace” (v.5). Perhaps Jehovah spared the king to demonstrate His power and His mercy which all could have received had they proved merciful. “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy” (Matt.5:7).
Several spiritual matters are here suggested. We are all, like Bunyan, citizens of the city of destruction but Christ has led captivity captive and “proclaim(ed) liberty unto them” (v.8). God’s covenant with us like that with Abraham is unconditional and irrevocable and all of grace (Gen.15:17). We believe in the LORD and He counts it unto us for righteousness (v.6; Rom.4:5).
Jeremiah 35:7 In the Land Where Ye be Strangers
It had been 300 years since the story in this chapter originally took place. Perhaps the dedication to their father had been tested many times before, of that we do not know but the steadfastness of the Rechabites at this point in time became a lesson Jehovah could use through the prophet Jeremiah, to further justify His judgement upon Judah (v.17).
The remarkable faithfulness of the descendants of Jonadab (v.6) in their abstinence regarding the fruit of the vine, especially in a land where the blood of the grape sustained a major industry, provided an object lesson God could dramatically utilize, and so He did.
J.F.B. points out that even up to the twelfth century a family of Rechabites numbering 100,000 were to be found in Pumbeditha which, as a line from David’s house, continued “to observe the ... rules of abstemiousness.”
As we see, there were other provisions of self-denial that marked the filial dedication of this family. They were to be nomadic, an imposition that had been temporarily dispensed with due to the current extremity.
These Rechabites makes me think of those today like the Farleys who have recently left their “certain dwelling place” to go out into ministry that will take them they know not where. These are present day Jabalites (Gen.4:20), dwellers in tabernacles, sojourning in the land of promise (Heb.11:9) like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, strangers and pilgrims. The woods are full of them, especially the jungles of Papua New Guinea where Jeremiah and April Markley serve. Much like the Lord Jesus Who had no den or nest, this noble army of men and boys, the matron and the maid are this very moment climbing the steep ascent to heaven having cut loose from the rest of us, disentangled themselves from the affairs of this life as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. Can they at least count on our prayers, those of us who live in our fancy stick-built and modular homes?
Jeremiah 36:23 Consumed in the Fire
As the flames licked up the flimsy pages of Jeremiah’s scroll soon the flames of Hades would be licking at the flesh and bones of the indestructible carcass of king Jehoiakim. Does this puny spiritual pauper think that he can thus destroy the words of judgement that had been pronounced against Judah “from the days of Josiah even unto this day?” Indeed, “great is the anger and the fury that the LORD hath pronounced against this people” (v.7). “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb.10:31).
Some may frivolously scoff at the concept of the lost being tormented in flames forever and probably Moses was quite shocked when he stood barefoot beside the bush and observed that though it burned, it was not consumed (Ex.3:2), but with God all things are possible.
It is said that Nebuchednezzar had Jehoikim slain and his dead body cast out by the side of the road where, as it states in verse 30, it was subjected to the heat of the day and the frost of the Judean night. Yet as it lay in a heap rejected of men, it lay more comfortable than his miserable soul suffering as did the rich man in Luke sixteen in what is only a prelude to the lake of fire into which shall be cast the beast and the false prophet, Satan himself, (Rev.20:10) and “all the nations that forget God” (Ps. 9:17). Into which also, after being judged out of the things written in the books, the wicked king Jehoikim likewise will be cast, forever to regret having rejected the words of the prophet which he “had burned in the fire.”
How extremely sad it is that some of the brightest and the best among our loved ones will soon be there too, for except (they) repent (they) shall all likewise perish (Luke 13:5).
Jeremiah 37:14 It is False
Reliable commentators indicate chapter 21 coming between this chapter and the next (38) with this message of the king to Jeremiah being somewhat earlier than the one in chapter 21. This is evident since verse 5 indicates the withdrawal of the Chaldean siege to meet Pharoah’s army, which being chased away the Babylonians returned as the prophet warned they would do (v.8).
During the interlude Jeremiah tried to go home to Anathoth of Benjamin, perhaps in hope of securing some income from the land he bought from his cousin Hanameel (32:9). He was prevented, however, from doing this by Irijah the grandson of the false prophet Hananiah who had died according to the prophetic word (28:16) for his lies. Irijah, possibly in retribution for his grandfather’s death, accused Jeremiah of trying to join up with the enemy (v.13) which lie the princes bought resulting in Jeremiah’s imprisonment.
As we know, the devil is a liar even the father of lies and he was certainly behind this further persecution of Jeremiah who being of a timid nature sought the king’s mercy though he did not hold back the truth in seeking to ameliorate his own misfortune.
David commended those who sometimes must “hurt” themselves by telling the truth (Ps.15:4). We have heard it said, “tell the truth and shame the devil” or “tell the truth even if it hurts.” This is what faithful Jeremiah had to do.
I know what it is to go to my knees by the side of my bed and plead with the LORD that He would stop the mouths of those who were speaking lies (Ps.63:11) but what a blessing to be able to claim Matthew 5:11&12, “for great is your reward in heaven for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
Jeremiah 38:11 Cast Clouts and Rotten Rags
I had marked in my Bible stating that this was a repeat of chapter 37, but on reading J.F.B. I changed my mind. That commentary (which is excellent on historical material) indicates that the former took place before the siege while this chapter refers to the prophet’s experience later even though his message is similar. There are at least two different dungeons, one in Jonathan’s house and one called “the dungeon of Malchiah.” It is the third prison about which I wish to speak.
The third prison is the foul fortress of the fear of man (Prov.29:25). It was just such a snare into which the king had fallen (v.19) and from whence the LORD would deliver him if only he would “obey... the voice of the LORD.” Because he refused he suffered at the hands of his enemies along with his wives and children, a failure that also resulted in the city being burned (v.23).
Note that this is a spiritual quagmire into which the king had fallen (v.22). And was far worse than the literal one into which Jeremiah had been cast (v.6). Jeremiah had a saviour to deliver him in the person of Ebedmelech, whose name means a servant of a king. Jeremiah was for Zedekiah a servant who faithfully delivered the message of salvation to him with the words “Obey I beseech thee the voice of the LORD which I speak unto thee: so it shall be well unto thee and thy soul shall live” (v.20). Jeremiah took the way of “cast clouts and rotten rags”, the king chose the path of pride – thinking of what his friends, his associates and his wives would do.
It seems as if even Jeremiah got caught up in the king’s conniving (v.26) but we are thankful that he did have an easier go of it throughout the remainder of his time and we read nothing of his incurring the LORD’s displeasure.
Jeremiah 39:18 Thy Trust in Me
A good subtitle to this chapter could be “It’s payback time” for that does seem to be the theme as we shall see.
It is the eleventh year of Zedekiah who has been a puppet king under the Babylonians and he is about to reap what he is owed because of his unfaithfulness to his superiors. As Nebuchadnezzar’s army comes in the front door (v.2) he tries sneaking out the back at the southern end of the city, breaking a hole in the wall (Eze.12:13) in an effort to escape to the Arabian Desert. Riblah on the Orontes River in Syria was a favorite staging area for kings awaiting conquest of neighboring lands by their armies. It was here he was brought and judgment rendered. After watching his sons being slain before his eyes, they were then gouged out and he was taken to Babylon which he would never see (Eze.12:13), to die of old age.
The poor of the land were given the vineyards and the fields. This is obviously something that Jehovah delights to do. The nobles were slain (v.6) and much of their wealth ended up in the hands of the poor. All my life I have been a “poor preacher” but I have it better today than I have ever had it. I am convinced that this is what comes of trusting the LORD. It does not always happen, but very often it does. All this and heaven too!
“Give him what he wants,” so was the captain of the guard instructed. Give Jeremiah your attention and your care (v.12). “Oh, and by the way, Jeremiah, do you remember Ebed – go and give him a message from the living God – he has probably wondered about his name – and he did serve an earthly king after being mutilated, but does he realize that when he arranged to have you pulled from the mire he was serving a son of the King of kings and ‘inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least...’ etc. (Matt. 25:36b). You served a King and its payback time!”
Jeremiah 40:1 Nebuzar-adan
In the previous chapter we saw that the king of Babylon placed Jeremiah into the hands of Nebuzar-adan, the captain of the guard. He was evidently the right man for the job. Isn’t it wonderful how Jehovah has special heathen men strategically placed where they can be a blessing and a help to one of His chosen servants. Witness, for example, in Joseph’s case, first, the Egyptian captain of the guard Potiphar who was, for a time, so partial to him that it is said that he left all his affairs in Joseph’s hands “save the bread which he did eat.” Then when he was placed, unjustly in prison, the keeper committed everything even all the care of the other prisoners into Joseph’s hands. Think of the fact that Daniel was brought “into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs” who had charge of him and his three compatriots.
Who became the best buddy of the shepherd minstrel David? None other than the king’s son who relinquished all titles to his friend.
If we could only know how often God has seen fit to bless His children by bringing them into favor with political superiors as in these recorded examples we would surely be amazed.
And here we have it before us in this story. How is it that this Gentile could say with such authority to Jeremiah “the LORD thy God had pronounced this evil upon this place”? He even knew why the LORD had done it (v.3). He certainly had it right!
Jeremiah, apparently, even as Moses (Heb.11:25), chose the company of his afflicted brethren over the comfortable Babylonian lifestyle of the captain who offered him the good life. He was ever the true patriot.
Jeremiah 41:13 They Were Glad
This chapter is an example of what happens when we fail to seek the LORD but rather lean to our own understanding (Prov.3: 5&6). Going back to chapter 40 we understand that Gedaliah had been clearly warned by Johanan that there was a plot afoot to assassinate him (40:14) and he was rebuffed. Now, this man Johanan was no saint but he had spoken the truth and Gedaliah should have listened. It is a very important principle that we do well to attempt to learn from one another, for it does seem that God often uses unsaved people to guide us as His children. It is a common experience that is probably given as evidence of our divine origin and even the unregenerate would do well to cultivate the habit of greater dependence on the wisdom to be gleaned from others.
Ishmael was a misguided zealot who, at the end of the day, had nothing to show for all his machinations but a guilty conscience and the blood of nearly 100 souls on his hands. It is bad enough for any lost soul to end his life in Hell, but how much worse will it be for the murderers of the innocent.
As for Johanan, though he had some commendable traits, it will be clear from events in our next chapter that again, we should learn to follow God’s Word if we really want to do what is right. I submit the following humorous account as a little reminder that even following the Bible may not always be the thing to blindly do.
The reference here to Mispah takes me back to childhood days where we were often asked at the close of Sunday School to rise and repeat in unison what was referred to as “the closing Mispah.” It was not until many years later I learned that this was a request recited over a pile of rocks by a couple of men who didn’t like or trust one another (Gen. 31:49). You stay on your side of this watchtower and I will stay on mine and we will get along just fine. Even the Bible must be “rightly divided” (II Tim. 2:15).
Jeremiah 42:19 Go Ye Not Into Egypt
Are you asking to know God’s will in order to do it or to vote on it? This is a great passage to indicate the difference. Johanan and this whole crowd were not really interested to know God’s will (it had already been clearly stated) but they wanted God’s approval of their will and when they didn’t get it they went ahead and did what they wanted to do in the first place. Their motive of self-preservation exposed their basic attitude of unbelief which was exactly the old problem so evident in Israel’s refusal to enter Canaan (Num.14 with Heb.3&4) years earlier.
This same unbelief is sometimes evident today in Christian homes where young people have been brought up to obey the Scriptures yet are often not willing to be obedient when choosing a mate. The Bible is clear about not being unequally yoked to an unbeliever (II Cor.6:14) but some will say they have prayed about it and plan to do so anyway. The same thing applies when Christians seek divorce (Mal.2:15&16).
Nothing could be any more clear than the fact that Jehovah did not want His people to go into Egypt (v.19). To do so was like Saul sparing the Amalakites or Jonah going to Tarshish. The N.T. equivalent here is that of taking up the cross. One who has a problem obeying clear Scriptural principles does not know the first thing about the cross in the life of the believer or obedience to Romans 12:1 or, for that matter, a real love for God.
The people in today’s text were a classic bunch of hypocrites and it is clear exactly how God felt about them. The next few chapters will reveal more on this subject, but we would have to be blind to think that God did not judge them severely for “dissembling in [their] hearts...there know certainly that ye shall die.... in the place whither ye desire to go.” It is a living death to be married to the wrong person is it not?
Jeremiah 43:2 All the Proud Men
Why is it that these leaders after asking the LORD what they should do turned around and did just the opposite? The simple answer is seen here in verse 2, because they were proud!
As we have seen, God’s word was uncomplicated and emphatic, “Go not into Egypt to sojourn there” (v.2). For whatever reason these leaders which were apparently forcing Jeremiah and the peasantry to do their bidding were intent on carrying them to Egypt. Their professed fear of the Chaldeans was the excuse and their actions certainly demonstrated that there was no fear of God before their eyes (Ps.36:1). As so often happens in cases like this, the very things they feared awaited them in the land of Egypt and God had warned them of such (42:16) so they were without excuse.
Actually, these people which were to be left by Nebuchadnezzar in the land of Judah could probably have had a pretty good life for the next seventy years. Some of them had been apparently gathered up along his route of conquest (v.5) and it seems rather a shame that they could not have settled down in Judah and accepted their lot. After all, this man was called by Jehovah his servant and it was indeed the revealed will of God that they stay there.
We feel sorry for Jeremiah, who, forced to accompany these renegade leaders, now becomes the prophet of their doom (v.11). He would much rather not have gone to Egypt.
Pride, which seems to have been the driving force of the leadership’s fiasco, is always a problem wherever it rears its ugly head. God hates it. The opposite is humility. Our pastor recently said “humility is not thinking less of ourselves, it’s just not thinking of ourselves at all!” That’s cutting to the chase– whatever that means.
Jeremiah 44:4 Thing That I Hate
Jehovah makes it very plain in this chapter that it is for the cardinal sin of idolatry that He primarily has destroyed Jerusalem and the surrounding cities. It is not often that we hear what sounds extremely emotional coming as from the very heart of Jehovah. “Oh do not this abominable thing that I hate!”
Satan is skilled at knowing how to hurt God and for a long time he did it through encouraging idolatry. Note also how much he used the wives (v.9). He knows that if he can get the women to fall, the men will not be far behind. As the women said, “whenever we worshiped the queen of heaven our husbands were right with us” (v.19) and we certainly know that they had Solomon’s example to follow if they needed one!
We know that Israel got away from idolatry during the Babylonian captivity and apparently returned to the land without it, and obviously in our fundamental churches today it is not a problem. Does this mean that the enemy realizes that he has been defeated so he has given up?
Perhaps we should take a closer look. I think Satan has combined his strategy and is using the family as his prime tool today. We might say that most parents idolize their children and grandchildren. The time and money spent on them is exorbitant. Humanistic society in this country is a strong contributor in both positive and negative ways. Danger to children has practically eliminated child evangelism in most areas. The highest percentage of our tax dollars go into education and Satan has full control of that system. The church is expected to gear its program to entertaining the young.
I wonder what God finds to hate today – it might be very interesting.
Jeremiah 45:3 Rest
J.F.B. says this goes back about 18 years before the taking of Jerusalem by the Babylonians but seems correctly placed in relation to the criticism of Baruch by the “proud” leadership headed up by Azariah and Johanan as in chapter 43 (v.3). This itty-bitty chapter is a personal word directed by Jeremiah but coming from Jehovah to Baruch as both a rebuke and an encouragement. I recommend to the reader the words of brother Fausset in the afore -mentioned commentary where his excellent devotional remarks on this chapter are fully as lengthy as his exposition and are so helpful that I was tempted to simply reproduce them for your edification. Since that would take more space than that to which we have become accustomed, I will try to summarize.
Jeremiah has apparently learned an important lesson that he is privileged to pass on to his fellow laborer. When you are mistreated in the manner as mentioned above, don’t give way to despondancy and sinful complaints. Don’t forget our Savior’s example of suffering patiently though wrongfully (I Peter 2:19-21). Also, don’t expect to find much “rest” during this life. The day of our rest will come soon enough so, in the meantime, “rest in the Lord” (Ps.37:7) knowing that the day is coming when “sorrow and sighing will flee away” (Isa.35:10).
What greater things should we desire for ourselves but to escape, as we have, the wrath of God which will fall on those who are overthrown by Jehovah and to have the “life” that He has given us “for a prey” (v.5). We will come away from the battlefield with plunder more precious than gold and silver. What is more valuable than the eternal life that awaits us in the glory “where the wicked cease from troubling and ...the weary be at rest” (Job 3:17)?
Jeremiah46:28 I am With Thee
The last chapters of this book are prophecies of Jehovah delivered by Jeremiah against the Gentile nations beginning with the land wherein he was captive, namely Egypt. These prophecies are arranged by nations not date.
It was at the time when Pharaoh-Necho was moving against Carchemish, near the Euphrates, that he encountered Josiah, who was allied to Assyria, in Megiddo and slew him (2 K.23:29; 2 Chron.35:20-24). Four years later he was vanquished by the Babylonians as prophesied here.
As I understand this, these events were yet future when this prophesy was actually written, but the whole picture of what was to become of Egypt is appended here and shows, in part, Jehovah’s vengeance for Josiah’s death (v.10).
This is followed by a prophesy of Babylon’s invasion of Egypt 16 years after the fall of Jerusalem (v.13), the destruction of Tyre intervening (see Ezekiel 29:17-20; chs. 30-32) as we see Nebuchadnezzar being given Egypt as a reward for his service.
Egypt was a forest of cities which at that time were 1020 according to J.F.B. but the army of Nebuchnezzar was “innumerable – more than grasshoppers.”
The beauty of this chapter comes at the end (v.29) in a thought that is being repeated (30:11) and is of course placed here to again remind Israel of what God is doing. The great day would come (temporarily and in prophetic pictures) when they would return from captivity “be in rest and at ease and none shall make him afraid” (v.28).
Addressing Jacob as His servant He promises a full end of all of their enemies but for them, a measured correction.
Jeremiah 47:7 How Can It Be Quiet?
The New Schaff–Herzog Religious Encyclopedia commenting on the subject of the Philistines states that their territory was less than 60 miles long and in width varies from 12 to 35 miles. This takes in Joppa (modern Jaffa) as the most northern city and Raphia as the southernmost. Its eastern boundary was the hill country of Judea and its coast almost without any harbors was flat and in the south, mostly pastureland. The cities were not important as to the sea traffic, but were significant due to the overland traffic between Egypt and Babylon. Their history due to their proximity had mostly to do with Israel rather than their northern and southern neighbors due to vast deserts lying in between. They were often linked, as in this text, with Tyre and/or Sidon though these were Phoenician cities.
The Philistines, well known to all students of the Bible, were always a threat to God’s people but soon according to this chapter would meet their Judge and be destroyed as prophesied nearly 200 years earlier by Amos (1:6-10). See also Ezekiel 25: 15. The instrument would be Nebuchadnezzar at the time of the conquest of Jerusalem.
In verse 6 Jeremiah speaks to the sword of the LORD as if he were a Philistine. When will you be quiet or satiated? Desist, rest, be still. Then in v.7 he answers the question that has been proposed, “How can it be quiet?” It is God’s sword of judgement and “he hath appointed it.”
And so it is, God’s appointed judgement will come upon all men as surely as it did upon the Philistines. There is no stopping it!
For us as believers, however, the sword is quiet. Annie Cousins in her hymn O Christ, What Burdens Bowed Thy Head (v.5) expresses it this way:
Jehovah bade His sword awake: O Christ it woke ‘gainst thee; thy blood the flaming blade must slake, thy heart its sheath must be. All for my sake, my peace to make: now sleeps that sword for me. (I will finish this rich poetic verse by including the sixth verse.)
For me Lord Jesus Thou hast died, and I have died in Thee: Thou’rt ris’n my bands are all untied; And now Thou liv’st in me; When purified, made white, and tried, Thy glory there for me.
Jeremiah 48:10 He That Doeth The Work of The LORD
This chapter in its entirety is a prophecy relating to Moab. Moab was a grandson of Lot, the result of an incestuous relationship with his firstborn daughter (Gen.19:37). The Moabites incurred Jehovah’s displeasure during the wilderness adventures of Israel. Their resistence yea, hatred toward God’s people (Num.21 and 22) and their worship of the false god Chemosh (II K.23:13) earned them a severe proscription (Deut. 23:3&4). They were neighbors of the Edomites and the Ammonites, the latter springing from Moab’s cousin Ammon, all of which had settled east of Jordan and the Dead Sea. The reader is invited to examine the devotionals on Isaiah 15 and 16 where judgement coming upon them from Assyria is the subject.
Here and briefly in Ezekiel (25:8-11) God’s wrath is seen coming chiefly through Nebuchadnezzar. Amazingly both Moab and Ammon will be recipients of God’s gracious restoration “in the latter days” (v.47 and 49:5) which we can imagine will be a blessing to Ruth in the future.
In this one chapter, though Moab was a desolate area with only one major city, the prophet manages to cite 24 place names. I do not ever remember seeing the name Madmen before. Strong gives the meaning of this Hebrew word to be “dunghill”. We should pity the people who lived there, I guess. On the other hand, some of our present generation might identify with the force and wish to stand in the shadow of Heshbon the home of a powerful lizard to observe the shooting flames hitting the onrushing ones in the head – (a rather loose paraphrase of verse 45) and totally wiping out a whole region.
Let us close with the sober thought in verse 10. Cursed be the Babylonians, the servants of the LORD, (the King , v.15) if they were to withhold their swords from destroying Moab. Applied to us, we can imagine the importance God puts on not being negligent (center column reference)in doing His work. The sword is designed to be a bloody instrument. The sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God being faithfully used must often cut deeply. Cursed be he who is not willing to use it faithfully even when it hurts or is unpopular. Pastors must often use it so. We must all be ready to apply this text in our personal lives.
Jeremiah 49:6 And Afterward
As is obvious, this chapter deals with prophecies against several nations. Of the six mentioned only the first and last, Ammon and Elam, have any future hope it would seem. The promise to Ammon sounds much like that directed to Moab. They are like two peas in the same pod, starting alike, both hating Israel and taking sides with her enemies, and ending the same. I think we are glad to see Lot’s two hapless “yow-uns” (as my grandmother would call them) get a break. My start was almost as despicable and I think my grandmother was pleased when I took her advice and started attending Ridge Baptist Church. Out from among most of the kids I knew, God called me by His grace and I will spend eternity with some Moabites and hopefully some Ammonites will make it, but my brief search of Strong’s did not yield much hope in reality except perhaps for Lot’s sake. I like what God said in Deuteronomy 2:9&19 about their land; “Distress them not, meddle not with them, contend not with them for I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession.” Because of their actions however in the matter of Balaam and their denial to Israel’s request for passage thru their land, these two were excluded from the congregation of Israel to the 10th generation (Deut.23:3).
Edom, considered a brother by Israel (Num.20:14), even though graciously entreated by Moses regarding passage thru their land en route to Canaan, denied them flatly (v.18). Jehovah despite the ingratitude extended grace to that nation at the time. It has since completely disappeared. Their country today is mostly known because of Petra, an amazing stronghold consisting also of many carved tombs. The BBC lists it as one of the 40 wonders one should see before he dies. I will wait til the millennium when it will be safer. It is just the kind of a place that could survive the tribulation.
Jeremiah 50:34 Rest to the Land
As we come down the stretch we can see light at the end of the tunnel, mixing the metaphors. Without a doubt it is relatively a rough journey due to the lack of chronological sequence. When reading thru this book devotionally I think the tendency is to give up on trying to understand the prophet Jeremiah historically and to be satisfied to find a sparkling gem here and there in the otherwise dark maze. With the help of a guide like Jamieson, Fausset and Brown commentary I have sought to keep focused on the history while attempting to apply the sound principles that always abound in every book of holy writ.
For example, though they are by no means new truths to us, nevertheless we rejoice in such principles as we find in today’s text knowing that if God put them there, even though redundant, the reiteration does us no harm and in reality is probably good for us.
In this chapter and the next is recorded the destruction of Babylon which, though Jeremiah, who is yet a captive, is risking his own neck perhaps is saying so, will be carried out. The prophet foresees “how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations.” The doom of the wicked is sure, and it encourages our hearts to know that just as surely so God will deal with the wicked who seem to be prospering today.
Secondly, the words of hope come shining thru. Israel ultimately will be pardoned and her sins “shall not be found” (v.20). This, of course, is an experience that we as believers are very familiar with and we long for it come to God’s chosen people as well.
In verses 35-37 five times “ a sword” flashes to “disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon” as the LORD of hosts, our Redeemer, thoroughly pleads their cause and gives rest to the land. For us it is an old story, but tell it to me often “for I forget so soon; the early dew of morning has passed away at noon.” So goes the hymn of A. Katherine Hankey (1866), Tell Me the Old, Old Story. Only now have I realized how long it has been since I have sung it, for it is missing in our hymnal, Living Hymns, though her hymn I Love to Tell the Story is much like it.
Jeremiah 51:20 Thou Art My Battle Ax
According to the last verse of this lengthy chapter, we have now reached the end of Jeremiah’s work. For us it ends with one more chapter and an historic summation apparently written by another who was anxious, as I am, to have his readers understand the setting of these prophecies. Of course, having two brimfull chapters of the most scathing indignation and absolute condemnation that could ever be pronounced upon a nation seems a fitting conclusion and the rest a bit anticlimactic. One wonders if Jeremiah perhaps had wished for a shady spot on some nearby hill so he could watch, Jonah-like, to see exactly what Jehovah had in store for Babylon. I think he too might have been a bit disappointed if He were to withhold His “battle ax” (vs.20-23).
The amazing thing about all of these judgements upon Babylon which the prophet wrote is the fact that they were given in the fourth year of Zedekiah (v.59). This was six whole years before the capture of Jerusalem. So, though they were placed at the end here, we get a final confirmation as to the way these prophecies were used. So, if Jeremiah were to wait to see with his own eyes the fulfillment of these prophecies he would have been sitting on the hillside for over 75 years!
To Seraiah (pronounced like Isaiah), an apparently docile man, was given the commission, though risky, to cast this book into the Euphrates with a message; “Thus shall Babylon sink and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her” (v.64).
Thus also shall a similar act condemn spiritual Babylon as seen in Revelation 18:21.
Be certain our great Creator God Who made the earth by His power and has established the world by His power and has stretched out the heavens by His understanding, will have the last word (v.15).
Jeremiah 52:27 Carried Away Captive
It is thought that possibly Ezra wrote this last chapter of Jeremiah in which the finality of what has taken place is driven home to the reader. The unthinkable has happened, Judah has been “carried away captive out of his own land.” The pride of the nation was so great that they could not believe that Jehovah would ever let this happen to His dwelling place. This is why they would not listen to the warnings of the prophet, why they treated him as a traitor. Had they not always done as they pleased, worshiping idols, living immoral lives, sacrificing their children to Molech, and they had gotten away with it.
When Nebuchednezzar’s army appeared on their doorstep they shrugged their shoulders and expected that he would be disposed of as easy as Sennacherib. Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, pooh, they are all heathens and though we are bad, certainly we are not as bad as they!
But, “the LORD God of their fathers had sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes and sending; because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place: but they mocked the messengers of God and despised his words, and misused his prophets until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people til there was no remedy” (II Chronicles 36:15&16).
Had not Jeremiah told them that Jehovah had been keeping score for 490 years while Israel had not kept Sabbath? And now the time had come for payback, so for 70 years the land would lay fallow (II Chronicles 36:21).
The unbelievable had occurred. The walls of Jerusalem were demolished. The furniture of the temple had been smashed and carried away as salvage. Kings had been slain, the kings’ men killed, scribes and eunuchs likewise and 4600 captives taken to Babylon. It had all happened as Jeremiah said it would. “Thus Judah was carried away captive out of his own land” (52:27).