Jeremiah 16

 

With this chapter should be taken the first eighteen verses of Jeremiah 17.

The heading of the Authorized Version well expresses the contents of

vs. 1-9, provided that “the types” are understood to be typical actions of

the prophet himself. The prophet, under the types of abstaining from

marriage, from houses of mourning and feasting, foreshadows the utter ruin

of the Jews.  To the inquiry, why these calamities should come upon them,

the old and well-known answer is to be given (vs. 10-12), accompanied

by a definite prediction of captivity (v. 13). Then, to relieve the picture,

a glimpse of a happier future is introduced (vs. 14-15); but only a

glimpse, for already the Chaldeans, like so many fishermen and hunters, are

on the track of the Jews, for a “double” retribution must precede the

Messianic promise (vs. 16-18). Strange contrast — the heathen coming

to the truth and the Jews (those of the present, not of the future time)

deserting it  (vs. 19-21)! We will take up the thread of thought again at

the opening of the next chapter. — The date of this prophecy would

appear to be nearly the same as that of the preceding one, the circumstances

of which are similar. The latter part of it will enable us to fix it more

precisely (see on Jeremiah 17:1-18).

 

1  “The word of the LORD came also unto me, saying,”  2  “Thou shalt not

take thee a wife,” -  So Paul, “I think therefore that this is good by reason of

the present distress, namely, that it is good for a man to be as he is (I Corinthians

7:26, Revised Version); and Hosea has already drawn an awful picture of “Ephraim

bringing forth his children to the murderer” (Hosea 9:11-12). In ordinary times it was

a kind of unwritten law among the Israelites to marry and beget children. Most of the

prophets (e.g. Isaiah) appear to have been married - “neither shalt thou have sons

or daughters in this place.” - i.e. in the land of Judah. A Jeremianic phrase

(compare ch.7:3).

 

  • CELIBACY IS NOT A SCRIPTURAL VIRTUE. Marriage is a Divine

            institution. It is natural, and God is the Author of nature; it is recognized

            and regulated by inspired teaching and blessed by Christ; it is a means of

            human welfare.  (In fact, the marriage institution is symbolical of Christ

            and His Church – CY - 2011)

 

  • CELIBACY MAY BE WISELY OBSERVED IN CIRCUMSTANCES OF

      PECULIAR TROUBLE. Such were the circumstances of Judah in the days

      of Jeremiah; such, in the opinion of  Paul, were the circumstances of his own

      time (I Corinthians 7:26).  Those were not times for wedding festivities; the

      married would be encumbered and hindered from doing their best for the

      public weal, and children born then would be born only to a heritage of misery.

      (At the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, 70 A.D. was such a time – [see

      Luke 21:23; 23:28-31] - Similar circumstances may recur, especially

      during the Great Tribulation and at the end of time – CY – 2011)

 

3  “For thus saith the LORD concerning the sons and concerning the

daughters that are born in this place, and concerning their mothers

that bare them, and concerning their fathers that begat them in this

land;  4  “They shall die of grievous deaths;” - literally, deaths of

 sicknesses; i.e. all kinds of painful deaths, including (as ch.14:18 shows) death

by starvation - “they shall not be lamented;” - The absence of sepulture has

already been pointed to several times as a feature of the horror of the times

(ch. 8:2; 14:16; compare ch.7:33-34), but this is a new and affecting touch.

We refer to the plagues of Athens and London, in which the gentler elements

of human nature were for the time almost extinguished - “neither shall they

be buried; but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth: and

they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine; and their carcasses

shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.”

 

5   “For thus saith the LORD, Enter not into the house of mourning,

neither go to lament nor bemoan them: for I have taken away my

peace from this people, saith the LORD, even loving-kindness and

mercies.”  Compare this prohibition with that given to Ezekiel (Ezekiel

24:15-27), The house of mourning; literally, of. screaming (an uncommon

word, only occurring again — of banqueters — in Amos 6:7). It is, no doubt,

the wail of mourning relatives which is meant.

 

6   “Both the great and the small shall die in this land: they shall not be

buried, neither shall men lament for them, nor cut themselves, nor make

themselves bald for them:” Both practices are forbidden in the Law

(Deuteronomy 14:1; Leviticus 19:28; 21:5), but the prohibition was at any rate

unknown to the masses (see, for the former, ch. 41:5; 47:5; and for the latter,

ch. 47:5; Isaiah 22:12, “The Lord Jehovah called… to baldness;” Amos 8:10;

Micah 1:16; Ezekiel 7:18).

 

7   “Neither shall men tear themselves” - The verb is used in Isaiah 58:7

of breaking bread (the accusative is there expressed), and there is no doubt

that this is the meaning here. The only question is whether lahem, for them,

should not rather be lekhem, bread (this was read by the Septuagint,

Peshito, Vulgate, Targnm). Jerome sees here an allusion to the funeral

feasts (comp. the parentalia), and surely he is right. The Jews had a

conception of the nature of the life of the other world only less distinct

than that of their Egyptian neighbors. The funeral feast was not merely for

the living, but for the dead. Indeed, it was primarily intended for the

spiritual nourishmerit of those who had gone before to the unseen world

(comp. Bonwick, ‘Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought,’ p. 48). Chardin,

the old traveler, asserts that “the Oriental Christians still make banquets of

this kind by a custom derived from the Jews.” - “for them in mourning, to

comfort them for the dead; neither shall men give them the cup of

consolation to drink for their father or for their mother.” The cup of

consolation. It would seem as if the funeral feasts had dwindled among the

Jews into little more than a refection for the benefit of the mourners.

 

8  “Thou shalt not also go into the house of feasting, to sit with them to eat

and to drink.”  9  “For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel;

Behold, I will cause to cease out of this place in your eyes, and in your

days, the voice of mirth,” -  “and the voice of gladness, the voice of the

bridegroom, and the voice of the bride.” (Compare ch.7::34.

 

10  “And it shall come to pass, when thou shalt shew this people all these

words, and they shall say unto thee, Wherefore hath the LORD pronounced

all this great evil against us? or what is our iniquity? or what is our sin that

we have committed against the LORD our God?  11“Then shalt thou say unto

them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the LORD, and have

walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshipped them,

and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law;

 

12  “And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every

one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto

me:” – Once again, for imagination; rather, stubbornness (ch. 3:17).

 

  • EACH GENERATION SHOULD BE BETTER THAN THAT

      WHICH PRECEDES IT. The natural movement of all mankind should

       be onward and upward. We have the lessons of past history to warn and to

      inspire us; the continued, increasing, long-suffering mercy of God to urge us to

      serve Him more faithfully; and the growing light of slowly accumulating

            knowledge to guide us into better paths. Later generations have more aids

            of Divine revelation than were vouchsafed to the earlier. The Jews under

            the prophets had more light, more Divine inducements to fidelity, than the

            Jews under Moses; and Christians have a much clearer light and much

            more powerful motives in the revelations of God’s will and of God’s love

            in Christ. (Especially, in this Information Age with all the technology

            available, certainly mankind has every advantage to “know the Lord”

            as He has revealed Himself!  CY – 2011)  To go back when we ought to

            go forward is doubly inexcusable. Christians are bad indeed if they fall

             lower than the men of Old Testament ages, and Protestants of modern

            times if they do not live up to the attainments of the Mediaeval Church.

            (They were just getting the printing press, much less having access to i-phones

            and the internet – CY – 2011)

 

  • EVIL INCLINES TO GROW WORSE FROM GENERATION TO

            GENERATION. Men ought to improve; but if they begin a course of evil

            they deteriorate in it. Nothing in the world is stationary. Nations are either

            progressing or retrograding. Each generation is either better or worse than

            its predecessor. Evil has a contagious property, and if it is unchecked it is

            certain to spread like an epidemic. It is a leaven that, left to itself, will

            surely leaven the whole mass. We should, therefore, seek to stamp out a

            sin in its earlier stages. We must not trust to any necessary law of progress,

            any idea of the inherent goodness of human nature, (only JESUS CHRIST

            and HIS BLOOD ON THE CROSS can effectively deal with evil – CY –

            2011), any thought of the temporary character of evil, but seek at once to

            resist and overthrow the sin. Here is a warning to parents. Evil tendencies

            are hereditary. The vice, which seems to do little harm in our own day,

             taking root and spreading, will break out into worse fruits in our children’s

            time. (Compare American culture in the 1950’s with the 21st century

            Americana – CY  - 2011)  How sad to leave only a bad example for

            our children to be referred to!

 

  • IF EVIL IS TO BE CONQUERED IT MUST BE BY SOME

            SUPERHUMAN METHOD  (Like the pact of God and Christ

            before the creation of the world – that is when Christ stood as a

            “Lamb Slain” – Revelation 13:8 - CY – 2011) - The natural laws of

            progress fail here.  Depravity unchecked grows more depraved.

            Innumerable practical reforms, new systems of morality, draconian codes,

            etc., have been tried, and all in vain. Josiah made the experiment with his

            violent reformation, but it failed of anything but superficial good. Some

            are now trusting to sanitary improvements, to industrial progress, to

            popular education; but these too will not touch the root of the sore.

            (“From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no

            soundness in it; but wounds and bruises, and putrifying sores” -

            Isaiah 1:6) - The history of sin furnishes the greatest proof of the

            need of a Divine redemption if the world is ever to be saved. For this

            CHRIST CAME, LIVED, BLED AND DIED and now the highest

            progress of the world is to be traced to that new influence of life which He

            introduced to turn the current of history from deepening depravity to growing

            truth and righteousness.

 

13   “Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know

not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods

day and night; where I will not shew you favor.”  A grim irony. In the foreign

land ye shall serve your idols to your hearts’ content, day and night if ye will,

“because, [not, where] I will not have mercy upon you” (by delivering you, and

so calling you from your idols).

 

14  “Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no

more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out

of the land of Egypt;”  15  “But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children

of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither He had

driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto

their fathers.”  The text of these verses occurs in a more characteristic form and in

a bettor connection in ch. 23:7-8. The connection here would be improved by

inserting the passage before v. 18; and as displacements are not unfamiliar

phenomena in manuscripts, this would not be a violent act. The difficulty is not in the

therefore introducing the promise, which frequently occurs in prophecies immediately

after threatenings (e.g. Isaiah 10:23-24), as if to say, “Things being in such a

miserable plight, your God will interpose to help you;” but in the position

of v. 18. How can the prophet say, “And first I will recompense their iniquity double,”

when vs. 16-17 contain a description of this very double recompense?

 

  • GRATITUDE TO GOD FOR HIS MANIFOLD BLESSINGS. 

            Inasmuch as the longer we live the more we have to be thankful for, so

            also the more deeply should our hearts be stirred with gratitude.

 

  • THE LATEST BLESSINGS ARE ALSO THE GREATEST. The

            restoration is referred to as containing grander blessings than those of the

            Exodus. Gratitude should be proportionate to favors. This is often not the

            case, because the best things, often, are least appreciated. Their merits

            are not superficial nor discernible at first. The spiritual blessings are the

             highest;  yet to unspiritual men they are the least valued. (I Corinthians

            2:14) - Thus the chief elements of the Messianic promises of restoration were

            spiritual, and therefore not so acceptable to the mass of the people as the

            material blessings promised to the Jews in the first possession of the “land

            flowing with milk and honey.”  We are too ready to complain of the present

            and regret the lost past, ungratefully selecting the troubles of our own time for

            notice and ignoring its bright features, while we forget the hardships of the past

            and remember only its last pleasant features, like the Jews, who forgot the rigors

            of the slavery from which they had escaped, but remembered with regret the

            flesh-pots of Egypt (Exodus 16:3). The Bible favors no sentimental regrets for

            “the good old times;” it teaches us that God’s goodness is increasingly

            manifest. The latter times are better than the former, the Gospel age than the

            Old Testament era, the later years of Christendom than the earlier. The best

            is not yet revealed. The songs of the future should be sweeter than those of

            the past, since God has greater mercies in store for us than any we have yet

            enjoyed. Already God has favored us more highly than our fathers. We need

            not search the musty annals of antiquity for proofs of the goodness of

             God. This is a present goodness, and the richest fruits of it are the

            latest.  OUR GREATEST REASON FOR PRAISE IS IN GOD’S

            LATEST MERCY OF REDEMPTION, RESTORING US AFTER

            OUR FALLS INTO SIN!

 

16  “Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they

shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they

shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out

of the holes of the rocks.” By a divinely given impulse, their attackers shall

“fish” and “hunt” the unhappy fugitives from their lurking-places. There may,

perhaps, be an allusion to the cruel ancient practice of “sweeping the country

with a drag-net” (Herod, 3:149), and then destroying the male population: Samos,

e.g. was thus “netted” and depopulated by the Persians. Habakkuk may also refer to

this when he says (1:15), “They catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag.”

 

  • HUNTERS AND FISHERS AND THE CHASE. The guilty will be

      sought after for punishment. If they do not seek God in penitence He will seek

      them in judgment. However far we may flee from obedience we cannot flee

      from responsibility. Jonah fled “from the presence of the Lord “(Jonah 1:3),

      but he was overtaken by a Divine judgment. (You should have seen Jonah

      after the whale’s gastric juices got through with him – CY – 2011) If God s

      present long-suffering makes Him appear indifferent, the day will come when

      His wrath will be swift, searching, and far-reaching. (“But the day of

      the Lord will come” - II Peter 3:10) - Then none of the impenitent can escape.

      None can hide from the approaching doom; hunters “shall hunt them from

       every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.”

      (Compare Revelation 6:12-17)  It will be useless then to “call on the hills

      to cover us,” - None will be overlooked. Fishers will come with their drag-net,

      gathering all classes as fish of all kinds and of all sizes are collected in the sea.

      (see Matthew 13:47-50)  Rank counts for nothing when kings are

            hunted like foxes; intellectual ingenuity can then find no covert of sophistry

            beneath which to elude the keen scent of the bloodhounds of justice;

            exceptional originality can secure no position beyond the reach of the

            broad sweeping net of a general judgment.

 

17  “For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face,

neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes.”

 

  • A FATAL RESULT TO THE CHASE. GOD UNDERTAKES THE

      DIRECTION OF IT - (v. 17). He knows all; He is ever watching every

      one of His children, (“His eyes behold, His eyelids try the children

      of men” (Psalm 11:4)  - “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous,

      and His ears are open unto their cry.  The face of the Lord is against

      them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.”

      (Psalm 34:15-16) - for their joy if they are obedient and submissive, for

      their shame if they are rebellious and impenitent.

 

ü      God’s eyes are upon their ways. He does not depend upon hearsay

                        evidence, nor upon the testimony of His emissaries. Hence

 

Ø      none can elude His searching gaze, and

 

Ø      we shall not be convicted on false evidence.

 

ü      God’s eyes are upon their ways. He notes conduct, action, behavior.

 

ü      God’s eyes are upon all their ways. The most secret do not escape His

                        notice. Little faults are observed; hidden sins are known; all is fairly

                        weighed and compared. God does not select conduct for judgment; He

                        observes both the good and the bad, and judges of the whole.

 

ü      Iniquity is not hidden. God looks beneath the ways to the iniquities

      which prompt them; He reads the heart, and judges of conduct by motive.

      Who can escape such a searching ordeal?  (“Neither is there any

      creature that is not manifest in His sight:  but all things are

      naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to

      do.” – Hebrews 4:13)

 

18   “And first” - i.e. before “I bring them back again into their land “I will

recompense their iniquity and their sin double;” - i.e. amply, in full measure

(compare ch.17:18; Isaiah 40:2; Revelation 18:6).  “because they have defiled

my land, they have filled mine inheritance with  the carcasses of their

detestable and abominable things.”” The idols, which “defile the consciences”

of those who worship them, are compared to the most unclean and loathsome

objects.

 

  • THE FATAL END TO THE CHASE -  The longer we treasure up wrath

      for the day of wrath the greater must be the weight of it that will ultimately

      burst on our heads.  This was:

 

ü      Great Moral and Religious Corruption;

 

ü      It was practiced in “the holy land “ — in God’s inheritance, and

      therefore a sacrilegious defilement of Divine things; and

 

ü      An Abuse of God’s Blessings in the land God had given the people.

      The sin of those who enjoy Divine privileges and hold positions in the

      Church by means of which they can glorify or dishonor the Name of

      God is, on these accounts, especially culpable.

 

19   “O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day

of affliction,” –  Jeremiah falls into the tone of the psalmists (Psalm 18:2; 28:8;

59:17). All that is choicest and most permanent in Old Testament religion finds its

adequate lyric expression in the Book of Psalms – (Even in the 21st century,

modern man may find great help from the Psalms as they are directed to our

spirit which need never changes – CY – 2011) “the Gentiles shall come

unto thee” - The article, however, is not expressed. “Nations.” i.e. a crowd of

peoples, hitherto ignorant of the true God, shall hasten to the scene of Jehovah’s

great interposition; they have been convinced by Israel’s unlooked-for

restoration of the unique divinity of Jehovah -  “from the ends of the

earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity,

and things wherein there is no profit.”

 

20   But the Jews of this generation, in spite of the manifold proofs of the true

religion which have been vouchsafed to them, are deserting the real divinity

for the unreal. In a tone of surprise the prophet exclaims, “Shall a man make

gods unto himself, and they are no gods?”

 

21   “Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause

them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is

The LORD.”  The final answer of Jehovah. There will be no further grace time.

(Compare “And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth

lifted up his hand to heaven, And sware by Him that liveth for ever and ever,

who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the

things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that

THERE SHOULD BE TIME NO LONGER:”  (Revelation 10:5-6 – CY - 2011)

- I will this  once cause them to know; rather, I will this time (compare ch. 10:18)

cause them to acknowledge. The judgment which Jeremiah has had the sad duty of

announcing will prove to the blinded Jews that Jehovah alone is true God, alone can

strike and heal.  (I highly recommend for individual warning and edification a study

of  Ezekiel – Study of God’s Use of the Word Know – this web site – CY – 2011)

 

  • GOD IS REVEALED IN JUDGMENT. Blessings reveal God’s love;

            judgments, his righteous power. They who ignore the perennial tokens of

            God’s loving-kindness may be roused by startling manifestations of his

            justice. The judgments which fall on the professed people of God are the

            most striking proofs of His unflinching and impartial justice.  “For the

            time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God:  and if

            it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the

            gospel of God?  And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall

            the ungodly and the sinner  appear?” (I Peter 4:17-18)

 

  • THE HEATHEN MAY LEARN THE LESSONS WHICH ARE

            LOST TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD. The heathen seem to be here

            described as returning to God before the Jews. Nothing is so blinding as sin

            against light. The publican repents before the Pharisee. Worldly men are

            more ready to receive religious impressions than people who were once

            religious and have fallen away.  (We are Gentiles who have been grafted

            into the Kingdom of God!  Paul teaches that there will be a Great Apostasy,

            a falling away, in the end times - see Romans 11:11-36; II Thessalonians

            2:3 - Let us who think  we stand, take heed, lest we fall!  I Corinthians

            10:12 – CY – 2011)

           

  • THE REVELATION OF GOD VOUCHSAFED TO THE

            SPIRITUAL-MINDED IS HIGHER THAN THE REVELATION

            MADE TO THE HEATHEN IN JUDGMENT. The latter is grand

            and striking, but it does not open up the choicer stores of the knowledge of

            God.  Jeremiah prizes these. To him God is a Strength, Fortress,

             and Refuge.  God is not a mere Judge. He is a gracious Father,

            and this is His chief character. He is a strengthactively saving and

            inspiring energy; a Fortress protecting us when attacked in the

            hard battles of life; and a Refuge in the day of affliction, affording

            solace to His sorrowing children.  (So should we praise these attributes

            of our Heavenly Father – CY – 2011)  God’s people enjoy personal

            relations with Him very different from those of men who simply recognize

            the terrible presence of God in judgment. Thus Jeremiah says,

            “My Strength,” and WE CAN TOO! 

 

God is a personal God.  Jesus said, “If a man love me, he will keep my

words:  and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make

our abode with him.”  God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit have the desire and

the ability to live in you and me and all the people in the world simultaneously!

It was to this end we were created!  I pray that we “MISS NOT THE BOAT!”

May we never be in the predicament that Jesus mentioned, “There shall

be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac,

and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and YOU YOUR-

SELVES THRUST OUT!”  (Luke 13:28) – CY – 2011

 

 

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