Jeremiah 22 and 23, are connected together by similarity of subject. The
temporal and spiritual leaders of the people, who are mainly responsible for
the national catastrophe, receive their merited castigation. Vs. 1-8 of
the next chapter properly belong to ch.22.; thus we get a well-rounded discourse
on the conduct of the kings, with four symmetrical parts or strophes — vs. 1-12,
13-19, 20-30, and ch.23:1-8. Each begins with a general exhortation or meditation,
and continues with a poetical description of the fates, successively, of Jehoahaz,
Jehoiakim, and Jehoiachin. The prophecy is concluded, according to the good old
rule of Isaiah, by a Messianic promise.
1 “Thus saith the LORD; Go down” - Not literally, for the royal palace was
probably the highest building in the city (compare v. 6); but because of the spiritual
eminence of the temple (compare ch.26:10, “They came up from the king’s house
unto the house of the Lord”) - “to the house of the king of Judah, and speak
there this word,”
2 “And say, Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, that sittest
upon the throne of David, thou, and thy servants, and thy people
that enter in by these gates:” “The Septuagint reads, “And thy house and thy
people;” thus the passage will agree with ch.21:11-12.
3 “Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and
deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no
violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent
blood in this place. 4 “For if ye do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in
by the gates of this house kings sitting upon the throne of David, riding in
chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people.” Parallel passage,
5 “But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith the
LORD, that this house shall become a desolation.” I swear by myself.
“Because He could swear by no greater, He swore by Himself” (Hebrews 6:13).
A synonymous expression is, “As I live, saith Jehovah” (v. 24).
Court Preaching (vs. 1-5)
Jeremiah has been preaching in the valley of Hinnom, in the temple courts
and in the streets of Jerusalem; now he is called to enter the king’s palace
with a message from God. The preacher must not wait for his audience to
run after him, but he must create it. He must make his work public, not
hiding it in modesty, but bringing it to bear on the widest possible field. He
must not be content to maintain his unopposed ministry in the Church, but
must boldly carry out his mission in the world. Religion is not a concern for
religious people alone; people who will not come to church may be
supposed to need it more than those who manifest their interest in it by
attendance at regular services. If the court is irreligious there is the more
need for the prophet to go into its midst.
MOST FAITHFUL PREACHING. The Hebrew prophets were
remarkable for their clear and bold utterances before kings — often at the
peril of their lives (e.g. Amos 7:10-13). Christ expects His servants to be
equally faithful and fearless (Acts 9:15). When court preachers descend to
become court flatterers they are doing their utmost to ruin their patrons.
The fastidiousness which makes strong words about unpleasant subjects seem
in “bad form” in fashionable congregations is really a sign of sacrificing
truth and right to mean pleasantness. Kings are men, and have human
failings and sins. Rank confers power for evil as well as for good. The
privileges and talents of a high position involve such great
responsibilities, that the neglect or abuse of them is a crime of first
magnitude in the sight of God. (Yes, Mr. President, you are included!
CY – 2011) To ignore these truths is to act cruelly to the persons whom the
preacher deceives by his smooth words.
TO THE NATION. As men, the king and his courtiers have a right to be
dealt faithfully with by the preacher. But as persons in authority, their
influence makes their condition of importance to all. The people are largely
responsible for the condition of the court, since popular applause and
popular censure always carry great weight there. (Is this how the Supreme
Court has become a Supra-legislature in the last half century? –
remember ch. 5:31 - CY – 2011) Thus Jeremiah associates the people with
the king in the address which is intended chiefly for the king. Even under a
constitutional government such as that of our own country, the court has
immense influence especially in social circles, and it is of vital interest to us
all that THIS INFLUENCE SHOULD BE PURE AND TRUE AND
UPON THE MORAL CHARACTER OF ITS GOVERNMENT.
This great truth is one of the chief lessons to be derived from the Bible accounts
of the history of Israel. We commonly rely too much on physical resources,
wealth, commerce, military power, etc.; on political resources, legislative
schemes, diplomatic complications, etc. We in England (America also –
CY – 2011) have yet to learn how much of our prosperity depends on
honesty in trade, fairness in dealing with foreign nations and a high tone of
political morality. To judge by some of our newspapers, it would seem that
religion has no business with politics; that a county is glorified when her
leaders stoop to underhand work that would disgrace the name of the
most unscrupulous lawyer. The doom of Israel should warn us against
this POLITICAL ATHEISM! Three duties are specially to be noted in
the discourse of Jeremiah.
ü To execute judgment and righteousness; not only to pronounce just
verdicts, but to carry out an active policy of justice.
ü To deliver the oppressed; non-intervention may be cowardly and
selfish when the weak claim our help.
6 “For thus saith the LORD unto the king’s house of Judah;” - rather,
concerning the house of the King of Judah; i.e. the royal palace, which, on
account of its height and its being constructed so largely out of cedar wood (compare
vs. 14, 23), is called “Gilead, and the summit of Lebanon,” just as Solomon’s
palace was called “the house of the forest of Lebanon” (I Kings 7:2).
Of Gilead in general, Canon Tristram writes, “No one can fairly judge of
Israel’s heritage who has not seen the luxuriant exuberance of Gilead, as
well as the hard rocks of Judaea.” And again, “Lovely knolls and dells open
out at every turn, gently rising to the wooded plateau above. Then we rise
to higher ground and ride through noble forests of oak. Then for a mile or
two through luxuriant green corn, or perhaps through a rich forest of
scattered olive trees, left untended and uncared for, with perhaps patches
of corn in the open glades” (‘Bible Places,’ p. 322). The cedars of
Lebanon, however diminished, still bear witness to the ancient fame of this
splendid mountain district. “Thou art Gilead unto me, and the head of
Lebanon: yet surely I will make thee a wilderness, and cities which are
7 “I will prepare” - literally, I will consecrate; the Babylonians being instruments
of the Divine vengeance (see on ch.6:4) - “destroyers against thee, every one
with his weapons: and they shall cut down thy choice cedars, and cast them
into the fire.” 8 And many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall say
every man to his neighbor, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto
this great city? 9 Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the
covenant of the LORD their God, and worshipped other gods, and served
On Visiting the Ruins of a City (vs. 8-9)
What a picture we have here! Many nations passing by on the high-road between
Egypt and the East struck with amazement at the ruins of Jerusalem. Is not the sight
of a city in ruins always a source of pathetic interest? As we wander about the silent
streets of Pompeii the stillness of death is appalling by contrast with the tumult of
pleasure and commerce which formerly thronged those once busy thoroughfares.
(Same for Sodom and Gomorrah – check out arkdiscovery.com on the Internet –
CY – 2011) Such a melancholy spectacle muses thought and inquiry. Gibbon tells us
that it was while seated among the ruins of the Capitol that he first thought of writing
the history of the decline and fall of the city of Rome. The magnificent ruins of Carnac
and of Persepolis naturally lead us to ask how prosperity and power came to pass
away from Persia and Egypt. So must it have been in ancient times with the ruins of
Jerusalem. Jeremiah warns the citizens that their city, now brilliant in splendor and
prosperity, will soon astonish all beholders with its overthrow. We have in the words
of the prophet a question and an answer.
this great city? (v. 8.) It is put by the heathen nations. These
people who cannot understand the religion of Jerusalem can see clearly
enough her ruin. The world has eyes for the shame of the Church in her
overthrow, though none for her highest glory, that of the beauty of
holiness. The question is asked by many nations. The spectacle is open to
all, and so startling that many are arrested by it. How true is this even in
the case of individual men! If a Christian falls into sin and shame the
scandal rings through the world.
ü This question bears witness to the horrible doom of sin. The ruins
are so extensive and so completely wrecked, that all who pass by are
fascinated and appalled by the sight of them. If strangers are so struck,
how must the children of the city feel? Well may they hang their harps
on the willows, and sit them down in despair by the waters of Babylon.
(Psalm 137:1-2) - Yet the temporal ruin of a city is slight compared
with the spiritual ruin of a soul!
ü The question bears witness to the surprise that this calamity excited.
Ø It was in contrast to former prosperity. We are too ready
to see in prosperity the promise of its continuance. But no
delusion can be greater.
Ø It was in opposition to the boasts of the Jews. They had
regarded their city as sacred and invulnerable.
Ø It was in spite of the supposed protection of God. The
Jews were the elect nation. Hence the expectation of their
immunity; but a vain expectation. No Divine favoritism
will save us from the consequences of our sins.
ü The question suggests no possibility of help from the nations. They
may pity, but they can do nothing. The stare of the crowd only
aggravates the calamity. Well may such a prospect strike grief into
the people interested. Jesus said, “He that hath ears to hear,
let him hear.” (Matthew 11:15)
LORD their God, and worshipped other gods, and served them.”
ü The cause of this calamity may be known. Even the heathen nations
may know it. Providence is not so mysterious as we suppose. No
study is more lofty or more useful than the study of the moral
philosophy of history. Treated only on secular grounds, it may be
perplexing and unsatisfactory. But regarded in the light of the
principles of the Bible, it may be fruitful in sound results.
ü The cause is moral. The hosts of Nebuchadrezzar conquered
Jerusalem. Swarms of northern races and Asiatic hordes swept
away the power of imperial Rome. (What is happening to the
United States since we too, have rejected God? - There are
a lot of strange scenarios lurking around – CY – 2011)
Historically, in every case, whether Jerusalem, Rome, or
Washington, moral corruption was behind the physical cause
of ruin, sapping the strength of the doomed city and provoking
the onslaught of its foes.
ü The special cause was unfaithfulness to God:
Ø forsaking God — for God never withdraws His protection
from His people till they have abandoned their fidelity to
Ø breaking the covenant — for this had two sides, and
God’s promised grace is conditioned by the conduct of His
Ø positive idolatry — for the unfaithful servant of God never
rests with the abandonment of his God. He must serve some
master. Such moral and religious corruption justifies
punishment and requires chastisement. We may believe
that a right understanding of the guilt and necessities of men
will ultimately convince us of the righteousness and wisdom
of God’ sterner dealings, which at first naturally excite our
wonder and dismay.
10 “Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him: but weep sore for him
that goeth away: for he shall return no more, nor see his native country.”
There is a fate worse than that of the dead Josiah. Weep not, in comparison, for him,
but weep sore for him that goeth away (or rather, that is gone away). The king
referred to is probably Jehoahaz, who, though two years younger than Jehoiakim
(II Kings 23:31; compare v.36), was preferred to him by the people on the death of
Josiah. The counsel to“weep sore” for this royal exile was carried out, (and we have,
perhaps, a specimen of the popular elegies upon him in Ezekiel 19:1-4): A young lion
of royal strain, caught untimely, and chained and carried away captive, — this
was how the people of Israel conceived of Shallum.. The identification of Shallum with
Jehoahaz is confirmed by I Chronicles 3:15 (Shallum, the youngest son of Josiah); the
name appears to have been changed on his accession to the throne, just as Eliakim was
changed to Jehoiakim (II Chronicles 36:4). There is, therefore, no occasion to suppose
an ironical allusion to the short reign of Jehoahaz, which might be compared to that of
the Israelitish king Shallum (somewhat as Jezebel addresses Jehu as “O Zimri,
murderer of his lord,” II Kings 9:31).
Misspent Tears (v. 10)
religion of the Bible is not stoicism. Christ wept by the grave of Lazarus.
Yet there are times and circumstances which make it fitting not to weep for
the dead, and there are always grounds for the mitigation of such grief.
ü The dead are taken from the evil to come. This is the idea of
Jeremiah. If death was a calamity, the fate of the living at the overthrow
of Jerusalem would have been a worse one. If an evil, death is still the
less of two evils. Even if we only think of the dead as leaving the
sunlight of this upper world and passing to the dim land of shades, still
they go to the place “where the wicked cease from troubling, and
the weary are at rest” (Job 3:17). In less calamitous times we should
feel that, as God knows all, He may have taken our loved ones to save
them from some fearful evil which He alone, saw in their path.
ü The dead are removed according to the will of God. David wept for
his child while it lived; after it was dead he dried his tears, for then he
knew God’s will and resigned himself to it (II Samuel 12:22-23). This
resignation is more than a sensible recognition of the inevitable; it is a
calm and trustful acquiescence in the will of God as righteously
supreme, wise, and good, for if the Lord gave, may He not take
away? (Job 1:21; 13:15)
ü The dead have fallen into the hands of God. In what better hands
can they be? How much better to fall into the hands of God than into
the hands of man! We dare not dogmatize concerning the deep
mysteries of futurity. But one thing we know — “The mercy of
the Lord endureth forever.” He is just, He may seem stern; the
impenitent must suffer punishment, which can be nothing else but
fearful, though fair (Hebrews 10:28-30; 12:29). Yet may not this
be the very best thing for them, even during their sufferings? For
it is better for us to suffer for sin than to sin without suffering!
And who knows what ultimate designs God may have?
ü The dead in Christ never need our tears. We may weep for our
own loss, but this is their gain. Weep that the battle is over and
victory won? Weep that the pilgrimage is finished and the pilgrim
safe at home? Weep that the toil and sorrow, the temptation and sin,
of this world are left behind, and the joys of heaven inherited? that
the night has ended, the shadows flown away? that the light of the
celestial city is beaming on the weary wanderer? Such tears are
tears of unbelief.
causes. Life is a blessing. God gives many joys to His children in this
world. The continuance of life is a privilege carrying with it
the extension of advantages for faithful service. The brave and loyal servant
of God will not selfishly crave a premature release from the duties of his
life. Still there is a pathos about all life. “Our sincerest laughter with some
pain is fraught.” Special circumstances may make it fitting to weep for the
living. There are calamities that are worse than death. Such seem to have
been realized in the horrors of the sieges of Jerusalem. It is worse to live in
sin than to die. The lost and ruined life claims our pity far more than that
which is cut off by an early death. What curse could be greater than that of
the “Wandering Jew?” Matthew Henry says, “Dying saints may be justly
envied, while living sinners are justly pitied. And so dismal perhaps the
prospects of the times may be, that tears even for a Josiah, even for a
Jesus, must be restrained, that they may be reserved for ourselves and our
children (Luke 23:28-31).’ Why should not this situation justify suicide?
ü we are not the masters of our own lives;
ü no man can tell what may follow the gloomiest prospects in the
boundless possibilities of life, even in this world;
ü the man who lays violent hands on himself in rash, cowardly, and
willful rebellion against God, may expect a worse condition in the
future life than that of the man who is called away by Providence,
and possibly far worse than any he is attempting to escape.
(I recommend II Samuel 17 – Notes on Suicide – this web site –
CY – 2011)
11 “For thus saith the LORD touching Shallum the son of Josiah king
of Judah, which reigned instead of Josiah his father, which went forth out of
this place; He shall not return thither any more: 12 But he shall die in the
place whither they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more.”
13 “Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his
chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbor’s service without wages, and
giveth him not for his work;” Shallum, or Jehoahaz, in his short reign of three
months, had no opportunity of distinguishing himself for good or for evil. It was
otherwise with Jehoiakim, whose eleven years were marked by the worst
characteristics of idolatry and despotism. He “had, besides, a passion for
building splendid and costly houses; and as he esteemed his own position
secure under the protection of a superior power, he did not scruple
severely to oppress his helpless subjects, and wring from them as much
money as possible” (Ewald, ‘History of Israel,’ 4:252; see 2 Kings 23:33-35).
The building mania, to which Oriental sovereigns have always been
prone, had seized upon Jehoiakim. The architecture of the original palace
no longer, perhaps, suited the higher degree of civilization; the space was
as confined as that of a Saxon mansion would have appeared to a Norman.
That buildeth his house by unrighteousness; i.e., as the second half verse
explains, by not paying the workmen (compare Habakkuk 2:12).
Dishonest Builders (v. 13)
In no age could these words of Jeremiah be more appropriate than in our
own. Whilst we must be most careful to discriminate and not to vent
wholesale censure, there can be no doubt that the building trade of our day
furnishes numerous instances of an unrighteousness in business transactions
which is a scandal to the commercial character of our nation, and which, if
it becomes general, must be a sure presage of ruin.
ü It is seen in bad work. Attempts are made to palm off wretched
work with external decorations. There is a double crime here —
lying and stealing; the work pretends to be what it is not, and
undue payment is wrung out of the purchaser. Is not this commercial
immorality to be witnessed in many branches of trade? In how many
instances is it impossible to draw the line between the trader and the
swindler? We find people accepting it as a maxim that every advantage
should be taken of the ignorance, weakness, and trustfulness of others.
It is forgotten that work should be done well for its own sake and in
ustice to others. Remember, God judges us more by the character of
our work in the week than by the appearance of our worship on Sunday.
ü This wickedness is seen in the treatment of workmen. Those who
live in rapidly growing neighborhoods know how common it is for poor
tradesmen to be ruined by the speculative builders to whom they have
supplied materials, and for the artisans to have the utmost difficulty in
obtaining their wages. This is especially bad, because it is the oppression
of the poor and the abuse of confidence. We have no right so to
speculate as to risk the property of other people. The cruelties of
slavery which accompanied the gigantic building operations of
antiquity (e.g. in the building of the Pyramids) may be equaled in
wickedness by the crime of those who steal the work of the
poor to increase the chance of their own aggrandizement.
etc.! Undue anxiety to get rich overreaches itself and ends in bankruptcy.
Dishonesty in trade is poison to successful business in the ultimate issue,
for it cuts at the root of the mainspring of all business — trust. The abuse
of confidence must finally destroy confidence. No doubt commercial
depression is largely due to this cause. If the abuse were general, there
could be no commerce in the form that this must assume if it is to be
carried on largely with the complicated civilization of modern life. We may
be assured, too, that God will not overlook this wickedness. Success may
be attained at first. The rich man may have built his palace and may be
enjoying its luxuries. The commercial man may have brought his dishonest
transactions to a successful termination. Yet the fraud and the cruelty are
noted in heaven; and if there is a Judge above, the palace of the great will
be no citadel to protect the guilty man from the thunders of Divine judgment.
14 “That saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and
cutteth him out windows; and it is cieled with cedar, and painted
with vermilion.” A wide house; literally, a house of extensions. Large
chambers. The Hebrew specifies “upper chambers “ — the principal
rooms in ancient houses. Cutteth him out windows; and it is ceiled with
cedar; rather... his windows, roofing it with cedar. Beams of cedar wood
were used for the roof of the palace, as being the most costly and durable
(compare Isaiah 9:10). And painted — rather, and painting it — with
vermilion; a taste derived from the Egyptians rather than the Babylonians,
who seem to have had a difficulty in procuring red.
15 “Shalt thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar? Shalt thou reign —
rather, dost thou reign; i.e. dost thou prove thy royal qualities) — because thou
closest thyself in cedar? (trying to compete with Ahaz and Ahab?) The latter king
is celebrated in the Old Testament on account of his buildings, especially his ivory
palace (I Kings 22:39). The former was at any rate addicted to the imitation of
foreign ways (II Kings 16:11; 20:11) - “did not thy father eat and drink, and
do judgment and justice, and then it was well with him?” There was no call
upon Jehoiakim to live the life of a Nazarite. “Eating and drinking,” i.e. enjoying the
good things within his reach, was perfectly admissible (Ecclesiastes 2:24); indeed,
the Old Testament view of life is remarkable for its healthy naturalness. There was,
however, one peremptory condition, itself as much in accordance with
nature as with the Law of God, that the rights of other men should be
studiously regarded. Josiah “ate and drank,” but he also “did judgment and
justice,” and so “it was well with him.”
16 “He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him:
was not this to know me? saith the LORD. 17 But thine eyes and thine heart
are not but for thy covetousness, and for to shed innocent blood, and for
oppression, and for violence, to do it.” But thou, O Jehoiakim, art the opposite
of thy father. For (not, But) thine eyes and thine heart are not but for thy
covetousness. “Covetousness” includes the ideas of injustice and violence
(compare ch. 6:13; 8:10); hence the second half of the verse emphasizes the
cruel tyranny which marked the internal policy of Jehoiakim.
18 “Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of
Josiah king of Judah; They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my
brother! or, Ah sister! they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah
Lord! or, Ah his glory!” Josiah had been bitterly missed and universally lamented
(II Chronicles 35:25); and so, only perhaps with less heartiness in most cases,
Jehoiakim’s other predecessors (ch. 34:5). The Babylonian kings, too, received the
honors of public mourning, e.g. even the last of his race, who surrendered to Cyrus,
according to the British Museum inscription translated by Mr. Pinches. Ah my
brother! or, Ah sister! The Septuagint omits the latter part of this phrase, apparently
because it seemed inappropriate to the death of Jehoiakim; but the parallelism requires
a two-membered clause. According to Movers, the funeral procession is to be
conceived of as formed of two parts, condoling with each other on having
to share the same fate (‘Die Phonizier,’ 2. 248). Or perhaps mythology
may supply a reason; it is possible that the formulae of public mourning
were derived from the ceremonies of the Adonia; Adonis was an
androgynous deity (Lenormant, ‘Lettres assyriologiques,’ 2:209), and
might be lamented by his devotees as at once “brother” and “sister.” (For
another view, see Sayco’s edition of G. Smith’s ‘Chaldean Genesis,’ p.
267). Ezekiel (Ezekiel 8:13) testifies to the worship of Tammuz, or
Adonis, and the highest compliment a king could receive might be to be
lamented in the same terms as the sun-god. Jeremiah does not approve this;
he merely describes the popular custom. The recognition of the deeply
rooted heathenism of the Jews before the Exile involves no disparagement
to Old Testament religion; rather it increases the cogency of the argument
for its supernatural origin. For how great was the contrast between
Jeremiah and his semi-heathen countrymen! And yet Jeremiah’s religion is
the seed of the faith which overcame the world. Ah lord! or, Ah his
glory! Lord is in the Hebrew adon (compare Adonis and see above). His
glory is against the parallelism; we should expect “lady” or “queen.”
19 “He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth
beyond the gates of Jerusalem.” Jehoiakim’s miserable death, without even
the honor of burial. The prediction is repeated in ch.36:30, where the statement is
made in plain language. At first sight it appears to conflict with II Kings 24:6, “So
Jehoiakim slept with his fathers: and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead;”
but it is only appearance, and when we remember that the complete formula for
describing the natural death of a king of Judah is,“slept with his fathers, and was
buried with his fathers in the city of David” (I Kings 14:31; 15:24; 22:50;
II Kings 8:24; 15:7, 38; 16:20), and that the phrase, “slept with his fathers,” is
used of Ahab, who fell on the field of battle (I Kings 22:40), we are naturally led to
the conjecture that Jehoiakim did not die a natural death, but fell in battle in some
sally made by the besieged. Buried with the burial of an ass; i.e. cast out
unburied. Beyond the gates; rather, far from the gates.
20 “Go up to Lebanon, and cry; and lift up thy voice in Bashan, and cry
from the passages: for all thy lovers are destroyed.” A new strophe begins here,
relative to Jehoiachin, the son and successor of Jehoiakim. Go up to Lebanon, and cry.
The people of Judah is addressed, personified as a woman (compare ch.7:29). The
penetrating character of the long-toned cry of an Arab is suggested. In Isaiah 40:9 a
similar command is given to Zion; but in what different circumstances! From the
passages; rather, from Abarim. The range of Abarim — Nebo, from which Moses
surveyed the land of Israel, belonged to it (Deuteronomy 32:49) — completes the
circle of mountain stations; Lebanon was in the north, Bashan in the northeast,
Abarim in the southeast. All thy lovers; viz. the nations whom self-interest
had combined against Nebuchadrezzar, and between whom and Judah
negotiations had from time to time been entered into (ch.2:36; 27:3). “Lovers”
(compare ch.4:30; Ezekiel 16:33, 37).
21 “I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear.
This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not
my voice.” From thy youth; i.e. from the time that thou didst become a
nation (compare ch. 2:2; Hosea 2:15). It is the Exodus which is referred to.
The Voice of God Disregarded in Prosperity (v. 21)
ü There are important words which need to be spoken to us at such
a time. We can never have all the wants of our souls supplied by
the richest abundance of material good things, (God has made us
that way - Ecclesiastes 3:11 – CY – 2011) and we need heavenly
words for our soul’s sustenance then as much as in the conscious
helplessness of trouble. We have special duties belonging to the
time of prosperity. Prosperity brings talents, opens up opportunities
for enlarged service, calls for renewed devotion of love and gratitude.
There are also peculiar dangers attending prosperity, and it is
well that we should hear a Divine voice warn us against them, and
heed a Divine counsel which will direct us how to conquer them.
ü There are means by which God speaks to us in prosperity. He is
ever speaking to us, even when we do not hear His voice — by the
Bible we should be reading, by the ordinances of the Church and
the institution of preaching, by the course of providence, by the life
of nature, by the still small voice of conscience, BUT ESPECIALLY
THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT who is to guide us unto ALL
TRUTH! (16:13) - But there are special voices of prosperity.
Prosperity speaks to us of the goodness of God exercised towards us
in spite of our ill-desert and in a degree beyond all reckoning.
OF GOD IN PROSPERITY. God does not thrust His messages
upon unwilling ears. We may refuse to hear. Yet He speaks so that we may
always hear, so that if we do not heed His voice it must be because we will
not hearken to it.
ü Prosperity may disincline us to do this because it seems to satisfy us
without God. Really satisfy us it cannot. But temporarily it acts as
an opiate, and when we do not feel the need of God we are tempted
selfishly to disregard His voice.
ü Then prosperity is distracting. Sorrow is lonely and silent, and leaves
us in the dark night to listen to heaven? voices and gaze on the wonders
of the world above. The garish day of prosperity, with its noisy and
dazzling distractions, withdraws our attention from such things.
ü Further, prosperity begets pride. It leads us to think much of self, to
yield to self-will, and to rebel against the requirement to act as God’s
servants and stoop beneath the yoke of His will. Hence it inclines us to
a rebellious disregard for his voice.
ü If men have been hardened against God from their youth, it is not
likely that they will heed His voice in the time of prosperity. The longer
we neglect this voice the more deaf do we become to it. It is terrible to
think of the folly and wickedness of persistent disregard to God’s truth
while He is patient and long-suffering and persevering in seeking access
to our hearts: (It is very simple: Jesus’ invitation is: “Behold, I stand
at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the
door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him and he with
me.” [Revelation 3:20] – CY – 2011) Some great shock seems to
be required to disturb this habit of hardened indifference. An
earthquake of adversity may be required to break up such fallow
ground. If trouble comes with this end it is a great blessing. The
adversity of the Captivity was such a blessing to the Jews; it led them
to regard the voice that was unheeded in their prosperity. So our
sorrows are often blessings if they make us to hear the voice of
our Father in heaven.
22 “The wind shall eat up all thy pastors, and thy lovers shall go into
captivity: surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all
thy wickedness.” Shall eat up all thy pastors. The verb is that connected with
the participle rendered “pastors;” strictly, therefore, shall pasture upon all
thy pastors. The wind referred to is doubtless the parching east wind, the
symbol of calamity, which is actually called a “sharp” wind in ch.4:11.
23 “O inhabitant of Lebanon, that makest thy nest in the cedars, how
gracious shalt thou be when pangs come upon thee, the pain as of a
woman in travail!” O inhabitant — rather, O inhabitress — of Lebanon. It is
the people of Jerusalem which is meant; the “Lebanon” are the palaces of
cedar-wood which together are called “the house of the King of Judah” (v. 6).
How gracious shalt thou be; rather, How wilt thou sigh!
24 “As I live, saith the LORD, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of
Judah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence;”
Coniah. A shorter form of Jeconiah, found again in ch.37:1. Perhaps
this was the name this king bore prior to his accession, after which it was certainly
Jehoiachin; Jeremiah has already spoken of one king by his earlier name in v. 11.
The Divine speaker solemnly announces that though, as the representative of Israel’s
invisible King, Coniah were — or rather, be — the signet upon His right hand
(a most valued jewel), yet would — or rather, will — He pluck him thence; i.e.
depose him from his high dignity. The same figure is used in Haggai 2:23,
“I will take thee, O Zerubbabel, and make thee as a signet;” and Ezekiel 28:12,
where there is a well attested reading, “Thou (O King of Type) art a deftly made
signet-ring.” (For the fulfillment of the prediction in this verse, see ch.24:1; 29:2;
II Kings 24:12, 15.) 25 “And I will give thee into the hand of them that seek
thy life, and into the hand of them whose face thou fearest, even into the hand
of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans.”
26 And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that bare thee, into another
country, where ye were not born; and there shall ye die.” Cast thee out.
The Hebrew is stronger — “hurl thee” (compare Isaiah 22:17, Hebrew).
And thy mother; i.e. the queen-mother Nehushta (compare ch.29:2; II Kings 24:8).
She seems to have been particularly influential (see introduction to Jeremiah 13.)
27 “But to the land whereunto they desire to return, thither shall they
not return.” 28 “Is this man Coniah” – The prophet’s human feelings are
stirred; he cannot withhold his sympathy from the sad fate of his king. What! he
exclaims; is it possible that this Coniah is treated as a piece of ill-wrought pottery
ware (compare ch.18:4), and “hurled” into a strange land? - “a despised broken
idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he
and his seed and are cast into a land which they know not?” He and his seed.
These words have caused some difficulty, owing to the youth, of Jehoiachin. According
to II Kings 24:8 he was only eighteen when he was carried captive, while II Chronicles
36:9 makes him still younger, only eight (Josiah’s age on his accession). Hitzig
thinks the latter number is to be preferred; his chief reasons are the
prominence given to the queen-mother, and the fact that the length of
Jehoiachin’s reign is given with more precise accuracy in II Chronicles than
in II Kings. It is true that the king’s wives are mentioned in II Kings 24:15. But that
he had wives may, according to Hitzig, have been inferred by the late compiler of
Kings from the passage before us; or the “wives” may have been those of
Jehoiachin’s predecessor (compare II Samuel 16:21)..
29 “O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD.” The repetition is
for solemnity’s sake (compare ch.7:4).
30 “Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall
not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the
throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.” Write ye this man childless;
i.e. enter him in the register of the citizens (compare Isaiah 4:3) as one who has no heirs.
He may have children, but none of them shall succeed to his place in the community.
This is all that the passage means; there is no discrepancy with history: how
should there be, when Jeremiah himself has mentioned the posterity of
Jehoiachin (v. 28 and the latter part of this verse)?
"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.
Materials are reproduced by permission."
This material can be found at:
If this exposition is helpful, please share with others.
HOMILIES BY A.F. MUIR
Vers. 1-23. —
Truth-speaking under difficulties.
The prophet is commanded to go down to the king’s palace and deliver his
prophecies in the royal audience. His mission did not admit of time-serving