Jeremiah 6

 

 

Chapter 6 is a prophecy, in five stanzas or strophes, vividly describing the

Judgment and its causes, and enforcing the necessity of repentance.

 

  • Arrival of a hostile army from the north, and summons to

flee from the doomed city.  (vs. 1-8)

 

  • It is an all but complete Judgment, which Jehovah foreshows.

Unwilling as the people are to hear it, the disclosure must be

made.  (vs. 9-15)

 

  • Without hearty repentance, there is no hope of escape.

But hitherto Judah has rejected all admonitions.  What availeth

mere ceremonial punctuality?  (vs. 16-21)

 

  • The enemy described; the terror consequent on his arrival;

a rumored declaration of the moral cause of the judgment.

 

 

Arrival of a Hostile Army from the North, and Summons to Flee from

The Doomed City (vs. 1-8)

 

 

1  O ye children of Benjamin,” - The political rank of Jerusalem, as

 the capital of the kingdom of Judah, makes it difficult to realize that

Jerusalem was not locally a city of Judah at all. It belonged, strictly

speaking, to the tribe of Benjamin, a tribe whose insignificance, in

comparison with Judah, seems to have led to the adoption of a form of

expression not literally accurate (see Psalm 78:68). The true state of

the case is evident from an examination of the two parallel passages,

Joshua 15:7-8, and 18:16-17. The boundary between Judah and Benjamin

ran at the foot of the hill on which the city stands, so that the city itself

was actually in Benjamin, while, by crossing the narrow ravine of Hinnom,

you set foot on the territory of Judah” (Smith’s ‘Dictionary of the Bible,’

1:983). It is merely a specimen of the unnatural method of early harmonists

when Jewish writers tell us that the altars and the sanctuary were in Benjamin,

and the courts of the temple in Judah. The words of “the blessing of Moses”

are clear (Deuteronomy 33:12): “The beloved of the Lord! he shall dwell in

safety by him, sheltering him continually, and between his shoulders he

dwelleth;” i.e. Benjamin is specially protected, the sanctuary being on

Benjamite soil. And yet these highly favored “children of Benjamin” are

divinely warned to flee from their sacred homes (see ch. 7:4-7).

gather yourselves to flee out of the midst of Jerusalem,” - more strictly,

save your goods by flight. In ch. 4:6 the same advice was given to the

inhabitants of the country districts. There, Jerusalem was represented as the

only safe refuge; here, the capital being no longer tenable, the wild pasture

land to the south (the foe being expected from the north) becomes the goal

of the fugitives of Jerusalem“and blow the trumpet in Tokoa,” -  Tokoa

was a town in the wild hill-county to the south of Judah, the birthplace of

the prophet Amos. It is partly mentioned because its name seems to connect

it with the verb rendered blow the trumpet. Such paronomasiae are favorite

oratorical instruments of the prophets, and especially in connections like the

present (compare Isaiah 10:30; Micah 1:10-15) -   “and set up a sign of fire

in Beth-hakkerem:” - rather, a signal on Beth-hakkerem. The rendering of

Authorized Version was suggested by Judges 20:38, 40; but there is nothing

in the present context (as there is in that passage) to favor the view that a

fiery beacon is intended. Beth-hakkerem lay, according to St. Jerome, on an

eminence between Jerusalem and Tekoa; i.e. probably the hill known as the

Frank Mountain, the Arabic name of which (Djebel el-Furaidis, Little Paradise

Mountain) is a not unsuitable equivalent for the Hebrew (Vineyard-house).

The “district of Beth-hakkerem” is mentioned in Nehemiah 3:14. The

choice of the locality for the signal was a perfect one. “There is no other

tell,” remarks Dr. Thomson, “of equal height and size in Palestine.”

for evil appeareth out of the north, and great destruction.” rather,

bendeth forward, as if it were ready to fall.

 

2   “I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman.”

This passage is one of the most difficult in the book, and if there is corruption

of the text anywhere, it is here. The most generally adopted rendering is, “The

 comely and delicate one will I destroy, even the daughter of Zion,” giving the

verb the same sense as in Hosea 4:5 (literally it is, I have brought to silence,

or perfect of prophetic certitude). The context, however, seems to favor

the rendering “pasturage” (including the idea of a nomad settlement),

instead of “comely;” but how to make this fit in with the remainder of the

existing text is far from clear. The true and original reading probably only

survives in fragments.

 

3  The shepherds with their flocks shall come unto her; they shall pitch

their tents against her round about; they shall feed every one in his

place.”  - To her came shepherds with their flocks; they have pitched their

tents round about her; they have pastured each at his side. The best

commentary on the last clause is furnished by Numbers 22:4, “Now shall

this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the

grass of the field.”

 

4   “Prepare ye war against her; arise, and let us go up at noon.” literally,

sanctify (or, consecrate) war. The foes are dramatically described as urging

each other on at the different stages of the campaign. The war is to be opened

with sacrifices (compare Isaiah 13:3 with I Samuel 13:9); next there is a forced

march, so as to take the city by storm, when the vigilance of its defenders is

relaxed in the fierce noontide heat (compare ch.15:8); evening surprises the foe

still on the way, but they press steadily on, to do their work of destruction by

night. The rapidity of the marches of the Chaldeans impressed another prophet

of the reign of Josiah – Habakkuk (see Habakkuk 1:6, 8). Woe unto us! for

the day goeth away,” - rather, Alas for us! for the day hath turned“for the

shadows of the evening are stretched out.” 

 

5  Arise, and let us go by night, and let us destroy her palaces.” - rather,

let us go up. “To go up” is the technical term for the movements of armies,

whether advancing (as here and Isaiah 7:1) or retreating (as ch. 21:2; 34:21;

37:5, 11).

 

6   “For thus hath the LORD of hosts said, Hew ye down trees,  -  rather,

her trees. Hewing down trees was an ordinary feature of Assyrian and

Babylonian expeditions (not to mention Sherman’s March through Georgia

during the War Between the States – CY – 2011). Thus, Assurnacirpal

caused the forests of all (his enemies) to fall” (‘Records of the Past,’ 3:40,

77), and Shalmaneser calls himself “the trampler on the heads of mountains

and all forests “(Ibid. p. 83; comp. p. 90). The timber was partly required

for their palaces and fleets, but also, as the context here suggests, for warlike

operations. Trees were sometimes cut down and built into the mound” (see

next note); they would also be used for the “bulwarks” or siege instruments

spoken of in Deuteronomy 20:20  –“and cast a mount against Jerusalem:

this is the city to be visited;” - literally, pour a mount (or “bank,” as it is

elsewhere rendered), with reference to the emptying of the baskets of earth

required for building up the “mount” (mound). Habakkuk (Habakkuk 1:10)

says of the Chaldeans, “He laugheth at every stronghold, and heapeth up earth,

and taketh it” (compare also II Samuel 20:15; Isaiah 37:33). The intention of

the mound was not so much to bring the besiegers on a level with the top of

the walls as to enable them to work the battering rams to better advantage

(Rawlinson, ‘Ancient Monarchies,’ 1:472 – “she is wholly oppression in

the midst of her.” - rather, she is the city that is punished; wholly oppression

 is in the midst of her.

 

7  As a fountain casteth out her waters, so she casteth out her wickedness:” –

rather, as a cistern keepeth fresh (literally, cool). The wickedness of Jerusalem is

so thoroughly ingrained that it seems to pass into act by a law of nature, just as

a cistern cannot help always yielding a supply of cool, fresh water -  “violence and

spoil is heard in her;” - rather, injustice and violence (so ch.20:8; Amos 3:10;

Habakkuk 1:3) -   “before me continually is grief and wounds.” - rather,

before my face continually is sickness and wounding. The ear is constantly

dinned with the sounds of oppression, (a form of spiritually depraved tinnitus? –

CY – 2011) and the eye pained with the sight of the bodily sufferings of the victims.

The word for” sickness” is applicable to any kind of infirmity (see Isaiah 53:3-4),

but the context clearly limits it here to bodily trouble.

 

 

                                      Wells of Wickedness (v. 7)

 

  • IF WICKEDNESS IS ABUNDANT AND PERSISTENT, IT MUST

            COME FROM A DEEP SOURCE. The wickedness of Israel is constantly

            renewed — ever fresh and abundant, like water in a well. Such water must

            flow out of deep fountains. The continuity of a course of sin proves that

             its origin is deep seated. The sin of hasty temper is less than that of

            deliberate calculation, the fall before sudden temptation more excusable than

            the willful choice of evil, the occasional slip less culpable than the continuous

            habit of wickedness. This habitual sin must be rooted in a man’s nature.

            Springing out under all circumstances, it is seen to be, not an outside

            defect, but a fruit of his own inner life. Constantly flowing in spite of all

            restraints of law, social influence, and conscience, it shows how

             thoroughly corrupt the heart must be (ch. 17:9; Matthew 15:18; ).

 

  • IF WICKEDNESS IS DEEP-SEATED IN THE HEART, IT MUST

            FLOW OUT IN FREQUENT ACTS. The spring cannot restrain its waters;

            the heart cannot repress its imaginations. These must come forth and

            express themselves in deeds. Men may aim at living two lives — an inner

            life of sin and an outer life of propriety; but the attempt must ultimately

            fail (James 3:9-12).  The greater the evil of the heart, the more completely

            must this color the life.

 

  • DEEP-SEATED AND EVER-FLOWING WICKEDNESS

            PROVOKES THE SEVEREST JUDGMENT FROM GOD.

 

ü      It is so radically evil that it impregnates the whole nature of the

      people in whom it dwells, so that they cannot be regarded as

      doers of wickedness only, but as wicked; not as those who have

      committed acts of dishonesty, untruth, violence, but as thieves,

      liars, murderers, etc.

 

ü      Ever-flowing, it promises no better things for the future. If left to

      itself, it will but repeat the sickening tale of the past with aggravated

      depravity.

 

ü      It is the source of evil to others. The sin flows out. It must be

      checked for the protection of all who come under its influence.

      (Thus the need for godly government!  [Romans 13:1-4] – Like

      it or not, separation of the church and state at the expense of the

      church, as we are finding out,  IS A FAILURE! – CY – 2011)

 

 

8   “Be thou instructed. O Jerusalem,” - rather, Let thyself be corrected

(Authorized Version misses the sense, a very important one, of the

conjugation, which is Nifal tolerativum (compare Psalm 2:10; Isaiah 53:12).

The phrase equivalent to “receive correction” (ch.2:30; 5:3), and means to

accept the warning conveyed in the Divine chastisement – “lest my soul

depart from thee; lest I make thee desolate, a land not inhabited.”

Lest my soul, etc.; rather, lest my soul be rent from thee (Authorized Version

renders the same verb in Ezekiel 23:17, “be alienated”).

 

9   Thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall throughly glean the

remnant of Israel as a vine:” -   Israel has already been reduced to a

remnant;” the ten tribes have lost their independence, and Judah alone

remains (ch.5:15). Even Judah shall undergo a severe sifting process, which is

likened to a gleaning (compare ch. 49:9; Isaiah 24:13; Obadiah 1:5). The

prospect is dark, but believers in God’s promises would remember that a few

grapes were always left after the gathering (compare Isaiah 17:6) -  “turn back

thine hand as a grapegatherer” - If the text is correct, the speaker here

addresses the leader of the gleaners. Some think this change of construction

is to emphasize the certainty of the predicted destruction. But it is

much more natural (and in perfect harmony with many other similar phenomena

of the received text) to suppose that the letter represented in the Authorized

Version By thine has arisen by a mistaken repetition of the first letter of

the following word, and (the verbal form being the same for the infinitive

and the imperative) to render turning again the hand. In this case the

clause will be dependent on the preceding statement as to the “gleaning” of

Judah“into the baskets.” -  rather, unto the shoots. The gleaners will do

their work with a stern thoroughness, laying the hand of destruction again and

again upon the vine-shoots.

 

It is an all but complete Judgment, which Jehovah foreshows.

Unwilling as the people are to hear it, the disclosure must be

made.  (vs. 9-15)

 

10  To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear?

behold, their ear is uncircumcised,”  - covered as it were with a foreskin,

which prevents the prophetic message from finding admittance.  Elsewhere it is

the heart (Leviticus 26:41; Ezekiel 44:7), or the lips (Exodus 6:12) which are

said to be “circumcised;” a passage in Stephen’s speech applies the epithet

both to the heart and to the ears (Acts 7:51). and they cannot hearken:

behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have

no delight in it.”

 

11   “Therefore I am full of the fury of the Lord - rather, But I am full - I will

pour it out” -  The text has “pour it out.” The sudden transition to the imperative is

certainly harsh, and excuses the conjectural emendation which underlies

the rendering of the Authorized Version. If we retain the imperative, we

must explain it with reference to Jeremiah’s inner experience. There are,

we must remember, two selves in the prophet (compare Isaiah 21:6), and

the higher prophetic self here addresses the lower or human self, and calls

upon it no longer to withhold the divinely communicated burden. All

classes, as the sequel announces, are to share in the dread calamity – “upon

the children abroad,” -  literally, upon the child in the street (compare

Zechariah 8:5)  - “and upon the assembly of young men together: for even

the husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with him that is full of

days.”  It is a social assembly which is meant (compare ch.15:17, “the assembly

of the laughers”).

 

            The Indifference of Men and the Burden of Truth (vs. 10-11)

 

We have here revealed to us a conflict in the mind of the prophet. At first it seems vain

for him to speak, for none heed his warnings (v. 10); but then he feels the awful burden

of his message compelling utterance. While he looks at his audience he loses heart and

sees little good in attempting to influence them; thus the teacher of high truth is often

discouraged when he considers the unfitness of men to receive it, until he realizes more

fully the majesty of the truth itself which possesses him and an Omnipotent Lord

demanding his faithful service.

 

  • THE INDIFFERENCE OF MEN. Here was the source of Jeremiah’s

            discouragement, and we can sympathize with him. What is the use of

            uttering truths that men are not fit to receive — only to waste our powers,

            create misunderstandings, and provoke opposition?

 

ü      The reception of truth depends on the condition of the receiving

      mind.  Language requires ears as well as tongues. Outward ears are

      useless without the inward ears of an understanding mind. An ass has

      no lack of ears, but what are a prophet’s words to him? There

      are people to whom the solemn utterance of the most awful truths

      is but so much noise.  Therefore:

 

ü      When the mind is in a wrong condition for the reception of truth

       this may meet with ridicule and dislike. Truth may meet with ridicule.

      The word of Jehovah was “a mockery to the Jews.” The Jews had “no

      delight” in the Divine Word.

 

  • THE BURDEN OF TRUTH. In spite of all these grounds for

            discouragement, Jeremiah feels that he must utter his message when once

            he considers its origin and character.

 

ü      Truth is a trust from God. It is “the fury of the Lord ‘ that possesses

      the prophet, not the mere passion of his own thoughts. He who holds

      a Divine truth is a steward of an oracle of God. Woe to him if he

      consult his own convenience and rely only on his own judgment

      when, as a steward, he is called to be faithful to his Master’s will. His

      duty is to speak; the consequences may be left to God.

 

ü      Truth is a burden on the soul which cries for utterance. Jeremiah

                        exclaims, “I am weary with holding in! Woe is me!” cries Paul, as

                        he thinks of the suggestion to restrain his preaching the gospel.. The

                        grandest utterances of humanity, in prophecy and in poetry, are free

                        from all calculations as to the reception of them by an audience.

                       

ü      Truth is for the good of mankind. Jeremiah must speak, for what he

                        utters concerns others than himself. No one has a right to the monopoly

                        of any great truth. It is common property, and he who hides it steals it.

                        Our duty is to bear God’s testimony, whether men will hear or no, and

                        to leave all further responsibility with them.  (Ezekiel 2:5,7; 3:11,27)

                        (Remember that Jesus said,  “If any man have ears to hear, let

                        him hear.”  (Mark 4:23) - “take heed what  ye hear:” (Ibid. v. 24)

                        “Take heed, therefore how ye hear:” (Luke 8:18)

 

12   “And their houses shall be turned; i.e. transferred – unto others, with

their fields and wives together:” -   Wives are regarded as a property, as in

Exodus 20:17 (compare Deuteronomy 5:21) – “for I will stretch out my hand

upon the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD.”

 

13   For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one

is given to covetousness;” -  literally, gaineth gain; but the word here rendered

gain” implies that it is unrighteous gain (the root means “to tear”), Unjust gain and

murder are repeatedly singled out in the Old Testament as representative sins

(compare 2:34; Ezekiel 33:31; Psalm 119:36; Isaiah 1:15; and see my note on Isaiah

57:17).

           

                “For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth” - Among

                the sins that angered God most against the Jews of the later kingdom of

                Judah was their covetousness — that desire of unjust gain which led them

                continually to oppress their weaker brethren, to remove their neighbours

                landmarks, to harass them with lawsuits, to obtain from the courts corrupt

                judgments against them, and so to strip them of their inheritances (see

                Isaiah 1:15-23; 3:5, 14-15; 5:8, 23; Jeremiah 6:13; Ezekiel 33:31).

                Isaiah selects the sin of covetousness here, as typical or

                representative of the entire class of Judah’s besetting sins — the most

                striking indication of that alienation of their hearts from God, which

                constituted their real guilt, and was the true cause of their punishment.

 

There is a special reason for the selection of “covetousness” here.

Land was the object of a high-born Jew’s ambition, and expulsion from his

land was his appropriate punishment (compare Isaiah 5:8-9) “and from the

prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.”

 

14   “They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people” –

The full force of the verb is, “they have busied themselves about healing” (so

ch. 8:11; 51:9). Of the daughter. Our translators evidently had before them a

text which omitted these words, in accordance with many Hebrew manuscripts and

the Septuagint contains them, as also does the parallel passage (ch.8:11). slightly;”

or, lightly; Septuagint – “saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.”

Always the burden of the mere professional prophets, who, as one of a higher order

the bold, uncompromising Micah — fittingly characterizes them, “bite with their

teeth, and cry, Peace;” i.e. draw flattering pictures of the state and prospects of

their country, in order to “line their own pockets” (Micah 3:5).  (Compare the

modern politician parroting what he thinks the general populace wants to hear,

crying for peace and all the while both groups living like the devil??? – CY – 2011)

 

 

                                    False Peace (v. 14)

 

  • THE CRAVING FOR PEACE IS NATURAL. These false prophets

            gained their influence by professing to satisfy a natural instinct. The Jews

            dreaded war with their great neighbors.

 

ü      All wicked men are at heart in a state of unrest. The soul that sins

      is at war with God, with the law and order of the universe, with its

      own nature.

 

ü      This condition is distressing. The outward warfare begets inward

      unrest. Then, above all things, peace is the great want of the soul.

      (Jesus came that we might have peace and rest [Matthew 11:28-30]

      Until we can duplicate in our spiritual lives, the unrest we feel

      at a loved one having terminal cancer, or personally being inflicted,

      we can never understand the importance of peace and rest to the

      human soul, both now and for ever.  Have you ever longed for

      peace or rest like you had before that terminal illness?  Until

      we have the same concern for our spirit and eternal welfare,

      WE ARE IN GREAT DANGERCY – 2011) - Wealth success,

                        happiness, can be spared if but this jewel is still preserved. All great

                        philosophies and all earnest religions set themselves to the task of

                        discovering or creating it (but ONLY JESUS CHRIST IS THE

                        “PRINCE OF PEACE”.  “Of the increase of His government

                        and peace, there shall be NO END!  THE ZEAL OF THE LORD

                        OF HOSTS WILL PERFORM THIS.”  [Isaiah 9:6-7]  - {one

                        of my favorite scriptures - CY – 2011)

 

  • THE PRETENSIONS OF FALSE PEACE ARE PLAUSIBLE. The false

            prophets dissuaded their hearers from attending to the warning words of

            Jeremiah, and endeavored to make them believe that they were in no

            danger. There is much that is very popular in arguments such as theirs.

            (Today, we have that same brand of false teaching promoted by pseudo-

            intellectuals, “the fool hath said in his heart, There is no God”

            (Psalm 14:1) – coming out of the universities that once were theological

            seminaries; i.e. Yale, Harvard, Darmouth, Princeton, etc., the court system

            through the influence of lawyers, judges and lowly organizations like the

            American Civil Liberties Union – CY – 2011) 

 

ü      They agree with the wishes of the hearers. Men are always inclined

      to believe what they wish. ( “my people love to have it so.” - ch.

      5:31)

 

ü      They flatter the pride of the populace. The people are told that

      they are too great and too favored of Heaven to suffer any serious

      calamity, and they are only too ready to believe it.

 

ü      They claim the merits of charity. They promise pleasant things. This

                        looks more charitable than the threatening language of stern censors.

                        Hence the prophets win favor for their apparent geniality and liberal

                        sentiments.

 

ü      They require no sacrifices from those who accept them. (Even though

      the Bible is very emphatic:  “without shedding of blood is no

      remission” – Hebrews 9:22)  The doctrine is popular because the

      practice flowing from it is easy. The flattering prophets called to no

      reformation of character.

 

ü      `They have appearances in their favor. At present all looks fair. Is

      not this a presumption that the future will be happy? The sun is rising

      in gold and crimson; why, then, prophesy the approach of a storm?

 

  • THE PRETENSIONS OF FALSE PEACE ARE RUINOUS.

 

ü      If there is no peace we do not make peace by crying, “Peace, peace!”

      This is the language of folly and indolence.

 

ü      These delusions only aggravate the danger. They prevent men from

                        preparing for the calamity by blinding them to the near advent of it.

 

  • THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY BY WHICH THE NATURAL CRAVING

      FOR PEACE MAY BE SATISFIED AND THAT IS THROUGH

      JESUS CHRIST, THE PRINCE OF PEACE, AND HIS ATONING

      SACRIFICE FOR MANKIND!

 

15  Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? The

Authorized Version certainly meets the requirements of the context; there seems to

be an implied interrogation. Most, however, render, “They are brought to shame;”

in which case it seems best to take the verb as a perfect of prophetic certitude,

equivalent to “they shall surely be brought to shame.” - “when; rather, because –

“Nay, they were not at all ashamed,” -  rather, nevertheless they feel no shame

(i.e. at present) – “neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among

them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down,’ –

rather, they shall stumble -saith the LORD. 

 

 

Without hearty repentance, there is no hope of escape.

But hitherto Judah has rejected all admonitions.  What availeth

mere ceremonial punctuality?  (vs. 16-21)

 

16   “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see and ask for the

old paths,” -  literally, station yourselves on (or, by) roads, i.e. at the meeting

point of different roads. There (as the following words state) the Jews are to make

inquiry as to the old paths. Antiquity gives a presumption of rightness; (Mr. Spurgeon

says “There is nothing new but that which is false! – CY – 2011) - the ancients

were nearer to the days when God spoke with man; they had the guidance of God’s

two mighty “shepherds” (Isaiah 63:11); they knew, far better than we, who “are but

of yesterday, and know nothing” (Job 8:9), the way of happiness. For

though there are many pretended “ways,” there is but “one way” (ch. 32:39;

John 14:6; Ephesians 4:4-6) which has Jehovah’s blessing (Psalm 25:8-9) –

where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your

souls.  But they said, We will not walk therein.”

 

 

 

                                    THE OLD PATHS (v. 16)

 

  • CONSIDER THE RECOMMENDATION TO FOLLOW THE OLD

            PATHS.

 

ü      There are old paths of right. Religion has not to be made anew. It is

      not left for the latest saint to discover the way of holiness.

 

Ø      Spurgeon said, “There is nothing new but that which is false.”

 

Ø      We are taught to “earnestly contend for the faith which

      was once delivered unto the saints.”  (Jude 1:3)

 

Ø      Christ is the Door.  (John 10:7-9)

 

Ø      There is but “One Spirit…. One  Lord, one faith, one

      baptism, One God and Father of all ” – (Ephesians 4:4-6)

 

ü      Having found the right way, we should forthwith “walk therein.”

                        Knowledge is useless without practice; nay, guilt is aggravated if,

                        knowing the right, we follow the wrong.

 

ü      In the right way is rest for the soul. Even while on the earthly pilgrimage

                        “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.”

                        (Hebrews 4:9)

 

17   “Also I set” -  rather, and I kept raising up (the frequentative perfect) –

watchmen over you saying,” - i.e. prophets (Ezekiel 3:17, and part of  Isaiah

52:8; 56:10) – “Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We

will not hearken.” - the words of Jehovah. Standing on their high watch-tower

(Habakkuk 2:1), the prophets scrutinize the horizon for the first appearance of

danger, and give warning of it by (metaphorically) blowing a trumpet (so Amos 3:6).

(Compare the modern tornado warning siren and the potential results of not heeding

– contemplate the spiritual devastation of the soul without God! – CY – 2011)

 

 

                                                Watchmen (v. 17)

 

  • THE MISSION OF THE WATCHMEN.

 

ü      They are appointed by God. God raises up prophets, preachers,

      teachers of righteousness. Unless they have a Divine call they are

      usurping a position to which they have no right (Galatians 1:1,15).

      Hence see

 

Ø      the authority of the watchmen;

Ø      the merciful kindness of God in providing warning and

      instruction.

 

ü      They are to observe what goes on around them and to “discern the

                        signs of the times.”  They discoursed on subjects which in our day

                        would  be discussed in the media.

 

ü      They are to blow the trumpet. The seer is to be a prophet. He who

                        knows truth must make it known to others. The watchman must not

                        simply “let his light shine;” he must blow a trumpet, demand attention,

                        compel men to hear. The enemy is at the gate. This is no time for mild

                        disquisitions on military tactics; it is a moment when men must be

                        awaked from their sleep and summoned to arms.  (Jesus said,

                        “this generation shall not pass till all these things be

                         fulfilled.” – (Matthew 24:34) - The Christian preacher speaks to

                        men who are asleep and in great danger. His duty is not simply

                        to let the truth be known. He must arouse, urge, “compel” men

                        to hear his message.

 

  • THE RECEPTION OF THE MISSION OF THE WATCHERS. The

            watchman has done his duty in sounding the trumpet. If none will hear, he

            is free.  (Ezekiel 33:1-16)

 

ü      Men must hearken to the Divine message before they can profit by it.

 

ü      Men must obey the Divine message before they can profit by it. It is

                        nothing to tremble at the warning of judgment unless we are moved to

                        actions of precaution. Felix trembled, and was none the better for this

                        proof of the powerful effect of the preaching of Paul (Acts 24:25).

                        (It is sad today for generations of young people to be born who

                        have no frame of reference to:

                                   

Ø      the Word of God preached in power

Ø      the conviction power of the Holy Spirit as in

      revivals of old where men, women and children

      trembled like Felix, holding on to church pews,

      as the congregation sang “Almost Persuaded”

       “Why Not Now?”and “Softly and Tenderly

      Jesus is Calling”, and that in the last sixty years

      and  in the United States of America.  – CY – 2011)

 

ü      If the Divine message is heard and disregarded, the folly, guilt, and ruin

                        will only be aggravated. The plea of ignorance is gone. Indifference is

                        converted into obstinate rebellion (v. 19).

 

18  Therefore hear, ye nations,” - Remonstrance being useless, the

sentence upon Israel can no longer be delayed, and Jehovah summons the

nations of the earth as witnesses (compare Micah 1:2; Isaiah 18:3; Psalm 49:1).

and know O congregation, what is among them.”  -  The passage is

obscure. “Congregation” can only refer to the foreign nations mentioned in

the first clause; for Israel could not be called upon to hear the judgment

upon this people” (v. 19). There is, however, no other passage in which

the word has this reference. If correct, they must of course refer to the Israelites –

the testimony which is against them.”

 

19   Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the

fruit of their thoughts,” - That punishment is the ripe fruit of sin, is the doctrine

of the Old (Isaiah 3:10; Psalm 58:11, margin) as well as of the New Testament

(James 1:15) – “because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to

my law, but rejected it.”

 

20  To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba,” -  This is the

answer to an implied objection on the part of the Jews, that they have faithfully

fulfilled their ceremonial obligations. “To obey is better than sacrifice”

(I Samuel 15:22); “And what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do

justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8;

compare Isaiah 1:11; Amos 5:21-24; Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8). All these

passages must be read in the light of the prophets’ circumstances. A purely formal,

petrified religion compelled them to attack the existing priesthood, and a holy

indignation cannot stop to measure its language. Incense from Sheba; frankincense

from south-west Arabia. This was required for the holy incense (Exodus 30:34),

and as an addition to the minkhah, or “meal offering” – “and the sweet cane

from a far country?” -  The “sweet calamus of Exodus 30:23, which was

imported from India. It was an ingredient in the holy anointing oil (Exodus, loc. cit.).

Not to be confounded with the sugar cane – “your burnt offerings are not

acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me.”

 

 

                                    Worthless Sacrifices (v. 20)

 

  • Sacrifices are worthless when they are accompanied by immorality of

            conduct. Worship at church is a mockery if daily conduct in the world is

            corrupt (Isaiah 1:15).

.

  • Worthless sacrifices are a source of self-delusion. The offering being given:

     

ü      the  conscience feels relieved,

ü      false pride is stimulated, and

ü      the real spiritual condition is hidden.

 

21   Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will lay stumbling-blocks

before this people, and the fathers and the sons together shall fall upon

them; the neighbor and his friend shall perish.” Of the regenerate Israel of

the future it is prophesied (Isaiah 54:15) that his enemies shall “fall upon him

 [or, ‘by reason of him’].” Of the unregenerate Israel  of the present, that he shall

fall (i.e. come to ruin) upon the “stumbling-blocks” presented, not without

God’s appointment, by the terrible northern invader –

 

 

      The enemy described; the terror consequent on his arrival;

a rumored declaration of the moral cause of the judgment.

                                                                        (vs. 22-30)

 

22  Thus saith the LORD, Behold, a people cometh from the north

country, (so ch.1:14 (see note); ch. 4:6) and a great nation shall be raised 

(rather, shall be aroused) from the sides of the earth.” rather, “the recesses

(i.e. furthest parts) of the earth” (Isaiah 14:13).

 

23  They shall lay hold on bow and spear;” (rather, javelin (or, lance) –

they are cruel, and have no mercy;” - The cruelty of the Assyrians and

Babylonians seems to have spread general dismay.  Nahum calls Nineveh

the city of bloodshed” (Nahum 3:1); Habakkuk styles the Chaldeans

bitter and vehement, terrible and dreadful” - (Habakkuk 1:6-7). The

customs brought out into view in the monuments justify this most amply.

“The Assyrian listens to the enemy who asks for quarter; he prefers making

prisoners to slaying.; he is very terrible in the battle and the assault, but

afterwards he forgives and spares” (‘Ancient Monarchies,’ 1:243). their voice

roareth like the sea;” - The horrid roar of the advancing hosts seems to have

greatly struck the Jews (compare Isaiah 5:30; 17:12-14) - “and they ride upon

horses, set in array as men for war against thee, O daughter of Zion.”

 

24   We have heard the fame thereof: our hands wax feeble: anguish

hath taken hold of us, and pain, as of a woman in travail.” The prophet

identifies himself (compare, for the same phenomenon, ch. 4:19-21; 10:19-20)

with his people, and expresses the general feeling of anxiety and pain. The

phraseology of the closing lines reminds us of  Isaiah 13:7-8.  (And, of

course, let us not forget the END TIMES – The Apostle Paul said,

“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I

write unto you.  For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the

Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.  For when they shall say,

Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them,

as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.”

(I Thessalonians 5:1-3 – CY – 2011)

 

25  Go not forth into the field, not walk by the way;” - The “daughter of Zion

(i.e. the personific population of Jerusalem) is cautioned against venturing outside

the walls – “for the sword of the enemy; rather, the enemy hath a sword“and

fear is on every side.” -  Hebrew, magor missa-bib; one of Jeremiah’s favorite

expressions (see ch. 20:3,10; 46:5; 49:29; and compare Psalm 31:13-14). Naturally

of a timid, retiring character, the prophet cannot help feeling the anxious and alarming

situation into which at the Divine command he has ventured.

 

26  O daughter of my people, gird thee with sackcloth, and wallow

thyself in ashes:” - rather, sprinkle thyself with ashes, a sign of mourning

(II Samuel 13:19; so Micah 1:10) -   “make thee mourning, as for an only

son,” -  The Septuagint renders pe>nqov ajgaphtou~ - penthos agapaetou

mourning for a dearly loved one - (compare Genesis 22:2, where in like

manner the Septuagint renders, not “thine only son,” but “thy beloved son”).

Possibly this was to avoid a supposition which might have occurred to some

readers (it has, in fact, occurred to several modern critics) that the “only son”

was Adonis, who was certainly “mourned for” by some of the Israelites under

the name of Thammuz (Ezekiel 8:14), and whose Phoenician name is given by Philo

of Byblus as jIeou>d (i.e. probably Yakhidh, only begotten, the word used by

Jeremiah; compare  Bhrou>q, equivalent to Berith). M. Renan found a vestige of the

ancient festival of Adonis at Djebeil (the Phoenician Gebal) even at the

present day. There would be nothing singular in the adoption of a common

popular phrase by the prophet, in spite of its reference to a heathen custom

(compare Job 3:8), and the view in question gives additional force to the

passage. But the ordinary explanation is perfectly tenable and more

obvious“most bitter lamentation: for the spoiler shall suddenly come

upon us.”  The phrase, “mourning [or, ‘lamentation’] for an only begotten

one,” occurs again in Amos 8:10; Zechariah 12:10. In the last mentioned

passage it is parallel with “bitter weeping for a firstborn.”

 

27   “I have set thee for a tower and a fortress among my people, that

thou mayest know and try their way.” - literally, as an assayer have I set

thee among my people, a fortress. Various attempts have been made to avoid

giving the last word its natural rendering, “a fortress.”  Nothing remains but the

very simple conjecture, supported by not a few similar phenomena, that mibhcar,

a fortress, has been inserted by mistake from the margin, where an early glossator

had written the word, to remind of the parallel passage (ch.1:18, “I have made

thee this day a fortress-city,”it mibhcar). In this and the following verses

metallurgic phraseology is employed with a moral application (compare Isaiah

1:22, 25).

 

28   They are all grievous revolters,” -  literally, rebels of rebels“walking

with slanders:” - rather, going about, as a peddler with his wares (so Proverbs

11:13; 20:19; Leviticus 19:16). Jeremiah had good reason to specify this

characteristic of his enemies (see ch.18:18).  they are brass and iron; they

are all corrupters.”  - rather, copper and iron, in short, base metal.

 

29   “The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire;” -  The

objection to this rendering is that the burning of the bellows would involve the

interruption of the process of assaying. We might, indeed, translate “are scorched”

(on the authority of Ezekiel 15:4), and attach the word rendered “of the fire” to

the first clause; the half-verse would then run: “The bellows are scorched

through the fire; the lead is consumed,” i.e. the bellows are even scorched

through the heat of the furnace, and the lead has become entirely oxydized.

But this requires us to alter the verb from the masculine to the feminine form of

third sing. perf. (reading tammah). It is better, therefore, to give

the verb the sense of “snorting,” which it has in Aramaic and in Arabic, and which

the corresponding noun has in Hebrew (ch. 8:16; Job 39:20; 41:12). The masculine

form of the verb rendered “is consumed” is still a difficulty; but we have a

better right to suppose that the first letter of tittom was dropped, owing to

its identity with the second letter, than to append (as the first view would

require us) an entirely different letter at the end. This being done, the

whole passage becomes clear: The bellows puff, (that) the lead may be

consumed of the fire.” In any case, the general meaning is obvious. The

assayer has spared no trouble, all the rules of his art have been obeyed, but

no silver appears as the result of the process. Lead is mentioned, because,

before quicksilver was known, it was employed as a flux in the operation of

smelting, - “the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away.”

- rather, separated, like the dross from the silver.

 

30  Reprobate silver shall men call them,” -  rather, refuse silver (as the

margin)... refused them. The verbal root is the same.because the LORD hath

rejected them.”

 

 

                                    Testing Fires (vs. 27-30)

 

Under the image of an assayer and his fire, Jeremiah is led to regard his mission, and

the troubles of Israel, with which this is so much concerned, as means for testing the

character of the Jews.

 

  • THE STANDARD OF MEASUREMENT IS DIVINE TRUTH. The

            prophet is to be an assayer. Men are to be judged by the truths of

            righteousness which he is inspired to see and to declare. God has revealed

            standards of judgment. We are not free to shape our lives according to

            fancy, taste, or unaided private judgment. The truths of Scripture

            constitute the standard by which we shall be measured. This will be

            applied according as it is known. Jeremiah was the watchman before he

            was the assayer. He blew the trumpet, preached the truth he saw. They

            who have not received the fuller revelation will be judged by what light they

            possess (Romans 1:18-20; 2:12).

 

  • THE TEST IS APPLIED IN THE FIRES OF AFFLICTION. Trouble

            is not only sent for discipline and chastisement; it is a test, a revealer of

            character. It reveals a man to himself and to others. If he has any true

            spiritual life, any precious metal, it must come out when, one after another,

            the worthless ideas and feelings fail before the searching flames of the

            baptism of fire. Trouble shows:

 

ü      Whether religion is real and heartfelt, or formal and superficial.

 

ü      Whether love and devotion to God are deep enough to stand against

      the temptation to rebel or despair.

.

ü      True religion will survive the hardest test that may be applied to it.

 

ü      No genuine silver can miss the Assayer after his most searching tests.

      God is loath to give his children up (Hosea 11:8).

 

 

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