JEREMIAH CHAPTER 11.
The Faithlessness of Judah and Its Consequences.
REMINDER OF THE COVENANT BETWEEN JEHOVAH AND HIS PEOPLE. — V. 1. The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, an express message from Jehovah, the God of the covenant, saying, v. 2. Hear ye the words of this covenant, hearkening to them in willing obedience, and speak unto the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Jeremiah here being reminded of the duty which was incumbent upon all prophets of the Lord, v. 3. and say unto them, in calling to remembrance the awful curse found in the books of Moses, in the proclamation of the covenant, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant, Deut. 27, 26, v. 4. which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, Egypt being called thus on account of the severe afflictions which came upon the children of Israel during the last period of their sojourn there, cp. Deut. 4, 20, saying, Obey My voice and do them, namely, the words of the covenant, according to all which I command you; so shall ye be My people, and I will be your God, cp. Deut. 29, 12; Ex. 6, 7; Lev. 26, 12; Deut. 7, 6, v. 5. that I may perform the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers, the special promises given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Deut. 7, 8, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day, this beautiful and rich land being still in the possession of the children of Judah. Then answered I, after the manner of the people when they pronounced the will of the Lord antiphonally, Deut. 27,15-22, and said, So be it, O Lord, literally, "Amen, Jehovah." V. 6. Then the Lord said unto me, Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, on a journey through the entire country, but especially in the capital city, saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, of the Law as it was originally proclaimed and still remained in force, and do them, for it is not a mere external hearing of His Word which satisfies the Lord, but only the acceptance of faith and a consequent doing of His will. V. 7. For I earnestly protested unto your fathers in the day that I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, when the covenant of Mount Sinai was made, even unto this day, rising early and protesting, with all zeal and vehemence, saying, Obey My voice. Cp. Deut. 30, 19; Ps. 50, 7. V. 8. Yet they obeyed not nor inclined their ear, did not even make an attempt to give heed, but walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart, in wicked stubbornness; therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant, all the punishments threatened to the transgressors in the special curses pronounced in the proclamation of the Law, which I commanded them to do, but they did them not. The Lord is ever ready to show long-suffering and loving-kindness, but in the end He is bound to punish the obstinate transgressors of His holy will.
ISRAEL’S CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE LORD AND ITS PUNISHMENT. — V. 9. And the Lord said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, a plot in opposition to Jehovah and to the demands of right and duty, the entire nation being involved in this wickedness. V. 10. They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, by which Israelites of the former generations heaped guilt upon themselves, which refused to hear My words, deliberately combining to deny Him obedience in His just demands; and they went after other gods to serve them, this sin of idolatry being the Lord's chief charge against them; the house of Israel, the ten tribes of the northern kingdom, and the house of Judah, the southern kingdom, have broken My covenant which I made with their fathers, Judah thus being destined to a similar punishment as that which befell Israel. V. 11. Therefore, thus saith the Lord, Jehovah, the same God of the covenant who was still seeking His children with the same loving-kindness as of old, Behold, I will bring evil upon them which they shall not be able to escape, from which also no deliverance is possible; and though they shall cry unto Me, I will not hearken unto them, refusing them assistance and redemption, since their time of grace had now expired. V. 12. Then shall the cities of Judah, that is, their people, and inhabitants of Jerusalem go and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense, the idols whom they have worshiped; but they, the false gods in whom they professed to trust, shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble, since, of course, they were utterly unable to do so, being but dead images, who could not deliver in any calamity. V. 13. For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah, practically a different idol for every city; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars, a different one for every open place, to that shameful thing, to the idol which is the essence of all that is shameful and will bring confusion upon all who persist in worshiping it, even altars to burn incense unto Baal, this idol being the chief abomination of the Canaanite nations since remote times. The Lord, having thus set forth the obstinate wickedness of the people of Judah, turns to His prophet with the command that he should not interfere with His just punishment upon the apostate nation. V. 14. Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them, any supplication asking deliverance for them; for I will not hear them, He would pay no attention to the prophet's intercession, in the time that they cry unto Me for their trouble, on account of the calamity which has befallen them. Moreover, the Lord also resents the hypocritical worship of the people. V. 15. What hath My beloved to do in Mine house, the congregation making a pretense at seeking Him in true worship, seeing she hath wrought lewdness with many, having become guilty of spiritual adultery in its most revolting form, and the holy flesh is passed from thee? The Lord calls their worship an enormity, because it was, in truth, a hollow mockery, with which they deceived none but themselves. When thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest. The entire second part of the verse may be rendered: "Will vows and holy flesh take thy calamity from thee? Then mayest thou exult!" All the religious customs upon which they relied could not protect them. If they were sincere in their worship, then there would be reason for congratulating themselves. V. 16. The Lord called thy name "A green olive-tree," fair and of goodly fruit, thus He had regarded Israel in the days when He chose it for His own; with the noise of a great tumult, amid the rattling of thunder or the noise of battle. He hath kindled fire upon it, to destroy the very plant which He formerly cherished so dearly, and the branches of it are broken, ten tribes of the original nation having already been taken away into captivity and the tree thus badly crippled. V. 17. For the Lord of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, being firmly determined upon punishing the apostate nation, for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah which they have done against themselves, to their own hurt, to provoke Me to anger in offering incense unto Baal. Jeremiah now notes a proof of the incorrigible nature of the people of his own nation. V. 18. And the Lord hath given me knowledge of it, and I know it, their wickedness was revealed to him; then Thou showedst me their doings. Even this, however, had not disturbed Jeremiah's trustfulness. V. 19. But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter, with never an inkling of the evil intention of his own familiar friends; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof and let us cut him off from the land of the living that his name may be no more remembered. They wanted to bring ruin, if possible, death, to Jeremiah and cause his teaching to be forgotten. Therefore the prophet calls upon the Lord for vengeance in his just cause. V. 20. But, O Lord of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, testing the inmost thoughts of man; let me see Thy vengeance on them, for it is He whose honor is principally at stake; for unto Thee have I revealed my cause, laying the whole matter before Him for adjustment. V. 21. Therefore, thus saith the Lord of the men of Anathoth, Jeremiah's own townsmen, that seek thy life, saying, Prophesy not in the name of the Lord, that thou die not by our hand, this being the demand which they placed before him; v. 22. therefore, thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, I will punish them, for daring to threaten the life of His servant; the young men shall die by the sword, being cut down by the enemy in battle, their sons and their daughters shall die by famine, the result of the unmerciful siege begun by the enemies. V. 23. And there shall be no remnant of them, the Lord being determined to carry out His sentence of extermination upon them; for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their visitation. Thus the punishment of the Lord descends upon the evil-doers in due time, often with terrible effect.