JEREMIAH CHAPTER 15.
The Lord's Refusal and the Prophet's Complaint.
THE LORD REFUSES HELP THE SECOND TIME. — V. 1. Then said the Lord unto me, Though Moses and Samuel, who are hereby affirmed to be historical persons, stood before Me, the high regard in which He held these His servants tending to have Him look upon them with favor, yet My mind could not be toward this people, their intercession could not save the people from the threatened destruction. Cast them out of My sight and let them go forth, since Jehovah utterly repudiates His chosen people. V. 2. And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shall tell them, in a very harsh answer, as befitted the occasion, Thus saith the Lord, Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity. The Lord's previous sentence, in which He names three scourges, chap. 14, 12, is here strengthened and intensified in order to bring out the inevitable certainty of the impending destruction. V. 3. And I will appoint over them four kinds saith the Lord, four varieties of death: the sword to slay, so that their carcasses would lie on the ground, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy, the last three agencies completing the judgment upon the dead bodies. V. 4. And I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth, cp. Deut. 28, 25, there being a great many countries making up the Babylonian Empire, because of Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem, in introducing and practicing the abominations of idolatry. Cp. 2 Kings 21, 11 ff. V. 5. For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem, or who shall bemoan thee? in a feeling of sympathy for the various punishments which were about to strike her. Or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest? in a neighborly form of inquiry concerning her welfare. By the dispensation of Jehovah, men were simply ignoring her and her plight, letting her alone in her misery. V. 6. Thou hast forsaken Me, saith the Lord, rejecting the God of the covenant, thou art gone backward, away from Him and His Word; therefore will I stretch out My hand against thee and destroy thee, in one mighty stroke of punishment; I am weary with repenting, since His gracious offers had so often been abused and rejected, He would now no longer show mercy. V. 7. And I will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land; even as a man at the opening of a threshing-floor makes use of every gust of wind to remove the chaff from the wheat, so the Lord would stand at the entrance of the land and let its inhabitants pass through a sifting process. I will bereave them of children, by causing the flower of their youth to fall in battle; I will destroy My people since they return not from their ways, persisting in their rejection of Jehovah. V. 8. Their widows are increased to Me above the sand of the seas, beyond the possibility of counting them; I have brought upon them against the mother of the young men, the wife in the fullness of her strength, a spoiler at noonday, the enemy hordes; I have caused him to fall upon it, the city with all its inhabitants, suddenly, and terrors upon the city, so that she was filled With anguish. V. 9. She that hath borne seven, the woman usually in her best years and strength, languisheth, she hath given up the ghost, despairing because not one of her sons remained; her sun is gone down while it was yet day, her good fortune leaving her just at a time when she should have been at the height of her prosperity; she hath been ashamed and confounded, put to shame on account of the disappointment over the loss of her children; and the residue of them, those still remaining at the time when Jerusalem was taken, will I deliver to the sword before their enemies, saith the Lord. Cp. Micah 6, 14. Thus the fate of the city was determined upon in every respect, as the Lord proceeded to carry out His sentence upon its inhabitants.
THE PROPHET’S LAMENTATION. — V. 10. Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! that is, one with whom the whole world, all men with whom he came into contact, were anxious to pick a quarrel. I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury, he had neither borrowed nor lent, either practice being a sure way of arousing enmity, yet every one of them doth curse me, all of them being his enemies without cause. V. 11. The Lord said, Verily, it shall be well with thy remnant, literally, "I confirm thee for good," namely, that his tribulations would finally turn out to his benefit; verily, I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well in the time of evil and in the time of affliction, that is, the enemy would, when trouble came upon him, turn to the prophet with an imploring appeal, believing that the intercession of Jeremiah would have much weight in the eyes of Jehovah. V. 12. Shall iron break the northern iron and the steel? literally, "Will then iron," that is, the ordinary iron used in Palestine, "break iron from the north and brass?" for the steel of Syria and of various parts of Asia Minor was noted for its excellence. The meaning evidently is that the people of Judah could not withstand the armies of the great northern empire which would soon be sent against them. V. 13. Thy substance and thy treasures, all the wealth of Judah, will I give to the spoil without price, they will be theirs to take away for nothing, and that for all thy sins, even in all thy borders, the material wealth throughout the country would be taken away on account of the sins of the people. V. 14. And I will make thee to pass with thine enemies into a land which thou knowest not, literally, "I let them," the treasures, "pass over into a land unknown to thee, as the booty of the enemy"; for a fire is kindled in Mine anger which shall burn upon you. Cp. Deut. 32, 22. V. 15. O Lord, Thou knowest, thus Jeremiah now presents his appeal to the Lord; remember me and visit me, in kindness and mercy, and revenge me of my persecutors, carrying out His revenge upon them; take me not away in Thy long-suffering, in a sudden calamity while over-patient toward the wicked. Know that for Thy sake I have suffered rebuke, the reproach of all the scoffers in Judah. V. 16. Thy words were found, and I did eat them, the prophet eagerly laying hold of the words of Jehovah as they were offered; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart, for I am called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts, it was revealed to Jeremiah, he was called as a minister of His Word. He had, therefore, devoted himself to this calling with all seriousness. V. 17. I sat not in the assembly of the mockers nor rejoiced, he had not taken part in any frivolous gatherings; I sat alone because of Thy hand, being isolated on account of the fact that the power of the Lord had taken hold of him and urged him to do the work of a prophet; for Thou hast filled me with indignation, with a holy wrath over the corruption and obstinacy of Judah. V. 18. Why is my pain perpetual, namely, the grief and sorrow which the prophet felt over the judgment of condemnation which he was obliged to proclaim to his people, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? Wilt Thou be altogether unto me as a liar, literally, "as a deceitful brook," whose dry bed disappointed the thirsty traveler, and as waters that fail? lacking the qualities of a perennial stream. To this reproachful exclamation the Lord answers. V. 19. Therefore, thus saith the Lord, in a gentle reproof of His servant, If thou return, turning from his course of discontent with the ways of the Lord, which had almost brought him to the point of doubting the faithfulness of God, then will I bring thee again, and thou shall stand before Me, so that he would once more occupy the right relation to Jehovah and accept His commands at His mouth; and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, carefully separating them, as an assayer does, and retaining only that which is good, the reference being to the need of letting the virtues of patience and trust govern all his actions instead of impatience and hastiness, thou shalt be as My mouth, the instrument through which the Lord makes known His will to men. Let them return unto thee, in yielding to his entreaties and begging him to intercede for them, but return not thou unto them, following their profane ways and causing himself to be led astray by them. V. 20. And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brazen wall, an impregnable wall against their attacks; and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee, not be able to overcome his firm resistance; for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the Lord. V. 21. And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible, from the might of the violent, the enemies who would interfere with the message of Jehovah. In a similar way the assurance of the Lord sustains His servants, the true ministers of the Gospel, in our days also.