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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 1

Carroll's Interpretation of the English BibleCarroll's Biblical Interpretation

Verses 1-3

III

THE BOOK: OF JEREMIAH INTRODUCTION

Jeremiah 1:1-3

The book of Jeremiah is the longest in the Bible coming from the hand of a single writer, or author. The book of the Psalms is a larger book, but it is really a compilation of various writers, five great books in one. The book of Jeremiah contains his prophecies and the events of his life covering about forty-four years, one of the most stirring periods of Hebrew history.


The greater part of the book was no doubt written by Baruch, Jeremiah’s scribe, or secretary, though some parts may have been written by Jeremiah himself. Of these facts we cannot be absolutely sure, though we do know that Baruch wrote most of it. In Jeremiah 36 we have the story of how the author came to write his prophecy. He tells us that somewhere about the year 604 or 603 B.C. in the reign of King Jehoiakim, by the command of Jehovah, he dictated the substance of all his prophecies, covering eighteen or nineteen years previous, to his scribe, who wrote them in a book, or roll. Baruch wrote down these words, including the prophecy of how God would destroy Jerusalem because of the sins of the people. The roll was taken and read to the king and he was so enraged that he cut it in pieces and threw it in the fire. Thus the first edition was burned.


A short time after this he again dictated to his scribe these prophecies, and Baruch wrote them down. It was the same prophecy, but many like words were added unto them. That edition of Jeremiah’s prophecies was preserved, and we have it in the first seventeen chapters of the book. It is doubtless true that he gave here the substance of his prophecies covering the early period of his life. To these seventeen chapters the remainder of the book has been added. There is no doubt that all of the book except Jeremiah 52 is from Jeremiah, although some modern critics say that about four-nineteenths of it is really Jeremiah’s and about four nineteenths Baruch’s and the rest belongs to many writers unknown. They have figured it down very fine, even down to the nineteenth part. These are vulgar fractions instead of inspired writings. Jeremiah 52 was not from the hand of Jeremiah, but was taken from the book of 2 Kings and is a repetition of the 2 Kings 24 almost word for word.


There are more difficulties in the study of the text than in the study of almost any other book of the Bible. In the third century B.C. a Greek translation was made in Egypt by many scholars from the original Jewish manuscripts that they might have the Scriptures in Greek. That translation was called the Septuagint. From this it appears that the book of Jeremiah has more corruptions in the text than any other book of the Bible; 2,700 words were left out of the Septuagint Version, or about one-eighth of the book. Most of these words, however, are words of lesser importance; for instance, such expressions as "Thus saith the Lord," introductory words which do not take from the substance of the book, or from the heart of the prophecy, to any great extent. The critics differ as to which to follow, the Septuagint Version or our Massoretic Hebrew text. Many of them prefer the Septuagint. Ezra and those who follow him evidently preferred the Hebrew text, for it has been preserved in connection with the Old Testament Scriptures and is in our Hebrew Bible.


A convenient outline of the book of Jeremiah is as follows:


Introduction: Title, author, and date (Jeremiah 1:1-3).

I. The prophet’s call (Jeremiah 1:4-19):


1. Personal (Jeremiah 1:4-10).


2. Official (Jeremiah 1:11-19).

II. The prophet’s commission (Jeremiah 2-13):


1. The impeachment, call, and Judgment (Jeremiah 2-6)


2. The sins of worship and backsliding (Jeremiah 7-9).


3. The sin of idolatry and the broken covenant (Jeremiah 10-13).

III. The prophecies before the fall of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 14-39):


1. God’s decree to punish (Jeremiah 14-17).


2. Lessons from the potter (Jeremiah 18-20).


3. Message to Zedekiah (Jeremiah 21-27).


4. Jeremiah and the false prophets (Jeremiah 28-29).


5. The "Book of Consolation" (Jeremiah 30-33).


6. Prophecies of the siege and the Rechabites (Jeremiah 34-35).


7. The history of the roll (Jeremiah 36).


8. History of the siege, (Jeremiah 37-39).

IV. The prophecies after the fall of Jerusalem (40-45):


1. Against going into Egypt (Jeremiah 40-42).


2. While in Egypt (Jeremiah 43-44).


3. The exhortation of Baruch (Jeremiah 45).

V. The prophecies concerning the nations (Jeremiah 46-51):


1. Concerning Egypt (Jeremiah 46).


2. Concerning Philistia (Jeremiah 47).


3. Concerning Moab (Jeremiah 48).


4. Concerning Ammon (Jeremiah 49:1-6).


5. Concerning Edom (Jeremiah 49:7-22).


6. Concerning Damascus (Jeremiah 49:23-27).


7. Concerning Koedar and Hazor (Jeremiah 49:28-33).


8. Concerning Elam (Jeremiah 49:34-39).


9. Concerning Babylon (Jeremiah 50-51).

VI. Historical supplement (Jeremiah 52):


(The following analysis, as a preview of the book, will be followed closely in the discussion.)


We have in Jeremiah 1:1-3 the preface. Whether this was written by Jeremiah himself or by Baruch we cannot be absolutely sure, but it constitutes the introduction. In this passage we have stated the family of Jeremiah, his home, and when he began to prophesy. We see that his life and ministry cover the reigns of five kings. These were Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiakin, and Zedekiah. The reigns of Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin were very short. This preface was probably written by Baruch, the scribe, after the book had been compiled.


SECTION 1. Jeremiah 1:4-6:30

This is the early group of prophecies and gives the substance of his preaching during several years of the reign of Josiah. They belong somewhere between 626-621 B.C. It was written by Baruch in 604 B.C., but burned by Jehoiakim and rewritten in 603 B.C. As to the details, note:


1. The call and commission of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:4-19). In the study of the life of Jeremiah we discover that emphasis is laid on his call, his consecration, and his commission.


2. His account of the nation’s history. It had been one long history of wickedness, and backsliding from God (Jeremiah 2:1-4:4).


3. The inevitable result of such a history (Jeremiah 4:5-6:30). The inevitable result was destruction, complete and overwhelming. This destruction was at hand. It came perhaps at the hand of the Scythians. We find that about this time there was a great invasion by these terrible people, who swept down, through Palestine, almost to Egypt but were driven back by Psammetichus, the Egyptian king. It was like the invasion of the Tartars, or Huns, of a later time. It may be that Jeremiah had this invasion in mind as the agent that God would use in destroying the people. But they did not come into the mountains of Judah. However that may be, we do know that Nebuchadnezzar completed the work that this Scythian horde left undone.


SECTION 2. Jeremiah 7-10

This covers the reign of Josiah, and probably the reign of Jehoiakim, reaching from 618-607 B.C., written 604 B.C., burned about the same time, and rewritten 603 B.C. Note in detail:


1. The destruction of the Temple of Jehovah was here threatened. Jeremiah pointed to the fact that they had so sinned centuries before that God had destroyed Shiloh, and would destroy their present Temple (Jeremiah 7:1-15).


2. The prophet goes on to warn them of the exile, because their wilfulness must be punished (Jeremiah 7:16-9:2).


3. The people are grossly corrupt and destruction is inevitable. The nation will not repent (Jeremiah 9:3-26).


4. Jeremiah describes the wicked condition of the idolatrous nation and warns against them (Jeremiah 10:1-16). In this section we find many similarities to Isaiah 40-44. There are many expressions almost identical.


5. Jeremiah’s distress and his prayer that the people might be saved from their punishment (Jeremiah 10:17-25).

SECTION 3. Jeremiah 11-17

This belongs to the early years of Jehoiakim’s reign. The subject of this section is the idolatry and sins of Judah and the result. The prophet illustrates this thought and repeats it over and over again, under different figures and from different viewpoints. As to details, note:


1. The preaching of the covenant which some hold belongs to a former period, immediately after the discovery of the book of the Law, but more probably after the breach of the covenant at the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 11:1-8).


2. Apostasy charged against Judah, and a plot to take Jeremiah and put him to death (Jeremiah 11:9-23).


3. Jeremiah pleading with God and with the people. How pathetic and how tender is this pleading of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 12:1-7).


4. The sign of the marred girdle and the water bottle, and their lessons (13). This tells how Jeremiah is told to go to the Euphrates River and hide his girdle in a rock. He goes and gets the rotten girdle and brings it to Jerusalem as a picture of the destruction which shall be the result of their sins and wickedness.


5. The drought and its lesson. Sometime in the early part of the reign of Jehoiakim a terrible drought falls upon the land and Jeremiah sees the meaning of it and preaches its lessons to the people. Some people cannot see how the hand of God is in a drought, but this prophet did (Jeremiah 14-15).


6. The domestic life of Jeremiah and its illustration of the sins of Judah. He was told that God would not permit him to marry. He could not have a home. He was not to go to the house of mourning. Neither was he to go to the house of feasting. He was to be a recluse and a man of solitude (Jeremiah 16).


7. If he cannot enter into the social life of the people at all, he must turn to God alone. God was his only refuge. The people’s sins were too deep dyed to be cleansed (Jeremiah 17:1-18).


8. Consecration of the sabbath (Jeremiah 17:19-27). Here we find the same problem that Nehemiah had in his time. The great and ever living problem of the sabbath, then as now.


(NOTE. – These are probably the chapters that Jeremiah dictated to Baruch. The remainder of the book consists of short histories. It is a compilation of pieces of writing and accounts of the life and teachings of the prophet. His lessons and prophecies against the nations and against Judah are placed together with no chronological order or regularity.)


SECTION 4. Jeremiah 18-20

This belongs to the reign of Jehoiakim, sometime before 600 B.C., doubtless written and published later. The subject for this section is lessons from the potter and the results which the prophet experiences. He sees a potter working at his wheel. He sought to make a fine piece of pottery out of a lump of clay and it was marred in his hands. So he made it over into a cruder vessel. That is the way it would be with the people. God could not make out of them the fine vessel he would have made, because of their sins. In chapter 20 we have an account of Pashur, the chief officer of the house of the Lord, who struck Jeremiah and put him in the stocks and kept him there over night. In all literature there is hardly anything to be found more pathetic than the passage (Jeremiah 20:8-13).


SECTION 5. Jeremiah 21

This belongs to about 588 or 587 B.C. It was in the latter part of the reign of Zedekiah and was the prophecy of Jeremiah to Zedekiah. The king sent for the prophet and asked him to tell the results of the siege. He told him that it meant that the city should be given to the enemy.


SECTION 6. Jeremiah 22-23

In these chapters the prophet describes the miserable reign of the kings of Judah, especially that of Jehoiakim. The priests are false prophets and likewise denounced.


SECTION 7. Jeremiah 24

We see here how these passages lack chronological order. This chapter speaks of the first year or two of the exiles now in Babylon. It compares them with the people in Jerusalem. He pictures those who had been taken away with Jehoiachin, and those who had remained in Judah, as good and bad figs. Those in Babylon are the better of the two. I doubt if those who remained in Judah felt very much complimented by his words.


SECTION 8. Jeremiah 25

This contains an oracle concerning Judah and the neighboring nations. We find in the latter part of the book distinct prophecies concerning those nations mentioned here. This oracle was delivered about 603 B.C., perhaps a little later.


SECTION 9. Jeremiah 26

This chapter gives the result of the discourse in Jeremiah 7, in which Jeremiah describes the destruction of the Temple. Enemies of the prophet rose up, consulted together and said that this prophet must be put to death. But Jeremiah escaped because he had friends among the princely families.


SECTION 10. Jeremiah 27-29

Jeremiah contends with Hananiah, a false prophet. He advises the king to submit to the Babylonians. Jeremiah retires from the contest for a while, then utters a prophecy against Hananiah. In Jeremiah 29 we have the letter which Jeremiah wrote to the exiles in Babylon, counseling them to remain there for seventy years. A certain prophet in Babylon wrote back to put Jeremiah to death, and Jeremiah wrote a prophecy against him in response.


SECTION 11. Jeremiah 30-31

These contain what is called "The New Covenant." It is Jeremiah’s "Book of Consolation" for Israel. It corresponds to the latter half of the book of Isaiah (40-66), called "The Old Testament Book of Comfort." It contains Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning the new covenant.


SECTION 12. Jeremiah 34

This describes an incident which occurred during the siege of Jerusalem. The king of Egypt came up to help Zedekiah. The city was relieved for a time. Then the people went back to their wicked lives again. This occurred in 587 B.C.


SECTION 13. Jeremiah 35

This goes back to about 597 B.C. Here the prophet gives a striking lesson from the example of the Rechabites.


SECTION 14. Jeremiah 36

We have here the story of the writing of the prophecy by Baruch.


SECTION 15. Jeremiah 37-39

This treats of the siege and capture of Jerusalem, 586 B.C., the desolation of the inhabitants, the efforts to save themselves in the city and Jeremiah’s advice to submit. He is charged with treason. They seek to kill him. He is saved by friends. The city falls and is destroyed and Jeremiah is saved by the king.


SECTION 16. Jeremiah 40-44

This is a history of Judah and Jerusalem after the fall of the Temple. Thousands are carried into exile, and thousands remain. Gedaliah is appointed governor, a community is formed at Mizpah. Ishmael, a traitor, murders the governor and escapes. Under Johanan the people go to Bethlehem, consult Jeremiah, and flee to Egypt contrary to his advice. They cling to idolatry while in Egypt.


SECTION 17. Jeremiah 45

He gives an exhortation to Baruch. Here is excellent advice to preachers: "Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not."


SECTION 18. Jeremiah 46-51

This is the record of Jeremiah’s oracles concerning the nations. They were doubtless delivered sometime between 605 and 585 B.C., and are as follows:


1. An oracle concerning Egypt (Jeremiah 46). See Isaiah 19; Ezekiel 29-33.


2. An oracle concerning the Philistines Jeremiah (47). It is interesting that both Isaiah and Ezekiel have messages concerning these nations. See Isaiah 14:18-32; Ezekiel 25:15-17.


3. Moab (Jeremiah 48). Much like Isaiah 15-16.


4. Ammon (Jeremiah 49:1-6; Ezekiel 25:1-17).


5. Edmon (Jeremiah 49:7-22; Isaiah 34; Ezekiel 25.)


6. Damascus (Jeremiah 49:23-27; also Isaiah 17).


7. Kedar and the king of Hazor (Jeremiah 49:28-33; Isaiah 21).


8. Elam (Jeremiah 49:34-39).


(NOTE. – These latter prophecies seem to have been written in the reign of Zedekiah, about 594 B.C., just a short time before the prophet’s death.)


9. Babylon (Jeremiah 50-51). Here we have a long prophecy against this nation.


SECTION 19. Jeremiah 52 This is a historical supplement containing records from the book of 2 Kings, of the story of the fall of Jerusalem and the captivity.

QUESTIONS

1. What can you say of the book of Jeremiah as compared with other books of the Bible, and what of its contents and the period which it covers?

2. Who wrote the book of Jeremiah? What is the history of its writings and what say the critics?

3. What of the difficulties of the text of Jeremiah, what version indicates these and what the critics’ position?

4. Give a convenient outline of the book of Jeremiah.

5. Give the items of information in the title of the book and a bird’s eye view of the book itself.

Verses 4-19

IV

THE LIFE AND CHARACTER OF JEREMIAH

Jeremiah 1:4-19

Our study in this chapter is the life and character of Jeremiah. In our last chapter we gave a bird’s-eye view of the book, which purports to be the substance of his prophecy, and the main events of his life. In this chapter we shall study something about the prophet himself. I want, as far as possible, to lead you into his inner life and soul and see, as best we can, the relationship of his life to his book.


Jeremiah’s call and commission are found in Jeremiah 1:4-19. He was predestined to be a prophet. He learned this when he became of age, and at the time of his call. He puts it thus: "The word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before the time thou wast born, I sanctified thee; I have appointed thee a prophet unto the nations." We see there also a great truth which has been exemplified many times since, that when God calls a man to be his prophet, or preacher, he sometimes begins with him before his birth. Sometimes he begins two or three generations before he is born.


Dr. Carter Helm Jones was being prepared to preach for at least two generations. J. Hudson Taylor was consecrated by his mother to God to be a missionary before his birth. Many another man received the divine impress to be God’s preacher before he was born. It takes a great deal to make a fine type of preacher. He needs all the forces of a good heredity to his makeup and on his side. We never will have great preachers till we have first, great mothers and even great grandmothers.


Jeremiah received his call and consecration when he was a young man. That was no little thing in relation to his future greatness as a prophet. We have some very interesting facts about that call which we find recorded in Jeremiah 1:6-10. Jeremiah felt his weakness and inability. He says, "Ah, Lord Jehovah! why hast thou called me to be a prophet? I do not know how to speak. I am but a child. I am only a boy. How can I be a preacher to the nations? I am too young for that." How many preachers feel like that when God lays his hand on them? God have mercy on the preacher who does not feel himself weak! When he realizes that God has called him, that is the way he ought to feel. Now look at God’s answer to all the prophet’s belittling of himself: God said, "Say not I am a child." It does not matter if you are but a boy. I am going to tell you what to say. You can talk if I tell you how; being a boy does not have anything to do with it. I know what I am doing in calling you. "To whomsoever I shall send thee thou shalt go and whatsoever I shall command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of them; for I am with thee, saith the Lord." That seems to have convinced Jeremiah. He appears to have been satisfied and begins his work.


Then the Lord gave unto him two visions, to assure and encourage him, Jeremiah 1:11-16. "The word of the Lord spake unto me saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see an almond-tree." The almond tree was the first to put forth its blooms. It blooms about January. The blossoms are beautiful and fragrant. This tree is called the watcher, "the opener" of spring. By that God showed this man that he was a watcher. This gave Jeremiah assurance that God was watching over him and would keep his word. With that vision in his heart he was prepared to give God’s message to the world. That kind of thing establishes a man so that he can never be shaken. The second vision gave the prophet some idea of his message. The Lord said, "Tell me what thou seest. And I said I see a boiling, seething caldron and its face is from the north," – ready to pour out its contents toward the south. Now that was clearly an indication that the enemies of the Lord were coming from the north. The horde of warriors like a seething caldron were to come and fulfil the prophecies of Jeremiah. So then, it appears from this latter vision that Jeremiah’s mission was to warn the people of the impending invasion.


Then he received a specific commission (Jeremiah 1:17-19). That commission is, "Gird up thy loins, rise and speak unto them all that I command thee. Be not dismayed at them lest I dismay thee before them." Do not be afraid of them: don’t run, for I will be with thee. Don’t be afraid of them or I will make you to be afraid before them. Don’t be afraid of God’s message. The cowardly preacher is the most contemptible of all men. Now look at the strong promises here. "I have made thee a fenced city, an iron pillar and brazen walls. I have made thee as brazen walls against the priests and princes." This assured him that God was with him, and that he was to go not in his own name, but in the fear and strength of God. Such in brief is the commission of Jeremiah to the great work of being a prophet to the nations.


We have seen that as soon as the call came to him he felt his weakness and inability. He said, "I am only a boy." He had a deep consciousness of his inability. As we come to study the inner suffering of this man we find in him one of the most pathetic figures in history. Jeremiah was a patriot. He loved his city, his country, and his people as few men ever loved them. He was also God’s prophet and was commanded as such to speak God’s message, and that message was the doom of the nation, ruin to the people that he loved. To be faithful to his people he felt that he must stay with them. Thus he was between two fires. He was driven from pillar to post and wavered between desire and duty, till he was forced to take refuge in God alone and let his people perish, for they would not heed his message.


Now let us look at his suffering in view of the impending doom as he sees how surely his nation is to be destroyed (Jeremiah 4:19-22). Hear him as he breaks forth in bitter wailing, “O my vitals, my vitals, my heart is disquieted within me." He beholds the doom of the people and it breaks his heart because he loves the people, and he loves God and therefore must denounce the people for their sins. Destruction is coming (Jeremiah 8:18-19). After describing the inevitable doom of the people he breaks forth thus: "Oh that I could comfort myself against sorrow I my heart is faint within me. . . . Is not the Lord King in Zion?"


The question is, If the Lord be in the city then how can it be destroyed? But he says, "The Lord is far from Zion." Then he breaks forth in that very familiar passage, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved." He identifies himself with the people. He feels most deeply their doom. He then turns his thoughts to the causes of their sickness and bursts forth, "Is there no balm in Gilead," is there no medicine for this disease? Is there no help for this awful state of the people? "Is there no physician there?" Why then is there no health? "Why is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?" Then we have another touching expression of his grief, Jeremiah 9:1-2: "Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for my people." Such an expression is to be found nowhere else in literature. For a man to wish that his eyes were a fountain of tears, that he might shed enough tears to wash away the sins of the people; that he might thus suffer to help his people! Where is there a parallel to this passage? We don’t know much about suffering for people and with people, when we place ourselves in the light of this passage. We have never gone down into the depths of anguish like that. It is like Jesus Christ. In this passage we are reminded of Jesus as he weeps over Jerusalem. He breaks forth again: "Oh that I had a hiding-place, that I might hide myself from their sight." He wanted to go away that he might get away from their wickedness. But if he had, he would have come back to weep for the people and warn them against their sins.


His inner or spiritual conflict is described in Jeremiah 12:1-6. No sufferer ever endured the mental and spiritual agony of this prophet, save Jesus himself. He discovered that a plot had been made against him by the men of Anathoth, his native city. They had decided to stop his preaching because he was discouraging the people and talking like a traitor. Jeremiah heard about it. We see how the problem arose. Here was God’s prophet delivering God’s message, and he was suffering agony of heart and sore trial, while those enemies of his were living in plenty and comfort. Why did not God punish them? Why did he have to suffer instead of these wicked men? It is the old, old problem. It is the same problem in the book of Job, and in Psalm 73. This problem has troubled many people since. Why is it that the wicked suffer not and the righteous are so often troubled, and the rich who are so wicked prosper and are happy?


Then Jehovah said, "If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of the Jordan?" If you are discouraged now, if you run now, what will you do when the real test comes? That was like a flash of common sense to help this man out of the difficulty. He saw that his contest with these men of Anathoth was a little thing; that it was but an introduction to what was in store for him. The time was coming when he would have to contend with men worse than these men of Anathoth. If you are going to get discouraged in this land of plenty, what will you do when the swelling of the Jordan comes? The swelling of the Jordan, or the pride of Jordan, is taken by some to refer to the rich verdure and brush which grows upon its banks; by others, the animals which infest these woods; by others, the floods of spring which drive out the animals to the hills to commit their depredations. Such shall be the onslaught of the enemy, as wild beasts ravaging the land. How will you stand that, Jeremiah? What will you do when the real test comes, if you are ready to give up now? That is a fine lesson for us to learn today. If we cannot stand little difficulties what will we do when great difficulties come?


He makes another complaint, Jeremiah 15:10-11: "Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention." Then God gives him encouragement in that he will be with him: "Cheer up, Jeremiah, for I am going to make you triumph over all." He comes to another difficulty, Jeremiah 15:15, Jeremiah 15:18-19: “O Lord, remember me and avenge my sufferings. . . . Why is my pain perpetual and my wounds refuse to be healed? . . . If thou return, then will I bring thee again." Jeremiah, come back to your early life and then I will help you before men. If thou wilt take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth." Now here is a great text. What a great thing it is to learn to separate the precious from the vile. If he will come close to God, God will stand by him. "Quit talking about yourself, and then you will not have such difficulties."


Now we come to another great conflict in the prophet’s mind (Jeremiah 20:7-18). Take first Jeremiah 20:14-18. He was cast down. He was in terrible agony, Jeremiah 20:14: "Cursed be the day in which I was born." That is like Job 3. God has commanded me to preach this awful message and then he lets these men persecute me. Oh that I had never been born! O God, what dost thou mean by getting me into this trouble? Thus he complains. He had thought to quit preaching. He was discouraged: "Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name." But then he said, I cannot quit; I must preach. Now that is a true prophet. He makes up his mind that he will not preach, but he cannot help it. He is God’s man. And as God’s man he must preach. "Then there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I cannot contain." He rises to higher ground, Jeremiah 20:11: “O Lord, thou art a mighty one and my persecutors shall not prevail."


There are certain steps by which this prophet rises to the high plane which God wants him to attain. He blames God for bringing him into the opposition of these wicked men. Then God assures him that he will save him from his persecutors and leads him to see that the persecution was a blessing to him. He ends with words of praise (Jeremiah 15:13).


We have something of his domestic and social life in Jeremiah 16:1-9. The substance of this is that he is forbidden to marry and to have a family, because of the evil times coming upon the land. He is forbidden to build a house, to go to the house of mourning or to the house of mirth. He is forbidden to go to the house of pleasure, because he is a man whose mission is to warn of punishment. He is to be himself a message of warning to the people. He is to warn by his very life that the nation is about to be destroyed. He is not to go to the house of pleasure because destruction is coming on the people.


Jeremiah’s conflict with the false prophets is described in Jeremiah 23:9-40. Their character is evil. Jeremiah speaks as if some of those prophets in Jerusalem were living private lives of corruption. He is deeply shocked at it. "My heart is like a drunken man. In my house I have found wickedness." These prophets were living corrupt lives. They were hypocrites. They pretended to be pious like the Pharisees in Jesus’ time, but inwardly they were as dead men’s bones. Jeremiah was grieved. A corrupt life indicates at once a false prophet.


Jeremiah charged that their message was their own and not God’s (Jeremiah 23:16): "They teach you vanity, they speak a vision of their own heart and not out of the mouth of the Lord." They also preach for popularity. That is another characteristic of the false prophet. He preaches for money. He is a man who preaches to please the people. He speaks out of his own heart and not of the Lord. Here is a fine lesson for us. The true preacher preaches the vision which the Lord gives and not his own visions and dreams.


His charge respecting their attitude toward sin was that these false prophets made light of sin and its consequences (Jeremiah 23:17-18). No wonder they lived corrupt lives themselves, for their conception of sin was low. They made sin a little matter. They said that it would not bring such terrible consequences; that it was really necessary to the development of character; that it was a stage in the progress upward.


His charge concerning the counsel of God was that they stood not in God’s counsel (Jeremiah 23:21-24): "If they had stood in my counsel they had not caused my people to err." This statement implies that these prophets had made no honest effort to look at the question from God’s standpoint; they were not on God’s side; they had no real knowledge of God; had no experience of his power. Such men have no true insight into the word of God.


His charge concerning their dreams and visions was that they had dreamed their own dreams (Jeremiah 23:25-29): "They tell their dreams for the word of the Lord." "What is the chaff to the wheat?" asks the prophet. They feed the people chaff. It is a fine accomplishment to be able to distinguish between wheat and chaff in religious matters.


His charge respecting their sermons was that they stole their sermons (Jeremiah 23:30-32, especially, Jeremiah 23:30). There were true prophets in Jerusalem and the false prophets stole their prophecies and palmed them off for their own. This is a characteristic of a false prophet. It may be better for the people if a preacher steals another preacher’s thunder, than to feed the people chaff, but it is not better for the preacher himself. Thus we observe that one of Jeremiah’s bitterest conflicts was with the false prophets. They were a thorn in his side, a continual source of annoyance, and a powerful factor in the downfall of the nation.


He charges that they were users of cant-phrases (Jeremiah 23:33-40). An experience common to the prophet was, "The burden of the Lord." The false prophets made use of this phrase to give authority to their utterances, to such an extent that it became a mere "cant-phrase," meaningless and empty. The prophet declared that this phrase should be no longer used Jeremiah 23:36: "Every man’s own word shall be his burden." People shall no longer ask, "What is the burden of the Lord," but, "What hath Jehovah answered thee?" Or, "What hath Jehovah spoken?" Those that use this phrase, "The burden of the Lord," shall be cast off, and an everlasting reproach and perpetual shame shall be brought upon them (Jeremiah 23:40).

QUESTIONS

1. What is the theme of this study, and what, in general, does it embrace?

2. What of Jeremiah’s call and commission (Jeremiah 1:4-19) and what the application, to modern preachers?

3. How did Jeremiah receive this call and commission, and how did the Lord deal with him?

4. How did the Lord assure him and what the visions and their interpretation?

5. What is his specific commission and what assurance did the Lord give him here?

6. What, in general, is his inner sufferings and what is the cause?

7. How does the prophet express his inner sufferings for his people?

8. What the spiritual conflict in Jeremiah and what is the problem arising in connection with it?

9. What is his further complaint and what is the Lord’s reply?

10. What is the depressing effect of the inner conflict upon the prophet and what is his final conclusion?

11. Show the process by which the prophet attained the right attitude.

12. Describe his domestic and social life (Jeremiah 16:1-9).

13. In his conflict with the false prophets what his charge as to their character (Jeremiah 23:9-40)?

14. What is his charge respecting their message?

15. What is his charge respecting their attitude toward sin?

16. What is his charge concerning the counsel of God and what does it imply?

17. What is his charge concerning their dreams and visions?

18. What is his charge respecting their sermons?

19. What is the charge respecting cant-phrases?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Jeremiah 1". "Carroll's Interpretation of the English Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bhc/jeremiah-1.html.
 
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