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Bible Commentaries

The Church Pulpit Commentary

Jeremiah 5

Verse 1

NO! NOT ONE!

‘If there be any that executeth judgment.’

Jeremiah 5:1

I. A nation’s moral ruin.—The desperate condition of the Hebrew people is described in moving terms. Both high and low were equally corrupt, therefore judgment could not be delayed ( Jeremiah 9:9; Jeremiah 44:22). When men become ungodly, the bands of society are dissolved. Ingratitude towards the God Who has fed them to the full is certain to make men reckless of the relative duties that they owe to their fellow-men. To love God first is the guarantee of love to one’s neighbour. We have similar reasons to deplore the decline of religion in our national life.

II. God’s executioner.—Babylon is summoned to destroy the sinful nation, though not utterly. But the people would not believe that their end was near. When warned by the preacher of the inevitable fate of the wicked, the ungodly will still whisper to themselves, even if they dare not say it openly, ‘It is not He.’ But there is a precise exactitude in God’s retributive justice, so that men may read their sin in their punishment. If we forsake God, we shall be forsaken by Him; if we serve strangers in our own land, we shall serve them in a land that is not ours.

Illustration

‘Diogenes, the cynic, was discovered one day in Athens in broad daylight, candle in hand, looking for something. When some one remonstrated with him, he said that he needed all the light possible to enable him to find a man. Something like that is in the prophet’s thought. God was prepared to spare Jerusalem on lower terms than even Sodom, and yet He was driven to destroy her. Both poor and rich had alike “broken the yoke and burst the bonds.” ’

Verse 22

A BARRIER OF SAND

‘Which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea, by an everlasting ordinance, which it cannot pass.’

Jeremiah 5:22 (R.V.)

I. What an insignificant atom is a grain of sand!—But God has chosen to arrest the advance of the mighty billows by a barrier of sand-grains. Let the ocean chafe as it will, it cannot pass its defined limits. It may destroy the solid masonry of human construction, but it is foiled by a bank of soft sand.

II. So it has always been in the history of the Church.—The pride of the persecutor has been arrested by the sufferings of men, women, and children, who have had no more strength in themselves than a bank of sand-grains, but have succeeded in exhausting the might of their foes by passive endurance. The persecutions of the Roman Empire were finally renounced because they actually promoted the cause they were intended to destroy. By the weak things of this world God brings to nought the things that are reckoned mighty.

III. The weakest things that God has made are invincible.—What, then, may not those who are strong in His strength do! Who would not tremble at His presence, since He can do so much with what man despises? What a great God is this, Whose weakness is stronger than men!

(1) ‘The perversity of the human heart is beyond belief. It is not moved by the manifestation of God’s power in the majesty and beauty of Nature as in the soft sand-barrier to the waves. It is not touched by reverent gratitude for God’s beneficence in giving the appointed weeks of harvest. It is only glad when prophet and priest are infected by the common degeneracy, and cease to remonstrate. Let us seek to hear and speak, not what is palatable, but what is profitable unto salvation.’

(2) ‘What a delightful metaphor this is which reminds us that God has made the soft sand a perpetual barrier against the sea! It is not necessary for Him to resist the waves with a parapet of cliffs; sand will serve His purpose equally well. It makes one think that the people of God, lowly and pulverised though they be, will yet suffice to resist the onset of the mighty waves of Satan’s power. Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, God ordains strength.’

Verse 24

GRATITUDE FOR HARVEST

‘The appointed weeks of the harvest.’

Jeremiah 5:24

The inspired writers, in urging the claims of God and of religion upon those to whom they addressed their messages, sometimes made use of facts which were familiar to all, in order to support those claims. Whilst there were special proofs in Revelation of Divine wisdom, care, and love, it was thought well sometimes to appeal to those proofs of Providential oversight and benevolence which are visible to every eye, and should produce impression upon every heart.

I. The natural events and processes upon which the appeal is grounded.—The provision made annually for the wants of God’s dependent creatures has always attracted the attention of the observant, and awakened the gratitude of the devout. Notice (1) The means by which the harvest is prepared. The former and the latter rains were given in their season to fertilise the soil and to bring forward the crop. (2) The end which is thus secured. The appointed weeks of the harvest, i.e. the seven weeks from Passover to Pentecost, witnessed the ripening and the ingathering of the precious grain. Still is the promise fulfilled, ‘Seedtime and harvest shall not cease.’

II. The religious impressions and resolutions which these natural events and processes are fitted to produce.—They who witness such proofs of God’s goodness are expected to say in their hearts, ‘Let us reverence, worship, and serve the Lord, the Giver of every good gift!’ To refrain from such a response is an evidence of ‘a revolting and a rebellious heart.’

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Jeremiah 5". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/jeremiah-5.html. 1876.