‘The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these.’
I. Religious formalism.—When Jeremiah threatened Israel with the coming of the king of Assyria, the false prophets minimised the terror of his utterances by pointing to the Temple and assuring the people that there was no reason to anticipate the overthrow of their city, since it was the custodian of the holy shrine of Jehovah. ‘Ye have the Temple in your midst, surely then you are a religious people. You cannot be as bad as this pessimistic prophet alleges, and God cannot very well dispense with you.’
II. But men may perform the most sacred rites, and yet perpetrate the grossest crimes. The presence of a Temple with all its priests and rites does not necessarily denote holiness, but often the contrary. In some countries brigands will seek the blessing of heaven on their plans of murder and plunder. Our safety lies, not in outward rites, but in amending our ways and doings, in executing judgment, and refusing to walk after other gods. Not in having sprung from godly parents, nor in engagedness in holy things, nor in the practice of religious rites, will help come, but in being genuinely right with God. Real religion consists not in temple-rites, but in humility, unselfishness, and godliness.
‘Men are always prone to attribute to the externals of religion a saving efficacy, imagining that a rigorous attention to these will condone for the commission of sins like those enumerated in the earlier verses. It is a terrible thing for a soul when, beneath an outward decorum of behaviour, the heart is filled with all manner of abominations, as the Temple was filled with robbers (Jeremiah 7:11. See also Matthew 21:13).’
‘A REFUGE OF LIES’
‘Lying words, that cannot profit.’
I. God tears open the ‘lying words’ of many who worship Him, and what does He find?—Hypocrisy, fraud, a festering mass of corruption, a fixed determination that nothing shall be true which interferes with their pleasures, their emoluments, their privileges. Love, brotherhood, humility, mercy, faith; these things they do not believe in. What they seek is the maintenance of their own position, the advancement of their own interest. To all such He says, ‘Ye shall become as Shiloh,’ bankrupt, deserted, lost.
II. So let me be true, for I worship the God of truth.
(1) True to myself. In my thoughts seeking honestly to gain the verity and certainty of things, especially the things which are highest and deepest. In my speech uttering only what I feel. In my life, abhorring the very appearance of dissimulation and craft.
(2) True to my neighbour, and, most of all, true to my God. Trusting Him with a clinging trust. Feeling for Him a fervent affection. Following hard after Him whatever the cost may be. Begging Him daily to see if there is any wicked way in me, and to lead me in the way everlasting.
‘The privileges of a form of godliness are often the pride and confidence of those that are strangers and enemies to the power of it. It is common for those that are furthest from God to boast themselves most of their being near to the Church.’
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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Jeremiah 7". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week after Epiphany