Lectionary Calendar
Monday, June 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 16

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-21

Shall we turn now to Jeremiah 16:1-21 .

Now you remember that Jeremiah was just a young man when God called him to this prophetic ministry. And so in chapter 16:

The word of the LORD came also unto me, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife, neither shalt thou have sons or daughters in this place ( Jeremiah 16:1-2 ).

So Jeremiah is commanded by God not to marry, and the reason for the commandment not to marry or not to have children was to be a sign to the people of the terrible times that were coming. They were going to really be facing hard times and it was no time to be having children. Because if you have children, they're going to die of starvation; they're going to be killed in the siege. It's just not a time to be having children or to be getting married and all. So it was to be a sign, his bachelorhood was to be a sign unto the people.

Now it is interesting that God spoke to Hosea and told him to marry. And God directed him concerning his marriage. And with Hosea his marriage was to be a sign unto the people. With Isaiah he was to name his children as signs to the people. And so their names meant certain things that were, again, a sign to the people. So with Jeremiah God called him to bachelorhood.

For thus saith the LORD concerning the sons and the daughters that are born in this place, and concerning their mothers that bare them, and concerning their fathers that begat them in this land; They shall die of grievous deaths; they shall not be lamented; neither will they be buried; but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth: and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by the famine; and their carcasses shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth. For thus saith the LORD, Enter not into the house of mourning, neither go to lament nor bemoan them: for I have taken away my peace from this people, saith the LORD, even loving-kindness and mercies. Both the great and the small shall die in this land: they shall not be buried, neither shall men lament for them, nor cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them ( Jeremiah 16:3-6 ):

Now in Israel they have customs when a family member dies; you're not to shave for thirty days. And then when you shave you take the hair that has grown in that thirty days and offer it unto the Lord as sort of a sacrifice. But it was a sign; it is a sign of mourning. And even to the present day the Jews observe this sign of mourning at a death. So the shaving was after the thirty days that they had died. But he's saying there's not going to be any kind of a memorial or cutting of yourself, shaving of yourself or whatever for those who have died.

Neither shall men tear themselves for them in mourning ( Jeremiah 16:7 ),

And, of course, these people sought to show their great love for the deceased and the more wailing that went on in the house indicated to everybody how much you loved them. So when someone died that was very close to you, you wanted everybody to know how deeply you loved them and so you would hire wailers to come into your house. And they were professionals that would really wail. And they would come in and go through this wailing process. And, of course, you would join in with them and there was this lamenting, the wailing that they did for the dead. And so he's saying that that's not going to even be going on. The tearing of themselves of this mourning.

to comfort them for the dead; neither shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or for their mother ( Jeremiah 16:7 ).

So don't get married. Don't have children, because the people that are here, the children that are now being born are going to suffer fearful, awful deaths as their bodies won't even be buried. There will be no one around to mourn their deaths. And he's just telling of that hard, hard times that are coming and because of that, as a sign to the people, he was not to marry nor to have children.

Now the Lord gave him a second commandment in verse Jeremiah 16:8 .

Thou shalt not also go into the house of feasting, to sit with them to eat and to drink ( Jeremiah 16:8 ).

Now, of course, the feasts were great occasions. It was really their... They didn't have television, radios and movie theaters. And so their entertainment was at these feasts. And these feasts would be great occasions, not only of dining, but also of entertainment. And so there was great laughter as you had all kinds of entertainment during these feasts and all. And they were just times of entertainment and celebration. But the prophet is told not to go to these feasts.

For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will cause to cease out of this place in your eyes, and in your days, the voice of merriment, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride ( Jeremiah 16:9 ).

During your time, during this generation, these things are all going to cease in this land. So as a sign to the people that the end has come, don't go into the house of feasting. Don't join in that merriment.

And it shall come to pass, when thou shalt show this people all these words, and they shall say unto thee, Why has the LORD pronounced all this great evil against us? or what is our iniquity? or what is our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God? Then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the LORD, and have walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law; And you have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me ( Jeremiah 16:10-12 ):

So there was anarchy. Everyone was following the imagination of his own evil heart. God's law was forsaken and thus the judgments of God were coming upon them.

Now the Jew was immensely proud of his heritage. They were always talking about our fathers. And Jesus brings out the fact, how they are always saying, "Well, our fathers," and, "in the days of our fathers." So you remember when Stephen was called in before the Sanhedrin. As he started to sort of rehearse for them their... what they felt, illustrious history. He got caught up as he was rehearsing their history with the whole hypocrisy of the thing. For remembering their history he remembered how they had treated the prophets of God. Now here is Jeremiah and he's saying, "Hey, this is all happening to you because your fathers have forsaken God. They are worshipping these other gods. But you are even worse than your fathers. Everyone is doing after the imagination of his own wicked heart. And for this cause God is pronouncing this judgment that is coming.

Now their reaction to Jeremiah was to put him in prison when he brought this message to them. So as Stephen is rehearsing to the Sanhedrin who, you know, "our fathers." And you remember Jesus in talking with them, they said, they kept talking about "our fathers" and Jesus said, "Look, if Abraham was your father, then you'd believe in me. For Abraham rejoiced to see My day and he saw it." And they were arguing with Jesus about that. And they said, "We have Abraham as our father." And Jesus said, "You're of your father the devil. And his works are the works that you're doing." Well, Stephen got carried away and he said, "Which of the prophets have you not stoned?" And He started really laying on them what their fathers had done. That they weren't these glorious, illustrious kind of men of faith; that they had actually turned away from God and reminded them of that fact.

Therefore [God said,] will I cast you out of this land into a land that you know not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there you will serve other gods day and night; where I will not show you favor. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave to their fathers ( Jeremiah 16:13-15 ).

Now he's speaking about this dark period of history that they are facing. "During your time the land is going to be laid desolate. During your time you're going to be carried away captive. Because of your evil in turning against God; it's all going to happen in your time." And yet though he's pronouncing this judgment he goes ahead and speaks of that glorious day when God will gather them back again into the land. After the seventy-year captivity, the Lord will bring them back into the land and the day will come when they will say, "The God who brought us out of our captivity," rather than, "The God who brought our fathers out of Egypt." They'll be talking about, "God who brought us back from captivity and put us back in the land."

Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. For my eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from my eyes. And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable and abominable things ( Jeremiah 16:16-18 ).

Jeremiah cried out in response to what God had said.

O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit. Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods? Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is Jehovah ( Jeremiah 16:19-21 ).

So Jeremiah cries out. It's almost as the psalm. In fact, there are psalms, "The Lord is my strength," ( Psalms 118:14 ). "My refuge, my fortress" ( Psalms 91:2 ). And he is perhaps thinking of that psalm when he cries out, "O Lord, my strength, my fortress, my refuge in the day of affliction." And then the prophecy of the Gentiles coming from the ends of the earth. And Paul makes mention of prophecies concerning the Gentiles' salvation in the book to the Romans.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Jeremiah 16". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/jeremiah-16.html. 2014.
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