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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 3

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-25

Jeremiah 3:3 . Therefore the showers, of the former and the latter rain, have been withheld. Other prophets make the same remark. God is not obliged to give luxuriant harvests to furnish feasts to a guilty people, who would ascribe those gifts to their idols.

Jeremiah 3:6 . The Lord said unto me in the days of Josiah, when idolatry had prevailed for fifty years, from Manasseh’s ascension to the throne to the minority of this young king: nor could the king wholly suppress it during his reign, though he made great efforts.

Jeremiah 3:10 . Yet for all this, her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly. She took no warning by the fall of Samaria; and even at the great passover celebrated by Josiah in the eighteenth year of his reign, the princes had their idols concealed: Jeremiah 34:18-20. In this view, the sin of Samaria was less than the sin of Judah, for she worshipped idols professedly, while Judah, bowing in the temple of the Lord, worshipped all the gods of Syria. Her gods were as numerous as her cities: Jeremiah 11:13.

Jeremiah 3:12 . Go, and proclaim these words toward the north. The principal part of the holy land lay north of Jerusalem, where some remains of the ten tribes still continued. Others say the phrase means, proclaim this great, this royal proclamation of grace, through the lands where the ten tribes were dispersed, as named in 2 Kings 17:6.

Jeremiah 3:14 , Turn, oh backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you. The prophet refers to the prayer of Solomon concerning Hebrew captives in a foreign land, that God would hear their prayer and restore them, 1 Kings 8:47; and give them pastors such as Ezra, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

Jeremiah 3:16 . And it shall come to pass when ye are multiplied and increased they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the Lord. Here a new scene opens, as in Isaiah 65:17; a new law, when the Messiah, not the ark of wood, should be the boast and glory of Israel. The ark, in which Christ then dwelt, divided the Jordan, and threw down the walls of Jericho; but then the same Lord will openly put all his enemies under his feet.

Jeremiah 3:17 . At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord. Whatever gracious comfort this great promise might afford the Jews under the second temple, (and they apply it wholly to themselves) all critics seem agreed that its grand bearings are on the new-testament church in the glory of the latter day. “Not the earthly,” says Poole, “but the spiritual Jerusalem, even the church, of which the earthly was a type.” Vide Synopsis in loc. Professor Cocceius, of Leyden, anno 1663, from whose Latin Commentary I translate this note, says, “This is that greater good and superior glory, which Jehovah shall reveal; not dwelling in the sanctuary, the holy place, but about to be manifested in the ways of Jerusalem, nay in all the earth.” Jeremiah explains what John means by σκηνωσει dwelt among us, 1:14; and which Isaiah, Isaiah 2:2, calls “the mountain of the house of the Lord, established on the top of the mountains;” that is, all his future glory, and indeed a greater glory than any mountain ever saw. This is the Jerusalem and the mountain hereafter to be the throne of Jehovah. Thus Psalms 82:1, is understood. “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.” Besides, in or before that throne, Christ is the το ιλαστηριον , the propitiation, the mercyseat here after to be set forth. Romans 3:25.

All the nations shall be gathered to the name of the Lord. They shall join in the worship of his name, detesting all idols. Joel 2:32.

Jeremiah 3:24 . Shame hath devoured the labour of our fathers. The altars and worship of Baal, and all the gods of Syria, which are called “a shameful thing: Jeremiah 11:13.


It is a doubt with some whether this chapter be connected with the preseding; the subjects however are not dissimilar in design. If argument would convert the wicked, here is argument of the most cogent kind: a harlot church recalled with all the eloquence of the ancient church. Man, biased by pride and self-love, is not in a state to judge of his own faults; but the mote in his brother’s eye he sees with perfect ease. A woman who leaves the best of husbands to prostitute her person, degrades herself to the lowest dregs of human nature; and the Hebrew doctors would make no scruple to sign her divorce, and absolutely prohibit her return. The prophet, founding his doctrine on this received opinion, exclaims, Ye are the men, ye are the nation, ye are the harlot church, ye have committed adultery with a thousand idols; and I hold against you the sentence of divorce in my hand.

The mercy of God to penitent sinners is greater than any mercy a harlot could expect from man. The law of the Hebrews, Deuteronomy 24:1-4, and the law of the Romans forbade an adulteress to be received back who had been married to another; yet God would still receive his backsliding people! Oh the grace, the unspeakable grace, which God from the bowels of his mercy discovers to fallen man! One would think that grace so great would warm the coldest heart, and draw the remotest offender back by repentance to his love.

The sin of Judah, as is frequently noticed, became much aggravated by her apathy concerning the Assyrian vengeance which fell upon the ten tribes. She saw all this, and still trifled with idols, and dallied with crimes. It is a sad mark that we are come to the last stage of depravity, when we can see multitudes perishing in their sins with perfect indifference and stupor of mind.

Israel, all polluted and depraved as she was, is yet invited to return as a profligate child to a parent, and as a faithless wife to the bosom of her husband. Yea, she is invited to return with promises which not only belonged to the age of adversity, but which reach down to the times of the Messiah. Though the ten tribes so far perished in exile that there returned but one of a city, and two of a family, yet they should be multiplied in the land. And so great shall be the glory of the latter day, that the ark of the covenant, once so celebrated in Israel, should not come into their mind. Christ, the true ark, should so far surpass it in excellence. He the ark contains the law; he is the hidden manna; he is the dry almond rod which ever buds, and rules the nations; yea, he is the God of glory who fills the mercyseat, and kindles the altar of the heart with heavenly fire. Why then remember the ark of wood burnt by the Chaldees?

The riches of divine grace are so great as to occasion, humanly speaking, some difficulty with the divine justice. But, I said, how shall I put thee among the children, and make thee the happiest of nations? How shall I do it consistently with my truth? How shall I do it in the eyes of angels, in the sight of the heathen who have known thy perfidy? Here the church is silent. He who asks the question must give the answer. Truly it must be first by regeneration and unfeigned piety: Thou shalt call me, my Father. It must also be secondly by confirmation: Thou shalt no more turn away from following me. It must be by seeking the opposite virtues of all thy vices, and by all the habitudes of piety and holiness. Hear this, oh backsliding soul. How shall God ever save thee! Thou who hast been so great a sinner, and hast backslidden in a thousand forms. Thou who hast been lukewarm in religious duties, and hast so often fallen in temptation’s hour. Yea, thou who in thy riper years, and perhaps after thy conversion, hast committed so many deliberate and premeditated acts of wickedness. With what face then can mercy place thee on the throne; and with what truth can the Lord say of thee, Well done, good and faithful servant. Oh make haste, and return to the Lord, that he may create thy soul anew in righteousness, for the God of truth cannot lie.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 3". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/jeremiah-3.html. 1835.
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