The Prophet in this Chapter is teaching by signs, as he had before been instructing by plain discourse. Under the similitude of a girdle made rotten, and of bottles perishing with wine; the Prophet showeth the sad Consequences of the children of his people, consuming in their captivity. The Chapter closeth with a gracious call of God to his people.
Jeremiah spared no pains, and thought nothing of his trouble to follow up the Lord's commissions. Euphrates was no small distance from Jerusalem: but yet we find thither the Prophet went both to carry the girdle thither and to go for it again. Some have thought, however, that this was rather a vision.
The signs and types are doubly beautiful, and interesting, which God the Holy Ghost himself explains. And here we have the Lord's own illustration of it. Our whole nature was marred by sin; and when the Lord gathered from the mass, his people Israel, and chose them for his portion; how did he cause to cleave unto him, both Judah and Israel for a name, and a glory, and a praise,, above all the people of the earth. But when by sin, and transgression they departed from the Lord, like Jeremiah's girdle, thrown by, and marred, nothing but sovereign grace can renew and restore. Oh! blessed Jesus! what eternal praises are due to thee, for the recovery of our fallen nature! All our pride is forever done away, in the recollection, that but for thy gracious interposition we must have been marred forever!
Here we have another similitude, and it should seem, it was highly suited to the people, to whom the Prophet delivered it. In wine countries, such as Judea, all orders of the people knew the use of it. But alas! they knew also the abuse of it. The Prophet therefore, by this figure, seems to have intended, that as they were filled with drunkenness, so should they be filled with sorrow. When the Lord's judgment overtook them, in the Babylonish captivity, this was the case. Read in confirmation Ps 137.
Who can read this account of the mournful prophet, but must revere his memory? Oh! how delightful is it to behold a faithful pastor, taking interest in all that concerns his people! But while the memory of Jeremiah on this account is blessed, and that of all faithful ministers in the Church; with what glory doth Christ appear in his unequalled affection, whose tears for Jerusalem were so, many, and whose sweat, great drops of blood?
I interrupt not the reading of those verses, because they are connected. They contain the solemn expostulation of the Lord, in the view of their sins. They point out also the utter impossibility of the
sinner's recovery by any efforts of his own, under the strong figure of the black hue of the Ethiopian, and of the spots of the leopard. But here again precious Jesus, how unspeakably blessed is it to the soul of thy redeemed, that what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh; thou through the Father's sending, hast in thine own flesh accomplished; Romans 8:3. And dost thou say to me as to Jerusalem, wilt thou not be made clean? Oh!, for grace, to look unto thee, that I may be made whole by thee!
MY soul! while reading the sad history of the Church, in this period of it, and beholding Jerusalem as a marred girdle and a bottle spoiled; oh learn from hence what nature is in itself in all ages; when the preventing and restraining grace of God is withheld! How poor, and weak, and blind, and wretched! Oh! thou who alone canst keep from falling; give me Lord I pray thee grace, that darkness come not, and my feet stumble not upon the dark mountains!
And shall not my soul take occasion from the review of this solemn Chapter, to look up to Jesus with encreasing earnestness, and beg of him for Zion in the present day? Dost thou say Lord now as thou didst by thy servant the Prophet then; where is the flock that was given, the beautiful flock? Behold it Lord, I would say, let thine eye pity and compassionate it. It is indeed scattered in this dark and cloudy day. But wilt thou not gather it, and bring it home, and build it up, and command pastors after thine own heart, to feed it with true understanding and knowledge? Oh! precious Lord Jesus, thou great Shepherd of thy sheep; be not wrath very sore, neither remember iniquity forever. Behold! see we are all thy people.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Jeremiah 13". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany