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We have in this Chapter a blessed and gracious word of comfort succeeding the awful message, in the preceding Chapter. And what tends to make this Chapter most eminently blessed to the Church is, the glorious account given in it under the spirit of prophecy of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is blessed to observe, how from the unworthiness of man the Lord takes occasion to magnify the riches of his grace. Not that our misery is the cause of divine mercy: for his love was long before we had any sense of our need of it, or even our being: but, though the love of Jehovah from all eternity was the source and spring of all our blessings; yet even our worthlessness, the Lord takes occasion from, to introduce yet more striking marks of his grace and goodness. Thus as in this Chapter, Foolish and destructive pastors make way for the Lord's faithful One: and because man cannot, the Lord himself will, both gather and feed his sheep from all places, whither they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day! Ezekiel 34:10-26.34.12 . Oh! grace divine: mercy unequalled!
Here are two verses, which contain an epitome of the whole Bible; Christ and his offices; Christ and his work; Christ and his character: all that refers to his glorious Person and finished salvation, is implied in what is here said. The passage opens with a behold! regard, take notice, as a thing of immense consequence: and of immense con sequence indeed it is. The day here spoken of, is as similar to all the other like phrases in the Prophet, the gospel day, the day of salvation. Jesus, under the similitude of a Branch is pointed at, and most divinely proclaimed. Several of the Prophets described Christ by this same representation. Isaiah 4:2 ; Zechariah 6:12; Zechariah 6:12 . And in express allusion to the house of David, from whom Christ after the flesh was to arise, the Prophet described him, Isaiah 11:1-23.11.2 . How plainly these representations, refer to the Lord Jesus, and in him were completed, and in no other the beloved Apostle shows, Revelation 22:16 . His royal office is also strongly spoken of. And how fully is Christ shown to be King in Zion, King of Nations, King of Saints; the Church's head and husband, the smallest reference to the scriptures will prove. Psalms 2:6 ; Ephesians 1:20-49.1.21 , &c, Revelation 19:16 . And what a volume of blessings and mercies are summed up all in one, in that comprehensive account the Prophet gives of the properties of his royal grace and power. Both Israel and Judah, both Jew and Gentile, shall be alike interested in his salvation. His name shall be the full redemption of his people: And this, not only from what he is in himself, and in his own glorious and Almighty character, but, in the relationship in which he hath put himself to his people, and in which by grace they stand in him. Jehovah in himself eternal; and Jehovah perfect righteousness, and Jehovah our righteousness. For what he is, he is to them, and for them, and his righteousness, by virtue of this union with him is to all intents and purposes theirs; for he is made of God to them all these, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; so that they stand in the sight of God, one with him, and as a part of himself: And Jehovah declares, that this shall not only be the case; but that the people shall know it, and proclaim it, as those who rejoice in it, and take delight: they shall call him so: and live in the enjoyment of it. Was there ever anything more blessed, or ever anything more gracious. Reader! if our hearts take no interest in this most precious scripture, they must be cold indeed!
In consequence of this great salvation, when the Lord Jesus is come, and hath fully finished it, the former deliverance from Egypt, which was but a type of it, shall then be done away, as the shadow is lost in the substance. Both the deliverance of the Church from Egypt, and the deliverance from Babylon were types of Jesus's deliverance from worse than Egyptian and Babylonian bondage. They were temporary, but this an eternal freedom. In allusion to this the Church is represented as singing, Revelation 18:2 , etc.
The Prophet is here representing the horrible state of false prophets, and the awful termination of such conduct. A portion suited not only to the days of Jeremiah but to all ages of the Church. Lord! give grace to all concerned to attend to it.
At the opening of this passage, we have the Lord's sentence upon them, and an awful one it is. Wormwood and gall are strong figures to set forth the awful bitterness in the close of such a life! Prophets not sent, not commissioned, and who utter lies among God's people; what can be more awful. But the Lord hath marked out a right method of judgment, for such as hear them. As pure wheat is discoverable from chaff; so the pure doctrine of the cross is discoverable from the vain doctrine of the pride of men. The Father's love in redemption, and the Son's grace in the accomplishment of it, when taught the soul by God the Holy Ghost, will prove, that this word is as fire, and as the hammer, both to break and to inflame, the souls of the hearers, with the truth of salvation. And though faithful Preachers, who call upon their people to attend to these things, may be made the jest and the sneer of the Infidel, concerning the burden of the Lord: yet such only mock to their own confusion, and bring upon themselves swift destruction!
READER! while this Chapter in the awful close of it, holds forth most powerful instructions concerning true and false teachers in the Church of God; and which are in themselves enough to call forth the most awakened attention to all that are concerned in the ministry of God's word: let us pray over this part with earnestness, that the Lord may commission what is here said to their solemn conviction. But let you and I dwell with delight on the former part of this most blessed Chapter, in which we find so much said, and so blessedly said, concerning Him, who is the Lord our Righteousness. Let us look stedfastly and steadily to him, who comes home thus recommended to us, under this endearing character, and let us not lose sight of Him, until that we have so looked, and so loved, and so believed, unto salvation, as to know, that he is indeed the Lord our Righteousness.
Reader! You and I cannot but know, that we both need a righteousness: for without holiness no man can see the Lord. And as we have not this holiness in ourselves, it is high time that we should seek it in another. And this righteousness is nowhere to be found but in Christ. Now if you and I are taught, savingly taught of God the Holy Ghost, who Christ is, and what he hath wrought, that he who knew no sin, was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him; then shall we indeed know Him, and call Him, by this glorious name, the Lord our Righteousness. Let us beg of God the Spirit, to be our teacher, and to bring home Christ to our hearts in all his loveliness, suitableness, and all-sufficiency. Let us seek with earnestness that unspeakable blessing, to know that He is made of God to us wisdom, and righteousness; sanctification and redemption, that all our glorying may be in the Lord. Then shall we have that blessed soul experience, which is spoken of by the Prophet, and both our life and conversation will be the same. Surely shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength; even to him shall men come; and all that believe in him shall never be ashamed nor confounded, world without end. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany