This Chapter is a continuation of the same sermon as the former. Added to what was there said, in a way of expostulation, the Lord is pleased to follow it up, with invitations, and of the most gracious nature.
It is the uniform custom of human life, that, if a woman prove unfaithful to her husband, and the thing be notorious and publicly known, by her open departure from him, never is she permitted to return to him again. There are none such compassionate husbands among men as to allow it. But, saith the Lord, with me things shall not be so. I will receive my Church, though she hath set up her idols in every place of her iniquity. Reader! do pause I beseech you, and admire the abundant grace of the Lord. In all things, his ways are not our ways, nor his thoughts our thoughts. Jesus indeed seems to take occasion from the unworthiness of our poor fallen nature, to display and magnify the riches of his grace. Isaiah 55:8-9; Romans 5:20-21. The Arabian in the wilderness is a fine image, to illustrate the earnestness with which Israel had revolted from the Lord. It had been, not the casual inadvertency of temptation, but the deliberate purpose and contrivance of the heart.
This is a most beautiful and gracious observation of the Lord's, to show, what might be reasonably expected, from the overwhelming kindness of the Lord. When grace becomes more abundant, it overpowers our sin, disarms the sinner, and constrains him, as the Prodigal in the parable, to return to his Father. Luke 15:17-19.
It should seem, that this is the opening of a new sermon; perhaps it was preached at a different period from the former: but the subject is the same. A sad account is given of both kingdoms, Judah and Jerusalem. The Reader will not fail to recollect, that the division of the nation continued as it had long been, at this time, when the Prophet Jeremiah exercised his ministry. Ten tribes had revolted from the house of David, and became formed into a separate kingdom. But in one point they both agreed: namely, in their rebellion against God. How graciously the Lord takes occasion from the treachery of the one, and the backsliding of the other, to recommend the exceeding riches of his love and forbearance. The figure of a divorce is uncommonly striking, and it should seem, that the Lord was pleased with it, both to represent his love and union with our nature; and the incorrigible hardness and insensibility of the human heart. Hosea that had been prophesying to the Church some ages before, dwelt very largely in representing Israel's unworthiness, under the same figure . Ho 1; 2; 3.
Nothing can more highly illustrate the riches of grace, than what is here said, on the subject of divine mercy. Israel was about to go into Babylon, and there the Prophet is particularly directed to proclaim the invitation of mercy. The Lord had made a provision for the recovery of his people in all ages: for he had long before caused it to he recorded, that in all places, whether they were scattered for their sins, they should call to remembrance their trespasses, and if there their unhumbled heart then accepted the punishment of their iniquity, that then the Lord would remember his covenant, and have mercy upon them. Leviticus 26:40-42. And do not Reader, for a moment lose sight of the wonderful condescension expressed by the Lord, in acknowledging his alliance with his people. Yes! Jesus hath indeed married our nature, And will not hate his own flesh. Oh the unequalled grace and mercy, of our glorious Emmanuel! Isaiah 54:5; Ephesians 5:25-32.
Reader! doth not your heart go forth, At the reading of those blessed promises, with an earnestness of desire, that the Lord would fulfil them, and give his people pastors indeed according to his own heart! Oh! that the Lord would send forth faithful, disinterested ministers, in his Churches, and among his people. If this were once the case, Judah and Israel, Jews and Gentiles, would walk together, and all would be of one heart and of one mind, in the service and fellowship of the Lord Jesus! Galatians 3:26 to the end.
A difficulty here seemeth to have arisen in the views of such unspeakable mercy; how shall the Lord, consistent with his divine perfections, take home to his favor sinners so ungracious? And none but God himself can remove the difficulty. The privilege of adoption in Christ, is the only possible means by which the Lord can pardon sin, and receive the sinner. This Jehovah hath provided. And he that hath provided the means, will take care it shall be effectual to the end. Reader! think of our adoption privileges, in Christ Jesus, and bless the glorious author of them. Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:14-17.
The Lord still causeth his grace to triumph over the unworthiness of his Israel, until at length, the heart is subdued and overcome. What a sweet and blessed conclusion is made to the subject, and to the chapter together! And what it was with Israel then, so is it with all the praying seed of Israel now when Christ is seen, and known, and felt by his Holy Spirit in the heart, such will be the language of every child of God: truly in vain is salvation looked for elsewhere: in the Lord shall one say, have I righteousness and strength; even to him shall men come, and all that believe in him shall not be ashamed nor confounded, world without end. Isaiah 45:24; Acts 4:12.
BLESSED Lord Jesus! how can I read in this Chapter the unfaithfulness of Israel, in departing from thee, who hast been the kind and loving husband of thy Church forever; without calling to my recollection my baseness and unfaithfulness also. Surely thou art, as, thou hast said in this Chapter, married to us, not only in the assumption of our nature, but in the particular and personal union with every individual soul of thine, whom by thy Spirit thou hast made willing in the day of thy power. And notwithstanding the lowness of our birth, our loathsomeness by nature, and unworthiness by sin! still hath the Lord of life and glory made us one with himself, that we might be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ. And is it possible for me to call to mind, that after such unheard of condescension on the part of the Son of God, as to marry our nature, and to unite every individual person of his people to himself, that, I like a treacherous wife, departing from her husband, should depart from thee? Oh! Lord! what an awful state must our nature be reduced to by the fall! And doth my God and Saviour, notwithstanding these horrible provocations, doth he really say: though thou host played the harlot with many lovers, yet return again unto me, saith the Lord Oh! for grace, to feel the full influence of such constraining love, and to cry out with an earnestness suited to the affection: behold we come unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God!
And do thou Lord! fulfil all those sweet and gracious promises, Do thou heal all our backslidings: do thou do, as thou hast said, take us one of a city, and two of a family, and bring us to Zion. Put a spirit of adoption into our hearts, O Lord; and both provide the means for our recovery by grace, and give us strength to make use of them, that we may henceforth call thee Father, and thou mayest put us among the Children. And Lord! let that gracious word of thine be accomplished; let our Pastors be of thine own giving, and men after thine own heart; that we may be indeed fed with knowledge and understanding. Precious Lord Jesus! send to us the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, to teach us, and guide us, and to lead us, into all truth. Then shall we indeed know, under his divine teaching, that thou alone art the hope of Israel, and the Saviour thereof Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Jeremiah 3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Easter