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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Jeremiah 21

 

 

Verses 1-7

8. THE EIGHTH DISCOURSE (Against the Wicked Shepherds)

(Chaps21–24)

In designating this portion of the book a discourse we do so only a potiori. For neither is it purely of the nature of a discourse, nor does it form one discourse, i. e, a connected rhetorical whole. The different portions of it, partly of historical, partly of rhetorical character, and pertaining to very different epochs, are however comprised under a common title, such as in Jeremiah is usually prefixed to the greater sections. These portions contain in general the same fundamental thought, viz, that which is slated in the title, “Against wicked Shepherds.” By these wicked shepherds are to be understood all the leaders of the people, kings and prophets (and priests, Jeremiah 23:11). The main trunk is formed by the powerful speech against Jehoiakim ( Jeremiah 22:1-9; Jeremiah 22:13-23; Jeremiah 23:1-8), which Jeremiah addressed to that violent despot before the gate of his palace, in presence of his court and the people. Around this discourse, enclosing it and interwoven with it, are grouped other portions of similar character. Originally a brief passage ( Jeremiah 21:11-14) was prefixed to this discourse, on account of its purport, in which it is intimately related to Jeremiah 22:3-7 (comp. the Comm. on Jeremiah 21:11-14). This passage could not be subjoined after Jeremiah 22:9, because here the personal addresses connected with the words spoken to Jehoiakim, Jeremiah 22:13-19, had to be inserted, and after Jeremiah 22:30, the distance would be too great from the discourse to which it is related, Jeremiah 22:3-7. The passage Jeremiah 21:1-10 had to be placed before Jeremiah 21:11, although as to time the latest in the whole compass of chh21—24. because in it a Pashur is spoken of. By this it seemed to be connected with Jeremiah 20, in which also a Pashur plays the chief part. Jeremiah 22:13-23 followed originally immediately after Jeremiah 22:9 (comp. the preliminary remarks to Jeremiah 22:13-19). But since there was a brief passage, referring to Shallum-Jehoahaz ( Jeremiah 22:10-12) the immediate predecessor of Jehoiakim, this had to be placed before Jeremiah 22:13. After Jeremiah 22:23 the passage referring to Jehoiakim ( Jeremiah 22:24-30) naturally found its position. The passage Jeremiah 23:1-8 followed finally as the original conclusion of the speech addressed to Jehoiakim, and as a consolatory glance into the future after the dark portraits of the kings of the present. From Jeremiah 23:9-40 follows then the connected discourse against the false prophets. This was by no means delivered on the same day and in the same place as the discourse against Jehoiakim, Jeremiah 22:1 to Jeremiah 28:8. It may however in general belong to the same period, viz, the first four years of the reign of Jehoiakim, since there is no mention of the Chaldeans, and the reign of Josiah gave much less occasion for such a discourse. Chap24 finally corresponds to “the punitive judgments on the three predecessors of Zedekiah, and completes the judgment on the corrupt pastors and leaders of the people” (Graf). The reason why this chapter was not inserted immediately after Jeremiah 22:30 is that it treats its subject in a form quite peculiar and different from the style of Jeremiah 22. It would accordingly appear too much like a foreign element after Jeremiah 22:30.

If accordingly we cannot speak of this discourse as one properly and logically concatenated, yet we may recognize a certain orderly arrangement of its individual parts. This will be manifest in the following synopsis:—

Against The Wicked Shepherds

Chaps21–24

I. Preface, Jeremiah 21

a. Passage relating to Pashur, as an addition to Jeremiah 20; Jeremiah 21:1-10

b. Transition. Exhortation to the house of David to righteousness, Jeremiah 21:11-14.

II. Main Discourse, chs 22,23.

Against the wicked kings and prophets.

1. Against the wicked kings, Jeremiah 22:1 to Jeremiah 23:8.

a. The alternative offered the royal house, Jeremiah 22:1-9.

b. Prophecy relating to the person of Shallum, Jeremiah 22:10-12.

c. Prophecy relating to the person of Jehoiakim, Jeremiah 22:13-19.

d. The consequences to the people, Jeremiah 22:20-23.

e. Prophecy relating to the person of Jehoiakim, Jeremiah 22:24-30.

α. Before the captivity, Jeremiah 22:24-27.

β. After the captivity, Jeremiah 22:28-30.

f. Conclusion and consolation in a glance at the just and the justifier, Jeremiah 23:1-8.

2. Against the false prophets, Jeremiah 23:9-40.

a. The blind leaders of the blind, Jeremiah 23:9-15.

b. Warning against deception by the prophets, Jeremiah 23:16-22.

c. The criminal mingling of man’s word and God’s word, Jeremiah 23:23-32.

d. The criminal use of the word “burden,” Jeremiah 23:33-40.

III. Postscript.

Supplement to Jeremiah 22:13-30 : The fourth king, Jeremiah 24:1-10.

________

I. PREFACE

Chap21

a. Passage relating to Pashur, as an addition to Jeremiah 20 ( Jeremiah 21:1-10)

1. The king’s question and the prophet’s consolatory answer

Jeremiah 21:1-7

1The word which came unto Jeremiah from the Lord [Jehovah] when king Zedekiah sent unto him Pashur the son of Melchiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah2[,] the priest, saying, Inquire, I pray thee, of the Lord [Jehovah] for us, for Nebuchadrezzar,[FN1] king of Babylon, maketh war against us; if so be that [perhaps] the Lord [Jehovah] will deal with us according to all his wondrous works, that Hebrews 3may go up [withdraw] from us. Then said Jeremiah unto them, Thus shall ye say 4 to Zedekiah: Thus saith the Lord [Jehovah] God of Israel: Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, wherewith ye fight against the king of Babylon, and against the Chaldeans, which besiege you without the walls [or your walls from without] and I will assemble [withdraw] them into the midst of this city 5 And I myself will fight against you, with an outstretched hand and a strong arm, 6even in anger and in great fury, and in great wrath. And I will smite the inhabitants 7 of this city, both man and beast: they shall die of a great pestilence. And afterward, saith the Lord [Jehovah] I will deliver Zedekiah, king of Judah, and his servants, and the people, and such as are left[FN2] in this city from the pestilence, from the sword, and from the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those that seek their life: and he shall smite them with the edge of the sword, he shall not spare them, neither have pity, nor have mercy.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

To the petition of King Zedekiah that the prophet would seek for them the interposition of Jehovah against Nebuchadnezzar ( Jeremiah 21:1-2), the prophet answers that the Lord will cause the defenders of the city to retreat before the Chaldeans ( Jeremiah 21:3-4), yea, will Himself contend against them with a great pestilence ( Jeremiah 21:5-6), and will then surrender the survivors of the sword, famine and pestilence (among whom will be the king himself and his servants) to king Nebuchadnezzar, who will slay them without mercy by the sword ( Jeremiah 21:7).

Jeremiah 21:1-2. The word which came … withdraw from us. The beginning is like Jeremiah 7:1. Comp. ad hoc loc.—Pashur, the son of Malkiah, is also mentioned in Jeremiah 38:1.— Zephaniah, the son of Maaseiah, Jeremiah 29:25; Jeremiah 37:3; Jeremiah 52:24. Both were priests (Malkiah and Maaseiah are also names of courses of priests, 1 Chronicles 24:9-18); the latter כֹהֵן מִשְׁנֶה the next after the high-priest ( Jeremiah 52:24). The embassy was therefore a respectable one.—Zedekiah sent once again with the same object to the prophet: Jeremiah 37:3. Comp. also Isaiah 37:2 sqq.—On the relation of time Vide Comm. on Isaiah 37:23.—Inquire, etc. The prophet was not merely to ask what will be done, but also to pray that whatever would serve for deliverance may be done, as is evident from perhaps Jehovah, etc. In Jeremiah 37:3 it is “Pray for us.” Comp. Jeremiah 42:2.—That he may go up from us. Comp. 1 Samuel 6:20; 1 Kings 15:19; Jeremiah 37:5; Jeremiah 37:11. The figure of a person thrown down, from whom his vanquisher raises himself, lies at the basis of this expression. [Henderson: “The phrase means to recede from the incumbent attitude assumed by a besieging army.”—S. R. A.]

Jeremiah 21:3-7. Then said Jeremiah … have mercy. From the words in the midst of the city it is evident that the prophet places the line of defence within the walls. Thus the enemy presses the Jews no longer without but within the walls, and certainly the city is then as good as taken. This however is just what the prophet wished them to understand. I believe therefore that without the walls is to be referred not to turn back nor to fight, but to besiege.—Assemble. Comp. Jeremiah 16:5; Joel 2:10; 4:15.—Outstretched hand. Comp. Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 5:15; Deuteronomy 26:8. It should be remarked that everywhere else, with the exception of the formula “and his hand is stretched out still” ( Isaiah 5:25; Isaiah 9:11; Isaiah 9:16; Isaiah 9:20; Isaiah 10:4 coll. 1 Chronicles 21:16), נטויהoutstretched is the adjective used with זְרוֹעַarm, and חֲזָקָהmighty, with יָדhand.—With anger, etc. Comp. Jeremiah 32:37; Deuteronomy 29:27.—With the edge of the sword. In Jeremiah here only.—Not spare them. Comp. Jeremiah 13:14.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On Jeremiah 21:2. “King Zedekiah sends word to Jeremiah, that the Lord is to do according to all His miracles, that Nebuchadnezzar may withdraw. A demand rather cavalierly made in such evil circumstances. But the noble are so unfortunate! It is indeed as though it only depended on them to arrange matters with God; as if He were only waiting for them, as if it were a point of honor not to be over-hasty, but first to await a little extremity …. It is a very necessary observance for a servant of the Lord, that he try his superiors, whether there is any trace remaining in them of having been once baptized, well brought up and instructed in the fear of the Lord. If he observe anything of this kind, he must insist upon it and especially not allow them to deal too familiarly with the Judge of all the earth, but plainly demonstrate to them their insufficiency and nothingness, if they measure themselves by Him. Though Zedekiah had spoken so superficially, Jeremiah answered him without hesitation, definitely and positively, and accustomed him to a different manner of dealing with the Lord.” Zinzendorf. “When the ungodly desire God’s help, they commonly appeal not to His saving power to heal them, but to His miraculous power to save them, while they persist in their impenitence.” Starke.

2. On Jeremiah 21:8. “It is pure grace on the part of God, when He leaves to man the choice between the good and the evil; not that it is permitted him to choose the evil, but that he may choose freely the good, which he is under obligation to do, Deuteronomy 30:19.” Starke. “God lays before us the way of life and the way of death. The way of life is however always contrary to human reason, and that on which it sees merely death and shame. … If thou wilt save thyself thou must leave the false Jerusalem, fallen under the judgment, and seek thy life where there seems to be only death. He who would save his life must lose it, and he who devotes it for the sake of the truth will save it.” Diedrich.

3. On Jeremiah 21:11-14. “To be such a king is to be an abomination to the Lord, and severe judgment will follow. God appoints magistrates for His service and for the use of men; he who only seeks his own enjoyment in office, is lost. Jerusalem, situated on rocks in the midst of a plain, looks secure; but against God neither rocks avail nor aught else. The fire will break out even in them, and consume all around, together with the forest of cedar-houses in the city. The corruption is seated within, and therefore proceeds from within outwards, so that nothing of the former stock can remain. What shall a government do which no longer bears the sword of justice? What shall a church do which is no longer founded on God’s truth as its only power?” Diedrich. Comp. moreover on the whole of Jeremiah 24. the extended moral reflections of Cyrillus Alex. περὶ τῆς ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθ. προσκυνήσεως. Lib. I.

4. On Jeremiah 22:1. “Jeremiah is to deliver a sermon at court, in which he reminds the king of his office of magistrate, in which he is to administer justice to every man.” Cramer.

It was no easy task for Jeremiah to go into the lions’ den and deliver such an uncourtly message to him. We are reminded of the prophet Jonah. But Jeremiah did not flee as he did.

5. On [“But we ought the more carefully to notice this passage, that we may learn to strengthen ourselves against bad examples, lest the impiety of men should overturn our faith; when we see in God’s church things in such disorder, that those who glory in the name of God are become like robbers, we must beware lest we become on this account alienated from true religion. We must, indeed, desert such monsters, but we must take care lest God’s word, through men’s wickedness, should lose its value in our esteem. We ought then to remember the admonition of Christ, to hear the Scribes and Pharisees who sat in Moses’ seat ( Matthew 23:2).” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

6. On [“Dying saints may be justly envied, while living sinners are justly pitied. And so dismal perhaps the prospect of the times may be, that tears even for a Josiah, even for a Jesus, must be restrained, that they may be reserved for ourselves and our children ( Luke 23:28).” Henry.—S. R. A.]

Nequaquam gentilis plangendus est atque Judæus, qui in ecclesia non fuerunt et simul mortui sunt, de quibus Salvator dicit: dimitte mortuos sepelire mortuos suos ( Matthew 8:22). Sed eos plange, qui per scelera atque peccata egrediuntur de ecclesia et nolunt ultra reverti ad earn damnatione vitiorum.” Hieron. Epist. 46 ad Rusticam. “Nolite flere mortuum, sed plorate raptorem avarum, pecuniæ sitientem et inexplebilem auri cupidinem. Cur mortuos inutiliter ploramus? Eos ploremus, qui in melius mutari possunt.” Basilius Seleucensis. Comp. Basil, Magn. Homil. 4de Gratiarum actione post dimid.—Ghislerus.

7. On Jeremiah 22:6-9. “God does not spare even the authorities. For though He has said that they are gods, when they do not rightly administer their office they must die like men ( Psalm 82:6) … No cedars are too high for God, no splendor too mighty; He can destroy all at once, and overturn, and overturn, and overturn. Ezekiel 21:27,” Cramer.

Another passage from which it is seen how perverse and unjustifiable is the illusion that God’s election is a surety against His anger, and a permit to any wilfulness. The individual representatives of the objects of divine election should never forget that God can march over their carcases, and the ruins of their glory, to the fulfilment of His promise, and that He can rebuild on a higher stage, what He has destroyed on a lower. Comp. remarks on Jeremiah 22:24.

8. On Jeremiah 22:13-19. It is blasphemy to imagine that God will be frère et compagnon to all princes as such, and that He has a predilection for them as of His own kind. Does He not say to his majesty the king of Judah, with whom, in respect of the eminence of his dynasty and throne no other prince of earth could compare, that he should be buried like an ass, dragged and cast out before the gates of Jerusalem? This Jehoiakim was however an aristocrat, a heartless, selfish tyrant, who for his own pleasure trampled divine and human rights under foot. If such things were done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry?

“He who builds his house with other people’s property, collects stones for his grave.” Cramer.

9. On [“It was a proof of luxury when men began to indulge in superfluities. In old times the windows were small; for use only was regarded by frugal men; but afterwards a sort of madness possessed the minds of many, so that they sought to be suspended as it were in the air. And hence they began to have wider windows. The thing in itself, as I have said, is not what God condemns; but we must ever remember, that men never go to excesses in external things, except when their hearts are infected with pride, so that they do not regard what is useful, what is becoming, but are carried away by fondness for excess.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

10. On Jeremiah 22:15. “God may grant the great lords a preference in eating and drinking and the splendor of royal courts, but it is not His will that these be regarded as the main things, but that true religion, right and justice must have the precedence;—this is the Lord’s work. But cursed is he who does the Lord’s work remissly. Jeremiah 48:10.” Cramer.

11. On Jeremiah 22:17. “Description of haughty, proud, magnificent, merciless and tyrannical lords and rulers, who are accomplices of thieves.” Cramer.

12. On [“God would have burial a proof to distinguish us from brute animals even after death, as we in life excel them, and as our condition is much nobler than that of the brute creation. Burial is also a pledge as it were of immortality; for when man’s body is laid hid in the earth, it is as it were a mirror of a future life. Since then burial is an evidence of God’s grace and favor towards mankind, it is on the other hand a sign of a curse, when burial is denied.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

13. On Jeremiah 22:24. “Great lords often imagine that they not only sit in the bosom of God, but that they are a pearl in His crown; or as the prophet says here, God’s signet-ring. Therefore, it is impossible that they should not succeed in their designs. But God looks not on the person of the princes, and knows the magnificent no more than the poor. Job 34:19.” Cramer.

14. On [“What is idolized will, first or last, be despised and broken, what is unjustly honored will be justly contemned, and rivals with God will be the scorn of man. Whatever we idolize we shall be disappointed in, and then shall despise.” Henry.—S. R. A.]

“The compliment is a very poor one for a king, who thinks somewhat of himself, and to whom it in a certain measure pertains that he be honored….But here it is the word of the Lord, and in consideration of these words it is declared in 2 Chronicles 36:12, to be evil on the part of Zedekiah, that he did not humble himself before Jeremiah. Teachers must be much on their guard against assuming such purely prophetic, that Isaiah, extraordinary acts. It cost the servants of the Lord many a death, who were obliged thus to employ themselves, and when it is easy for one to ape it without a divine calling he thus betrays his frivolity and incompetence, if not his pride and delusion.” Zinzendorf.

15. On Jeremiah 22:28-30. Irenæus (Adv. Hær. 3:30) uses this passage to prove that the Lord could not have been Joseph’s natural Song of Solomon, for otherwise he would have fallen under the curse of this passage, and appear as one not entitled to dominion (“qui eum dicunt ex Joseph generatum et in eo habere spem, abdicatos se faciunt a regno, sub maledictione et increpatione decidentes, quæ erga Jechoniam et in semen ejus est”). Basil the Great (Epist. ad Amphilochium) endeavors to show that this passage, with its declaration that none of Jeconiah’s descendants should sit on David’s throne, is not in contradiction to the prophecy of Jacob ( Genesis 49:10), that a ruler should not be lacking from Judah, till He came for whom the nations were hoping. Basil distinguishes in this relation between dominion and royal dignity.—The former continued, the latter ceased, and this period of, so to speak, latent royalty, was the bridge to the present, in which Christ rules in an invisible manner, but yet in real power and glory as royal priest, and at the same time represents Himself as the fulfilment of the hope of the nations. In like manner John of Damascus concludes that according to this passage there could be no prospect of the fulfilment of the promise in Genesis 49:10, if Mary had not virgineo modo borne the scion of David, who however was not to occupy the visible throne of David. (Orat. II. in Nativ. B. Mariæ p. med.)—Ambrose finally (Comment. in Ev. Luc. L. III. cap. ult.) raises the question how Jeremiah could say, that ex semine Jechoniæ neminem regnaturum esse, since Christ was of the seed of Jeconiah and reigned? He answers: “Illic ( Jeremiah 22:30) futuros ex semine Jechoniæ posteros non negatur et ideo de semine ejus est Christus (comp. Matthew 1:11), et quod regnavit Christus, non contra prophetiam Esther, non enim seculari honore regnavit, nee in Jechoniæ sedibus sedit, sed regnavit in sede David.” Ghislerus.

16. On Jeremiah 23:2. “Nonnulli præsmles gregis quosdam pro peccato a communione ceiciunt, ut pæniteant, sed quali sorte vivere debeant ad melius exhortando non visitant. Quibus congrue increpans sermo divinus comminatur: pastores, qui pascunt populum meum, vos dispersistis gregem meum, ejecistis et non visitastis eum.” Isidor. Hisp. de summo bono she LL. sentt. Cap. 46. Ghislerus.

17. On Jeremiah 23:5-6. Eusebius (Dem. Ev. VII:9) remarks that Christ among all the descendants of David is the only one, who rules over the whole earth, and everywhere not only preaches justice and righteousness by His doctrine but is Himself also the author of the rising [of the Sun] of righteousness for all, according to Psalm 72:7 : ἀνατελεῖ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις αὐτοῦ δικαιοσύνη, καὶ πλῆθος εἰρήνης ἕως οὗ ἀνταναιρεθῇ σελήνη (LXX.) Cyril of Alex. (Glaphyr. in Gen. I. p133) explains Ἰωσεδέκ as justitia Dei, in so far as we are made righteous in Him, not for the sake of the works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His great mercy. Romans 3:24; Titus 3:5.

18. On [“If we regard God in Himself, He is indeed righteous, but not our righteousness. If we desire to have God as our righteousness, we must seek Christ; for this cannot be found except in Him. … Paul says that He has been given or made to us righteousness,—for what end? that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. ( 1 Corinthians 1:30). Since, then, Christ is made our righteousness, and we are counted the righteousness of God in Him, we hence learn how properly and fitly it has been said that He would be Jehovah, not only that the power of His divinity might defend us, but also that we might become righteous in Him, for He is not only righteous for Himself, but He is our righteousness.” Calvin. See also a long note in Wordsworth, to show that Jehovah our Righteousness refers to Christ;—S. R. A.]

“The character of a true church is when the Lytrum, the ransom-money of Jesus Christ, is known and valued by all, and when they have written this secret, foolish and absolutely inscrutable to reason, in the heart with the finger of the living God: that Jesus by His blood has taken away the sins of the world. ‘O let it ne’er escape my thought, at what a price my soul was bought.’ This is the evening and morning prayer of every church, which is a true sister from above.” Zinzendorf.

19. On Jeremiah 23:5-8. “The return under Ezra was also a fulfilment of this promise, but inferior and preliminary: not all came, and those who did come brought their sins back with them. They were still under the Law and had to wait for Righteousness; still in their return they had a pledge that the Messiah was yet to come and prepare the true city of peace. Now, however, all has been long fulfilled and we can enjoy it perfectly, if we have the mind for it. We have now a country of which no tyrant can rob us; our walk and citizenship is in heaven. We have been delivered from all our suffering, when we sit down at the feet of Jesus to hear His word. Then there is a power of resurrection within us, So that we can fly with our souls beyond the world and laugh at all our foes. For Christ has made us righteous by His daily forgiveness, so that we may also bring ourselves daily into heaven. Yea verily, the kingdom of heaven is come very nigh unto us! Jeremiah then longed to see and hear this more nearly, and now we can have it.” Diedrich.

20. On Jeremiah 23:9. “Great love renders God’s servant so ardent, that he deals powerful blows on the seducers. He does not think that he has struck a wasp’s nest and embittered his life here forever, for he has a higher life and gives the lower one willingly for love. Yet all the world will hold him for an incorrigible and mad enthusiast, who spares no one. He says himself that he is as it were drunk with God and His word, when he on the other hand contemplates the country.” Diedrich.

21. On Jeremiah 23:11. “They are rogues. They know how to find subterfuges, and I would like to see him who accuses a false and unfaithful teacher, and manages his own case so that he does not himself come into the dilemma.” Zinzendorf.

22. On Jeremiah 23:13-14. “In the prophets of Samaria I see folly. This is the character which the Lord gives to error, false religion, heterodoxy. But in the prophets of Jerusalem I find abomination. This is the description of the or thodox, when they apply their doctrine, so that either the wicked are strengthened or no one is converted.” Zinzendorf.

23. On Jeremiah 23:15. “From the prophets of Jerusalem hypocrisy goes forth into all the land. This is the natural consequence of the superiority, which the consistories, academies, ministers, etc, have and in due measure ought to have, that when they become corrupt they communicate their corruption to the whole region, and it is apparent in the whole land what sort of theologians sit at the helm.” Zinzendorf.

24. On Jeremiah 23:16. Listen not to the words of the prophets, they deceive you. Luther says (Altenb. Tom. II. p330): “But a Christian has so much power that he may and ought to come forward even among Christians and teach, where he sees that the teacher himself is wanting,” etc.; and “The hearers altogether have the right to judge and decide concerning all doctrine. Therefore the priests and liveried Christians have snatched this office to themselves; because, if this office remained in the church, the aforesaid could retain nothing for their own.” (Altenb. Tom. II. p508).—The exercise of this right on the part of members of the church has its difficulties. May not misunderstanding, ignorance, even wickedness cause this to be a heavy and unjust pressure on the ministers of the word, and thus mediately tend to the injury of the church? Certainly. Still it is better for the church to exercise this right than not to do so. The former is a sign of spiritual life, the latter of spiritual death. It will be easier to find a corrective for some extravagances than to save a church become religiously indifferent from the fate of Laodicea ( Revelation 3:16).

25. On [“But here a question may be raised, How can the common people understand that some speak from God’s mouth, and that others propound their own glosses? I answer, That the doctrine of the Law was then sufficient to guide the minds of the people, provided they closed not their eyes; and if the Law was sufficient at that time, God does now most surely give us a clearer light by His prophets, and especially by His Gospel.” Calvin—S. R. A.]

26. On Jeremiah 23:17. “The pastors, who are welcome and gladly seen at a rich man’s table, wish him in fact long life, good health, and all prosperity. What they wish they prophesy. This is not unnatural; but he who is softened by it is ill-advised.” Zinzendorf.

27. On [“There is a twofold call; one is internal, the other belongs to order, and may therefore be called external or ecclesiastical. But the external call is never legitimate, except it be preceded by the internal; for it does not belong to us to create prophets, or apostles, or pastors, as this is the special work of the Holy Spirit. … But it often happens that the call of God is sufficient, especially for a time. For when there is no church, there is no remedy for the evil, except God raise up extraordinary teachers.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

28. On Jeremiah 23:22. “If I knew that my teacher was a most abominable miscreant, personally, and in heart the worst enemy of God in his parish; so long as, for any reason, he preaches, expounds, develops, inculcates the word of God; even though he should betray here and there in his expressions, that this word was not dwelling in him; if only he does not ex professo at one time throw down what at another time he teaches of good and true quasi aliud agendo: I assure you before the Lord that I should fear to censure his preaching.” Zinzendorf.

29. On Jeremiah 23:23. “ God’s essential attribute is Omnipresence. For He is higher than heaven, what canst thou do? deeper than hell, what canst thou know? Longer than the earth and broader than the sea ( Job 4:8). And He is not far from every one of us ( Acts 17:27).” Cramer.—“We often think God is quite far from us, when He is yet near to us, has us in His arms, presses us to His heart and kisses us.” Luther.—“ When we think the Sun of righteousness, Jesus, is not risen, and is still behind the mountain, and will not come to us, He is yet nearest to us. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart. ( Psalm 34:19) ”—“Deus et omni et nullo loco “—” Cuncta Deus replens molem se fundit in omnem.” MS. notes to my copy of Cramer’s Bibel.—“ Si vis peccare, O homo, quære tibi locum, ubi Deus non videat.” Augustine.

30. On [“When any one rejects the wheat because it is covered with chaff, and who will pity him who says that he has indeed wheat on his floor, but that it is mixed with chaff, and therefore not fit for food? … If we be negligent, and think that it is a sufficient excuse for despising the Word of God, because Satan brings in his fallacies, we shall perish in our sloth like him who neglects to cleanse his wheat that he might turn it to bread.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

He who cannot restrain his mouth or his ink let him expectorate. But let him say openly and honestly that they are his own dreams, which he preaches. The false prophets certainly know that mere falsehood is empty straw. They therefore always mingle some of the genuine word of God amongst it. An unavailing mixture! It is in this mingling that Satan’s highest art is displayed, so that he at the same time furthers his own work and testifies against himself. Comp. Genesis 3

31. On Jeremiah 23:29. God’s word is the highest reality, life and power, while the dreams of the false prophets are pretence, death and weakness. God’s word is therefore compared to a fire which burns, warms, and enlightens, so that it burns up the hardest flint, melts the thickest ice, illuminates the deepest obscurities. It is compared further to a hammer which crushes the hardest rocks into sand.—He who mingles God’s wheat among his straw, will find that the wheat will become fire and burn up the straw ( 1 Corinthians 3:12-15). He Who handles the word of the Lord purely, let him not despair if he sees before him hearts of adamant ( Zechariah 7:12). He who seeks peace is not ashamed to bow beneath the hammer of the word. For the destructive power of the word applies to that in us which is opposed to God, while the God-related elements are loosed and set free by those very crushing blows.— Hebrews, however, to whom the peace of God is an object of derision, may feed on the straw of this world. But how will it be when finally the day comes that God will come upon him with fire and hammer? What then remains to him as the result of his straw-diet, which is in a condition to withstand the blows of the hammer and the fire?

Help, Lord, against Thy scornful foes,

Who seek our souls to lead astray;

Whose mockeries at mortal woes

Will end in terrible dismay!

Grant that Thy holy word may root

Deep in our hearts, and richer fruit

May ever bear to endless day.

“God’s word converts, all other doctrine befools.” Luther.

32. On Jeremiah 23:29. “God’s word in general is like a fire: the more it is urged the more widely and brightly it extends. God has caused His word to be proclaimed to the world as a matter, which they can dispense with as little as fire. Fire often smoulders long in secret before it breaks out, thus the power of the divine word operates in its time. God’s word can make people as warm as if glowing coals lay upon them; it shines as brightly upon them, as if a lamp were held under their eyes; it tells every one the truth and purifies from all vices. He who deals evilly with God’s word burns himself by it, he who opposes it is consumed by it. But the word of God is as little to blame as a lamp or a fire when an unskilful person is burned by it. Yet it happens that often it will not be suffered in the world, then there is fire in all the streets. That is the unhappy fire of persecution, which is kindled incidentally in the world by the preaching of the Gospel.” Jos. Conr. Schaller, Pastor at Cautendorf, Sermons on the Gospels, 1742.

33. On Jeremiah 23:30. “Teachers and preachers are not to steal their sermons from other books, but take them from the Bible, and testify that which they speak from their inward experience ( John 3:11). False teachers steal God’s word, inventing a foreign meaning for it, and using this for the palliation of their errors.” Starke—“Hinc illi ζῆλοι at auctions, who can obtain this or that good book, this or that manuscript? Here they are thus declared to be plagiarios; and they are necessarily so because they are not taught of God. But I would rather they would steal from true men of God than from each other.”—Zinzendorf.

34. On Jeremiah 23:33-40. “ When the word of God becomes intolerable to men, then men in their turn become intolerable to our Lord God; yea, they are no more than inutile pondus terræ, which the land can no more bear, therefore they must be winnowed out, Jeremiah 15:17.” Cramer.

35. On Jeremiah 24:5-7. “ He who willingly and readily resigns himself to the will of God even to the cross, may escape misfortune. But he who opposes himself to the hand of God cannot escape.” Cramer.—“The captives are dearest to God. By the first greater affliction He prepares their souls for repentance and radical conversion, so that He has in them again His people and inheritance. O the gracious God, that He allows even those who on account of sin must be so deeply degraded and rendered slaves, even in such humiliation to be His people! The captives are forgiven their opposition to God; they are separated from the number of nations existing in the world, politically they are dead and banished to the interior. Now, God will show them what His love can do; they shall return, and in true nearness to God be His true Israel.” Diedrich.

36. On [“Since He affirms that He would give them a heart to understand, we hence learn that men are by nature blind, and also that when they are blinded by the devil they cannot return to the right way, and that they cannot be otherwise capable of light than by having God to illuminate them by His Spirit. … This passage also shows, that we cannot really turn to God until we acknowledge Him to be the Judge; for until the sinner sets himself before God’s tribunal he will never be touched with the feeling of true repentance. … Though God rules the whole world. He yet declares that He is the God of the Church; and the faithful whom He has adopted He favors with this high distinction, that they are His people; and He does this that they may be persuaded that there is safety in Him, according to what is said by Habakkuk, ‘Thou art our God, we shall not die’ ( Habakkuk 1:12). And of this sentence Christ Himself is the best interpreter, when He says, that He is not the God of the dead, but of the living ( Luke 20:38).” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

1. On Jeremiah 21:8. This text may be used on all occasions when an important decision is to be made or on the entrance on a new section of life, as, e. g., at synods, diets, New Years, beginning of the church-year, at confirmations, weddings, installations, etc. What the present day demands and promises: I. It demands from us an important choice. II. It promises us, according as we choose, life or death.

2. On Jeremiah 22:2-9. In how far the divine election is conditional and unconditional. I. It is conditional with respect to individual elected men, places, things. For1, these become partakers of the salvation promised by the election only by behaviour well-pleasing to God; 2, if they behave in a manner displeasing to God, the election does not protect them from destruction. II. The election is unconditional with respect to the eternal ideas lying at the foundation of the single appearances, and their absolute realizations.

3. On [Payson:—“The punishment of the impenitent inevitable and justifiable. I. To mention some awful instances in which God has verified this declaration: (a), the apostate angels; (b) our first parents; (c) destruction of mankind by the flood; (d) the children of Israel; (e) Moses, David, the disobedient prophet, Christ. II. Some of the reasons for such a declaration. Not a disposition to give pain or desire for revenge. It is the nature and tendency of sin to produce misery.”—S. R. A.]

4. On Jeremiah 23:5-6. The Son of David. What the prophet declares of Him is fourfold: 1. He will Himself be righteous; 2. He will rule well as king and execute judgment and righteousness; 3. He will be our righteousness; 4. Under Him shall Judah be helped and Israel dwell safely.

5. On [Lathrop: “The horrible guilt of those who strengthen the hands of the wicked1. All sin is horrible in its nature2. This is to oppose the government of the Almighty3. It directly tends to the misery of mankind4. It supports the cause of the Evil Spirit5. It is to become partakers of their sins6. It is horrible as directly contrary to the command of God, and marked with His peculiar abhorrence.”—S. R. A.]

6. On Jeremiah 23:23-24. The Omnipresence of God. 1. What it means. God is everywhere present, (a). He fills heaven and earth; (b) there is no removal from Him in space; (c) nothing is hidden from Him2. There is in this for us (a) a glorious consolation, (b) an earnest admonition. [Charnock, Jortin, and Wesley have sermons on this text, all of very similar outline. The following are Jortin’s practical conclusions; “ This doctrine1. Should lead us to seek to resemble God’s perfections2. Should deter us from sin3. Should teach us humility4. Should encourage us to reliance and contentment, to faith and hope.”—S. R. A.]

7. On Jeremiah 23:29-30. God’s Word and man’s word. 1. The former is life and power (wheat, fire, hammer). The latter pretence and weakness (dream, straw). 2. The two are not to be mixed with each other. [Cecil: This shows1. The vanity of all human imaginations in religion, (a). What do they afford to man? (b). How much do they hinder? 2. The energy of spiritual truth. Let us entreat God that our estimate may be practical.—S. R. A.]

8. On Jeremiah 24:1-10. The good and bad figs an emblem of humanity well-pleasing and displeasing to God. 1. The prisoners and broken-hearted are, like the good figs, well-pleasing to God. For (a) they know the Lord and turn to Him; (b) He is their God and they are His people2. Those who dwell proudly and securely are displeasing to God, like the bad figs. For (a) they live on in foolish blindness; (b) they challenge the judgment of God.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Jeremiah 21:2.—On the form of the name נְבוּכַדְרֶאצָר comp. rems. on Jeremiah 25:1.

FN#2 - Jeremiah 21:7.—The ואת here is logically incorrect, since after the general term the people, other survivors are not supposable. The LXX. omits it (και τὸν λαὸν καταλειφθέντο). Comp. Jeremiah 8:3; Jeremiah 24:8; Jeremiah 38:4; Jeremiah 39:9; Jeremiah 40:6; Jeremiah 41:10; Jeremiah 52:15.


Verses 8-10

2. THE ONLY WAY OF ESCAPE

Jeremiah 21:8-10

8And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the Lord: Behold, I set before 9 you the way of life, and the way of death. He that abideth [remains] in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth out and falleth[FN3] to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live,[FN4] and his life shall 10 be unto him for a prey. For I have set my face against this city for evil, and not for good, saith the Lord [Jehovah], it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

It is announced to the people that the life and death of individuals depends on whether they give themselves up to the Chaldeans or not ( Jeremiah 21:8-9), for the destruction of the city by Nebuchadnezzar is irrevocably determined upon, ( Jeremiah 21:10). These words are closely connected both in form and in matter with the previous context. It is entirely appropriate that the prophet after having informed the ruler what the result of his military operations would be, announces also to the people or to individuals, what is alone left them to do for their escape. Graf is correct in saying (p259), that the summons contained in Jeremiah 21:8-10 could not have been addressed to the king’s embassy. Nevertheless their form and purport testify to their having been addressed to the people contemporaneously with that answer to the king. It is not opposed to this that Jeremiah gave the same advice repeatedly on other occasions. (Comp. Jeremiah 27:11; Jeremiah 27:17).

Jeremiah 21:8-10. And unto this people … burn it with fire.—Unto this people, etc., corresponds to and thus shall ye say to Zedekiah in Jeremiah 21:3, but not as being a part of the answer given to the king. But after the application, Jeremiah 21:2, had been received by the prophet, a triple divine word was communicated to him. It is not expressly declared that this was the case, but this is the natural and necessary presupposition to the prophetic declarations, communicated in Jeremiah 21:3-14.—I set before you, etc. The prophet evidently has in mind Deuteronomy 11:26-27; Deuteronomy 30:15; Deuteronomy 30:19.—He that remains, etc. Comp. Jeremiah 38:2 and the Introd. to the 8 th discourse. It is evident that to the prophet the will of God was of more importance than that which according to the limited view of man is required by the honor and interest of his country, so that by obedience to the former this honor and interest are best secured.—Falleth to the Chaldeans. Comp. Jeremiah 37:13-14; Jeremiah 39:9.—I have set my face ( Jeremiah 21:10). Comp. Jeremiah 24:6; Jeremiah 44:11.—Shall be given. Comp. Jeremiah 32:29 : Jeremiah 34:2; Jeremiah 34:22; Jeremiah 37:8; Jeremiah 37:10; Jeremiah 38:18; Jeremiah 38:23; Jeremiah 39:8.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On Jeremiah 21:2. “King Zedekiah sends word to Jeremiah, that the Lord is to do according to all His miracles, that Nebuchadnezzar may withdraw. A demand rather cavalierly made in such evil circumstances. But the noble are so unfortunate! It is indeed as though it only depended on them to arrange matters with God; as if He were only waiting for them, as if it were a point of honor not to be over-hasty, but first to await a little extremity …. It is a very necessary observance for a servant of the Lord, that he try his superiors, whether there is any trace remaining in them of having been once baptized, well brought up and instructed in the fear of the Lord. If he observe anything of this kind, he must insist upon it and especially not allow them to deal too familiarly with the Judge of all the earth, but plainly demonstrate to them their insufficiency and nothingness, if they measure themselves by Him. Though Zedekiah had spoken so superficially, Jeremiah answered him without hesitation, definitely and positively, and accustomed him to a different manner of dealing with the Lord.” Zinzendorf. “When the ungodly desire God’s help, they commonly appeal not to His saving power to heal them, but to His miraculous power to save them, while they persist in their impenitence.” Starke.

2. On Jeremiah 21:8. “It is pure grace on the part of God, when He leaves to man the choice between the good and the evil; not that it is permitted him to choose the evil, but that he may choose freely the good, which he is under obligation to do, Deuteronomy 30:19.” Starke. “God lays before us the way of life and the way of death. The way of life is however always contrary to human reason, and that on which it sees merely death and shame. … If thou wilt save thyself thou must leave the false Jerusalem, fallen under the judgment, and seek thy life where there seems to be only death. He who would save his life must lose it, and he who devotes it for the sake of the truth will save it.” Diedrich.

3. On Jeremiah 21:11-14. “To be such a king is to be an abomination to the Lord, and severe judgment will follow. God appoints magistrates for His service and for the use of men; he who only seeks his own enjoyment in office, is lost. Jerusalem, situated on rocks in the midst of a plain, looks secure; but against God neither rocks avail nor aught else. The fire will break out even in them, and consume all around, together with the forest of cedar-houses in the city. The corruption is seated within, and therefore proceeds from within outwards, so that nothing of the former stock can remain. What shall a government do which no longer bears the sword of justice? What shall a church do which is no longer founded on God’s truth as its only power?” Diedrich. Comp. moreover on the whole of Jeremiah 24. the extended moral reflections of Cyrillus Alex. περὶ τῆς ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθ. προσκυνήσεως. Lib. I.

4. On Jeremiah 22:1. “Jeremiah is to deliver a sermon at court, in which he reminds the king of his office of magistrate, in which he is to administer justice to every man.” Cramer.

It was no easy task for Jeremiah to go into the lions’ den and deliver such an uncourtly message to him. We are reminded of the prophet Jonah. But Jeremiah did not flee as he did.

5. On [“But we ought the more carefully to notice this passage, that we may learn to strengthen ourselves against bad examples, lest the impiety of men should overturn our faith; when we see in God’s church things in such disorder, that those who glory in the name of God are become like robbers, we must beware lest we become on this account alienated from true religion. We must, indeed, desert such monsters, but we must take care lest God’s word, through men’s wickedness, should lose its value in our esteem. We ought then to remember the admonition of Christ, to hear the Scribes and Pharisees who sat in Moses’ seat ( Matthew 23:2).” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

6. On [“Dying saints may be justly envied, while living sinners are justly pitied. And so dismal perhaps the prospect of the times may be, that tears even for a Josiah, even for a Jesus, must be restrained, that they may be reserved for ourselves and our children ( Luke 23:28).” Henry.—S. R. A.]

Nequaquam gentilis plangendus est atque Judæus, qui in ecclesia non fuerunt et simul mortui sunt, de quibus Salvator dicit: dimitte mortuos sepelire mortuos suos ( Matthew 8:22). Sed eos plange, qui per scelera atque peccata egrediuntur de ecclesia et nolunt ultra reverti ad earn damnatione vitiorum.” Hieron. Epist. 46 ad Rusticam. “Nolite flere mortuum, sed plorate raptorem avarum, pecuniæ sitientem et inexplebilem auri cupidinem. Cur mortuos inutiliter ploramus? Eos ploremus, qui in melius mutari possunt.” Basilius Seleucensis. Comp. Basil, Magn. Homil. 4de Gratiarum actione post dimid.—Ghislerus.

7. On Jeremiah 22:6-9. “God does not spare even the authorities. For though He has said that they are gods, when they do not rightly administer their office they must die like men ( Psalm 82:6) … No cedars are too high for God, no splendor too mighty; He can destroy all at once, and overturn, and overturn, and overturn. Ezekiel 21:27,” Cramer.

Another passage from which it is seen how perverse and unjustifiable is the illusion that God’s election is a surety against His anger, and a permit to any wilfulness. The individual representatives of the objects of divine election should never forget that God can march over their carcases, and the ruins of their glory, to the fulfilment of His promise, and that He can rebuild on a higher stage, what He has destroyed on a lower. Comp. remarks on Jeremiah 22:24.

8. On Jeremiah 22:13-19. It is blasphemy to imagine that God will be frère et compagnon to all princes as such, and that He has a predilection for them as of His own kind. Does He not say to his majesty the king of Judah, with whom, in respect of the eminence of his dynasty and throne no other prince of earth could compare, that he should be buried like an ass, dragged and cast out before the gates of Jerusalem? This Jehoiakim was however an aristocrat, a heartless, selfish tyrant, who for his own pleasure trampled divine and human rights under foot. If such things were done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry?

“He who builds his house with other people’s property, collects stones for his grave.” Cramer.

9. On [“It was a proof of luxury when men began to indulge in superfluities. In old times the windows were small; for use only was regarded by frugal men; but afterwards a sort of madness possessed the minds of many, so that they sought to be suspended as it were in the air. And hence they began to have wider windows. The thing in itself, as I have said, is not what God condemns; but we must ever remember, that men never go to excesses in external things, except when their hearts are infected with pride, so that they do not regard what is useful, what is becoming, but are carried away by fondness for excess.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

10. On Jeremiah 22:15. “God may grant the great lords a preference in eating and drinking and the splendor of royal courts, but it is not His will that these be regarded as the main things, but that true religion, right and justice must have the precedence;—this is the Lord’s work. But cursed is he who does the Lord’s work remissly. Jeremiah 48:10.” Cramer.

11. On Jeremiah 22:17. “Description of haughty, proud, magnificent, merciless and tyrannical lords and rulers, who are accomplices of thieves.” Cramer.

12. On [“God would have burial a proof to distinguish us from brute animals even after death, as we in life excel them, and as our condition is much nobler than that of the brute creation. Burial is also a pledge as it were of immortality; for when man’s body is laid hid in the earth, it is as it were a mirror of a future life. Since then burial is an evidence of God’s grace and favor towards mankind, it is on the other hand a sign of a curse, when burial is denied.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

13. On Jeremiah 22:24. “Great lords often imagine that they not only sit in the bosom of God, but that they are a pearl in His crown; or as the prophet says here, God’s signet-ring. Therefore, it is impossible that they should not succeed in their designs. But God looks not on the person of the princes, and knows the magnificent no more than the poor. Job 34:19.” Cramer.

14. On [“What is idolized will, first or last, be despised and broken, what is unjustly honored will be justly contemned, and rivals with God will be the scorn of man. Whatever we idolize we shall be disappointed in, and then shall despise.” Henry.—S. R. A.]

“The compliment is a very poor one for a king, who thinks somewhat of himself, and to whom it in a certain measure pertains that he be honored….But here it is the word of the Lord, and in consideration of these words it is declared in 2 Chronicles 36:12, to be evil on the part of Zedekiah, that he did not humble himself before Jeremiah. Teachers must be much on their guard against assuming such purely prophetic, that Isaiah, extraordinary acts. It cost the servants of the Lord many a death, who were obliged thus to employ themselves, and when it is easy for one to ape it without a divine calling he thus betrays his frivolity and incompetence, if not his pride and delusion.” Zinzendorf.

15. On Jeremiah 22:28-30. Irenæus (Adv. Hær. 3:30) uses this passage to prove that the Lord could not have been Joseph’s natural Song of Solomon, for otherwise he would have fallen under the curse of this passage, and appear as one not entitled to dominion (“qui eum dicunt ex Joseph generatum et in eo habere spem, abdicatos se faciunt a regno, sub maledictione et increpatione decidentes, quæ erga Jechoniam et in semen ejus est”). Basil the Great (Epist. ad Amphilochium) endeavors to show that this passage, with its declaration that none of Jeconiah’s descendants should sit on David’s throne, is not in contradiction to the prophecy of Jacob ( Genesis 49:10), that a ruler should not be lacking from Judah, till He came for whom the nations were hoping. Basil distinguishes in this relation between dominion and royal dignity.—The former continued, the latter ceased, and this period of, so to speak, latent royalty, was the bridge to the present, in which Christ rules in an invisible manner, but yet in real power and glory as royal priest, and at the same time represents Himself as the fulfilment of the hope of the nations. In like manner John of Damascus concludes that according to this passage there could be no prospect of the fulfilment of the promise in Genesis 49:10, if Mary had not virgineo modo borne the scion of David, who however was not to occupy the visible throne of David. (Orat. II. in Nativ. B. Mariæ p. med.)—Ambrose finally (Comment. in Ev. Luc. L. III. cap. ult.) raises the question how Jeremiah could say, that ex semine Jechoniæ neminem regnaturum esse, since Christ was of the seed of Jeconiah and reigned? He answers: “Illic ( Jeremiah 22:30) futuros ex semine Jechoniæ posteros non negatur et ideo de semine ejus est Christus (comp. Matthew 1:11), et quod regnavit Christus, non contra prophetiam Esther, non enim seculari honore regnavit, nee in Jechoniæ sedibus sedit, sed regnavit in sede David.” Ghislerus.

16. On Jeremiah 23:2. “Nonnulli præsmles gregis quosdam pro peccato a communione ceiciunt, ut pæniteant, sed quali sorte vivere debeant ad melius exhortando non visitant. Quibus congrue increpans sermo divinus comminatur: pastores, qui pascunt populum meum, vos dispersistis gregem meum, ejecistis et non visitastis eum.” Isidor. Hisp. de summo bono she LL. sentt. Cap. 46. Ghislerus.

17. On Jeremiah 23:5-6. Eusebius (Dem. Ev. VII:9) remarks that Christ among all the descendants of David is the only one, who rules over the whole earth, and everywhere not only preaches justice and righteousness by His doctrine but is Himself also the author of the rising [of the Sun] of righteousness for all, according to Psalm 72:7 : ἀνατελεῖ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις αὐτοῦ δικαιοσύνη, καὶ πλῆθος εἰρήνης ἕως οὗ ἀνταναιρεθῇ σελήνη (LXX.) Cyril of Alex. (Glaphyr. in Gen. I. p133) explains Ἰωσεδέκ as justitia Dei, in so far as we are made righteous in Him, not for the sake of the works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His great mercy. Romans 3:24; Titus 3:5.

18. On [“If we regard God in Himself, He is indeed righteous, but not our righteousness. If we desire to have God as our righteousness, we must seek Christ; for this cannot be found except in Him. … Paul says that He has been given or made to us righteousness,—for what end? that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. ( 1 Corinthians 1:30). Since, then, Christ is made our righteousness, and we are counted the righteousness of God in Him, we hence learn how properly and fitly it has been said that He would be Jehovah, not only that the power of His divinity might defend us, but also that we might become righteous in Him, for He is not only righteous for Himself, but He is our righteousness.” Calvin. See also a long note in Wordsworth, to show that Jehovah our Righteousness refers to Christ;—S. R. A.]

“The character of a true church is when the Lytrum, the ransom-money of Jesus Christ, is known and valued by all, and when they have written this secret, foolish and absolutely inscrutable to reason, in the heart with the finger of the living God: that Jesus by His blood has taken away the sins of the world. ‘O let it ne’er escape my thought, at what a price my soul was bought.’ This is the evening and morning prayer of every church, which is a true sister from above.” Zinzendorf.

19. On Jeremiah 23:5-8. “The return under Ezra was also a fulfilment of this promise, but inferior and preliminary: not all came, and those who did come brought their sins back with them. They were still under the Law and had to wait for Righteousness; still in their return they had a pledge that the Messiah was yet to come and prepare the true city of peace. Now, however, all has been long fulfilled and we can enjoy it perfectly, if we have the mind for it. We have now a country of which no tyrant can rob us; our walk and citizenship is in heaven. We have been delivered from all our suffering, when we sit down at the feet of Jesus to hear His word. Then there is a power of resurrection within us, So that we can fly with our souls beyond the world and laugh at all our foes. For Christ has made us righteous by His daily forgiveness, so that we may also bring ourselves daily into heaven. Yea verily, the kingdom of heaven is come very nigh unto us! Jeremiah then longed to see and hear this more nearly, and now we can have it.” Diedrich.

20. On Jeremiah 23:9. “Great love renders God’s servant so ardent, that he deals powerful blows on the seducers. He does not think that he has struck a wasp’s nest and embittered his life here forever, for he has a higher life and gives the lower one willingly for love. Yet all the world will hold him for an incorrigible and mad enthusiast, who spares no one. He says himself that he is as it were drunk with God and His word, when he on the other hand contemplates the country.” Diedrich.

21. On Jeremiah 23:11. “They are rogues. They know how to find subterfuges, and I would like to see him who accuses a false and unfaithful teacher, and manages his own case so that he does not himself come into the dilemma.” Zinzendorf.

22. On Jeremiah 23:13-14. “In the prophets of Samaria I see folly. This is the character which the Lord gives to error, false religion, heterodoxy. But in the prophets of Jerusalem I find abomination. This is the description of the or thodox, when they apply their doctrine, so that either the wicked are strengthened or no one is converted.” Zinzendorf.

23. On Jeremiah 23:15. “From the prophets of Jerusalem hypocrisy goes forth into all the land. This is the natural consequence of the superiority, which the consistories, academies, ministers, etc, have and in due measure ought to have, that when they become corrupt they communicate their corruption to the whole region, and it is apparent in the whole land what sort of theologians sit at the helm.” Zinzendorf.

24. On Jeremiah 23:16. Listen not to the words of the prophets, they deceive you. Luther says (Altenb. Tom. II. p330): “But a Christian has so much power that he may and ought to come forward even among Christians and teach, where he sees that the teacher himself is wanting,” etc.; and “The hearers altogether have the right to judge and decide concerning all doctrine. Therefore the priests and liveried Christians have snatched this office to themselves; because, if this office remained in the church, the aforesaid could retain nothing for their own.” (Altenb. Tom. II. p508).—The exercise of this right on the part of members of the church has its difficulties. May not misunderstanding, ignorance, even wickedness cause this to be a heavy and unjust pressure on the ministers of the word, and thus mediately tend to the injury of the church? Certainly. Still it is better for the church to exercise this right than not to do so. The former is a sign of spiritual life, the latter of spiritual death. It will be easier to find a corrective for some extravagances than to save a church become religiously indifferent from the fate of Laodicea ( Revelation 3:16).

25. On [“But here a question may be raised, How can the common people understand that some speak from God’s mouth, and that others propound their own glosses? I answer, That the doctrine of the Law was then sufficient to guide the minds of the people, provided they closed not their eyes; and if the Law was sufficient at that time, God does now most surely give us a clearer light by His prophets, and especially by His Gospel.” Calvin—S. R. A.]

26. On Jeremiah 23:17. “The pastors, who are welcome and gladly seen at a rich man’s table, wish him in fact long life, good health, and all prosperity. What they wish they prophesy. This is not unnatural; but he who is softened by it is ill-advised.” Zinzendorf.

27. On [“There is a twofold call; one is internal, the other belongs to order, and may therefore be called external or ecclesiastical. But the external call is never legitimate, except it be preceded by the internal; for it does not belong to us to create prophets, or apostles, or pastors, as this is the special work of the Holy Spirit. … But it often happens that the call of God is sufficient, especially for a time. For when there is no church, there is no remedy for the evil, except God raise up extraordinary teachers.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

28. On Jeremiah 23:22. “If I knew that my teacher was a most abominable miscreant, personally, and in heart the worst enemy of God in his parish; so long as, for any reason, he preaches, expounds, develops, inculcates the word of God; even though he should betray here and there in his expressions, that this word was not dwelling in him; if only he does not ex professo at one time throw down what at another time he teaches of good and true quasi aliud agendo: I assure you before the Lord that I should fear to censure his preaching.” Zinzendorf.

29. On Jeremiah 23:23. “ God’s essential attribute is Omnipresence. For He is higher than heaven, what canst thou do? deeper than hell, what canst thou know? Longer than the earth and broader than the sea ( Job 4:8). And He is not far from every one of us ( Acts 17:27).” Cramer.—“We often think God is quite far from us, when He is yet near to us, has us in His arms, presses us to His heart and kisses us.” Luther.—“ When we think the Sun of righteousness, Jesus, is not risen, and is still behind the mountain, and will not come to us, He is yet nearest to us. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart. ( Psalm 34:19) ”—“Deus et omni et nullo loco “—” Cuncta Deus replens molem se fundit in omnem.” MS. notes to my copy of Cramer’s Bibel.—“ Si vis peccare, O homo, quære tibi locum, ubi Deus non videat.” Augustine.

30. On [“When any one rejects the wheat because it is covered with chaff, and who will pity him who says that he has indeed wheat on his floor, but that it is mixed with chaff, and therefore not fit for food? … If we be negligent, and think that it is a sufficient excuse for despising the Word of God, because Satan brings in his fallacies, we shall perish in our sloth like him who neglects to cleanse his wheat that he might turn it to bread.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

He who cannot restrain his mouth or his ink let him expectorate. But let him say openly and honestly that they are his own dreams, which he preaches. The false prophets certainly know that mere falsehood is empty straw. They therefore always mingle some of the genuine word of God amongst it. An unavailing mixture! It is in this mingling that Satan’s highest art is displayed, so that he at the same time furthers his own work and testifies against himself. Comp. Genesis 3

31. On Jeremiah 23:29. God’s word is the highest reality, life and power, while the dreams of the false prophets are pretence, death and weakness. God’s word is therefore compared to a fire which burns, warms, and enlightens, so that it burns up the hardest flint, melts the thickest ice, illuminates the deepest obscurities. It is compared further to a hammer which crushes the hardest rocks into sand.—He who mingles God’s wheat among his straw, will find that the wheat will become fire and burn up the straw ( 1 Corinthians 3:12-15). He Who handles the word of the Lord purely, let him not despair if he sees before him hearts of adamant ( Zechariah 7:12). He who seeks peace is not ashamed to bow beneath the hammer of the word. For the destructive power of the word applies to that in us which is opposed to God, while the God-related elements are loosed and set free by those very crushing blows.— Hebrews, however, to whom the peace of God is an object of derision, may feed on the straw of this world. But how will it be when finally the day comes that God will come upon him with fire and hammer? What then remains to him as the result of his straw-diet, which is in a condition to withstand the blows of the hammer and the fire?

Help, Lord, against Thy scornful foes,

Who seek our souls to lead astray;

Whose mockeries at mortal woes

Will end in terrible dismay!

Grant that Thy holy word may root

Deep in our hearts, and richer fruit

May ever bear to endless day.

“God’s word converts, all other doctrine befools.” Luther.

32. On Jeremiah 23:29. “God’s word in general is like a fire: the more it is urged the more widely and brightly it extends. God has caused His word to be proclaimed to the world as a matter, which they can dispense with as little as fire. Fire often smoulders long in secret before it breaks out, thus the power of the divine word operates in its time. God’s word can make people as warm as if glowing coals lay upon them; it shines as brightly upon them, as if a lamp were held under their eyes; it tells every one the truth and purifies from all vices. He who deals evilly with God’s word burns himself by it, he who opposes it is consumed by it. But the word of God is as little to blame as a lamp or a fire when an unskilful person is burned by it. Yet it happens that often it will not be suffered in the world, then there is fire in all the streets. That is the unhappy fire of persecution, which is kindled incidentally in the world by the preaching of the Gospel.” Jos. Conr. Schaller, Pastor at Cautendorf, Sermons on the Gospels, 1742.

33. On Jeremiah 23:30. “Teachers and preachers are not to steal their sermons from other books, but take them from the Bible, and testify that which they speak from their inward experience ( John 3:11). False teachers steal God’s word, inventing a foreign meaning for it, and using this for the palliation of their errors.” Starke—“Hinc illi ζῆλοι at auctions, who can obtain this or that good book, this or that manuscript? Here they are thus declared to be plagiarios; and they are necessarily so because they are not taught of God. But I would rather they would steal from true men of God than from each other.”—Zinzendorf.

34. On Jeremiah 23:33-40. “ When the word of God becomes intolerable to men, then men in their turn become intolerable to our Lord God; yea, they are no more than inutile pondus terræ, which the land can no more bear, therefore they must be winnowed out, Jeremiah 15:17.” Cramer.

35. On Jeremiah 24:5-7. “ He who willingly and readily resigns himself to the will of God even to the cross, may escape misfortune. But he who opposes himself to the hand of God cannot escape.” Cramer.—“The captives are dearest to God. By the first greater affliction He prepares their souls for repentance and radical conversion, so that He has in them again His people and inheritance. O the gracious God, that He allows even those who on account of sin must be so deeply degraded and rendered slaves, even in such humiliation to be His people! The captives are forgiven their opposition to God; they are separated from the number of nations existing in the world, politically they are dead and banished to the interior. Now, God will show them what His love can do; they shall return, and in true nearness to God be His true Israel.” Diedrich.

36. On [“Since He affirms that He would give them a heart to understand, we hence learn that men are by nature blind, and also that when they are blinded by the devil they cannot return to the right way, and that they cannot be otherwise capable of light than by having God to illuminate them by His Spirit. … This passage also shows, that we cannot really turn to God until we acknowledge Him to be the Judge; for until the sinner sets himself before God’s tribunal he will never be touched with the feeling of true repentance. … Though God rules the whole world. He yet declares that He is the God of the Church; and the faithful whom He has adopted He favors with this high distinction, that they are His people; and He does this that they may be persuaded that there is safety in Him, according to what is said by Habakkuk, ‘Thou art our God, we shall not die’ ( Habakkuk 1:12). And of this sentence Christ Himself is the best interpreter, when He says, that He is not the God of the dead, but of the living ( Luke 20:38).” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

1. On Jeremiah 21:8. This text may be used on all occasions when an important decision is to be made or on the entrance on a new section of life, as, e. g., at synods, diets, New Years, beginning of the church-year, at confirmations, weddings, installations, etc. What the present day demands and promises: I. It demands from us an important choice. II. It promises us, according as we choose, life or death.

2. On Jeremiah 22:2-9. In how far the divine election is conditional and unconditional. I. It is conditional with respect to individual elected men, places, things. For1, these become partakers of the salvation promised by the election only by behaviour well-pleasing to God; 2, if they behave in a manner displeasing to God, the election does not protect them from destruction. II. The election is unconditional with respect to the eternal ideas lying at the foundation of the single appearances, and their absolute realizations.

3. On [Payson:—“The punishment of the impenitent inevitable and justifiable. I. To mention some awful instances in which God has verified this declaration: (a), the apostate angels; (b) our first parents; (c) destruction of mankind by the flood; (d) the children of Israel; (e) Moses, David, the disobedient prophet, Christ. II. Some of the reasons for such a declaration. Not a disposition to give pain or desire for revenge. It is the nature and tendency of sin to produce misery.”—S. R. A.]

4. On Jeremiah 23:5-6. The Son of David. What the prophet declares of Him is fourfold: 1. He will Himself be righteous; 2. He will rule well as king and execute judgment and righteousness; 3. He will be our righteousness; 4. Under Him shall Judah be helped and Israel dwell safely.

5. On [Lathrop: “The horrible guilt of those who strengthen the hands of the wicked1. All sin is horrible in its nature2. This is to oppose the government of the Almighty3. It directly tends to the misery of mankind4. It supports the cause of the Evil Spirit5. It is to become partakers of their sins6. It is horrible as directly contrary to the command of God, and marked with His peculiar abhorrence.”—S. R. A.]

6. On Jeremiah 23:23-24. The Omnipresence of God. 1. What it means. God is everywhere present, (a). He fills heaven and earth; (b) there is no removal from Him in space; (c) nothing is hidden from Him2. There is in this for us (a) a glorious consolation, (b) an earnest admonition. [Charnock, Jortin, and Wesley have sermons on this text, all of very similar outline. The following are Jortin’s practical conclusions; “ This doctrine1. Should lead us to seek to resemble God’s perfections2. Should deter us from sin3. Should teach us humility4. Should encourage us to reliance and contentment, to faith and hope.”—S. R. A.]

7. On Jeremiah 23:29-30. God’s Word and man’s word. 1. The former is life and power (wheat, fire, hammer). The latter pretence and weakness (dream, straw). 2. The two are not to be mixed with each other. [Cecil: This shows1. The vanity of all human imaginations in religion, (a). What do they afford to man? (b). How much do they hinder? 2. The energy of spiritual truth. Let us entreat God that our estimate may be practical.—S. R. A.]

8. On Jeremiah 24:1-10. The good and bad figs an emblem of humanity well-pleasing and displeasing to God. 1. The prisoners and broken-hearted are, like the good figs, well-pleasing to God. For (a) they know the Lord and turn to Him; (b) He is their God and they are His people2. Those who dwell proudly and securely are displeasing to God, like the bad figs. For (a) they live on in foolish blindness; (b) they challenge the judgment of God.

Footnotes:

FN#3 - Jeremiah 21:9.—וְנָפַל. comp. Naegelsb. Gr, § 99, 3.—On עַל. Comp. Textual on Jeremiah 10:1.

FN#4 - Jeremiah 21:9.—The Keri וחיח is here, as in Jeremiah 38:2, unnecessary. יִחְיֶה, corresponding to יָמוּת in hemistich a, is more correct.


Verses 11-14

B. TRANSITION: EXHORTATION TO THE HOUSE OF DAVID TO RIGHTEOUSNESS

Jeremiah 21:11-14

11And touching [to] the house of the king of Judah, say, Hear ye the word of the 12 Lord [Jehovah]; O house of David, thus saith the Lord [Jehovah]. Execute judgment [judge righteously][FN5] in the [every][FN6] morning, and deliver him that is spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go out like fire, and burn that 13 none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.[FN7] Behold, I am against thee, O inhabitant of the valley, and rock of the plain, saith the Lord [Jehovah]; which say, Who shall come down[FN8] against us? or who shall enter into our [refuges] habitations? 14But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, saith the Lord [Jehovah]; and I will kindle a fire in the forest thereof, and it shall devour all things round about it.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

The royal family is appealed to in warning to exercise righteousness, that the anger of the Lord may not burn inextinguishably ( Jeremiah 21:11-12). Afterward, the non-fulfilment of this condition being presupposed, the judgment of destructions proclaimed to the “rock of the plain,” which is deflant in its inapproachability ( Jeremiah 21:13-14). This passage cannot be contemporary with the two preceding; it must be of older date. For, 1. At the date to which Jeremiah 21:1-7 belongs, such an admonition and conditional threatening is no longer in place. In Jeremiah 21:4-7 his own destruction and that of the nation is unconditionally announced to Zedekiah2. The stubbornness also, which is expressed in Jeremiah 21:13, contradicts the despondency, with which Zedekiah humbles himself in Jeremiah 21:2. 3. It is strange that after the king, Jeremiah 21:3, the house of the king should again be specially addressed, since the king is included in the latter, and the exhortation to “judge righteously” applies above all to the king. Should it be said that in Jeremiah 21:11-14 actual conversion is presented before the king as the only way of escape, it is contradicted by the whole situation and the character of Jeremiah 21:1-10. Such proposals belong to an earlier stage, which in Judea, at the time of his embassy, was long past. We are referred by the connection of this passage with Jeremiah 23:3-9 (on which comp. the Comm. ad loc.) entirely to the times of Jehoiakim. The text forms the transition to this discourse of reproof, addressed to the king. Certainly, according to the view of the compiler, this section must have been regarded as closely connected with the preceding, for and to the house, etc., in Jeremiah 21:11, is grounded on thou shalt say in Jeremiah 21:8.

Jeremiah 21:11-12. And to the house … evil of your doings. The division of Jeremiah 21:11-12 is awkward. The house of the king is in the narrower sense himself with his family, in a wider sense the entire court (comp. 1 Kings 4:6; 1 Kings 16:9, etc.). Here the house of the king is intended in the narrower sense1, because afterwards the phrase “house of David” is used instead; 2, because judging was one of the chief functions of a king, which he could transfer to a substitute only in cases of necessity. ( 2 Kings 15:5 coll. 1 Samuel 8:5-6; 1 Samuel 8:20; 2 Samuel 15:2 sqq.; 1 Kings 3:16 sqq.; 1 Kings 6:26; 1 Kings 7:7; 1 Kings 8:3-5).

Jeremiah 21:13-14. Behold I am against thee … round about it. If these verses are not supposed to be attached to the preceding without any inner connection, by rock of the plain (צוּר הַמִּישֹׁר) can be understood only the house of David. The house of David was addressed in Jeremiah 21:12. Jeremiah 21:13 presupposes a negative answer of the person addressed, on which the address continues: “Behold I Amos,etc. Jeremiah 22:6-9 is indeed referred to, and it is maintained that here as there the destruction of the city appears to be the punishment for the sin of the royal family. But the sentence which say, etc., would represent the destruction of the city as the punishment of the obstinate security of the citizens. It remains either to regard vers.13,14as a disconnected addition, or to understand by צוּר הַמִּישׁר the royal family. According to this rendering עֵמֶק, valley, and מִישֹׁר, plain, are to be taken not in the local but figurative meaning. (Comp. rems on Jeremiah 18:14). The royal family is compared to a rock rising in the midst of a plain. עֵמֶק is low land, regio depressa et longe lateque patens (Ges, Thes.) comp. Job 39:10; Job 39:21; Psalm 65:14. Comp. also בִּקְעָה, Genesis 11:2Rock of the plain defines more particularly in what sense the royal family can be designated as inhabiting the lowland; it is there enthroned as an elevation dominating all the rest. The inhabitants of this rock regard themselves as very secure. They compare themselves with beasts, which in their lairs or hiding-places are well-concealed. [Henderson: “By the valley is meant the Tyropæon, running down between Mount Zion and Mount Moriah, and by the rock of the plain Mount Zion, so called from its rapid ascent on the South-west, which renders its brow in this direction apparently more lofty than any other point connected with the city (Robinson I, 389).—S. R. A].—Come down. The prophet has in mind the image of a bird darting down upon its prey. Since the following, and who shall come down evidently indicate attacks by land, by these two figures the thought is expressed of a position secure on all sides.—I am against thee, comp. Jeremiah 23:30-32; Jeremiah 50:31; Jeremiah 51:25.—But I will punish you. A formula especially frequent in Jeremiah 9:24; Jeremiah 23:34; Jeremiah 30:20, etc.According to the fruit. Comp. Jeremiah 17:10.—And I will kindle a fire. Comp. Amos 1:14; Jeremiah 17:27; Jeremiah 43:12; Jeremiah 49:27; Jeremiah 50:32.—In the forest thereof. Thereof refers to inhabitant, Jeremiah 21:13. It is apparent that the prophet retains the conception of wild beasts of the forest. Comp. Jeremiah 22:7.—Our view of the passage is confirmed by the parallel given in Jeremiah 22:1-9. Comp. especially Jeremiah 21:6, and the Comm. ad loc.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On Jeremiah 21:2. “King Zedekiah sends word to Jeremiah, that the Lord is to do according to all His miracles, that Nebuchadnezzar may withdraw. A demand rather cavalierly made in such evil circumstances. But the noble are so unfortunate! It is indeed as though it only depended on them to arrange matters with God; as if He were only waiting for them, as if it were a point of honor not to be over-hasty, but first to await a little extremity …. It is a very necessary observance for a servant of the Lord, that he try his superiors, whether there is any trace remaining in them of having been once baptized, well brought up and instructed in the fear of the Lord. If he observe anything of this kind, he must insist upon it and especially not allow them to deal too familiarly with the Judge of all the earth, but plainly demonstrate to them their insufficiency and nothingness, if they measure themselves by Him. Though Zedekiah had spoken so superficially, Jeremiah answered him without hesitation, definitely and positively, and accustomed him to a different manner of dealing with the Lord.” Zinzendorf. “When the ungodly desire God’s help, they commonly appeal not to His saving power to heal them, but to His miraculous power to save them, while they persist in their impenitence.” Starke.

2. On Jeremiah 21:8. “It is pure grace on the part of God, when He leaves to man the choice between the good and the evil; not that it is permitted him to choose the evil, but that he may choose freely the good, which he is under obligation to do, Deuteronomy 30:19.” Starke. “God lays before us the way of life and the way of death. The way of life is however always contrary to human reason, and that on which it sees merely death and shame. … If thou wilt save thyself thou must leave the false Jerusalem, fallen under the judgment, and seek thy life where there seems to be only death. He who would save his life must lose it, and he who devotes it for the sake of the truth will save it.” Diedrich.

3. On Jeremiah 21:11-14. “To be such a king is to be an abomination to the Lord, and severe judgment will follow. God appoints magistrates for His service and for the use of men; he who only seeks his own enjoyment in office, is lost. Jerusalem, situated on rocks in the midst of a plain, looks secure; but against God neither rocks avail nor aught else. The fire will break out even in them, and consume all around, together with the forest of cedar-houses in the city. The corruption is seated within, and therefore proceeds from within outwards, so that nothing of the former stock can remain. What shall a government do which no longer bears the sword of justice? What shall a church do which is no longer founded on God’s truth as its only power?” Diedrich. Comp. moreover on the whole of Jeremiah 24. the extended moral reflections of Cyrillus Alex. περὶ τῆς ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθ. προσκυνήσεως. Lib. I.

4. On Jeremiah 22:1. “Jeremiah is to deliver a sermon at court, in which he reminds the king of his office of magistrate, in which he is to administer justice to every man.” Cramer.

It was no easy task for Jeremiah to go into the lions’ den and deliver such an uncourtly message to him. We are reminded of the prophet Jonah. But Jeremiah did not flee as he did.

5. On [“But we ought the more carefully to notice this passage, that we may learn to strengthen ourselves against bad examples, lest the impiety of men should overturn our faith; when we see in God’s church things in such disorder, that those who glory in the name of God are become like robbers, we must beware lest we become on this account alienated from true religion. We must, indeed, desert such monsters, but we must take care lest God’s word, through men’s wickedness, should lose its value in our esteem. We ought then to remember the admonition of Christ, to hear the Scribes and Pharisees who sat in Moses’ seat ( Matthew 23:2).” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

6. On [“Dying saints may be justly envied, while living sinners are justly pitied. And so dismal perhaps the prospect of the times may be, that tears even for a Josiah, even for a Jesus, must be restrained, that they may be reserved for ourselves and our children ( Luke 23:28).” Henry.—S. R. A.]

Nequaquam gentilis plangendus est atque Judæus, qui in ecclesia non fuerunt et simul mortui sunt, de quibus Salvator dicit: dimitte mortuos sepelire mortuos suos ( Matthew 8:22). Sed eos plange, qui per scelera atque peccata egrediuntur de ecclesia et nolunt ultra reverti ad earn damnatione vitiorum.” Hieron. Epist. 46 ad Rusticam. “Nolite flere mortuum, sed plorate raptorem avarum, pecuniæ sitientem et inexplebilem auri cupidinem. Cur mortuos inutiliter ploramus? Eos ploremus, qui in melius mutari possunt.” Basilius Seleucensis. Comp. Basil, Magn. Homil. 4de Gratiarum actione post dimid.—Ghislerus.

7. On Jeremiah 22:6-9. “God does not spare even the authorities. For though He has said that they are gods, when they do not rightly administer their office they must die like men ( Psalm 82:6) … No cedars are too high for God, no splendor too mighty; He can destroy all at once, and overturn, and overturn, and overturn. Ezekiel 21:27,” Cramer.

Another passage from which it is seen how perverse and unjustifiable is the illusion that God’s election is a surety against His anger, and a permit to any wilfulness. The individual representatives of the objects of divine election should never forget that God can march over their carcases, and the ruins of their glory, to the fulfilment of His promise, and that He can rebuild on a higher stage, what He has destroyed on a lower. Comp. remarks on Jeremiah 22:24.

8. On Jeremiah 22:13-19. It is blasphemy to imagine that God will be frère et compagnon to all princes as such, and that He has a predilection for them as of His own kind. Does He not say to his majesty the king of Judah, with whom, in respect of the eminence of his dynasty and throne no other prince of earth could compare, that he should be buried like an ass, dragged and cast out before the gates of Jerusalem? This Jehoiakim was however an aristocrat, a heartless, selfish tyrant, who for his own pleasure trampled divine and human rights under foot. If such things were done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry?

“He who builds his house with other people’s property, collects stones for his grave.” Cramer.

9. On [“It was a proof of luxury when men began to indulge in superfluities. In old times the windows were small; for use only was regarded by frugal men; but afterwards a sort of madness possessed the minds of many, so that they sought to be suspended as it were in the air. And hence they began to have wider windows. The thing in itself, as I have said, is not what God condemns; but we must ever remember, that men never go to excesses in external things, except when their hearts are infected with pride, so that they do not regard what is useful, what is becoming, but are carried away by fondness for excess.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

10. On Jeremiah 22:15. “God may grant the great lords a preference in eating and drinking and the splendor of royal courts, but it is not His will that these be regarded as the main things, but that true religion, right and justice must have the precedence;—this is the Lord’s work. But cursed is he who does the Lord’s work remissly. Jeremiah 48:10.” Cramer.

11. On Jeremiah 22:17. “Description of haughty, proud, magnificent, merciless and tyrannical lords and rulers, who are accomplices of thieves.” Cramer.

12. On [“God would have burial a proof to distinguish us from brute animals even after death, as we in life excel them, and as our condition is much nobler than that of the brute creation. Burial is also a pledge as it were of immortality; for when man’s body is laid hid in the earth, it is as it were a mirror of a future life. Since then burial is an evidence of God’s grace and favor towards mankind, it is on the other hand a sign of a curse, when burial is denied.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

13. On Jeremiah 22:24. “Great lords often imagine that they not only sit in the bosom of God, but that they are a pearl in His crown; or as the prophet says here, God’s signet-ring. Therefore, it is impossible that they should not succeed in their designs. But God looks not on the person of the princes, and knows the magnificent no more than the poor. Job 34:19.” Cramer.

14. On [“What is idolized will, first or last, be despised and broken, what is unjustly honored will be justly contemned, and rivals with God will be the scorn of man. Whatever we idolize we shall be disappointed in, and then shall despise.” Henry.—S. R. A.]

“The compliment is a very poor one for a king, who thinks somewhat of himself, and to whom it in a certain measure pertains that he be honored….But here it is the word of the Lord, and in consideration of these words it is declared in 2 Chronicles 36:12, to be evil on the part of Zedekiah, that he did not humble himself before Jeremiah. Teachers must be much on their guard against assuming such purely prophetic, that Isaiah, extraordinary acts. It cost the servants of the Lord many a death, who were obliged thus to employ themselves, and when it is easy for one to ape it without a divine calling he thus betrays his frivolity and incompetence, if not his pride and delusion.” Zinzendorf.

15. On Jeremiah 22:28-30. Irenæus (Adv. Hær. 3:30) uses this passage to prove that the Lord could not have been Joseph’s natural Song of Solomon, for otherwise he would have fallen under the curse of this passage, and appear as one not entitled to dominion (“qui eum dicunt ex Joseph generatum et in eo habere spem, abdicatos se faciunt a regno, sub maledictione et increpatione decidentes, quæ erga Jechoniam et in semen ejus est”). Basil the Great (Epist. ad Amphilochium) endeavors to show that this passage, with its declaration that none of Jeconiah’s descendants should sit on David’s throne, is not in contradiction to the prophecy of Jacob ( Genesis 49:10), that a ruler should not be lacking from Judah, till He came for whom the nations were hoping. Basil distinguishes in this relation between dominion and royal dignity.—The former continued, the latter ceased, and this period of, so to speak, latent royalty, was the bridge to the present, in which Christ rules in an invisible manner, but yet in real power and glory as royal priest, and at the same time represents Himself as the fulfilment of the hope of the nations. In like manner John of Damascus concludes that according to this passage there could be no prospect of the fulfilment of the promise in Genesis 49:10, if Mary had not virgineo modo borne the scion of David, who however was not to occupy the visible throne of David. (Orat. II. in Nativ. B. Mariæ p. med.)—Ambrose finally (Comment. in Ev. Luc. L. III. cap. ult.) raises the question how Jeremiah could say, that ex semine Jechoniæ neminem regnaturum esse, since Christ was of the seed of Jeconiah and reigned? He answers: “Illic ( Jeremiah 22:30) futuros ex semine Jechoniæ posteros non negatur et ideo de semine ejus est Christus (comp. Matthew 1:11), et quod regnavit Christus, non contra prophetiam Esther, non enim seculari honore regnavit, nee in Jechoniæ sedibus sedit, sed regnavit in sede David.” Ghislerus.

16. On Jeremiah 23:2. “Nonnulli præsmles gregis quosdam pro peccato a communione ceiciunt, ut pæniteant, sed quali sorte vivere debeant ad melius exhortando non visitant. Quibus congrue increpans sermo divinus comminatur: pastores, qui pascunt populum meum, vos dispersistis gregem meum, ejecistis et non visitastis eum.” Isidor. Hisp. de summo bono she LL. sentt. Cap. 46. Ghislerus.

17. On Jeremiah 23:5-6. Eusebius (Dem. Ev. VII:9) remarks that Christ among all the descendants of David is the only one, who rules over the whole earth, and everywhere not only preaches justice and righteousness by His doctrine but is Himself also the author of the rising [of the Sun] of righteousness for all, according to Psalm 72:7 : ἀνατελεῖ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις αὐτοῦ δικαιοσύνη, καὶ πλῆθος εἰρήνης ἕως οὗ ἀνταναιρεθῇ σελήνη (LXX.) Cyril of Alex. (Glaphyr. in Gen. I. p133) explains Ἰωσεδέκ as justitia Dei, in so far as we are made righteous in Him, not for the sake of the works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His great mercy. Romans 3:24; Titus 3:5.

18. On [“If we regard God in Himself, He is indeed righteous, but not our righteousness. If we desire to have God as our righteousness, we must seek Christ; for this cannot be found except in Him. … Paul says that He has been given or made to us righteousness,—for what end? that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. ( 1 Corinthians 1:30). Since, then, Christ is made our righteousness, and we are counted the righteousness of God in Him, we hence learn how properly and fitly it has been said that He would be Jehovah, not only that the power of His divinity might defend us, but also that we might become righteous in Him, for He is not only righteous for Himself, but He is our righteousness.” Calvin. See also a long note in Wordsworth, to show that Jehovah our Righteousness refers to Christ;—S. R. A.]

“The character of a true church is when the Lytrum, the ransom-money of Jesus Christ, is known and valued by all, and when they have written this secret, foolish and absolutely inscrutable to reason, in the heart with the finger of the living God: that Jesus by His blood has taken away the sins of the world. ‘O let it ne’er escape my thought, at what a price my soul was bought.’ This is the evening and morning prayer of every church, which is a true sister from above.” Zinzendorf.

19. On Jeremiah 23:5-8. “The return under Ezra was also a fulfilment of this promise, but inferior and preliminary: not all came, and those who did come brought their sins back with them. They were still under the Law and had to wait for Righteousness; still in their return they had a pledge that the Messiah was yet to come and prepare the true city of peace. Now, however, all has been long fulfilled and we can enjoy it perfectly, if we have the mind for it. We have now a country of which no tyrant can rob us; our walk and citizenship is in heaven. We have been delivered from all our suffering, when we sit down at the feet of Jesus to hear His word. Then there is a power of resurrection within us, So that we can fly with our souls beyond the world and laugh at all our foes. For Christ has made us righteous by His daily forgiveness, so that we may also bring ourselves daily into heaven. Yea verily, the kingdom of heaven is come very nigh unto us! Jeremiah then longed to see and hear this more nearly, and now we can have it.” Diedrich.

20. On Jeremiah 23:9. “Great love renders God’s servant so ardent, that he deals powerful blows on the seducers. He does not think that he has struck a wasp’s nest and embittered his life here forever, for he has a higher life and gives the lower one willingly for love. Yet all the world will hold him for an incorrigible and mad enthusiast, who spares no one. He says himself that he is as it were drunk with God and His word, when he on the other hand contemplates the country.” Diedrich.

21. On Jeremiah 23:11. “They are rogues. They know how to find subterfuges, and I would like to see him who accuses a false and unfaithful teacher, and manages his own case so that he does not himself come into the dilemma.” Zinzendorf.

22. On Jeremiah 23:13-14. “In the prophets of Samaria I see folly. This is the character which the Lord gives to error, false religion, heterodoxy. But in the prophets of Jerusalem I find abomination. This is the description of the or thodox, when they apply their doctrine, so that either the wicked are strengthened or no one is converted.” Zinzendorf.

23. On Jeremiah 23:15. “From the prophets of Jerusalem hypocrisy goes forth into all the land. This is the natural consequence of the superiority, which the consistories, academies, ministers, etc, have and in due measure ought to have, that when they become corrupt they communicate their corruption to the whole region, and it is apparent in the whole land what sort of theologians sit at the helm.” Zinzendorf.

24. On Jeremiah 23:16. Listen not to the words of the prophets, they deceive you. Luther says (Altenb. Tom. II. p330): “But a Christian has so much power that he may and ought to come forward even among Christians and teach, where he sees that the teacher himself is wanting,” etc.; and “The hearers altogether have the right to judge and decide concerning all doctrine. Therefore the priests and liveried Christians have snatched this office to themselves; because, if this office remained in the church, the aforesaid could retain nothing for their own.” (Altenb. Tom. II. p508).—The exercise of this right on the part of members of the church has its difficulties. May not misunderstanding, ignorance, even wickedness cause this to be a heavy and unjust pressure on the ministers of the word, and thus mediately tend to the injury of the church? Certainly. Still it is better for the church to exercise this right than not to do so. The former is a sign of spiritual life, the latter of spiritual death. It will be easier to find a corrective for some extravagances than to save a church become religiously indifferent from the fate of Laodicea ( Revelation 3:16).

25. On [“But here a question may be raised, How can the common people understand that some speak from God’s mouth, and that others propound their own glosses? I answer, That the doctrine of the Law was then sufficient to guide the minds of the people, provided they closed not their eyes; and if the Law was sufficient at that time, God does now most surely give us a clearer light by His prophets, and especially by His Gospel.” Calvin—S. R. A.]

26. On Jeremiah 23:17. “The pastors, who are welcome and gladly seen at a rich man’s table, wish him in fact long life, good health, and all prosperity. What they wish they prophesy. This is not unnatural; but he who is softened by it is ill-advised.” Zinzendorf.

27. On [“There is a twofold call; one is internal, the other belongs to order, and may therefore be called external or ecclesiastical. But the external call is never legitimate, except it be preceded by the internal; for it does not belong to us to create prophets, or apostles, or pastors, as this is the special work of the Holy Spirit. … But it often happens that the call of God is sufficient, especially for a time. For when there is no church, there is no remedy for the evil, except God raise up extraordinary teachers.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

28. On Jeremiah 23:22. “If I knew that my teacher was a most abominable miscreant, personally, and in heart the worst enemy of God in his parish; so long as, for any reason, he preaches, expounds, develops, inculcates the word of God; even though he should betray here and there in his expressions, that this word was not dwelling in him; if only he does not ex professo at one time throw down what at another time he teaches of good and true quasi aliud agendo: I assure you before the Lord that I should fear to censure his preaching.” Zinzendorf.

29. On Jeremiah 23:23. “ God’s essential attribute is Omnipresence. For He is higher than heaven, what canst thou do? deeper than hell, what canst thou know? Longer than the earth and broader than the sea ( Job 4:8). And He is not far from every one of us ( Acts 17:27).” Cramer.—“We often think God is quite far from us, when He is yet near to us, has us in His arms, presses us to His heart and kisses us.” Luther.—“ When we think the Sun of righteousness, Jesus, is not risen, and is still behind the mountain, and will not come to us, He is yet nearest to us. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart. ( Psalm 34:19) ”—“Deus et omni et nullo loco “—” Cuncta Deus replens molem se fundit in omnem.” MS. notes to my copy of Cramer’s Bibel.—“ Si vis peccare, O homo, quære tibi locum, ubi Deus non videat.” Augustine.

30. On [“When any one rejects the wheat because it is covered with chaff, and who will pity him who says that he has indeed wheat on his floor, but that it is mixed with chaff, and therefore not fit for food? … If we be negligent, and think that it is a sufficient excuse for despising the Word of God, because Satan brings in his fallacies, we shall perish in our sloth like him who neglects to cleanse his wheat that he might turn it to bread.” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

He who cannot restrain his mouth or his ink let him expectorate. But let him say openly and honestly that they are his own dreams, which he preaches. The false prophets certainly know that mere falsehood is empty straw. They therefore always mingle some of the genuine word of God amongst it. An unavailing mixture! It is in this mingling that Satan’s highest art is displayed, so that he at the same time furthers his own work and testifies against himself. Comp. Genesis 3

31. On Jeremiah 23:29. God’s word is the highest reality, life and power, while the dreams of the false prophets are pretence, death and weakness. God’s word is therefore compared to a fire which burns, warms, and enlightens, so that it burns up the hardest flint, melts the thickest ice, illuminates the deepest obscurities. It is compared further to a hammer which crushes the hardest rocks into sand.—He who mingles God’s wheat among his straw, will find that the wheat will become fire and burn up the straw ( 1 Corinthians 3:12-15). He Who handles the word of the Lord purely, let him not despair if he sees before him hearts of adamant ( Zechariah 7:12). He who seeks peace is not ashamed to bow beneath the hammer of the word. For the destructive power of the word applies to that in us which is opposed to God, while the God-related elements are loosed and set free by those very crushing blows.— Hebrews, however, to whom the peace of God is an object of derision, may feed on the straw of this world. But how will it be when finally the day comes that God will come upon him with fire and hammer? What then remains to him as the result of his straw-diet, which is in a condition to withstand the blows of the hammer and the fire?

Help, Lord, against Thy scornful foes,

Who seek our souls to lead astray;

Whose mockeries at mortal woes

Will end in terrible dismay!

Grant that Thy holy word may root

Deep in our hearts, and richer fruit

May ever bear to endless day.

“God’s word converts, all other doctrine befools.” Luther.

32. On Jeremiah 23:29. “God’s word in general is like a fire: the more it is urged the more widely and brightly it extends. God has caused His word to be proclaimed to the world as a matter, which they can dispense with as little as fire. Fire often smoulders long in secret before it breaks out, thus the power of the divine word operates in its time. God’s word can make people as warm as if glowing coals lay upon them; it shines as brightly upon them, as if a lamp were held under their eyes; it tells every one the truth and purifies from all vices. He who deals evilly with God’s word burns himself by it, he who opposes it is consumed by it. But the word of God is as little to blame as a lamp or a fire when an unskilful person is burned by it. Yet it happens that often it will not be suffered in the world, then there is fire in all the streets. That is the unhappy fire of persecution, which is kindled incidentally in the world by the preaching of the Gospel.” Jos. Conr. Schaller, Pastor at Cautendorf, Sermons on the Gospels, 1742.

33. On Jeremiah 23:30. “Teachers and preachers are not to steal their sermons from other books, but take them from the Bible, and testify that which they speak from their inward experience ( John 3:11). False teachers steal God’s word, inventing a foreign meaning for it, and using this for the palliation of their errors.” Starke—“Hinc illi ζῆλοι at auctions, who can obtain this or that good book, this or that manuscript? Here they are thus declared to be plagiarios; and they are necessarily so because they are not taught of God. But I would rather they would steal from true men of God than from each other.”—Zinzendorf.

34. On Jeremiah 23:33-40. “ When the word of God becomes intolerable to men, then men in their turn become intolerable to our Lord God; yea, they are no more than inutile pondus terræ, which the land can no more bear, therefore they must be winnowed out, Jeremiah 15:17.” Cramer.

35. On Jeremiah 24:5-7. “ He who willingly and readily resigns himself to the will of God even to the cross, may escape misfortune. But he who opposes himself to the hand of God cannot escape.” Cramer.—“The captives are dearest to God. By the first greater affliction He prepares their souls for repentance and radical conversion, so that He has in them again His people and inheritance. O the gracious God, that He allows even those who on account of sin must be so deeply degraded and rendered slaves, even in such humiliation to be His people! The captives are forgiven their opposition to God; they are separated from the number of nations existing in the world, politically they are dead and banished to the interior. Now, God will show them what His love can do; they shall return, and in true nearness to God be His true Israel.” Diedrich.

36. On [“Since He affirms that He would give them a heart to understand, we hence learn that men are by nature blind, and also that when they are blinded by the devil they cannot return to the right way, and that they cannot be otherwise capable of light than by having God to illuminate them by His Spirit. … This passage also shows, that we cannot really turn to God until we acknowledge Him to be the Judge; for until the sinner sets himself before God’s tribunal he will never be touched with the feeling of true repentance. … Though God rules the whole world. He yet declares that He is the God of the Church; and the faithful whom He has adopted He favors with this high distinction, that they are His people; and He does this that they may be persuaded that there is safety in Him, according to what is said by Habakkuk, ‘Thou art our God, we shall not die’ ( Habakkuk 1:12). And of this sentence Christ Himself is the best interpreter, when He says, that He is not the God of the dead, but of the living ( Luke 20:38).” Calvin.—S. R. A.]

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

1. On Jeremiah 21:8. This text may be used on all occasions when an important decision is to be made or on the entrance on a new section of life, as, e. g., at synods, diets, New Years, beginning of the church-year, at confirmations, weddings, installations, etc. What the present day demands and promises: I. It demands from us an important choice. II. It promises us, according as we choose, life or death.

2. On Jeremiah 22:2-9. In how far the divine election is conditional and unconditional. I. It is conditional with respect to individual elected men, places, things. For1, these become partakers of the salvation promised by the election only by behaviour well-pleasing to God; 2, if they behave in a manner displeasing to God, the election does not protect them from destruction. II. The election is unconditional with respect to the eternal ideas lying at the foundation of the single appearances, and their absolute realizations.

3. On [Payson:—“The punishment of the impenitent inevitable and justifiable. I. To mention some awful instances in which God has verified this declaration: (a), the apostate angels; (b) our first parents; (c) destruction of mankind by the flood; (d) the children of Israel; (e) Moses, David, the disobedient prophet, Christ. II. Some of the reasons for such a declaration. Not a disposition to give pain or desire for revenge. It is the nature and tendency of sin to produce misery.”—S. R. A.]

4. On Jeremiah 23:5-6. The Son of David. What the prophet declares of Him is fourfold: 1. He will Himself be righteous; 2. He will rule well as king and execute judgment and righteousness; 3. He will be our righteousness; 4. Under Him shall Judah be helped and Israel dwell safely.

5. On [Lathrop: “The horrible guilt of those who strengthen the hands of the wicked1. All sin is horrible in its nature2. This is to oppose the government of the Almighty3. It directly tends to the misery of mankind4. It supports the cause of the Evil Spirit5. It is to become partakers of their sins6. It is horrible as directly contrary to the command of God, and marked with His peculiar abhorrence.”—S. R. A.]

6. On Jeremiah 23:23-24. The Omnipresence of God. 1. What it means. God is everywhere present, (a). He fills heaven and earth; (b) there is no removal from Him in space; (c) nothing is hidden from Him2. There is in this for us (a) a glorious consolation, (b) an earnest admonition. [Charnock, Jortin, and Wesley have sermons on this text, all of very similar outline. The following are Jortin’s practical conclusions; “ This doctrine1. Should lead us to seek to resemble God’s perfections2. Should deter us from sin3. Should teach us humility4. Should encourage us to reliance and contentment, to faith and hope.”—S. R. A.]

7. On Jeremiah 23:29-30. God’s Word and man’s word. 1. The former is life and power (wheat, fire, hammer). The latter pretence and weakness (dream, straw). 2. The two are not to be mixed with each other. [Cecil: This shows1. The vanity of all human imaginations in religion, (a). What do they afford to man? (b). How much do they hinder? 2. The energy of spiritual truth. Let us entreat God that our estimate may be practical.—S. R. A.]

8. On Jeremiah 24:1-10. The good and bad figs an emblem of humanity well-pleasing and displeasing to God. 1. The prisoners and broken-hearted are, like the good figs, well-pleasing to God. For (a) they know the Lord and turn to Him; (b) He is their God and they are His people2. Those who dwell proudly and securely are displeasing to God, like the bad figs. For (a) they live on in foolish blindness; (b) they challenge the judgment of God.

Footnotes:

FN#5 - Jeremiah 21:12.—The expression דין משפט is found here only: Elsewhere דִּין דָּן ( Jeremiah 5:28; Jeremiah 22:16; Jeremiah 30:13, etc.) משׁפט is at the same time accusative of object and of mode, and as the latter involves the meaning of בְּמֵישָׁרִים ( Psalm 9:9; Psalm 96:10) or בְּצֶרֶק ( Psalm 72:2).

FN#6 - Jeremiah 21:12.—לְ ּלַבּקֶר is distributive. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 112, 5 b. As here, in Psalm 59:17; Amos 4:4. Comp. also 1 Chronicles 9:27; Psalm 73:14; Psalm 101:8; Isaiah 33:2; Lamentations 3:23.

FN#7 - Jeremiah 21:12.—Instead of מַעַלְלֵיהֶם the Keri has the second person as in Jeremiah 4:4. The change of person however occurs so frequently, that the alteration appears unnecessary. Comp. Jeremiah 5:14; Jeremiah 12:13; Jeremiah 17:13; Naegelsb. Gr., § 101, Anm.

FN#8 - Jeremiah 21:13.—יחת. On the form comp. Olsh, S. 503.

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Jeremiah 21:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/jeremiah-21.html. 1857-84.

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