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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Jeremiah 42

 

 

Introduction

CHAP. XLII.

Johanan desireth Jeremiah to inquire of God, promising obedience to his will. Jeremiah assureth him of safety in Judaea, and destruction in Egypt: he reproveth their hypocrisy, in requiring of the Lord that which they meant not to follow.

Before Christ 588.


Verse 2-3

Jeremiah 42:2-3. Pray for us, &c.— It is the constant method of hypocrites to pretend an absolute submission to the will of God, till that will is found to run counter to their inclinations or interest. Lowth.


Verse 6

Jeremiah 42:6. Whether it be good, &c.— Whether it seem good, or whether it seem evil, &c. Houbigant.


Verse 7

Jeremiah 42:7. It came to pass after ten days The prophet prayed during these ten days, to obtain from God the revelation of his will; for the prophets had not always the spirit of prophecy at their command. The Spirit came and went as he would, and communicated himself only by intervals. Here Jeremiah begins the prophecy which he had as it were announced at the commencement of chap. 40: the relation whereof he has hitherto postponed, in order to inform his reader of what happened before, with which his prophecy was connected. During these ten days Jeremiah continued in retirement and prayer. See Calmet.


Verse 15

Jeremiah 42:15. And now therefore hear, &c.— Therefore now hear, &c. Houbigant.


Verse 19

Jeremiah 42:19. The Lord hath said, &c.— God commanded the Jews by Moses not to have any commerce with Egypt, that they might not practise the idolatrous customs of that country; and this was the reason why he often reproved them by his prophets for making alliances with Egypt. But there were particular reasons at this time for so severe a prohibition; for the Jews had learned several of their idolatrous practices from the Egyptians, and were confirmed in them by their example. Besides, it was the rival kingdom, which contended for empire with that of Babylon. The Jews therefore, by seeking protection in Egypt, refused to submit themselves to the king of Babylon, to whom God had given the government of Judaea, and all the neighbouring countries. See chap. Jeremiah 27:6 and Lowth.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, Jeremiah in all these changes had by divine Providence been preserved: perhaps he had retired to Anathoth, and thus escaped the massacre at Mizpah, and now joined Johanan's company. Hereupon, in their present difficulties,

1. They unanimously resolve to consult him, and beg his prayers and advice. With greatest respect they approach him, desire a favourable acceptance of their request, and intreat him to pray for them; intimating how unworthy they thought themselves to open their lips, and what a confidence they placed in his interest in the divine regard. They were now reduced to a helpless few, as he saw; their condition truly deplorable, not knowing what to do, or whither to go, and therefore desiring divine direction. Note; In our difficulties and distress our first recourse should be made to God in prayer; and if we have not a prophet's word to guide us, we may hope for God's good providence to direct us.

2. Jeremiah readily undertakes the task. The slights that he had received did not abate his zeal and regard for the welfare of his countrymen. His prayers shall be ever for them, and he promises faithfully to report what God should reveal to him. Note; (1.) Ministers should be men of prayer; it is this must make way for the efficacy of their advice. (2.) It is required of such to be faithful, delivering, without reserve, the whole counsel of God.

3. They solemnly engage to conform to God's will entirely without reserve, and appeal to him for the uprightness of their intentions, professing their full conviction that it never can be well with them, unless they are unfeignedly obedient: a shocking piece of hypocrisy throughout, when they really meant nothing less. Note; (1.) They who would profit by a minister's prayers must pay serious attention to his preaching. (2.) We never can be sincere with God, if we do not obey his will so far as it is known to us. (3.) It can only then be ever well with us, when we are found following God in simplicity and truth.

2nd, God might well have refused to be inquired of by those whose hypocrisy he well knew; but, after ten days of suspense, he vouchsafes them an answer, which Jeremiah, in a public convocation of all the people, from the least unto the greatest, faithfully delivers.

1. God enjoins them to abide in the land where they were, nor think of going into Egypt; and, to engage them hereunto, he assures them of his own compassion towards them; that he repented of the evil that he had done unto them; would change his providential dispensations towards them; and, instead of the destruction which they apprehended, build and plant them in their own land. Nor need they fear the king of Babylon; since God would shew them mercies, he shall be disposed to do the same; God will restrain him, and save them from the revenge which they feared he would take, and cause them peaceably and comfortably to possess the heritage of the Lord, with all who, having taken shelter in the neighbouring countries, would return to join them. Note; (1.) God's mercy is the foundation of all our hopes and happiness. (2.) He has in his hands the hearts of kings, and can turn them according to his own will and wisdom. (3.) They who carefully obey God's will may humbly expect his blessing.

2. He threatens them, in case of disobedience, with the most terrible destruction. If they refused to abide in Judaea, and, contrary to this clear declaration of God's will, thought themselves wiser than him, and wilfully resolved for Egypt, on the presumption that there they should see no war, or want of bread; he solemnly assures them, as many at least as set their faces to go into Egypt, and having the power might force the reluctant to join them, that thither God's wrath should pursue them; the evils that they feared should terribly overtake them; the pestilence, famine, and sword destroy them; so that not one of them should see their native land again; but all the storms of vengeance, which so lately broke upon Jerusalem, with redoubled fury should be poured upon them, and they be made an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach, to all who beheld their dire catastrophe. Note; (1.) They who think by sin to escape suffering, are only rushing on the thick bosses of God's buckler. (2.) The curse of God follows sinners close as their shadow; they can no more fly from it, than from themselves. (3.) They who have made themselves vile by their sin, God will make viler by the judgments that he will inflict upon them.

3. The prophet reproaches them with their abominable hypocrisy, and, to leave them without excuse, repeats the warning, Go ye not into Egypt. They knew in their consciences the dissimulation which they had used, and that, before they inquired of God, they had taken their resolution to go, and were resolved to abide by it: therefore, since they were obstinately hardened, and refused to obey God's word, notwithstanding the solemn appeal they had made to him of their sincerity, their doom is unchangeably fixed; and in Egypt, where they chose to sojourn, they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence. Note; (1.) Dissemblers with God are sure to bring fearful ruin on their own souls. (2.) If sinners will not obey, yet it becomes us to bear our testimony, and leave them at least inexcusable in their iniquity. (3.) The favourite schemes which the sinner forms to perpetuate his prosperity, or secure himself from harm, hurry him only the sooner to the precipice of ruin.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 42:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/jeremiah-42.html. 1801-1803.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 11th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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