Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2003 James Melough
the word of the Lord came to me, saying,”
2:2. “Go and cry
in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord; I remember thee, the
kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me
in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.”
God's threatened judgments
are preceded by His reminding Judah how it had been once. She had followed
him, as a young bride in love with her husband, trusting Him implicitly to
supply all her needs while He and she walked together through the wilderness
on their way to Canaan, the place of blessing, He her faithful Husband,
leading, guiding, protecting, providing for her every need. The miraculous
character of His provision is declared in that the wilderness was “a land not
sown,” i.e., no crops grew there, yet every morning for forty years He
faithfully provided her with the bread from heaven, the manna, which is a type
of Christ as the spiritual food given us in the written Word to feed us during
all our journey through the wilderness of this world, a spiritual desert,
which like the literal desert, can furnish nothing to supply our spiritual
So was it with the early
Church, and so has it been with every individual believer. Nothing is more
calculated to produce repentance, and restore obedience, than the recollection
of those first days when we began to walk with the Lord Who has delivered us
from a bondage pictured by, but far more terrible than that of Israel in
Egypt. Sadly, those halcyon days were all too brief. It wasn’t long before
we listened again to the seducing voice of the evil world from which we had
just been delivered, and at such a cost: the death of the Lord Jesus Christ,
He having loved us, and given Himself for us, to ransom us from Satan’s deadly
How different is the
professing church today! She is as pictured by apostate Judah, and as
described in the letter to Laodicea, Re 3:14-22, her worldly riches having
been procured by her spiritual adultery with the world that hates her true
Husband, her enrichment in temporal things having come at the sacrifice of the
eternal riches He wished to lavish upon her, but which she despised, her love
of the world causing her to also despise Him.
Have we become so blind and
deaf spiritually that we fail to see that the corporate body is simply the
reflection of those who compose it? The professing church is nothing less
than the corporate image of us personally! Have we the effrontery, then, to
pass judgment on a Judah laden with sins, and about to go into captivity in
Babylon, because our sin-blinded eyes don’t see in her terrible state the
symbolic picture of our own?
Before it’s eternally too
late, it is time to examine ourselves before God as to whether we have Divine
life within us, whether we are really a part of the believing remnant within
the apostate mass of Christendom, or are in fact mere professing apostates.
How accurately the present
is portrayed in the past! Apostate Christendom is today’s counterpart of the
apostate Judah addressed by Jeremiah, her literal fate at the hand of Babylon
being the typological portrait of the eternal fate awaiting today’s apostate
2:3. “Israel was
holiness unto the Lord, and the firstfruits of his increase; all that devour
him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the Lord.”
He reminds them of the
holiness that had marked them in those early days when their redemption was
new, and He refers to them as "the firstfruits of His increase." There is
special significance in this, for the literal firstfruits belonged to God, and
were to be eaten only by the priests; thus those who would “eat” (devour)
Israel made themselves specially guilty, and brought evil upon themselves.
There were two ways in which
the nations "devoured" Israel (1) direct warfare, (2) enticing them to
idolatry, so that God Himself slew them. The seducer, however, was just as
guilty as the direct antagonist, for those he succeeded in enticing to sin cut
themselves off from blessing, and brought upon themselves God’s wrath.
Israel, as a redeemed
people, and therefore the special objects of Satan’s malignant hatred, is a
type of the Church, consisting of redeemed men and women, and which is also
the object of his hatred; and his method of attack remains the same (1) direct
attack, (2) enticement to sin. The false teacher is as guilty as the direct
assailant, and will not go unpunished; but neither will the assembly nor the
individual believer who heeds the seducer. The sorry state of the Church
today declares the extent to which she has heeded the false teachers
masquerading as God's servants.
2:4. "Hear ye
the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of
Jacob speaks of that which
is of the flesh; Israel, of that which is of the Spirit. In the professing
Church, as in Israel, there are the genuine believers, and the mere
professors, the former existing now as then, as a small remnant in the midst
of the professing but unbelieving majority. Appropriately therefore, the word
is addressed to the house of Jacob, but to the families of the
house of Israel, the difference between a house and a family being that
associated with the former is the idea of unity, but without the love and
warmth normally associated with the latter.
2:5. “Thus saith
the Lord, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far
from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?”
Well might God ask why the
people had turned away from Him to worship vanities (idols), their idolatry
making them also like the idols they worshiped, i.e., profitless, empty,
worthless, false, fools - (these are all words used to translate “vain”).
A truth taught indirectly
here is that true worship causes God’s character to be reflected in some
measure at least in the life of the worshiper, for worship consists, not in
observance of a religious ritual, but in the presentation of an obedient life,
i.e., a life that reflects the character of the Lord Jesus Christ, see 1 Sa
15:22, “... Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the
fat or rams”; John 14:15,21, “If ye love me, keep my commandments .... He that
hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that
loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest
myself to him.”
said they, Where is the Lord that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, that
led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts, and of pits, through
a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, through a land that no man
passed through, and where no man dwelt?”
They had so completely
forgotten all the Lord’s kindnesses that they never even gave Him a thought!
What base ingratitude! They had quickly forgotten that it was He Who had
redeemed them to Himself by the blood of the Passover lamb; He Who had
delivered them from Egyptian bondage, and Who had brought them through the
wilderness into Canaan’s abundance.
That bondage is a type of
the far more terrible spiritual enthralment from which nothing but the death
of the Lord Jesus Christ could have delivered us; and before hastening to
condemn Israel we should ask ourselves whether we are not guilty of the same
ingratitude. How often do we pause in the course of our too-busy lives to
remember, and to say gratefully and sincerely, “Thanks be unto God for his
unspeakable gift” 2 Cor 9:15? Do we forget that we have been redeemed, not
with the blood of a lamb, but with the precious blood of God’s Lamb, His only
and beloved Son? Have we forgotten that we have been set free only because He
was willing to be nailed to the cross in our stead?
And what lessons are taught
in the description of the wilderness which is the symbolic picture of this
world through which we journey, as pilgrims and strangers, on our way home to
heaven! It was a desert. Do we see this world as such? The time we spend
willingly and happily in it would indicate otherwise.
It was a place of pits
(ditches or chasms), the word for pit being from a root which is connected
with the idea of sinking. The lesson being taught in this feature of the
wilderness is that this world is also a place of pits which Satan has so
cleverly disguised that we fall into them without having been aware of their
presence. It is to be remembered, however, that God had given Israel two
guides: a pillar of cloud by day, and another of fire by night. We can be
certain that He never leads His own into pits, so that in order to avoid the
pits Israel had only to be obedient in following the Divinely given guides.
He has also provided us with the equivalent of those guides: the written Word,
obedience to its teaching preserving us from the “pits” Satan has dug to
It was also a land of
drought, i.e., it was a parched place, the direct opposite of the “green
pastures” in which God makes His own to “lie down,” i.e., find rest. Were we
more conscious of the spiritually arid state of this evil world, we would be
found more often in the “green pastures” of His Word, finding there the rest
and refreshment which the world cannot give.
“... and of the shadow of
death.” As the wilderness through which Israel passed was a place of death,
so also is this world; and but for the manna and the water from the smitten
rock, Israel would have died in the desert. That food and that water were
miraculously given, and they were only for the people God had redeemed, and
they were available only in the desert. No such food and water were to be
found anywhere else on earth.
The lesson is easily read.
The manna is a type of Christ, the true Bread Who came down from heaven into
the wilderness of this world; and the water from the smitten rock is a type of
the life-giving water available for the cleansing of sinners and the
refreshment and cleansing of saints, from the Rock, Christ, smitten at
Calvary, both of them types of the written Word as spiritual bread to feed us,
and as spiritual water to refresh and cleanse us. It is necessary to note,
however, that that spiritual food can be eaten only by spiritual men, as it is
written, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God:
for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are
spiritually discerned,” 1 Cor 2:14.
Like the desert, this world
also lies under the shadow of death, each day carrying countless multitudes
out of it into eternity: the few, the born-again, going to heaven; and the
vast majority into hell to await final consignment to the eternal torment of
the lake of fire, following their judgment at the great white throne, Re
“... a land that no man
passed through, and where no man dwelt.”
No man would have willingly
entered that desert, nor would anyone ever have thought of living there. No
man comes into this world of his own choice, but sadly, once here, every man
is content to dwell in this desert, except for the few who are awakened by the
Gospel to see their own sinful state, and the ruined condition of this doomed
2:7. “And I
brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the
goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine
heritage an abomination.”
The professing church
quickly fulfilled the type. She too had known the Lord's hand stretched out
to protect and provide, as He sought to lead her into "a plentiful country,"
impelling Paul to exclaim, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places
(things) in Christ," Eph 1:3; but as of Israel and Judah, God has had to
declare of the professing but apostate church also, "but when ye entered, ye
defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination." The apostasy had
already begun even before the Apostolic age ended, and today the apostate
travesty which calls itself the church is about to experience the terrible
judgments of the impending Tribulation era, of which the Babylonian captivity
is a type.
priests said not, Where is the Lord? and they that handle the law knew me not:
the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal,
and walked after things that do not profit.”
Three principal groups are
singled out for condemnation: the priests, the pastors (rulers, or shepherds),
and the prophets. As these three groups were mainly responsible for Israel's
welfare, so are three groups mainly responsible for the welfare of the
Church. They are the evangelists, the pastors (elders),
and the teachers, Eph 4:11. And as it was in Israel, so has it been
also in the professing Church.
There doesn’t seem to be any
OT office corresponding to that of the evangelist, but that doesn’t alter the
fact that this servant has an important role to play in the welfare of the
Church. His work is to go out to the unconverted to bring them the Gospel,
and if he isn’t doing that work there will be no converts to replace those
members of the congregation who go home to heaven, so that the assembly will
Neither does there appear to
be a NT office corresponding to that of the priest in Israel, for during this
present Church age every believer, man and woman alike, is a priest, as it is
written, “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,” 1 Pe 2:9. It is to
be remembered, however, that the priests’ work was to present the offerings
brought by the people, and to do so according to the order decreed by God.
The dereliction of the
priests of Jeremiah’s day corresponds to the failure of the vast majority of
believers today to worship according to the Divine order. What passes for
worship in today’s Christendom is a travesty, as different from the Scriptural
order as day is from night. It usually consists of a homily delivered by a
cleric, in many cases unconverted, his only qualification being that he has
graduated from a seminary or Bible school, the whole clerical system being
described in Revelation as Nicolaitanism, and being anathema to God, His word
concerning it being, “Which thing I hate,” Re 2:15.
The only participation of
the average congregation is to join in the singing led by the choir, or to do
a little responsive reading.
All of this is a far cry
from the simple Scriptural order practiced by the early Church where the
believers assembled, usually in homes, on the first day of the week to eat the
Lord’s Supper, the women, with their hair long and covered, and worshiping
silently; some men, as the Holy Spirit led them, participating audibly and
individually, using prayer, hymns, and Scripture, to express not just their
individual worship, but that of the whole congregation, the rest of the men,
like the women, worshiping silently.
That same Scriptural,
primitive order is used today by only a very tiny segment of even true
believers; and even then, sad to say, in many places it has degenerated into a
mere outward form, a grieved and quenched Holy Spirit finding little or
nothing that He can use to express genuine worship.
God's complaint was "they
that handle the law (the priests) knew me not." Today, as then, apostasy
follows on the heels of abandoned knowledge, and as has been noted by others,
Christians today are largely Biblically illiterate, hence the glaring
departure manifested in the perversion of Scriptural order in the assemblies
of God's people. The remedy is not to be found in the grandiose schemes of
men, but in a repentant return to the study of Scripture, and an implicit
obedience to what is written there.
"...the pastors (elders or
shepherds) also transgressed against me." The pastors (elders or shepherds)
today are to be charged with the same sin as their OT counterparts. The word
transgress conveys the thought of expansion, particularly in
association with a breaking away from God's authority. In the name of
"Christian liberty" a great deal of Scriptural order has been abandoned, and
as might be expected, has brought, not liberty, but licence, which is simply
bondage to sin. As the sinner finds true freedom by stepping from the "broad"
way on to the "strait (narrow)" way, so does the saint enjoy true freedom only
as he walks in implicit obedience to the Word of God.
Many of the so-called
"freedoms" that have found their way into the assemblies of believers have
done so, not because the elders didn't know they were wrong, but because they
(the elders) were more afraid of the people than of God. It is to be noted
that God takes a far more serious view of such deliberate sin than of sins of
ignorance. The Levitical economy provided an offering for only a very few
sins deliberately committed, and of a relatively minor nature. There was no
offering for serious sins deliberately committed, see Le.6:1-7.
"... and the prophets
prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit". The NT
counterpart of the OT prophet is the teacher, "But there were false prophets
also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you...." 2
Pe.2:1. There are no more dangerous individuals than the false teachers, and
the extent to which God's sheep are being ravaged by these wolves is disclosed
in the present state of the assemblies.
Right up to the end false
prophets continued to contradict Jeremiah and all the other true prophets, but
their lying words couldn't avert the Babylonian captivity which he and his
fellows faithfully foretold. It came, and saw the false prophets and the
deluded people led off into the captivity they had maintained wouldn't come.
It is exactly the same today. False teachers babble about growth, and about
an age of bliss to be brought in through the Gospel, the “gospel” they preach
being so altered as to enable virtually every one to qualify as a convert, and
thus make it appear that what they are predicting is actually happening, even
while the Word of God declares that the age is to end in virtual apostasy,
with the professing but apostate church become Laodicean in character, and to
be destroyed in the impending terrible Tribulation judgments, after the true
Church has been raptured home to heaven.
I will yet plead with you, saith the Lord, and with your children’s children
will I plead.”
Some understand this to mean
that God would continue to plead with them to repent and save themselves, but
“plead” in the present context conveys the idea of continuing to set before
them incontrovertible evidence of their having made themselves fit only for
judgment. They had plunged on in sin beyond the time when God’s mercy was
available, and had thus sealed their own doom, as has apostate Christendom
today. The so-called “gospel” preached today has been expunged of all
warning, and is therefore no gospel, for until sinners are made to fear
meeting God in their sins, they cannot be saved.
2:10. “For pass
over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider
diligently, and see if there be such a thing.”
Kittim is the ancient name
of a place in the island of Cyprus, the name eventually having come to
designate all the maritime regions of the eastern Mediterranean, i.e., the
lands west of Palestine; and Kedar is a Scriptural name for the Arabs in
general who occupied the desert lands east of Palestine, so that this verse is
telling idolatrous Judah to look westward and eastward to see whether any
other nation has ever changed its gods. Even pagans didn’t change their
impotent gods, yet apostate Judah had forsaken the omnipotent Jehovah for just
2:11. “Hath a
nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed
their glory for that which doth not profit.”
Foolish Judah, in forsaking
their glorious God, had unwittingly robbed themselves of glory, for in having
chosen them from among all other nations to be His own special people God had
invested them with His reflected glory by means of the miracles He had
performed on their behalf. His destruction of Egypt in the course of
liberating His people Israel, was a demonstration of power of which the
surrounding nations still stood in awe. His miraculous preservation of them
in the wilderness; His having divided the Red Sea and the Jordan; His
destruction of Jericho were all events that caused the nations even of that
day to fear this almighty God of Israel. They remembered and still feared
Him, but both Israel and Judah had forgotten. And it might have been expected
that the earlier Assyrian captivity of Israel would have been a warning to
Judah, but it wasn’t.
Christendom has also
forgotten all these past displays of God’s omnipotence, as they have also
forgotten the judgments He has meted out to rebel Israel and Judah; and they
also have forsaken Him to worship idols, as discussed already, and they too
are consequently about to become the objects of His terrible wrath in the
quickly approaching Tribulation.
astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very
desolate, saith the Lord.”
God here calls upon the
heavens to consider what He is about to do to rebel Judah, and since the
inanimate heavenly bodies are incapable of response, it seems clear that the
exhortation is to the occupants of heaven, i.e., the angels. “Astonished” is
also translated amazed, appalled, awestruck, aghast, shocked; and
“horribly afraid,” shudder, shocked, bristle with horror, be stupefied;
while “very desolate” is rendered be terribly confounded, be utterly
A conscienceless Judah,
however, having relegated God to at best mere equality with the idols they
worshiped, had long since ceased to fear Him; as has also today’s Christendom,
but the judgment that overtook the one will just as surely fall upon the
2:13. “For my
people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living
waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”
Judah’s first great evil was
that they had forsaken Jehovah, but because man is spirit, as well as soul and
body, he is possessed of an innate need to worship someone or something, a
phenomenon attested by the fact that from the most sophisticated to the most
primitive orders of society, men have a religion, and a god or gods which they
worship. Judah therefore, having forsaken Jehovah, must still worship, and in
their mad folly bowed themselves to idols, their sin being compounded by
reason of the fact that God had condescended to reveal Himself to them alone
of all the nations, so that their rejection of Him was deliberate, and not the
result of ignorance. Man’s responsibility is compounded in proportion to the
measure of light given him.
God’s referring to Himself
as “the fountain of living waters” is peculiarly significant, for as man can’t
live without water, neither can he live without God. Israel’s madness was
tantamount to suicide.
It’s being said that they
“hewed them out cisterns” reminds us of man’s folly in rejecting God’s gift
of eternal life, and insisting on fitting himself for heaven by his own
imagined good works. The futility of such effort is declared here in that the
“cisterns” Judah had hewn out for themselves were broken (cracked) and could
hold no water.
God had promised Israel that
their obedience would guarantee His sending the dew and the needed rain, and
when their disobedience cut off that essential water, instead of repentantly
confessing their sin, they resorted to the expedient of hewing out cisterns in
the rock layers, so that they could store water against times of drought, an
act which simply demonstrated their defiance of God. Very often, however,
small unseen cracks in the rock layers resulted in seepage, so that in time of
need the cisterns were dry.
The hewing of such cisterns
involved a great deal of labor, and the general failure of them demonstrates
the folly of attempting to fit oneself for heaven by works instead of faith in
Christ, the disappointment of the Israelite who found an empty cistern when he
was counting on finding water, is the typological demonstration of the bitter
disappointment that awaits the man who expects to enter heaven through good
works. As the Israelite without water must die, so must the man who puts his
faith in works rather than drink the water of life by confessing himself a
sinner, and trusting in Christ as his Savior.
Israel’s first great evil
was that they rejected God and His Word; and their second was that they then
bowed down to idols, and obeyed the voice of the cultish priests.
The same two evils are
rampant in Christendom today. Even genuine Christians for the most part have
abandoned the study of Scripture, and the resultant ignorance has produced a
corresponding harvest of sins of ignorance - disobedience of which the
offenders are largely unaware.
But the second evil with
which God charged Israel is also widespread in the professing church: even
genuine believers have yielded to the word of mere man the obedience they
refuse to give to the Word of the living God, in spite of the fact that the
words of those men have invariably proved to be but the counterparts of the
"broken cisterns" hewn by disobedient Judah. Like the broken cisterns that
held no water and left the thirsty disappointed, so have the doctrines of men
proved equally fleeting and disappointing; so that as Israel turned to more
and more false Gods, so has a disillusioned Christendom turned to the worship
of other Gods - money, pleasure, ease, fame, worldly knowledge, being but a
few of those gods.
2:14. “Is Israel
a servant? is he a homeborn slave? why is he spoiled?”
God asks whether Israel was
ordained to become a slave, or to be as one born into slavery, so that she
should be servant to the nations which choose to make her their prey. Had
Jehovah nothing better for her than this? The answer, of course, is that she
had brought this judgment upon herself, for in departing from Him she had made
herself the prey of the nations, God permitting them to spoil her as
chastisement for her rejection of His easy yoke.
Judah had failed to profit
by seeing her evil sister Israel led captive into Assyria as chastisement for
rebellion, and now she herself was also to be led captive into Babylon for the
An equally rebellious
Christendom that has failed to read the lesson of Israel’s and Judah’s having
been led away captive by Assyria and Babylon respectively; and of the
destruction of the returned nation by Rome in AD 70, has made herself no less
the object of God’s wrath, to be poured upon her guilty head in the impending
2:15. “The young
lions roared upon him, and yelled, and they made his land waste: his cities
are burned without inhabitant."
Under the figure of powerful
young lions roaring and growling, Judah was being shown the character of the
nation that God would bring against her. Babylon would slay wantonly,
devastate the whole land, reduce the cities to burnt-out heaps of rubble, and
carry into slavery the bulk of those remaining; that judgment being itself a
foreshadowing of the later destruction that would be inflicted by Rome in AD
70 upon those who later returned from Assyria and Babylon.
Christendom’s blind eyes and
deaf ears fail to discern in these past destructions of Israel and Judah
foreshadowings of the destruction she is also about to suffer at the hand of
an angry God in the coming Tribulation.
2:16. "Also the
children of Noph (Memphis) and Tahapanes have broken the crown of thy head."
Memphis and Tahapanes were
Egyptian cities, and on previous occasions Egypt had triumphed over Israel,
see for example 1 Ki 14:25-26, and 2 Ki 23:29.
A deeper spiritual lesson,
however, may be interwoven with this fragment of Jewish history, for Egypt
represents the world of business and pleasure in its independence of God, and
its antagonism to everything that pertains to Him. The word that is
translated “crown” is derived from a primitive root meaning to shrivel up;
but in Scripture the head is the symbol of the intellect, so that the truth
being declared is that which is confirmed by experience: the wisdom of the
world invariably shrivels up spiritual intelligence, that being exactly what
it had done with Israel and Judah: it had induced them to despise God and to
2:17. “Hast thou
not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God,
when he led thee by the way?”
The question asked here is
as relevant to rebellious Christendom as it was to disobedient Judah in the
days of Jeremiah. To walk according to the wisdom of this world is to walk in
the midst of trouble; but relative to the wisdom given by God it is written,
“Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace,” Pr 3:17.
2:18. “And now
what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or
what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?"
This was God’s rebuke of
Judah’s having sought alliance with Egypt and with Assyria. Sihor, an ancient
name for the Nile, means black: turbid, meanings peculiarly appropriate
to that which represents the world's wisdom: it is black and turbid, darkening
the mind, and muddying spiritual perception. This wisdom has no place in the
life of the believer. Christendom unfortunately drinks deeply today from that
black muddy river, and seeks to employ the methods of the business world to
achieve what God says can't be achieved apart from faith to walk in obedience
to the written Word.
Rebellious Judah, however,
ran for aid, not only to Egypt, but to Assyria also, and the spiritual
significance of their seeking an alliance with the latter country will be
understood only as we understand what Assyria represents: religious “wisdom”
rather than the emotional appeal of false religion which is represented by
Babylon. Babylon represents the appeal of false religion to the heart or the
emotions; Assyria, the effect of false religion on the intellect. The effect
of his religion on a man’s thinking is in direct proportion to the depth of
his devotion to that religion. Christendom has also run to what Assyria
represents - wisdom governed by the false teachers’ wrong interpretation of
Scripture, and which, in spite of its outward appearance of submission to
God, is as much opposed to Him as is the world of business and pleasure.
Only blind eyes fail to see
the extent to which Christendom has adopted the ways of the world's apostate
2:19. “Thine own
wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know
therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken
the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of
No chastisement is more
effective than that which results from having had opportunity to learn from
experience. Because man, made in the Divine image, has a free will, and
because the only obedience that has value in God’s sight is that which is
voluntarily rendered, He will not compel man’s obedience. That freedom of
choice, however, has eternal consequences. Obedience to trust Christ as
Savior brings eternal life; to reject Him, eternal death, which is to exist in
eternal punishment in the lake of fire. But the time in which man may
exercise freedom of choice relative to life or death is limited, and once a
man or a nation crosses over that invisible line which separates God’s mercy
from His wrath, he or it is doomed without hope of recovery, see Ge 6:3, Pr
29:1, and 2 Cor 6:2; and Judah had crossed over that invisible line! The
destruction of that rebellious generation was inevitable. It would be a new
generation that would eventually be brought back from Babylon.
Apostate Christendom has
likewise crossed over that deadline. Her destruction is imminent.
"... my fear is not in thee,
saith the Lord God of hosts" is a charge that is as applicable to today’s
Christendom as it was to rebellious Judah in the days of Jeremiah. Men,
including the majority of professing Christians, have lost the fear of God,
with the result that they have no compunction about disobeying His commands;
and as long as that spirit of brazen defiance continues there will be
chastisement instead of blessing. It is written, "The fear of the Lord is the
beginning of wisdom" Pr 9:10, and without that fear men act as fools.
2:20. "For of
old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will
not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou
wanderest, playing the harlot."
The KJ translation indicates
that it was He, Jehovah, Who had delivered them from Egyptian bondage, evoking
their promise that they would walk in obedience before their delivering God;
but most other translations make it clear that these are the recorded words of
rebel Israel who had broken God's easy yoke, and cast off the restraints He
had placed upon them for their good; and in Israel's rebellion we have the
foreshadowing of that of Christendom. She too, while maintaining the outward
form of obedience through a cold ritualistic religion, worships the idols
already mentioned above.
We also who are believers
have been delivered from a bondage worse by far than theirs; and at the time
of our deliverance (our conversion) we promised to walk in obedience; but like
Israel, it wasn't long until we began to chafe against the restraints which
that same loving, delivering God had placed upon us for our blessing; and the
submissive attitude which was our initial response to His gracious
deliverance, soon gave place to the same defiant rebellion that so often
marked Israel in the course of her long history. Is it any wonder therefore
that the true Church today exhibits clear evidence of enduring chastisement
rather than enjoying blessing?
Never has that defiant
attitude been more apparent than today, and our offence is compounded by
reason of the fact that we have sinned against greater light, for we have the
recorded experience of Israel to warn us against such folly. We have
duplicated Judah's harlotry, for we have forsaken the only true God, and
turned aside to worship money, ease, pleasure, education, to name but a few of
the false gods to whom we give the homage that belongs to God alone.
2:21. "Yet I had
planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into
the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?
God here reminds Israel of
the nobility of her origin. She was no ordinary nation. He had chosen her to
be chief among the nations. And connected with the word right is the
thought of truth and trustworthiness. She had been established according to
God's Word; but in spite of all this she had become degenerate, i.e.,
deteriorated. She gave no evidence of her noble origin, but rather, displayed
all the signs of having sprung from an inferior stock; and connected with her
deteriorated state is the thought of estrangement from God: she was as a
non-relative; a foreigner; an adulterous woman.
What has become apostate
Christendom has had a similarly noble beginning, she having been taken out
from the nations, and planted according to the Word of God; but few will deny
that the condition of the Judah addressed by Jeremiah, is the present
condition of Christendom. The rebuke of the prophet is as applicable to her
as it was to Judah.
though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity
is marked before me, saith the Lord God."
The washing with nitre and
soap speaks of mere outward cleansing. Judah had forgotten that God looks,
not on the outward appearance, but on the heart. Christendom too, busied with
the preservation of a mere outward form, has forgotten that God still looks on
the heart; and as His all-seeing eye perceived the iniquity of His earthly
people, so does that same eye behold the iniquity that is in the midst of the
professing but apostate church today. Nor did He look indifferently on
Judah's perfidy: the word marked has the thought of an indelible
engraving. God would not soon forget Judah's idolatry; nor will He look
lightly on the idolatry of the professing but apostate church.
2:23. "How canst
thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? see thy way in the
valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift dromedary traversing her
Clearly Judah was prepared
to make God a liar by maintaining, in spite of all her sin, that she was
guiltless. The professing but apostate church is guilty of the same defiant
"... see thy way in the
valley." The valley in Scripture is symbolic of the sphere in which we are to
produce fruit for God: first, the fruits of the Spirit listed in Gal 5:22-23;
and secondly, fruit in the Gospel - men and women led to the Savior as a
result of our faithful testimony to them. It was far otherwise with Judah.
Instead of producing fruit for His glory through obedience to His Word, she
had run eagerly to worship the Baals of Canaan. The professing but apostate
church has similarly failed to produce the fruit sought by God; but has
instead worshiped money, pleasure, ease, worldly knowledge, etc.
"... thou art a swift
dromedary traversing her ways" is literally, "a she camel in heat, seeking a
male." The reference is to Judah's wanton indulgence of fleshly lusts; but
since her history is but the prewritten history of the apostate church, the
application to the present day is all too apparent. Christendom also lives as
those whose citizenship is on earth rather than heaven, her affection (mind)
being set on earthly things rather than heavenly. It is significant that
immediately following the exhortation to set our affection on things above, we
have also the command, "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the
earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and
covetousness, which is idolatry: for which things' sake the wrath of
God cometh on the children of disobedience," Col 3:5-6.
2:24. "A wild
ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure; in her
occasion who can turn her away? all they that seek her will not weary
themselves; in her month they shall find her."
There is a special
significance to Judah's being referred to first as a camel, and then as a wild
ass, for in Scripture the camel is the symbol of the body placed at the
disposal of the Holy Spirit, while the ass (both domesticated and wild)
represents the body as the servant of the old nature. (The wild ass
represents the body functioning without any moral restraint, while the
domesticated or bridled ass represents it under some measure of
restraint. The wild ass represents the body of the profligate; and the
bridled ass, that of the moral, but unconverted man, the one as much as the
other, being on his way to hell and the lake of fire).
Their being referred to
first as a camel reminds us that Judah, in spite of all their sin, were God's
people, and as such, were responsible to do His bidding. Their being
described secondly as a wild ass reminds us of how far they had fallen. They
were like the nations around them, indulging their lusts without restraint,
living as though they didn't belong to God, as though He had no claim upon
them. The application to the professing but apostate church needs no
"... used to the wilderness"
declares all too plainly that Judah was a people more at home in the world
than in the courts of the Lord. The apostate church displays the same earthly
"... that snuffeth up the
wind at her pleasure." This is contrary to nature, for it is the male who
snuffs the wind for scent of the female in the rutting season. Judah’s
aberrant behavior reveals how far she had departed from God.
"... in her occasion who can
turn her away?" is literally, "Who can restrain her lust?" All of this points
to how unnatural it was for Judah, a nation that had been redeemed to God, to
be giving free rein to fleshly lust. Such was Judah's sin in bowing down to
the Canaanite Baals, and in it God directs us to look beyond disobedient
Judah, and to see in her licentious conduct a very clear picture of the
character of the professing church of the present.
Since the wind is one of the
symbols of the Holy Spirit, this snuffing up the wind “at her pleasure" speaks
plainly of Judah’s refusal of His control, so as to indulge the lusts of the
flesh. There is little difference between the Judah of the past and the
apostate church of the present. The one as much as the other has refused the
Holy Spirit's control, and chosen instead to gratify the lusts of the flesh.
"...all they that seek her
will not weary themselves; in her month they shall find her." This declares
the self-willed character of Judah's sin. In nature the male seeks the
female, but Israel needed no enticement to idolatry: she ran eagerly seeking
false gods, reveling in all the immorality connected with such "worship." A
self-willed apostate church has similarly needed no enticement to indulge the
flesh: she too has run eagerly after false gods and sinful pleasures.
thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst: but thou saidst, There
is no hope: no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go."
This is literally, "Stop
wearing out your shoes, and parching your throat running after other gods,"
and the significance of this will be grasped if we remember that the shoe is
the symbol of separation. As the shod foot is separated from the earth, so
was Israel to walk in separation from the sinful nations around her; and we
note that during her forty years in the desert when she was separated from the
nations, the badge of her separation consisted of shoes of badger skin, Eze
16:10, which did not wear out during all those years, Dt.29:5.
The metaphor here is of
Judah’s having worn out her shoes in her eager pursuit of sin, and since the
shoe is the biblical symbol of separation, the truth being declared is that
she had lost the separation that ought to have marked her as a redeemed
This is the symbolic
announcement of the truth that those who constitute the Church are also to
keep themselves separate as they walk through the wilderness of this world.
Nor should we miss the significance of the fact that in Eph 6:15 we are
exhorted to have our feet “shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.”
Nothing is better calculated to keep us walking in separation from a sinful
world, than occupation with the Gospel.
In the days of Jeremiah,
however, Judah had lost that separation. Her eager pursuit of the gods of the
heathen had worn out the shoes of her separation, and an apostate
church has likewise worn out her shoes of separation in pursuit of the
gods of this evil world, abandonment of the Gospel contributing much to the
loss of her separation, for when we cease to be occupied with the things of
heaven, we become occupied with the things of earth.
“... and thy throat from
thirst.” Thirst is the biblical symbol of dissatisfaction, and the truth
being declared here is that once we cease to be satisfied with Christ, we
condemn ourselves to a perpetual thirst, for the world can provide nothing to
quench the thirst of the soul, a fact that has been very clearly grasped by
the one who has written:
I tried the broken cisterns,
But, ah, the waters failed.
E'en as I stooped to drink,
And mocked me as I wailed.
"There is no hope: no; for I
have loved strangers, and after them will I go" is also translated, “It is
vain (of You to entreat me) for I have loved strangers, and after them will I
go” - ASV; “I love foreign gods and I must go after them - NEB; “Thou
criest out despairingly, Return I cannot: to alien gods all my heart is vowed,
and I must follow still!” - Knox; “Don't waste your breath. I've fallen in
love with these strangers and I can't stop loving them now!” - Taylor.
Mixed with Judah’s defiance
is also a note of despair. It is as though she recognized that she was caught
in the toils of a power she was helpless to resist. So is it with many in the
apostate church today. They recognize, even if dimly, that they are caught up
in a system from which escape seems impossible; for in their carnal state,
return to the Divine order for worship and service, seems an even worse
alternative! There are many who, hearing the truth relative to Church order,
ask, Where can I find such a church? but when confronted with the truth that
in a Scriptural assembly each member is responsible, as a royal priest, to
minister to others (to the unsaved in the Gospel; and to the household of
faith by the exercise of each man's spiritual gift) they consider assumption
of that responsibility a greater price than they are willing to pay. And so
they continue their estrangement from God, loving the ease, and freedom, not
only from responsibility, but also from restraint of their fleshly lusts,
which are the worthless rewards of the evil system to which they choose to
remain in bondage.
2:26. "As a
thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they,
their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets,"
Like the thief whose only
regret is that, having been caught, he must suffer the just consequences of
his evil deeds, so Judah regretted, not her sins, but the consequences. And
the widespread extent of the evil is disclosed: it was not confined to any one
segment of the nation; the rulers, the priests, and the prophets were as
guilty as the common people; and the guilt of those in positions of authority
was compounded by the influence they exerted by reason of the offices they
So is it in Christendom.
Her deplorable condition today is due, not just to the delinquency of the
people: those who ought to have been examples - the rulers, the “priests”, and
the teachers - have been the leaders in the apostasy.
2:27. "Saying to
a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth: for
they have turned their back unto me, and not their face: but in the time of
their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us."
Having turned their backs on
God, they ascribed His creative power to the images they themselves had made;
but when trouble loomed, they called upon God to arise and deliver them. And
so is it today. Christendom has also turned her back on Him, and worshiped
the "gods" of their own creation - money, pleasure, ease, fame, education,
etc., but like Judah, in the "time of their trouble" they call upon God to
2:28. "But where
are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee
in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy
gods, O Judah."
The extent of the idolatry
is indicated by the number of their idols: they were as numerous as the cities
of Judah; but when the Babylon invasion came they learned the impotence of
those gods to deliver them. Christendom likewise pays homage to a multitude of
false gods, and will likewise learn the futility of their idolatry when their
world is brought to ruin in the impending Tribulation judgments.
will ye plead with me? ye all have transgressed against me, saith the Lord."
“plead” is used here, not in the sense of imploring, but of arguing. Judah,
in her brazen defiance would argue with God, attempting to blame Him for her
troubles, instead of humbly acknowledging her guilt, and imploring his
pardon. And the universal nature of Judah's sin is emphasized again in the
words “ye all have transgressed against me.” (The “all” obviously does
not include the tiny believing remnant within the apostate mass of Judah).
If anyone doubts that
Christendom similarly protests against God, he has only to note how vociferous
is the dissent against those who denounce her sins and foretell her coming
judgment. Instead of protesting her innocence, however, she needs to return
to God in repentance, for until she does there will be no improvement in her
condition, for He will not bless disobedience.
2:30. "In vain
have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath
devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion."
God's previous chastisements
had produced no result. But their rebellion went far beyond refusal of His
correction: they had killed the prophets He had sent unto them; and had done
so with the merciless ferocity of ravening lions. Nor is it different with
Christendom. The pages of history are stained with the blood of those
martyred by the apostate Roman travesty masquerading as the true Church, that
same religious monstrosity remaining to this day the inveterate enemy of God
and those who belong to Him.
2 Peter 2:1 makes it clear
that the NT counterpart of the OT prophet is the teacher - a fact which lends
special significance to Judah's slaughter of the prophets. The unequivocating
teacher is as unpopular in apostate Christendom as was the true prophet in
Judah in the days of Jeremiah. And the evil Protestant twin of the Roman
travesty is no less the enemy of God and His people, for while neither has the
liberty today to commit murder, each has its equally effective method of
silencing the truth: the clerical system, for whether it be Roman or
Protestant, that iniquitous system effectively precludes denunciation of its
Nor is that small segment of
Christianity known as the assembly brethren, any less shrewd in silencing
exposure of wrong. In the few remaining assemblies that haven’t yet returned
to clericalism, and where there is preserved at least the form of ministry by
those gifted as teachers, the very effective stratagem is to deprive faithful
teachers of any opportunity to speak, by the simple expedient of not inviting
them. Another is to structure the "services" so that only designated
individuals are allowed to speak. Thus while preserving a polite facade of
"Christian love" the same result is accomplished as if the man had been
literally slain with a sword. He is effectively silenced.
generation, see ye the word of the Lord. Have I been a wilderness unto
Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will
come no more unto thee?"
There is peculiar propriety
in God's asking Judah whether He had been “a wilderness” unto Israel, for it
should have reminded them of His care for them when they were in a literal
wilderness for forty years, during which His hand had unfailingly furnished
manna every morning, that manna being itself the evidence of His miraculous
power. It should have caused them to reflect on their folly in bowing down to
idols that could neither see nor speak, much less provide their deluded
devotees with so much as a drop of water.
Nor was it different when He
brought them into Canaan, for it was a land “flowing with milk and honey,” and
all that was required to ensure their enjoyment of its abundance was
“... a land of darkness” is
also translated, “like a way without light.” As in the desert He had guided
them by a pillar of cloud in the daytime; and by one of fire at night, so had
He, through the prophets, continued to give them spiritual light
(understanding) in Canaan. What possible reason therefore could the rebels
offer for rejecting such a God? Much less could they give any valid reason
for turning from Him to worship idols!
From the moment God had
undertaken to deliver them from Egyptian bondage, they had been presented with
dramatic proof of His omnipotence. There were the plagues that compelled the
Egyptians to let Israel go free. There was the miraculous division of the Red
Sea that separated them for ever from their former bondage; and the equally
miraculous division of the overflowing Jordan enabling them to enter Canaan
dry-shod. There was the supernatural destruction of the walls of Jericho, and
a thousand other tangible proofs that their God, Who had redeemed them to be
His own peculiar people, was The Almighty. Yet such was their blind arrogance
that they dared to call themselves “lords,” and avow their refusal to even
acknowledge the God in Whose hand their breath was.
The rebellion of apostate
Christendom - though she, like Judah, denies any rebellion - is even more
heinous, for she sins against greater light. Added to the same proof that
should have convinced Judah, i.e., the Assyrian captivity of Israel, is the
additional proof of the Diaspora. But these are the evidence of God’s
righteous wrath. Christendom has the added incontrovertible evidence of His
love for sinful men displayed at Calvary!
2:32. "Can a
maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten
me days without number."
In the context of what we
have just been considering it seems clear that the woman referred to here was
either espoused to a husband or already married to one, he, however, being
temporarily absent. God’s question implied the impossibility of the woman’s
forgetting her absent husband, her wedding dress, and her jewels presumably
given by him, being tangible constant reminders of him. God was thus
reminding them of the relationship He had lovingly and graciously brought them
into when He had chosen Israel to be His spiritual wife, see Isa 54:6, “For
thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer
the Holy One of Israel....” Like the husband alluded to in the illustration,
He too was, as it were, absent, i.e., they couldn’t actually see Him, and as
the ornaments and dress would have reminded the woman of her temporarily
absent husband, so did Israel have everything needed to remind them of Him.
All His past miraculous and gracious dealings with them, beginning with their
deliverance from Egypt, and including the blessings He had showered upon them
in Canaan, should have preserved them from such ungrateful forgetfulness as
was demonstrated in their having forsaken Him to give to idols the worship due
to Him alone.
But Israel and Judah had
forgotten Him “days without number,” as has also an apostate church, she
likewise having been given everything to remind her of her relationship to her
temporarily absent Lord; but like idolatrous Israel and Judah, she too has
forgotten and played the harlot spiritually, loving the world that hates her
Lord, Who gave His life to redeem her from eternal torment.
trimmest thou thy way to seek love? therefore hast thou also taught the wicked
ones thy ways."
Other renderings of the
first part of this verse are, “How well you know the way in pursuit of love,”
Jerusalem Bible; “How you plot and scheme to win your lovers,”
Taylor; and of the second part, “even unto wicked women hast thou taught
thy ways,” Rotherham; “Teaching even the vilest women the secret of
your ways,” AAT; “The most experienced harlot could learn a lot from
you,” Taylor. In forsaking Jehovah to worship idols, Judah had made
herself guilty of vileness worse even than that of the surrounding nations,
for as noted already, none of them had ever forsaken their worthless idols,
but she had forsaken the living God to worship just such dead things.
The apostate church has
become no less skilled in the worship of false gods, so that the irreligious
frequently follow her example. She spends the whole week in the worship of
money, pleasure, ease, education, etc., and puts in an appearance at "church"
for an hour on Sunday, imagining that this fulfills her duty to God, and
secures His blessing.
Many assemblies are aping
her ways by eliminating the midweek prayer and Bible study meeting, as well as
the Sunday evening meeting, squeezing all their "spiritual?" activities into a
couple of hours on Sunday morning, so that, like the apostate systems around
them, they too may have more time for "fun and relaxation."
2:34. "Also in
thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents: I have not
found it by secret search, but upon all these."
Added to Judah's sin of
idolatry was that of murder, murder, moreover of those who were innocent.
This may refer to their immolation of their infants to the god Molech, though
it isn’t limited to that abominable practice. Judah and her sister Israel had
shed much innocent blood, e.g., Jezebel's murder of Naboth recorded in 1 Ki
21; Athaliah's slaughter of the seed royal recorded in 2 Ki 11:1; to say
nothing of the murder of God's prophets through the years. There is also
their implied murder of other poor, probably under circumstances similar to
that of Naboth.
“I have not found it by
secret search, but upon all these” seems to suggest that the evidence of their
murders was displayed on the altars at which they worshiped their idols, so
that there is much to indicate that the murder was that of their own infants.
2:35. "Yet thou
sayest, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I
will plead with thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned."
A brazenly defiant Judah
contended that in spite of all this she was innocent, her insane reasoning
being that since it was in sacrifice to another god, who in their estimate was
just as important as Jehovah, it was simply a religious rite, and therefore
not a sin, so that Jehovah would count them guiltless.
What they conveniently
overlooked was that Jehovah had forbidden any form of idolatry, Ex 20:3-6; Le
Christendom piously raises
its hands in horror upon hearing of the child sacrifices offered by Israel and
other ancient nations, yet excuses her own murder of countless infants every
year because it is defined as legal abortion. It may be legal by man’s
definition, but it is nothing less than the sacrifice of infants to the
goddess Lust, and is as abhorrent to God as was Judah’s idolatrous sacrifice
of her children to Molech long ago. It is, in fact, the same old sin dressed
up in modern garb, and will just as surely bring down God’s wrath in the
And there are other ways in
which sin-blinded Christendom sacrifices its children to idols. Failure to
teach them the imperative of being born again through faith in Christ as
Savior dooms those children to go through life ignorant of the existence of
heaven and hell, with the result that most of them ultimately experience
something worse than physical death: they die unsaved, plunging into hell to
await the resurrection of death, following which they will die the second
death, Rev 20:14, as they are cast into eternal torment in the unquenchable
flame of the lake of fire, Rev 20:15. The very few who escape this awful fate
are they who are fortunate enough to hear and believe the Gospel preached by
those who care about men’s souls: believers who are mocked and hated by the
godless parents of those same children. And all the while a callously
indifferent apostate “church” busies itself with social activities, while her
false teachers preach polite religious platitudes assuring the people that all
is well because the world is getting better, and God is too loving to refuse
anyone entry into heaven. A dreadful awakening awaits that deluded world and
its false teachers as God pours out His terrible judgments upon them in the
fast approaching Tribulation.
Nor are the results any
different, or the crime less heinous, where a false "Gospel" is preached. In
this too, many assemblies are culpable, for the false gospel so popular in
Christendom at large, is becoming increasingly popular in many assemblies that
just a generation ago preached the Scriptural Gospel. The evangelist has all
but disappeared from many companies that still regard themselves assemblies.
Judah's slaughter of the
innocents provoked the fierce anger of Jehovah; nor is His anger any less
against a "church" which, by its failure to preach any Gospel, or which
preaches a false "gospel," has made itself guilty of the death of countless
multitudes who might have been warned.
The professing "church"
(including many an assembly) has forgotten the solemn warning of Ezekiel, "But
if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people
be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is
taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's
hand .... I have set thee a watchman .... if thou dost not speak to warn the
wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood
will I require at thine hand," Ezek 33:6-8.
He who fails to warn men and
women of their awful danger makes himself as guilty as was rebel Judah, and
incurs the same Divine displeasure.
gaddest thou about so much to change thy way? thou also shalt be ashamed of
Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria."
2:37. "Yea, thou
shalt go forth from him, and thine hands upon thine head: for the Lord hath
rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them."
“Why gaddest thou about so
much to change thy way?” might be paraphrased, “Why do you run from one nation
to another seeking their aid?” They had gone first to Assyria, only to find
their trust misplaced; and now they were turning to Egypt, and were warned by
God that that alliance would also prove worthless.
They failed to understand
that their safety and peace depended simply on their being obedient to
A careful study of Scripture
reveals that Assyria appears to represent religious knowledge; while Egypt
represents the world of business and pleasure governed by secular knowledge:
the one, as much as the other, living in proud independence of God.
The application to the
apostate church is unmistakable. She too has gone to "Assyria" - she has
heaped up knowledge of Scripture, her writings filling libraries: but the only
result has been to drive her away from God. Proud of her accumulated
"religious" knowledge, she has come to despise the Scriptures themselves, and
therefore to despise their Author. She has set up seminaries for the
"religious education" of her clergy, men (and now women) looking with cold
disdain (not infrequently accompanied by hatred) upon the true servants of the
Church - the gifted Evangelists, Shepherds and Teachers given to her as gifts
for her upbuilding, by her risen Head, the Lord Jesus Christ, see Eph 4:11.
That "knowledge" however,
has proved as treacherous to the Church as did Assyria to Israel and Judah,
and has brought her into a bondage of which Israel's Assyrian captivity is but
the type. The clergy have wound up imposing a tyranny worse than that endured
by Israel, for theirs is over men's minds. They have arrogated the sole right
to interpret Scripture, declaring a theological education to be essential for
that work, and denying the "layman" the right to understand the Scriptures
because he lacks that education.
And sadly, the assemblies,
which escaped from that bondage less than two hundred years ago, are being
dragged back into the same captivity, and with amazing speed, for he is blind
who fails to recognize that the "church planter" and the "resident full-time
worker" are nothing but clergymen.
But the professing church
has run also to "Egypt" for aid. Finding her congregations dwindling under
the ministry of these hirelings; and finding herself under the necessity of
raising the money to pay their salaries, and to maintain the magnificent
edifices erected for their "church services," they are now employing the
methods of the business world and the theater to bring in the crowds. This
too, however, has proved to be but a delusion, for the novelty soon begins to
pall, and the megachurch finds itself under the necessity of producing more
exotic methods to hold the "worshipers."
Israel was not to worship
the gods of, nor make alliances with, the nations around her, nor was she to
adopt their ways. God was her Defense, obedience being all that was required
to assure her safety and peace. The Church likewise is forbidden to worship
the gods of the world around her, forbidden to make alliances with it, and
forbidden to adopt its ways. God alone is her Defense, her obedience being
all that is required to assure her safety and peace.
Sadly, Judah failed to
profit by the experience of her guilty sister Israel. Sadder still is the
fact that the professing church has failed to profit from the experience of
Judah was warned that she
would find Egypt as worthless for protection as she had found Assyria; and she
was warned that she would emerge from that alliance with her hands upon her
head, in shame, humiliation, and despair. The professing church is warned
also that her dependence upon what Assyria and Egypt represent will bring her
nothing but shame, humiliation, and despair.