For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2003 James Melough

2:1.  “Moreover 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 needs.


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 bondage.


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 Christendom.


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 Israel." 


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.”


2:6.  “Neither 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 entrap us.


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 20:11-15.


“... 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 world.


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.


2:8.  “The 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 slowly die.


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.


2:9.  “Wherefore 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 such idols.


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.


2:12.  “Be 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 appalled.


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 other.


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 same sin.


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 Tribulation.


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 honor idols.


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 religious systems.


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 hosts"


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.


2:22.  "For 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 ways;"


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 dissimulation.


"... 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 emphasizing.


"... 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 character.


"... 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.


2:25.  "Withhold 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 people.


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, Lord

But, ah, the waters failed.

E'en as I stooped to drink, they fled,

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 occupied. 


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 deliver them.


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.


2:29.  "Wherefore will ye plead with me? ye all have transgressed against me, saith the Lord."


The word “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 evil character.


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.


2:31.  "O 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 obedience.


“... 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.


2:33.  "Why 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 26:30.


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 impending Tribulation.


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.


2:36.  "Why 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 omnipotent Jehovah.


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 both.


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.

[Jeremiah 3]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough