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 

5:1.  "Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places (city squares) thereof, If ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it."


The command to run declares the urgency of the matter, and so is it always when a breach with God is involved.  It is folly for a nation or an individual to linger in disobedience, for dalliance  with sin invites chastisement; and if the rebellion continues beyond the time in which God is willing to pardon, it brings eternal destruction.  In the days of Jeremiah, Judah had dallied  too long.  She had refused to repent in God’s time, and had thus sealed her doom.  The just man sought by God was not to be found within the walls of the city that had filled its cup of rebellion to overflowing.  Judgment was inevitable.  (It is to be noted that God is here clearly speaking of the apostate mass of the people, for there were of course a few godly men in the city e.g., Baruch, Zephaniah, Ebed-melech, Jeremiah himself, and those who hid him from Jehoiakim.  God obviously didn't number these faithful ones with the corrupt mass.  His search was for an unconverted man who was conscious of his sinful state, and who desired to be delivered, and brought into a right relationship with God.  This is what another has called “an example of prophetic overemphasis in order to press home the truth....). 


But the lesson will have been missed if we fail to recognize that in Scripture Israel’s past is but the foreshadowing of the present and the future of the whole world.  Today a rebel world has also filled her cup of rebellion to overflowing, and now, as then, destruction is inevitable.  The terrible Tribulation judgments that will leave the world in ruins, is imminent.  Every prophecy relative to events that will culminate in the rapture of the Church, and the beginning of the Tribulation, has already been fulfilled; the restoration of Jewish autonomy in 1948 being the last such event, and in regard to it Christ has warned that the generation witnessing that restoration will not have passed from the earth until the Church is raptured, and the Tribulation begins, see Mt 24:34, Mk 13:30 and Lk 21:32


It is to be noted further that the city to be searched was Jerusalem, the city that is synonymous with the presence of God!


This brings the lesson closer to home, and makes it personal, for Jerusalem is a biblical symbol of the human heart.  As God desired that peace should dwell in Jerusalem, so is it His desire that peace should dwell in each man's heart, but as there will be peace in Jerusalem only when the Prince of Peace reigns there, so is there peace only in the heart where the Lord Jesus Christ reigns as Lord.


The lesson becomes yet more personal, however, when we remember that Jerusalem was the capital of the land He had given to His people Israel.  Certainly the lesson has its application to the nations, and to sinners, but the ultimate application is to those who are God's people today.  As in the days of Jeremiah, He sought for righteous men in Jerusalem, so does He look for them today in the professing but apostate church.


Had such a man been found in Jerusalem, the judgment would have been averted, but because no such man was found, judgment fell, and the people were carried off into Babylonian bondage.  We should never cease to worship for the fact that two thousand years ago the Man sought by God was found in Jerusalem, not executing judgment, but submitting to it on man's behalf, yielding up to God the life forfeited by man's sin; not seeking truth, but walking in it, being Himself the living Word which is truth, see Jn 1:1; 17:17; becoming, by His death, "the way, the truth, and the life," Jn 14:6 apart from Whom no man can stand in the presence of a Holy God.


It is because He was found there, and because He was willing to go to Calvary to die in man's stead, that every believer rests today in the assurance that in Him we have passed for ever beyond the reach of judgment, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus ...." Ro 8:1.  Judgment is past for ever, not because we who believe "execute judgment" and "seek truth," but because He Who is Truth, bore our judgment at Calvary.


5:2.  "And though they say, The Lord liveth; surely they swear falsely."


A rebel Israel professed to obey God, but it was He Himself Who declared concerning them, "This people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men," Isa 29:13.


It is the same in the world today.  Whether it be Christendom, Judaism, or what the western world smugly calls "the heathen," every man professes faith in his "god," and by the ritual of his religion "honors" his god; but all out of Christ are estranged from God in heart, their fear of God being according to the conception of Him as envisaged by their own corrupt minds, not according to the revelation of Him given in Christ, and in His written Word.  Godly fear (reverence) is begotten by the revelation of God given in His Word, and is produced only in the believing heart.  All else is mere superstition, "taught by the precept of men."


5:3.  "O Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.


Here the prophet's response is given, and he declares that God will be satisfied with nothing less than truth.  But truth is not to be found in the sons of Adam, for he, deceived and ruined by him who is the father of lies, has transmitted the contagion to the whole human race.  In only One is truth to be found, in Him Who is the living Word, Who is Himself the Truth.  Hence the truth that only those in Christ, those who have His life, His nature, through the new birth, are safe from judgment.


Many smitings had failed to accomplish God's purpose, had failed to produce the grief of genuine contrition.  His destruction of many had failed to beget fear and repentance in the hearts of the survivors.  Every effort on God's part to turn them from the path of folly and death had made more adamant their determination to continue in the way of rebellion.  Spurning all correction, refusing to return to Him Who was so eager to pardon and bless, they set their faces like flint to continue in rebellion, and so made themselves heirs of judgment and death.


So was it with a later generation of the same rebellious nation.  When He Who is Truth stood in their midst, they also hardened their hearts, and condemned Him to death.  And afterwards, when God was willing to pardon even that sin, imputing their guilt to ignorance, Ac 3:17, they too set their faces against Him, and choose death when God desired them to have His gift of eternal life.


But as they of Jeremiah's day failed to heed the warning of their smitten brethren, so is it also today.  Israel and the world,  refusing the chastisement that was meant to produce the repentance which  results in blessing, have also hardened their faces against God, and plunge on towards a swiftly approaching destruction.  More incredible still: a professing but apostate church, endowed with the light of NT revelation, has likewise rejected chastisement, has also set her face towards destruction, and is likewise hastening towards her doom.


No words can begin to describe what an awful thing it is to cross, by stubborn rebellion, over the invisible line that separates God's mercy from His wrath, to pass for ever beyond possibility of pardon.


5:4.  "Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of their God."


Jeremiah, confronted with irrefutable evidence that Judah, refusing all correction, would not repent and return to God, was willing to consider the possibility that while this was true of the common people - the poor, the foolish, the untaught - it would be different when he looked among the leaders of the people.


5:5.  "I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the Lord, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds."


The sin of the leaders, however, was even worse, for they, knowing right from wrong, and having therefore no excuse, were as wholly given to evil as were those they ruled.  And their sin was further compounded by reason of the fact that the ignorance of the people was the result of the failure of the leaders to teach them the knowledge of God.  Here "the judgment of God" is the law of God.


The elders of the churches have the same responsibility as did those rebellious leaders of Jeremiah's day, for in the NT it is emphasized repeatedly that the principal work of the elders is to feed, i.e., teach, those over whom the Holy Spirit has set them, see for example Ac 20:28; 1 Pe 5:2.  As noted already, however, the history of Israel and Judah is but the prewritten history of the professing church; and the apostate state of that church is due in no small measure to the failure of elders to teach the people.


There is peculiar significance in its being said that they had "broken the yoke, and burst the bonds," i.e., had thrown off the restraints placed upon them by God for their own good.  Having chosen to become like wild animals which threaten men's lives, rather than domesticated animals which serve man and sustain his life, they were to be delivered into the hand of men represented by three of the most rapacious in the wild animal kingdom.


The correspondence between the state of the nation addressed by the prophet, and that of today’s world, is so obvious that even the most untaught can see it.  The leaders of the nations, religious, political, financial, etc., having lost all knowledge of God, revel unblushingly in sin, their vile lifestyles being the pattern followed by the common people, all of them unaware that the storm of offended righteousness is about to break upon their guilty heads and destroy their world, that judgment coming in the now imminent Tribulation.  So ignorant are they of what constitutes even common decency that they actually see nothing wrong with blatant sin that would have made those of an earlier generation blush for shame.


5:6.  "Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings (deserts) shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased."


The animals represent the Babylonians into whose hand God was about to deliver His rebellious people; but no one will fail to note that the lion is also one of the Biblical symbols of Satan, the ultimate evil spiritual power behind Babylon and every other nation. 


Since trees are biblical symbols of men, the lion out of the forest appears to represent Nebuchadnezzar the Babylonian king who fulfilled the prophecy by slaying thousands of the rebellious Judeans.  Inasmuch, however, as the lion also portrays Babylon, and Babylon represents the world's false religious systems, soon to be unified in the quickly developing ecumenical travesty that will be headed up by the great Roman harlot church, the lesson is  that it is that evil system that will bring its dupes into eternal destruction in the lake of fire.  The world’s false religious systems are man’s greatest and most deadly enemy.


It is also Nebuchadnezzar who seems to be portrayed here by the wolf, the animal that is synonymous with stealth and cunning.


Another rendering of "a wolf of the evenings" is "a wolf of the deserts," and again we must note the special biblical significance of this animal.  It represents both the false prophet and the false judge or ruler of the OT; and the false teacher and sham elder of the NT, see, e.g., Zep 3:3; Mt 7:15.  In the OT, prophet and ruler were both responsible to instruct the people: the former, mainly by precept; the latter by example as well as precept.  In the NT, the same responsibility devolves upon both teacher and elder: the former is to teach, mainly by precept; the latter by precept and example, 1 Pe 5:1-3.


The people would be ravaged by their own wolf-like prophets and rulers, whose failure to teach truth was largely responsible for the apostasy of the common people, and therefore for the chastisement with which God must punish that apostasy.  Whether, then, it is "wolf of the evenings" or "wolf of the deserts," the lesson is the same.  The literal darkness of evening, in which the wolf seeks his prey, is but the symbol of the spiritual darkness in which the spiritual wolf also operates.  And the desert (place of thirst and death) is but another symbol of the sphere in which the spiritual wolf functions.  It too is a region of spiritual thirst and death.


The wolf would remind us of the enemy within, skulking in our midst, watching for the opportunity to destroy us.  The Babylonian oppressor could never have touched Judah had not her own false prophets and evil rulers led her to sin against God.  It is the same in the professing church today.  She could never have been ravaged by the world had she not first rejected truth in favor of the false doctrines of the wolves in sheep's clothing, slinking within her gates in the guise of teachers and elders.


But how have these wolves gained entrance?  Through an unguarded door, the watchmen having been removed in response to the false teaching of the wolves who have already crept in, their evil doctrine being that it is unloving to question those seeking fellowship as to how, when, and where their conversion took place.  We are being told that we should receive everyone who comes to the door, the presumption being that he wouldn't be seeking fellowship if he weren't a believer.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  It's no wonder that Satan's wolves promote this evil so vigorously.  That unguarded door is exactly what Satan is looking for.  Through it his wolves, disguised as sheep, creep in, and destroy whole assemblies.


The abandonment of God's order for reception into the fellowship of the assembly is frequently disguised by the platitude that "all who know the Lord are welcome to break bread."  The sad truth is that, in addition to those whose motives are ulterior, there are many who think they are believers, when, in fact, they are not.  The teaching of Scripture is clear.  The unbeliever has no place at the Lord's table, nor in the fellowship of a local assembly.  He is to be encouraged to come to hear the Gospel, and to sit in a separate place, as an observer at the other meetings, but he may not be received into fellowship until the elders are satisfied that his conversion story has the ring of truth to it.  Reception under any other terms is not love, but blatant defiance of God, and hypocritical disregard for the applicant's spiritual welfare.


The third animal was the leopard which is the embodiment of speed, stealth, and deadly power, "... a leopard shall watch over their cities."  In Daniel's dream , Dan 7, the lion represented Babylon, as it does here also; and the leopard represented Greece, but clearly that is not what it represents here.  The lesson is easily read, however, for in Scripture, Greece is synonymous with the world's wisdom, 1 Cor 1:22, which, incidentally, is foolishness with God.  The leopard therefore, as the biblical symbol of Greece, which is itself synonymous with man’s wisdom, is also the symbol of that same wisdom, so that the leopard watching over the cities of Judah, is the symbolic announcement that destruction must follow rejection of God's Word and its replacement with mere human wisdom.  


Never was the type more accurately fulfilled than in the present, for that same "leopard" crouches over the assemblies today, so that God's people, as backslidden as in the days of Jeremiah, are "torn in pieces."  God's order has been largely displaced, while the folly which is human wisdom, reigns as king.  Everywhere we hear the cry that what has governed the life of the assemblies is old fashioned, and must be replaced with the modern "common sense" methods that appear to work so well in the business world.  I say appear, for he is a fool who fails to see that the great edifice of modern business is tottering on its foundations, and in spite of all human efforts to save it, will soon lie in irretrievable ruin in the midst of an earth convulsed by the swiftly approaching terrible Tribulation-age judgments.


"... because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased."  Multiplied transgressions and backslidings are the root cause of the ruin in the churches today, nor will all the schemes of men avail to undo that ruin.

As it was too late for Judah to repent and avert the judgment, so is it with the professing but apostate church.  Scripture does not justify any hope of recovery.  Faithful individuals are called upon to walk in obedience, holding fast what they have, and seeking to strengthen the things that remain, looking for the Lord's return; but it is a delusion to believe that there will be recovery for the church at large.


5:7.  "How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses."


What was this sin that God couldn't pardon?  It was their deliberate rejection of Him, and their determination to give to idols the worship that belongs to Him alone; and in this connection it is instructive to note that in the Levitical order there was no offering appointed for sins of wilful commission, the only exceptions being the few relatively minor offenses covered by the trespass offering, Le 6; all of which combine to teach the ultimate truth that there is no hope for the man who, knowing the Gospel, refuses to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior.  It is the OT symbolic declaration of the warning given in He 10:26-29, "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries .... Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?"


Implied in their having forsaken Him is the idea of deliberate rejection.  They had obviously compared Jehovah with the false gods of the nations, and had decided that He was at best but one among other gods, some of whom they in their folly considered His superiors, but it must be remembered that in the midst of all their idolatry Israel didn't completely abandon the worship of Jehovah.  The outward ritual was continued, but divorced from the love of their hearts, that ritual was an abomination in the sight of Him Who will not share His glory with another.


We will have missed the lesson, however, if we condemn Judah, but fail to recognize that we ourselves are guilty of the very same idolatry when we put our confidence in money, possessions, education, position, men, organizations, etc., rather than wholly in God, for by that misplaced confidence we too, albeit unwittingly, are relegating Him to the status of being merely another god among others.  Small wonder that we find His hand upon the professing church today in chastisement rather than blessing.


Their having "sworn by them that are no gods" is simply another way of saying that they put virtually all their trust in idols.


"... when I had fed them to the full" adds to their guilt.  It wasn't God's withholding blessing that had turned them to idols.  No!  It was when He had blessed them abundantly that they had wantonly turned to worship the gods revered by their neighbors.  Nor has it ever been different.  Such is the perversity of the human heart that Divine blessing almost invariably begets, not gratitude and worship, but arrogant independence that tends all too quickly to attribute the blessings to other "gods."


Temporal prosperity, for example, enjoyed by professed believers, is often attributed by them to natural ability, wealth, education, etc., it being forgotten that "Promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.  But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another," Ps 75:6-7.  Man's usual response to blessing is portrayed in the account of the ten cleansed lepers mentioned in Lk 17:12-19: only one returned to give God thanks.


This ingratitude, however, isn't confined to the temporal realm.  The gifted evangelist may easily become so proud of the number of converts that he may forget that his gift was given by God, so that instead of glorifying the Giver, he begins to attribute the success to himself.  The elder, likewise, may come to forget the One Who invested him with his gift and authority, so that instead of being an example to the flock, he comes to regard himself as one who is "a born leader," having the right to lord it over God's heritage.


Nor is the teacher impervious to this evil.  As his knowledge and popularity increase, so also may his independence of God, so that he too may forget the One Who first bestowed the gift, and Who could just as easily have given it to another.


It is for this very cause that we so often find ourselves experiencing adversity rather than blessing.  We never seem to learn the lesson that the one as much as the other should direct our hearts to God, the one drawing us to Him in faithful dependence; the other, in grateful worship that expresses itself in an obedient life.


The charge that they had "committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses," may certainly have been literal, for idol worship and immorality are rarely separate; but we can't ignore the fact that the language may be also symbolic.  Since literal adultery is very frequently the Scriptural figure of spiritual unfaithfulness, the statement then becomes the declaration of the widespread nature of the evil, the "harlots' houses" referring to the idol temples, and the "troops" assembling there, referring to the multitudes of God's people affected by the contagion.


5:8.  "They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbor's wife."


This speaks of undistracted pursuit of evil.  "Horses" is literally stallions, and their being "fed" declares that they were as stallions whose lust was undistracted by hunger; while the reference to morning, speaks of the vigor of the animal resulting from a night's rest: there wasn't the distraction of fatigue following a day's work.  Such was the character of God's disobedient people.  They too, undistracted by need, and energized by indolence, had given themselves wholeheartedly to the pursuit of evil, including adultery, literally and spiritually.  The likening of the evil to adultery reminds us that literally and spiritually they were deliberately rejecting God's provision for their needs.  Each had his own wife to meet his physical need, yet each desired what was forbidden: his neighbor's wife.  And they had God, all-sufficient to meet their spiritual needs, but they rejected Him, and desired instead what was abominable to Him: the imaginary "gods" of the heathen.


Only blind eyes will fail to see that the professing church is guilty of the same evil.  Literal adultery is becoming all too common amongst professed Christians, while the spiritual equivalent is even more prevalent.  No, we don't bow down to literal idols, but money, education, pleasure, fame, sports, etc., are no less worshiped by God's people today than were the heathen idols in the days of Jeremiah.  To read the sorry history of Israel, and fail to see in it the pre-written history of the professing church, is to read without Spiritual intelligence, "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning," Ro 15:4.


5:9.  "Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?


Judah's evil sister Israel had sinned with seeming impunity, until God caused her to be carried captive into Assyria, and it might be supposed that Judah would have taken the lesson to heart, but she hadn't.  She continued to sin with the same brazen disregard of God; but through Jeremiah, God warned that he was about to visit her with similar judgment, the only difference being that Babylon was to be the place of her captivity.


Judah's folly, however, is but the picture of that of the professing church, and therefore of our own, our guilt being compounded by the fact that we have sinned against even greater light, for we have had, not only the examples of Israel and Judah carried into Assyrian and Babylonian captivity (the warnings that preceded those judgments being also His warnings to us), but in addition, the terrible judgment that overtook the still rebellious nation in A.D.70, when God expelled her from her land, and scattered her amongst the nations, where, but for the few who have returned since 1948, she remains to this day.


God addresses the same question to the apostate church today, "Shall I not visit for these things?"


5:10.  "Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy; but make not a full end: take away her battlements; for they are not the Lord's."


Israel is portrayed here as a vineyard, for “walls” is literally “vineyard walls,” and “battlements” is literally “branches,” reminding us that Israel was the vine which God had brought out of Egypt and planted in Canaan, Isa 5:1,2,7.


This is addressed to the Babylonian conqueror soon to be called up by God for the chastisement of rebel Judah, reminding us that the nations, albeit unwittingly, are made to accomplish His purposes, and can do only what He permits.  His patience exhausted by rejection of warning, and the long-continued rebellion of His people, He was taking away His protecting care, and delivering them into the hand of the spoiler.  1 Co 5:5 is the NT record of similar judgment executed against the sinning saint in the Corinthian assembly, "To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."


The wall is the Biblical symbol of protection and care, and there can be no question that the first application must be to the protecting care with which God encircles His own; but in the present context it is equally clear that rebel Judah had put her trust, not only in the literal walls of Jerusalem, but also in other "walls" - the idols she so wantonly worshiped.  She was about to learn the worthlessness of both.  Trust placed in anything but God is folly.  That the professing church hasn't learnt the lesson, however, is painfully obvious, for she too has turned from God to worship idols: money, education, pleasure, ease, fame, etc., her state being graphically depicted in the description of the Laodicean church "rich, and increased with goods, and (having) need of nothing," Re 3:17.  None should fail to note that that apostate travesty in Laodicea represents the professing church today, and is the one in regard to which the Lord says, "I will spue thee out of my mouth," Re 3:16.


To be looking for recovery in the church is to declare failure to read the clear language of Scripture.  Old and New Testaments combine to warn that such an expectation is the delusion of an uninstructed mind.  Israel's sorry history is the prewritten history of the professing but apostate church.  As that of Israel ended in ruin, so also will that of her NT counterpart, the professing but apostate church.


The qualifying phrase "but make not a full end," is the reminder that neither the Assyrian nor the Babylonian captivity, nor the diaspora of A.D.70, was the end of Israel.  God's covenant with Abraham will be fulfilled.  A remnant of Israel will be preserved, and brought out of the Tribulation judgments to enjoy millennial blessings.  So also will it be with the Church.  At the Rapture (before the Tribulation begins), out of the apostate mass will be caught up to heaven the small believing remnant, the true Church, to enjoy the eternal blessings promised her in Christ.


The word translated battlements is literally tendrils, i.e., the thread-like growth of climbing or twining plants, such as ivy, or vines, by which they attach themselves to the thing upon which they grow.  The aptness of the figure is apparent.  Israel was God's "choice vine" whose roots and tendrils should have been in Him, but He is pointing to the flimsiness of that in which Judah had placed her trust: the idols for which she had forsaken Him.  The tenuous nature of that confidence was about to be disclosed.


Those idols in which Judah's faith reposed would be powerless to deliver her from the judgment of God.  She would be plucked away as a vine might be pulled from the wall or trellis to which its tendrils cling.


God's disclaimer "they are not the Lord's," reminds us that the hope which isn't rooted and grounded in Christ is worthless.


5:11.  "For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously against me, saith the Lord."


This declares how unjustified their conduct was.  So far from having any reason to turn from God, His gracious dealings with Israel and Judah furnished every reason for them to remain faithful, Judah's treachery being the more heinous in view of the fact that she had not only been given warning in the deportation of Israel, but had been given also a long extended probation, studded with repeated warnings that continued rebellion would bring upon her the same fate.


The treachery of the professing church is doubly compounded by reason of her having had the example of both to warn her, not only by the Assyrian captivity of Israel, the ten northern tribes, and the Babylonian captivity of Judah, but the Diaspora of both in AD 70.


5:12.  "They have belied the Lord, and said, It is not he; neither shall evil come upon us; neither shall we see sword nor famine:"


This is the only place in Scripture where belied occurs, and it means literally to lie, to feign, to disown, and relative to action, it is means to disappoint, to fail.  In both word and deed Israel and Judah had lied about God.  In both spheres they had misrepresented him to the nations.


The professing church, also in word and deed, has belied God to the nations.  We have not spoken of Him as we ought, nor has our conduct been such as to impress the world with His holiness, and with the need to fear Him.


"It is not he" is rendered also "He will do nothing," "This is none of his doing," "He won't bother us."  In their foolish complacency they mistook God's patience for impotence, as do men today, Peter foretelling the same brazen defiance that will characterize men at the end of the age, "There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation," 2 Pe 3:3-4. 


"... neither shall we see sword nor famine" expressed the euphoria induced by the assurances of their false prophets, but they were about to experience both.  And so is it today with an apostate church, and an unbelieving world.  The terrible Tribulation judgments are about to devastate a world that has brazenly defied God, sword (war), famine, disease, and the beasts of the earth, being the agents by which He will express His anger and punish their rebellion, Re 6:8.  And as Judah rejected the prophets who foretold the coming Babylonian captivity, so do the apostate church, and the unbelieving world, reject the Scriptures which foretell their own impending doom, choosing rather to heed the lies of their deluded leaders.  But as God's word was fulfilled relative to the Babylonian captivity of Judah, so will it be also relative to the coming Tribulation, "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape," 1 Th 5:3.


5:13.  "And the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them: thus shall it be done unto them."


This continues the people's rejection of the legitimate prophets.


Not only did they spurn the message, but they mockingly referred to the true prophets as "windbags," who had been given no message from God, saying that the evils they announced would fall upon their own (the prophets') heads.  It is interesting to note that wind is one of the biblical symbols of the Holy Spirit, at Whose impulse the true prophets did speak. 


It is no different today.  An apostate church, and an unbelieving world display the same cynical attitude towards God and those who faithfully declare His Word.


5:14.  "Wherefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them."


God's recompense of their arrogant disbelief would be that the word in the mouth of Jeremiah and the other true prophets, which was designed to beget repentance, would no longer be invested with that character.  It would be made instead the irrevocable announcement of the doom of the haughty mockers, it being likened to fire, and they, to wood.


Nor should the solemnity of this be missed.  We have already seen that the sin of the people had made the Babylonian captivity inevitable, so that the warnings had spiritual relevance.  They could not escape the literal captivity, but they might have saved their souls.  That salvation was now denied the unbelieving mockers.  (It is to be noted that this applies to the mass of the nation, but there was, as always, within that apostate mass, a small believing remnant, whose faith had saved their souls, but

who must endure the captivity with their unbelieving fellows).


The words of warning rejected by an equally skeptical apostate church and cynical world today, will be attended with similar results.  The coming Tribulation is inevitable, and true believers of this present age will be raptured to heaven before it begins, but there will emerge from it a small believing remnant of Jews, and Gentiles who, compelled to experience its horrors, will nevertheless have saved their souls by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.  2 Thes 2:1-12, however, makes it clear that those saved ones will be they who had not heard the Gospel during this present age of grace, which will end abruptly at the instant the Lord comes to the air to rapture His Church home to heaven. Those who have heard the Gospel, and who are still unbelieving at the moment of the rapture, will have lost all opportunity to be saved.


5:15.  "Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far, O house of Israel, saith the Lord: it is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest what they say."


The warning from Jeremiah was but the repetition of the warning given by God in the days of Moses, and recorded in De 28:15-68, note specially vv.49-52.


The nation to be brought upon them was Babylon, but as has been noted many times in our studies, Israel's history is not only the foreshadowing of the history of the professing church, it is also the precursor of things yet to come upon Israel, and upon an unbelieving world. 


Babylon represents the world's false religious systems, and history bears all too eloquent testimony to the murderous tyranny of some of those systems, that of papal Rome being the outstanding notorious example.  Few have difficulty recognizing (1) that Roman Catholicism is the embodiment of the old Babylonian system, and (2) that the present ecumenical activity is fast producing the great harlot one-world church.  Scripture makes it clear that in the latter days that gargantuan travesty will be headed up by Rome, and for the first half of the Tribulation era will be even more powerful than the ten kingdom political entity that will be the old Roman empire revived, see e.g., Re 17.  At the midpoint of the Tribulation, however, the beast emperor who will head up the ten kingdom political coalition, will destroy the religious travesty, and seize for himself all her power and wealth, so that he will be supreme ruler religiously as well as politically for the final half of the Tribulation age.  Scripture also makes it clear that during those final three and a half years, believers and Israel will be the principal targets of his murderous hatred. 


To believe that the book of Jeremiah is simply a fragment of Jewish history preserved to teach us the need of obedience, is to miss its true import.  Like many other prophetic utterances, those of Jeremiah had a distant as well as a near application, the latter relating to his own day, the former, to a day still future, but fast approaching.  Babylon of the past was a political and a religious power marked by hatred of Israel.  The "Babylon" of the Tribulation era (the harlot church and the political beast) will be characterized by the same bitter hatred.


This lends special significance to its being described as mighty and ancient.  The Rome that will rule the world in the Tribulation will be ancient and mighty Babylon revived.  It should be noted that there is nothing in Scripture to support the belief that the actual city Babylon, which has lain in ruins for well over two millennia, will ever be rebuilt.


5:16.  "Their quiver is as an open sepulchre, they are all mighty men."


The primary application is certainly to the Babylon of Jeremiah's day, but it can't be denied that it applies also to the "Babylon" of the Tribulation era.  The deadly force that marked the one, will mark also the other.  Their quiver being as an open sepulchre means simply that their arrows would bring death to multitudes of Judeans; and as Babylon brought death to countless thousands of those addressed by Jeremiah, so will Tribulation-age Babylon, i.e., the apostate church headed up by the Roman Beast in the Great Tribulation, also bring death to thousands of Jews and genuine believers.


5:17.  "And they shall eat up thine harvest, and thy bread, which thy sons and thy daughters should eat: they shall eat up thy flocks and thine herds: they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig trees: they shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst, with the sword."


All of this was literally fulfilled in Jeremiah's day, when the invaders ravaged the land, leaving famine and death in their wake; but we can't read Re 6 without realizing that the past is but the preview of what is to be in the Tribulation, only on a more monumental scale.  And even then we are seeing only half the picture if we fail to recognize that in the Tribulation the spiritual counterpart of literal famine and death will be equally great.  Millions will starve and die spiritually as well as physically.


We are learning only half the lesson, however, if we neglect to examine the spiritual truths portrayed by the literal things mentioned here.  Harvest, the time of ingathering of the fruits of the year’s labor, speaks of the eternal results that will follow each man’s sowing.  To live only for the things of the flesh will bring eternal loss, just as living for the things that pertain to the spirit will bring eternal reward.  Judah had sown the wind and was now about to reap the whirlwind, see Hos 8:7.  We would do well to ponder whether Judah’s fate foreshadows our own, for we are spiritually blind if we fail to realize that a great deal of our sowing is to the flesh, not the spirit.


“... and thy bread...”  Literal bread is the symbol of the written Word.  Only eternity will reveal how much “Babylon,” worldly religion, has robbed us of spiritual food.  Christendom has placed itself in bondage to the clerical system, the vast majority of whose “ministers” know not the Lord of the harvest, and who have therefore nothing of spiritual worth to set before  men and women dying for lack of knowledge of Him Who is the Bread of life.


“... which thy sons and daughters should eat...”  That same evil “Babylonian” system has robbed us also of that which God intended to be spiritual food for our children, i.e., the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.  Through submission to the “Babylonian” system which rules Christendom, we have not only starved ourselves, but have left ourselves incapable of teaching our children truth relative to the Author of eternal life, and the need to trust Him as Savior.


“... they shall eat up thine flocks and thine herds...”  It was from the flocks and herds that the sacrificial animals were taken, and in the Babylonians’ seizure of these animals we are being shown symbolically that the Babylonian system which rules Christendom today has robbed even true believers of the ability to worship, what passes for worship in the average church being a travesty which is as far from the Scriptural pattern as the east is from the west.


“... they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig trees...”  The wine derived from the fruit of the vine is a biblical symbol of joy, and the fig tree is associated symbolically with testimony.  The Babylonian system has also robbed men and women of the true joy that accompanies salvation, for the so-called gospel it preaches is false, being expunged of warning, God being presented as too loving to refuse anyone entry to heaven. 


The same evil system has also tolled the death knell of testimony, the fearless confession of faith in Christ as Savior, that formerly led many others to know Him also as Savior, having no part in the spurious Babylonian “gospel.”


“... they shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst, with the sword.”  The literal fenced cities represent local churches, the spiritual state of most of them advertizing all too clearly the extent to which the Babylonian has indeed impoverished them.  Everywhere there is abysmal ignorance of the literal content of Scripture, while its spiritual and symbolic composition is as incomprehensible to the members as is calculus to a first grade math student.


The literal and spiritual famine stalking abroad today is the precursor of the far more terrible famine that will hold the world in its deadly clutch in the fast approaching Tribulation.


5:18.  "Nevertheless in those days, saith the Lord, I will not make a full end with you."


"... those days" refers to the then imminent Babylonian invasion, and subsequent seventy years of Judah's captivity, from which a remnant returned when the seventy years were completed.  As has been noted already, however, much of prophecy has a distant as well as a near fulfillment in view, and while certainly the near view here had an almost immediate fulfillment, the words clearly relate also to the far more terrible Diaspora, by which Israel was scattered amongst the nations, where she remains to this day, except for the few who have returned to Palestine since 1948.


The OT assurance of regathering from that later scattering of AD 70 is found in Ho 6:2, "After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight," the "two days" being understood in the context of 2 Pe 3:8, "One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."  The few who have returned since 1948 are the budding of the fig tree spoken of by the Lord in Mt 24:32-34, "Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors .... This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled."  (Three trees are used in Scripture as symbols of Israel.  The vine represents her in the OT age; the fig represents her in the present Church age; and the olive portrays her in the enjoyment of millennial blessing).


We are the generation privileged to witness these things, i.e., the resurrection, as it were, of Israel from her almost two thousand year death-like sleep amongst the nations, that recovery being assured, not only in the OT, but also in the New, see Romans chapter 11.  The budding "fig tree" warns us that the Lord's return is near.  It could be today, for before He returns in glory with His bride, the Church, to deliver Israel and gather her back into her land, and lead her into the enjoyment of millennial blessing after the seven years of the Tribulation, He must come first to the air to rapture His Church home to heaven before those terrible seven years begin.


5:19.  "And it shall come to pass, when ye shall say, Wherefore doeth the Lord our God all these things unto us? then shalt thou answer them, Like as ye have forsaken me, and served strange gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers in a land that is not yours."


As they had chosen to worship foreign gods in their own land, God’s chastisement was that they would be compelled to serve masters in a land not theirs.


The fact that their bondage in Babylon would compel their question as to why the Lord had delivered them into that bondage, reveals the extent of their spiritual blindness.  Only consciences seared by long continuance in sin and neglect of God's word, would have need to ask, and in this we read the warning that the same indulgence and neglect have produced the same searing of conscience and spiritual blindness today.  Someone has aptly observed that the vast majority of professing Christians today are biblically illiterate, and he is right.  It is doubtful if there has ever been a time in this Christian era when professed believers were more ignorant of the contents of the Bible (and therefore of God's will), or more determined to do what is right in their own eyes, as did Israel in the days of the prophets and judges.


Nor should it be forgotten that the Babylon which held Judah in bondage, is the OT figure of the great apostate harlot church that has held sway over the nations for almost two thousand years, and that through the evil ecumenical system being so vigorously promoted today, is about to drag into similar bondage a professing church, which, like the Judah of Jeremiah's day, draws near to God with her lips, but in heart is far from Him.  As Judah kept up the outward pretense of serving Jehovah, while also worshiping the idols of the nations, so also does apostate Christendom preserve the same facade, even as she worships the gods of the nations: money, education, fame, pleasure, ease ... being only a few of those "gods."


It is ominously significant that the era of the Judges ended with Israel in bondage to the tyrant Saul (type of the Tribulation age beast ruler), a bondage from which she was delivered only when Saul died, and David ascended the throne.  The deliverance of the Tribulation age believing Jews and Gentiles from the tyranny of the Beast will come only when he is cast into the lake of fire, and the true David reigns over the millennial earth.


The rebellion of Israel in the days of the Judges; and of Judah in the days of Jeremiah, are but OT foreshadowings of similar rebellion on the part of a professing, but apostate church; and he is spiritually blind who fails to see in the bondage that climaxed both eras, the spiritual bondage into which that apostate church is also about to enter.


Judah's punishment was that as she had voluntarily bowed down to idols in her own land, so would she be compelled to serve strangers, and to worship idols in the land of her captor.  An apostate church is about to suffer the same fate in the Tribulation that will follow the rapture of the true Church.


5:20.  "Declare this in the house of Jacob, and publish it in Judah, saying,"


This verse too has significance beyond its immediate context, for Jacob is associated with what is of the flesh, as Israel is connected with what pertains to the spirit, this latter being the name given to Jacob on the night his will was broken when he wrestled with the angel at Penuel, Ge 32:24-31.  Literally, the message was to the whole nation, but that nation was comprised of two parts: the apostate mass designated here as Jacob, and the believing remnant, designated as Judah praise, within that unbelieving mass.  The one would reject the message; the other would accept God's will submissively, trusting Him in captivity in Babylon, as they had when free in Canaan.  (It is necessary to emphasize that literal Israel (the ten northern tribes; and Judah the two southern tribes, had both become apostate, but each had within it a small believing remnant that remained faithful to God even in the midst of the surrounding apostasy, and it is that believing remnant that is designated here Judah, the apostate mass of both Israel and Judah being designated here as Jacob).


That same principle governs the Word of God today, as for example in the letters to the seven churches of Re 2 and 3 "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."  All who heard those letters read would hear with their physical ears, but only the spiritual believers would hear with the understanding also.  Believer and unbeliever alike read the same literal words of Scripture, but only the spiritual man discerns the higher spiritual truth woven into the fabric of the literal language.


5:21.  "Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:"


His describing them as "foolish" reminds us that the only wise man is he who walks in reverential fear of God, as it is written, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding," Pr 9:10.  Eliphaz exhorted Job, "Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee," Job 22:21.  Judah's being "without understanding" continues to emphasize that their apostate state was the result of their deliberate choice not to acquaint themselves with God.  A rebel world, hand in hand with an equally rebel professing but apostate church has repeated Israel's offence, see, e.g., Ro 1:18-32.


The NT makes it clear that in the Church age, the failure of God's people to see and hear spiritually is the direct result of sin which grieves and quenches the Holy Spirit, and thereby negates His ministry of enlightenment.  That the spiritual blindness and deafness of the professing church today are just as great as that of the Israel of Jeremiah's day, is painfully apparent, and we should note that in regard to seeing and hearing, the vast majority of professing Christians today can neither "see" (understand) when they read the Scriptures for themselves, nor can they "hear" (understand) the oral ministry of those who would hope to teach them.


5:22.  "Fear ye not me? saith the Lord: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?"


The full significance of God's questions will be missed if we fail to realize that the sea is the Scriptural symbol of earth's restless, unconverted  human masses, "The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt," Isa 57:20.  No more fitting symbol could have been chosen to represent the continuous restless rebellion of man attempting to go beyond the bounds set by God, for as the restless activity of the sea never ceases, neither does that of rebel man.


There is instruction too in the fact that God has chosen to use sand as His appointed boundary of the sea.  It is itself shifting and unstable, and His use of this despised element to contain what seems to be the resistless might of the sea, declares that all the vaunted might of man is equally powerless to pass beyond the bounds of what man also despises - the will and the Word of God.  Were God to permit man's rebellion to continue for a million years it would still not succeed in going beyond His appointed limits.


The display of God's might in nature, ignored by the men of Jeremiah's day, is also ignored today, not only by an unbelieving world, but also by an equally rebellious professing church.  He, God, has been replaced with Mother Nature.  The predominant characteristic of present day society is one of total irreverence.  The questions put to the Judah of Jeremiah’s day might well be addressed also to today’s world, “Have you no fear of Me?  Will you stand nonchalantly in My presence?”


5:23.  "But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone."


God's evaluation of the people was that their rebellion was deep rooted, and habitual.  It wasn't an accidental thing related only to some specific sphere.  It extended to every activity of their lives.  Their whole mindset was against God, so much so that He was forced to describe them as "gone."  In spite of their maintenance of an empty religious ritual, they had departed completely, their sin being worse than that of the heathen who had never known Him.  His people who did know Him had deliberately chosen to depart from Him, and reject His rule.


It is little different today.  The mindset of the world, and of the professing church, is one of rebellion against God.  But we do well to note that in regard to rebellious Judah, He said "... they are ... gone."  They had forsaken Him, and He was about to give them into the hand of the enemy, and so is it today.  A rebel world, and an apostate church have filled their cup of rebellion to the brim, and they too are about to be delivered into the hand of the enemy.  Following the imminent rapture of the true Church, there will follow a little interval, which will be followed in turn by the seven years of the Tribulation era, in the final three and a half years of which the rebels will be given into the hand of Satan and his beast ruler, under whose dominion the world will be devastated by wars, famines and plagues far more terrible than anything the earth has ever known.  Judah's seventy years of captivity in Babylon are the OT foreshadowing of that fast approaching era.


5:24.  "Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest."


They had failed to remember God's faithfulness in giving them the early and the latter rain which resulted in abundant harvests; and in this we see also the all too common response of men to God's goodness.  In the midst of prosperity, they forget the Blesser, calling upon Him only when adversity comes.


And a special lesson will be missed if we forget that in Scripture, harvest is symbolic of the time of judgment, God warning men that they will reap what they sow, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting," Ga 6:7-8.  Hosea in an earlier day had declared of the same rebellious nation, "For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind," Ho 8:7.  His words were about to be fulfilled for rebellious Judah as they had been for her rebellious sister Israel.


5:25.  "Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you."


“Iniquities” seem to relate to moral evil, while “sins” have to do with "religious" offenses.  The Judah addressed by Jeremiah had been guilty of both.  She had sunk to the same moral level as the corrupt nations around her; and religiously she had reduced the worship of Jehovah to the same level as that of the Baals of the heathen.  Her brazen defiance of God had brought blighted harvests, and had made her the object of His judgment instead of His blessing.  A rebel world, and an apostate church have followed the same path, and with the same result: they have robbed themselves of blessing.  Men for the most part appear to be incapable of learning that obedience is the only path to blessing.


5:26.  "For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men."


Now, as then, wicked men (unbelievers) are also found amongst God's people, careless oversight having facilitated their entry into the assemblies of the saints; a foolish desire for numbers having led to the abandonment of the Scriptural safeguards that would have prevented, to a very considerable extent, the massive intrusion of unbelievers into the local assemblies.  The refusal of elders to conduct any examination of those seeking fellowship in the assembly, delights Satan's heart, for that unguarded door facilitates the introduction of his wolves and weeds amongst God's sheep and wheat.  It is that dereliction on the part of elders that is largely responsible for the lamentable state of many assemblies today.  The unscriptural schemes proliferating everywhere would never have gained a foothold had it not been for the welcome given them by mixed congregations of believers and unbelievers.


Wicked men, masquerading as believers, are as active amongst God's people today as in the days of Jeremiah; and their work is of the same evil character.  They too "lay wait, as he that setteth snares."  They too "set a trap, (and) catch men."  Subtlety marks all their ways.  It is the height of folly to accept naively every profession of faith.  We have Scriptural warrant for requiring that profession be confirmed by righteous living, see Mt 7:15-23, and James 2:14-26.


5:27.  "As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich."


This description of the houses of the evil men who skulked amongst God's people in the days of Jeremiah, and who do so today, is particularly appropriate, for as a fowler’s cage was full of captured birds so are their houses filled with ill-gotten gain. 


But a cage or coop speaks of bondage, while birds are frequently used in Scripture to represent the evil spirits of the air, see, for example Mt 13:4,19.  These men, professing to be believers, but never having been born again, are themselves in bondage to Satan, he and his evil spirit hordes impelling all their activity.  Deceit marks all their ways.


None of this was apparent outwardly, however.  They had become great and rich.  So is it also today.  The deceivers who are now wreaking such havoc amongst God's people are also outwardly "great."  They are well educated, well dressed, live in the more desirable neighborhoods, drive late model cars, occupy positions of influence and power, but they are deceivers just as were those who misled God's people long ago, leading them into sin and rebellion against God; and they live as did their OT counterparts - under the anathema of God.


5:28.  "They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge."


They were like fat, glossy, well-fed beasts.  Like the Laodiceans of Re 3:17, they viewed themselves as being "rich, and increased with goods, and (in) need of nothing," knowing not that spiritually they were "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" in God's sight. So also are the evil deceivers slinking amongst God's people today.


"... they overpass the deeds of the wicked."  The thought here seems to be that the outward piety with which they sought to cover their evil deeds, made them worse in God's sight than the wicked who made no claim to righteousness.  Few things are more abhorrent to God than hypocrisy.


The “fatherless” in Scripture, as well as being literal, are also representative of unbelievers, for they too are fatherless: they know not God as their Father.  The failure of those early-day hypocrites to judge the cause of the fatherless, points therefore to another characteristic of their modern counterparts - they preach no Gospel.  They care nothing about men's souls.  It means nothing to them that men and women are perishing in their sins.  Their only concern is how they can enrich themselves at the expense of those who are spiritually fatherless.


It is not that these deceivers don't mention the Gospel.  They talk much of it, but it is conspicuously absent from all their activities.  Note for example, the virtual disappearance of the Scriptural evangelist from present-day Christendom.  There are all kinds of schemes and programs to entertain men and women, and to take their money, but never a word to warn them of the need to be saved from hell and fitted for heaven through faith in a crucified and risen Savior.


"... yet they prosper."  So is it also today.  These hypocrites who slink amongst genuine believers are prosperous in material things; but a man's spiritual state is not to be gauged by such a barometer.  He who doesn't know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior is spiritually bankrupt.


"... and the right of the needy do they not judge."  While the fatherless appear to represent unbelievers, the literal “needy” in Scripture represent those who belong to God, so that the failure of the rich oppressors to minister to them, points to another characteristic of today's deceivers: they too fail to minister to the spiritual needs of God's people.  Lacking spiritual life themselves, they lack the ability to understand God's Word, but that doesn't hinder them from brazenly undertaking its exposition.  Sadly, many beguiled by the polished language and theological degrees of these pious frauds, mistake eloquence for spiritual gift, with the result that their spiritual needs go unmet: they starve spiritually.


The failure to safeguard the legal rights of the needy (the poor), translates into the failure of today’s spiritual deceivers to have any care about men’s souls.  Unsaved themselves, they neither know nor care that failure to spread the Gospel is tantamount to being indifferent to men’s greatest need: that of being led to see their need of a Savior.


5:29.  "Shall I not visit for thee things? saith the Lord: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?"


As it was then so is it today.  Those scheming deceivers had left God out of their reckoning, as do their present-day counterparts.


But He Who discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart cannot be left out of any man's reckoning, for it is to Him that every man must eventually give account.  For the wicked men of that age the day of judgment was about to break, and though they little suspect it, the day of judgment is perilously close for those who deceive God's people today.  The deceivers of Jeremiah's day were about to be carried captive into Babylon.  Today's deceivers will be left on earth to endure the terrible Tribulation judgments after the true Church has been caught up to heaven; and they who physically survive those judgments will do so only to stand before the Lord returned in power and glory, and to hear His terrible command, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels, Mt 25:41.


5:30.  "A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land;"


Other translations render this "a shocking, monstrous, appalling thing," and we are reading Scripture incorrectly if we fail to see that the history of Israel is but the prewritten symbolic history of the professing church, the days that culminated in the Babylonian captivity foreshadowing the end of this present age, those seventy years adumbrating the seven years of the impending Tribulation era.


The reference to the “land” as the scene of the wickedness is peculiarly instructive, for a careful reading of Scripture reveals that the “earth” is used symbolically of genuine faith; the “land”, of mere empty profession; and the “ground”, of indifferent, unprofessing humanity in general.  The spiritual lesson couldn't be clearer.  It is in professing, but apostate Christendom that God today beholds this shocking, monstrous, appalling thing, this evil!  It is she, the great harlot church, whom God "will visit for these things."  It is she upon which His soul will be avenged - hence the call to His own who are found within her, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partaker of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.  For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities," Re 18:4-5.


It is a mistake, however, to limit the harlot system to Rome alone.  Professing, but apostate Protestantism is no less abhorrent to God; and he is blind who fails to see that the ecumenism being so vigorously promoted today is fast removing whatever differences may have been, so that soon the two systems will be one, with all distinctions lost in a total abandonment of Scriptural order.


5:31.  "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?"


As it was then, so is it today.  With the completion of the canon of Scripture, the prophet has given place to the teacher, see, for example, 2 Pe 2:1-3 "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.  And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.  And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not." 


The false prophets of that day, out of touch with God, and governed by an unjustified euphoria, contradicted the warnings of the true prophets, and taught that there would be no judgment.   The false teachers today, also out of touch with God, and governed by an equally unjustified euphoria, follow the same path.  They too, ignorant of what is written in Scripture, and failing to see that we are in the closing days of the age, deny that judgment is near, declaring instead that we should be looking for expansion in the church, and the improvement of the world through human schemes and a false gospel. 


Their teaching however, is as evil as was that of the false prophets denounced by God in the verse now being considered.  There is not a word in Scripture to justify, but rather, to contradict, the optimism of these fraudulent teachers.  The age is to end with the professing church become Laodicean; the world in brazen rebellion against God; and faith so rare that it will be difficult to find on the earth, Lk 18:8.  A rebel world, and an apostate church have filled earth's cup of wickedness to the brim, and though they know it not, the moment is almost here when they will be compelled to drink the corresponding draught of judgment.


The expectation of the Scripturally instructed believer is not for improvement in the state of either the church or the world, but for the Lord's return.


"... the priests bear rule by their means" is variously rendered, "they teach whatever they please"; "the priests have supported them (the false prophets)"; "the priests go hand in hand with them (the false prophets)."  Those who take the place of elders, but without having been gifted for that work, correspond to the evil priests who aided and abetted the false prophets.  False elders and false teachers today have colluded to lead men and women astray by wresting Scripture and teaching what they themselves deem most likely to advance their own evil schemes.


"... and my people love to have it so."  The words are as applicable to twentieth century Christendom as to the Judah addressed by Jeremiah.  We are living in the day of which Paul warned Timothy, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables," 2 Tim 4:3-4.


"... and what will ye do in the end thereof?" was a question to which they never gave a thought, for they refused to believe that their captivity in Babylon was to be the end of their wickedness.  A godless world, and an equally godless apostate church also refuse to believe that their evil must end in terrible judgment.  Their unbelief, however, doesn't alter the fact that the judgment long foretold is about to break.

[Jeremiah 6]


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