Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2003 James Melough
"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
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
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.
"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
"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
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
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.
"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.
"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.
"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
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
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
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
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
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.
"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
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
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.
"They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his
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
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,"
"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
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
5:13. "And the
prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them: thus shall it be done
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.
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
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.
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
"Nevertheless in those days, saith the Lord, I will not make a full end with
"... 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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
"... 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
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
"... 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
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.
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.
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.