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 

7:1.  "The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,”


7:2.  "Stand in the gate of the Lord's house, and proclaim this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all ye of Judah, that enter in at the gates to worship the Lord."


Having warned the rebellious people of the judgment about to overtake them, and of the character of the nation that would be His instrument for their chastisement, God proceeded to warn them that their continuing with an empty ritualistic worship of Him would be no protection from the threatened judgment.


Since that worship centered in the temple, it was at its entrance that Jeremiah was to deliver his message as the people went in and out.  The futility of their trust was to be declared in the gate of the very building in which all their false confidence rested.  God would have them learn that an empty religious ritual couldn't appease Him who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, Hab 1:13.  That lesson, however, goes far beyond the people of Jeremiah's day, and is as applicable to an apostate church as to an apostate Judah.  Only spiritually blind eyes will fail to see Israel's history being repeated by today's professing but apostate church.  She too, as guilty as Israel and Judah, like them, deludes herself that an empty profession and an equally empty religious ritual is all that is needed to ward off the judgment of a holy God.  The coming terrible Tribulation judgments which will engulf her after the true Church has been raptured home to heaven, will reveal the folly of her reasoning, and the futility of that ritual.  To believe that the God before Whom all men must one day stand for judgment, requires nothing more than a lip profession of faith linked to an empty religious ritual, is to display abysmal ignorance of His character, and of the significance of Calvary.


The fact that they entered in at the gate "to worship the Lord," reminds us that Judah, in spite of her idolatrous worship of the gods of the nations, hadn't abandoned the worship of Jehovah; but by that concurrent empty ritualistic worship through which she sought to appease Him, she had reduced Him to the status of being merely one of many gods.  A professing but apostate church subjects Him to the same dishonor, for the money, pleasure, ease, sports, education, art, literature etc., to which she sacrifices time, talent, and money, are no less idols than were the images to which idolatrous Israel and Judah offered sacrifice long ago.


7:3.  "Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place."


As noted already, it is clear that there would be no repentance on the part of Judah, yet God, fully aware of that fact, continued to warn and plead.  Why?  The obvious answer is that His messages were, as always, for "him that hath an ear," i.e., the few individuals amongst the unbelieving majority, who would heed the warning, and respond to His pleading, and thereby save themselves, not from the Babylonian captivity, but from hell.  It is the same today.  The Gospel, rejected by the majority, is believed by individuals here and there, not (as the new spurious "friendship gospel" teaches) to save them from adversity here on earth, but from hell.  The Biblical Gospel warns men to save themselves, not from adversity on earth, but from hell, and to fit themselves for heaven, by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.


It is noteworthy that He presents Himself, not as the God of the rebellious Judah addressed by the prophet, but as "the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel."  Judah, meaning he shall be praised, had refused Him as their God, for He is praised, not by the charade of an empty religious ritual, but by the presentation of an obedient life, 1 Sa 15:22.  Israel means he shall be prince of God.  Only those who obey Him are His sons, i.e., His royal princes.


His presenting Himself as "the Lord of Hosts," ought to have had a message for them, as it should also for us.  Their idolatrous worship was clearly meant to court the favor and protection of those things which were no gods, and which were therefore incapable of giving the desired help; but that idolatry, and their ritualistic worship of the One they esteemed as just another in the pantheon, cut them off from the saving power of the only One who could have delivered them, not just from Babylon, but from every enemy.  It is no different today.  An apostate church, offering to God an empty ritualistic worship, thereby reducing Him to the level of the gods mentioned above, has cut herself off from the only One Who is able to save her from hell and fit her for heaven.


"Amend your ways and your doings...."  It is instructive to note that one of the meanings of ways is "an eastward road," a fact which confirms what we have noted often in our studies, i.e., that in Scripture the east is always associated with sin and departure from God.  In the present context ways speak of a mindset that was completely opposed to God, while doings refer to the evil deeds resulting from that mindset, as we read in Pr 23:7 relative to man, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he,” (the ancients believed the heart to be the seat of the intelligence), hence Paul's command, "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind," Ro 12:2.


"... and I will cause you to dwell in this place."  For Israel and Judah the place was literally Canaan, but as also noted in our studies, Canaan represents, not heaven, but the spiritual sphere into which one is brought here on earth by conversion.  It is a state rather than a literal place, so that by obedient acceptance of God's will, the believer may enjoy all the spiritual blessings that are his in Christ, even though his literal state may be anything but conducive to the enjoyment of anything, as for example, the actual state of Paul and Silas in Ac 16:22-25.  Bleeding backs, feet bound in the stocks, a late hour (midnight), a cell in the heart of an eastern prison, were little calculated to produce singing, but that is exactly what those two believers did, "At midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God...."


He is a wise man whose desire is to dwell in the enjoyment of the riches of the sphere represented by Canaan, for that man lives beyond the power of outward circumstances to either give or take away his peace.


7:4.  "Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are these."


The Temple had become a mere fetish; their vain thought, encouraged by their false prophets, being that since His temple was in Jerusalem, God would never allow either the city or the Temple to be destroyed, or its inhabitants carried into captivity.


An apostate church slumbers under similar delusion, believing that the preservation of an outward ritualistic form which it calls worship, combined with a mere lip profession of faith, is all that is needed to enable her members to enjoy the pleasures of sin, and still enter heaven when they reach the end of life's journey.  Encouraging them in their blind folly are their hireling clerics (the modern counterparts of Israel's false prophets), who are as ignorant of God as are the dupes they profess to teach.


Nor should those in the "assemblies" feel complacent.  In all too many of them the Lord's table has become a mere shibboleth, and the emblems a fetish, their perception of the Lord's supper rising no higher than to believe that they have kept that most sacred ordinance just by taking the emblems.  To believe that they have eaten the Lord's supper just because they have eaten a piece of bread and swallowed a sip of wine, is to be guilty of the same delusion as lulled rebellious Judah into believing that just because God's temple stood in Jerusalem nothing could touch them.  What Israel failed to realize was that their desecration of the Temple had rendered it unclean so that God must destroy it and them.


7:5.  "For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor;"


Throughly is an archaic form of thoroughly, and in His requiring that the reformation be thorough, we learn the truth that God doesn't deal in half measures.  He will accept nothing less than the total commitment of the life to Him.  Just as there can be no such thing as anything less than a complete salvation, neither can there be anything less than complete obedience, for what isn't total obedience is disobedience, and the measure in which we  disobey is the measure in which we diminish our blessing.


Way is literally a road or course followed.  It refers here to the general manner of life.  If our way is to be pleasing to God it must be walked according to what is written in His Word.


Doings, on the other hand, refers to the deeds which make up the life.  It is by our deeds that our obedience, or lack of it, is displayed.  The profession of the lips must be confirmed by the deeds of the life.  This is the truth declared by Paul and James, the former assuring us that salvation is by faith alone; the latter reminding us that good works are the outward evidence of that inward faith.  The two cannot be separated.


The reference here to the need of fairness in their relations with others is the OT declaration of the Lord's command in Lk 6:31, "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise."


7:6.  "If you oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt:"


Oppress conveys the thought of doing wrong by defrauding another of what is rightfully his, and the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow were those most vulnerable, for they had little means of securing redress.  As in much of Scripture, however, there is also a spiritual significance which transcends the literal.  The stranger is used figuratively to describe the unconverted (he is estranged from God); and the fatherless is another term used to describe the unbeliever (he is not a child of God); and the widow likewise pictures the unbeliever (he doesn't have God as his Protector and Comforter).


With Judah, the sins mentioned were literal; but we "defraud" the unbeliever when we fail to preach the Gospel, for our negligence robs him of the opportunity to believe and be saved, as Paul reminds us, "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" Ro 10:13-14.


The innocent blood  obviously refers symbolically to those who belong to God, so that the shedding of their blood speaks of the persecution and killing of those who belong to Him.  Relative to God's earthly people Israel, the prophet declares, "He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye," Ze 2:8; and in regard to those who comprise the Church, the Lord, referring to Saul's persecution of them, asked, "Why persecutest thou me?" Ac 9:4.  The price He paid for their redemption declares clearly the value God sets upon His own.  He who harms them makes himself the object of God's wrath.


The warning not to walk after other gods cannot be dismissed as having relevance only to another age.  The literal idols may have gone, but the gods worshiped today are no less real in spite of that.  Money, pleasure, sport, education, art, literature, ease are but a few of the gods upon which, not only the unconverted, but professed believers also, squander time, talent and money that belong to God; and to give to anyone or anything else what belongs to Him is to be guilty of idolatry.


7:7.  "Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, forever and ever."


For those addressed by the prophet, the land was Canaan, but since that land represents the spiritual sphere into which we are brought at conversion, the lesson for us is that obedience will ensure our dwelling in the enjoyment of all the spiritual blessings that are ours as men and women in Christ, and disobedience will just as surely result in our being expelled from that sphere of blessing.  (This is not to be confused with loss of salvation, which can never be lost).


Since Jeremiah was delivering this message in the gate of the Lord's house, "this place" may perhaps refer to Jerusalem, which means dual peace shall be taught: lay (set) ye double peace, so that the promise may have a dual character: obedience would result, not only in their dwelling in the land, but in their dwelling there in peace.


Canaan's having been given to their fathers "forever and ever," is to be understood in the context of the fathers' lives being perpetuated in succeeding generations of their children.  Nor are Israel's expulsions from the land to be construed as God's breaking His promises relative to her perpetual possession of Canaan.  In spite of those expulsions occasioned by her disobedience, the land is hers by an unbreakable covenant, and the day is not far off when she, represented by the repentant and converted Tribulation age remnant, will be gathered back into it from the four corners of the earth, to enjoy its superlative millennial blessings during God's  great Sabbath - the thousand years of rest, peace and plenty which will conclude earth's turbulent history.  The spiritual picture, however, is of the eternal blessings to be enjoyed by all believers, including those of past ages, in spite of all our failures symbolically portrayed in Israel's many lapses. 


7:8.  "Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit."


The lying words were those of their false prophets who assured them that since God's house, the Temple, was there in Jerusalem, He would never permit the enemy to enter the city.  As they were warned of the folly of trusting such false assurances, so is an apostate church being warned not to delude herself that a mere empty profession of faith, and adherence to an empty religious ritual, will deliver her from judgment.  Apart from genuine repentance, she, like the unrepentant rebels found in ancient Israel and Judah throughout her long history, will also be destroyed.


7:9.  "Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not;"


There is no question that they were guilty of literally committing the sins listed, but the spiritual instruction for us lies in seeing what equivalent spiritual evils are also represented by these sins.  There is no question that believers today may also be guilty of literal theft, but clearly the warning goes beyond the literal.  Our guilt is largely in the spiritual realm.  We have stolen from God time, talent, money: time that should have been given to study, prayer, meditation, worship, ministry to believers, and to the unconverted by the preaching of the Gospel; talent that ought to have been given to study and the teaching of others, and the spread of the Gospel; money squandered on ourselves that should have been given to God for the advancement of His kingdom here on earth, to minister to the temporal needs of both saint and sinner.


We are to be charged also with murder, because for all practical purposes I am guilty of murder when I allow a man to die by withholding from him what would have saved his life, e.g., withholding food when he is dying of hunger; clothing or shelter, when he is dying from cold; refusing to save him from drowning, fire, etc., when it is in my power to save him.  But again our guilt is in the spiritual realm.  It is by our refusal to preach the Gospel that we cause men to die, for by that dereliction we withhold the Bread of life from men dying of spiritual hunger.  By refusing to preach the Gospel we allow men to go out into eternity without the garment of Christ's righteousness, without a shelter from the anger of God against sin.  By refusing to preach the Gospel we allow men to sink spiritually under the waters of God's wrath, to enter into the eternal torment of the terrible lake of fire.


By our delinquency we make ourselves just like the callous priest and Levite who refused to aid the dying man on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho, Lk 10.  The truth we refuse to face is that we are as much murderers as were the rebels addressed by God through Jeremiah.


Nor are we any less adulterers than they, for that literal violation of the marriage vow is duplicated in the spiritual realm when we give to anyone or anything else the love that belongs to God.


The false swearing or witnessing has also its spiritual counterpart in our lives, e.g., when our morality isn't accompanied by a verbal confession of faith in Christ, we are testifying falsely because we're deluding men and women into believing that mere morality is all they need to save them from hell, and fit them for heaven.  And we make ourselves false witnesses when we ignore open sin in the assembly, and when we tolerate wrong doctrine.


Their burning incense to Baal, and walking after other gods, finds also a spiritual counterpart in our own lives, for though we may not have set up the actual idols, we are as much idolaters as were those rebuked by the prophet.  Look, for example, at the time, talent and money sacrificed, by professing Christians, to business, pleasure, sport, education, literature, art, music, fashion, etc.  Eyes, however, blinded by the glitter of the world's baubles, and ears deafened by its distracting clamor, fail to perceive the evil of it all, to realize that it is idolatry.


7:10.  "And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?"


Their brazen effrontery would be unbelievable were it not that it is duplicated by an equally apostate professing church.  The people of Judah would turn from their busy occupation with all the sins listed in the preceding verse, to offer token acknowledgment of God, believing the He was thereby appeased;  and multitudes today, professing to be God's people, are guilty of the same hypocrisy.  They turn from the literal and spiritual counterparts of Judah's crimes, to offer the same hypocritical token worship, and with the same ulterior motive: hoping to appease Him.


Exegetes disagree as to the exact meaning of "We are delivered to do all these abominations," but there is much merit in the view which takes it to be literally, "By the discharge of this religious formality we free (deliver) ourselves from blame, we have made amends," - and with hardened consciences thus salved, they returned to continue the same evil lifestyle.  The practices of an apostate church substantiate this view, for this is exactly what she does.  Token acknowledgment of God's claims is made by her members through a quick visit to "church" on Sunday; and with their seared consciences thus salved, they, like ancient Judah, return immediately to their evil living.


It is instructive to note what has spawned this attitude.  It has its origin in the diabolic "friendship gospel" so popular with today's false preachers and their deluded followers, that "gospel" requiring nothing more of the "convert" than an intellectual assent to the historicity of Christ.  And the imaginary new life which begins with such an easy formality, continues to be governed by the same easy formality relative to the "forgiveness" of the so-called believer's sins.  Mere lip profession of faith is all that is required, not only to guarantee immunity from punishment, but to extend license for the indulgence of every lust of the flesh.


The closer we scrutinize Israel's history, the more clearly we see in it the prewritten history of the professing but apostate church.


7:11.  "Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes?  Behold, even I have seen it, saith the Lord."    


Continuing to address the rebellious people through His prophet, God asks whether they are foolish enough to believe that He is ignorant of their doings, or deceived by their assembling in His house.  If so, they are very much mistaken.  He Who discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart can't be deceived by an empty religious ritual, but today's apostates are as foolish as were their fellows of Jeremiah's day.  They too think that by means of a vain empty religious form they can deceive God into believing they are righteous, when in fact they are vile.


7:12.  "But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel."


Shiloh was the religious center of Israel from the days of Joshua until the end of the era of the Judges, but because of the wickedness of the people, particularly the evil sons of Eli, the ark and the people were delivered into the hand of the Philistines, and it doesn't appear that God ever again returned to the place that had for so long been associated with His name.  And now a priesthood as dissolute as Eli's sons, and a people as vile as their priests, were commanded to consider what God had done to the place once sanctified by His presence.  As He had done to Shiloh, so would He do also to Jerusalem, past hallowed associations being no protection from the wrath of Him whose patience the people had exhausted. 


And so is it today.  These things are written for the instruction of a professing but apostate church which has also exhausted God's patience, her villainy being compounded by reason of the fact that she has had the warning, not only of an abandoned Shiloh, of a Jerusalem delivered into the hand of the Babylonian, but of the rebuilt Jerusalem and temple delivered up to the sword of the Roman, and the people scattered among the nations for two thousand years.  But as with the Judah of Jeremiah's day, the warnings have fallen upon deaf ears, and an apostate church plunges on to her merited doom with the same reckless abandonment as did her Jewish sister long ago, and with the same hypocritical cant on her lips, We are God's people!  We have done no wrong!


7:13.  "And now, because you have done all these works, saith the Lord, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not;"


Judgment was about to fall, but the rebels couldn't say that there hadn't been ample warning.  God, through His prophets, had warned them repeatedly, but they, in their stubborn determination to continue in evil, had refused to listen, and when He had called to them (presumably to reason together) they had ignored Him.  The wonder is that God's patience had lasted as long as it had.


7:14.  "Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh." 


As He had done to Shiloh so would he do also to Jerusalem, the association of His name with the place providing no immunity for those who had desecrated that place and dishonored His name.  Their attitude towards the Temple was exactly the same as had been that of an earlier generation towards the Ark.  It too had become a mere fetish in which they placed all their trust until it was taken by the Philistines, and they themselves slain, see 1 Sa 4. They were about to learn the folly of trusting in a religious ritual divorced from faith and obedience; and an equally apostate church is soon to learn the same lesson.


Relative to "the place" given to them and to their fathers, it seems that the reference is to the whole land of Canaan, and not just the city of Jerusalem.


7:15.  "And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim."


"The whole seed of Ephraim" refers to the ten northern tribes carried into Assyria about a hundred and thirty years before.  That captivity ought to have warned Judah against trifling with God, but obviously it hadn't.  Nor have all God's chastisements of Israel and Judah conveyed any warning to an apostate church.  She too has ignored every admonition, and like ancient Judah, foolishly trusts in an empty religious form to protect her from God's judgment.


7:16.  "Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee."


God forbade the prophet to mingle intercession and warning.  They had exhausted His patience.  Nothing could avert His judgment.

It is a fearful thing when a man or a nation exhausts God's patience, and passes for ever beyond the hope of mercy, as it is written, "He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy," Pr 29:1.  The people addressed by Jeremiah had taken that fatal step and passed irrevocably over the invisible line that separates God's mercy from His wrath; and in spite of abundant warnings against such madness, an apostate church has followed in their footsteps.


7:17.  "Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?"


Here God calls upon the prophet to acknowledge that wickedness filled the land from the remotest town even to Jerusalem itself, the temple being no deterrent to the flagrant evil of the rebellious people.  Honest men today are called upon to make the same acknowledgment relative to apostate Christendom.


7:18.  "The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger."


None was exempt from censure.  Men and women, children and parents, were united in the idolatry.  The queen of heaven is generally understood to have been Ashtoreth, a fertility goddess worshiped by Assyria and Babylon, or the moon, and inasmuch as the moon is a biblical symbol of united testimony (as the moon reflects the light of the absent sun, so was OT Israel to be a witness for God, but since the end of Jewish autonomy in AD 70, a new "moon" the Church has been invested with that privilege and responsibility), Judah's idolatrous worship of the moon would remind us that the spiritual equivalent is true in regard to the apostate travesty which calls itself the church.  The evil system centered in Rome (and working through the equally evil ecumenical movement to bring apostate Protestantism back under her control), has exalted Mary to the place of intercessor, in spite of the fact that God has declared, "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," 1 Tim 2:5.


(Space precludes a detailed discussion of it here, but it should be noted that the Roman Catholic system is simply the ancient Babylonian mystery religion dressed in Christian garb.  That idolatrous worship centered on Semiramis - the vile wife of the rebel Nimrod - and her infant son.  She was the original "queen of heaven," the worship of the mother with the infant in her arms, quickly spreading over the whole ancient world, only the names changing with the country, e.g., Ashtaroth and Tammuz in Phoenicia; Isis and Horus in Egypt; Aphrodite and Eros in Greece; Venus and Cupid in Italy; and with the alleged conversion of Constantine, the idolatry was "Christianized" with Mary and the infant Jesus replacing the original Semiramis and her infant son.

Only the spiritually blind will fail to see in Judah's worship of the queen of heaven a foreshadowing of the evil Romish system which rules Christendom today).


7:19.  "Do they provoke me to anger? saith the Lord: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces?"


Their rebellion did more than provoke the Lord's anger: it would bring shame upon themselves, and this is more than the record of Israel's folly: it is the annunciation of a principle governing the lives of all men.  We cannot dishonor God without laying up dishonor for ourselves, the believer suffering that shame at the Bema, and the unbeliever reaping the eternal reward of his folly at the great white throne.


7:20.  "Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched."


God is patient, but His patience isn't limitless, and it is impossible to measure the misery which must be the lot of the one who exhausts that patience, and makes himself the heir of Divine wrath.  Some idea of His fury may be gathered from the judgment visited upon the antediluvian world; the Egyptians on the night of the Passover and at the Red Sea; the cities of the plain in the days of Lot; Jerusalem in BC 586 and AD 70, etc.


Something of man's high position may be gauged from the fact that here, as almost always, the animals and the earth share in the judgment visited upon him for rebellion against God, the reason being that from the beginning man has been invested with the power of rule over all the earthly creation, and it is a sad commentary on the character of his rule when it is such that he and the things placed under him must suffer judgment instead of enjoying blessing.


"... it shall burn, and shall not be quenched" reminds us that once a man's rebellion carries him beyond the pale of God's mercy, he becomes the heir of eternal punishment, just as the believer’s faith makes him the heir of eternal blessing.


7:21.  "Thus saith the Lord of hosts; the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh."


This continues to emphasize the folly of trusting in a mere empty religious ritual divorced from obedient faith, for a literal translation would be, "Offer all the sacrifices you please, and eat the flesh of the burnt offering yourselves, for it is unacceptable to Me."  This must be understood against the background of the offerings which God Himself had appointed for Israel.  All of the Burnt offering (except the skin) was to be burnt.  It was all for God.  The offerings were known generally as God's food, for just as a man is satisfied with food, so was God satisfied with the offerings as long as they were linked to obedient faith.  The communion existing between Him and an obedient people is portrayed symbolically in that in the Peace offering, for example, there was a part for God, a part for the participating priest, and a part for the offerer.  Minus obedient faith, however, the offerings were an abomination to God as is emphasized in His now telling them to eat the Burnt offering, and all the flesh of the others themselves, His refusal of what should have been His part declaring that He could no longer have communion with such rebels.


The lesson is easily read.  The empty ritual maintained by today's professing but apostate church is equally abominable to God, and those who shelter behind it make themselves the heirs of wrath just as surely as did the Judah of Jeremiah's day.


The reference to His being "the Lord of hosts (armies)" is to remind us of His omnipotence, and of the folly of contending with Him.  His being "the God of Israel" is related to what is associated with the name Israel rather than Jacob.  The former speaks of obedience, the latter of self-will.  He is the covenant God only of those who obey Him, but the implacable Foe of all others.


7:22.  "For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices:"


This isn't meant to imply that God hadn't given them any instructions concerning the presentation of offerings: He had given very specific instructions, but the offerings were far from being His principal concern.  It was obedience that He desired, and for Israel to present offerings apart from obedience was to affront Him, and rob the offerings of all spiritual significance.


But apart from the small believing remnant within the apostate mass of the nation, Israel failed to comprehend that truth, and in her blindness imagined that as long as the outward ritual was kept up all would be well, that same spiritual blindness leading her to attribute to the offerings a sanctity God had never given them.  Apart from obedient faith they were as much an abomination to God as were the sacrifices which the heathen offered their idols.


An equally blind apostate church has adopted Israel's false reasoning, and has invested baptism and the Lord's supper with virtue they don't possess, and the result is that, like Israel, she places a false confidence in the outward forms to protect her from judgment, when only obedient faith can secure that protection.


7:23.  "But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you."


Before He gave any commandment concerning the offerings, God had commanded the people to be obedient, "If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee," Ex 15:26.  The imperative of obedience is stressed again in 1 Sa 15:22-23, "Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.  For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry."


It is to be noted that it isn't mere tyrannical caprice that impels God to demand obedience.  Far from it!  It is because He desires to bless; but to bless disobedience would be to violate the integrity of His own holy nature, and thereby make Himself less than God.


7:24.  "But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward."


Not only had the people refused to obey, but they wouldn't even listen to God's entreaties when He sought to plead with them.  With stubborn determination they choose to live as they pleased, their own corrupt minds furnishing the only direction they desired.  And so is it with an equally stubborn and rebellious apostate church, her well-merited judgment being as close as was Judah's when Jeremiah wrote the words we are now considering.


7:25.  "Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them:"


Israel's sin wasn't of recent development: it had begun virtually from the moment of their emancipation from Egyptian bondage, and had continued until the very day in which Jeremiah addressed them.  Throughout all those years God had continued to warn them and plead with them through His prophets, but to no avail.  Their stubborn necks refused His easy yoke, their corrupt minds quickly forgot His many blessings, and in their obdurate self-will they plunged on to their richly deserved punishment.  Such was their spiritual blindness, that even with the enemy at their gates, they still ignored the warnings of God's prophet, and listened instead to the false assurances of Satan's servants, the false prophets, that the maintenance of an empty religious ritual was protection from any judgment.


7:26.  "Yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers."


Who can begin to measure the folly of man estranged from God!  Worms of the dust dare to ignore the voice of their Creator, the One, Who by a word, has called the universe into existence, and Who holds in His hand the very breath drawn by those who rebel against Him!


Nothing has changed over the centuries.  An equally apostate professing church has been just as self-willed, and just as ready to believe the lies of the false teachers who have arisen - as God has foretold they would - to take the place of the false prophets, 2 Pe 2:1, "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."


7:27.  "Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken unto thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee."


One truth being declared in Jeremiah's being commanded to continue speaking unto them - even though God knew that His words would go unheeded - is that the Word rejected will become the instrument of judgment, as the Lord Himself declared, "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day," Jn 12:48.


"... thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee," indicates that there would be, not only rejection of the word heard by the rebels, but also the refusal even to listen, and it is no different with an apostate church.  She too rejects not only what she hears, but refuses even to read God's Word or listen to those who minister that Word in truth.


7:28.  "But thou shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the Lord their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth."


It might have been expected that God, foreknowing their continued disobedience, would have bidden Jeremiah discontinue preaching to them, but He didn't.  On the contrary, the prophet was commanded to continue, and the lesson being taught is that neither outright rejection of the Word, nor indifference to it on the part of an apostate church, is to silence the mouths of God's servants.  His truth is to be declared, no matter how adamant man's rejection of it may be.


A further reason for God's willingness to continue the declaration of His truth is that just as He foreknows the rejection of it by the masses, so does He also foreknow the reception of it by the few who will believe it and repent, and for their sakes He continues.


"... truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth," is the announcement that the people were not only guilty of lying to one another, but also of never even discussing God's Word among themselves.  They never mentioned it, which was another way of saying that they never thought upon Him.


7:29.  "Cut off thine hair, O Jerusalem, and cast it away, and take up a lamentation on high places; for the Lord hath rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath."


A man's shaven head was a biblical sign of mourning; and a woman's, of shame, for only harlots and female slaves had their heads shaven.  The figure therefore should probably be understood in the latter sense, since Jerusalem is almost invariably presented as a woman.  Her spiritual harlotry was to result in her becoming a Babylonian slave; and inasmuch as the woman's hair is her glory, the command to Jerusalem to "Cut off thine hair, and cast it away" declares that since she herself was to do the shaving and the casting away of the hair, it was she herself who was responsible for her coming slavery and lost glory.  Had she been obedient to Jehovah, these calamities would never have come upon her.  Had it not been for her idolatry in the "high places" there would have been no need for her to lament there.


She had finally exhausted God's patience, and was now without hope of deliverance; but it is significant that the emphasis is upon the destruction of “the generation of his wrath,” for that very emphasis implies the salvation and blessing of another generation of that same rebellious people, i.e., the generation represented by the repentant obedient remnant that will emerge from the Tribulation judgments to inherit millennial blessing.  The same truth is declared relative to the rebellious generation that was delivered into the hand of the Gentiles in AD 70, see Ro 12.  The believing remnant brought to salvation through the Tribulation judgments, will be the new generation that will enter the Millennium.  God's word relative to the blessing of His earthly people Israel will yet be fulfilled, for it is on that repentant remnant that will pass alive out of the Tribulation into the enjoyment of millennial blessing, that He has always had His eye.


This, however, continues to be more than the record of Israel's folly: it is the prewritten history of the professing, but apostate church.  She too has exhausted God's patience, and like her harlot Jewish sister, is about to pass into the equivalent of Babylonian slavery.  Following the rapture of the true Church she will be left on earth to reign like a queen for the first half of the Tribulation era, that brief reign being brought to a sudden end by the Roman Beast ruler who will seize her wealth and power, and for the final half of the Tribulation, reign supreme religiously, politically, militarily and economically, but then to be himself destroyed by the Lord, returning in power and glory to establish His millennial kingdom, see Re 17-19.


7:30.  "For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the Lord: they have set their abominations (idols, images) in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it."


It might have been expected that Judah, meaning he shall be praised, would have been the last to be guilty of evil, particularly in view of the fact that they had had the example of the Assyrian captivity of the other tribes as dramatic warning against disobedience.  But obviously the effect of that warning had quickly worn off, for their sin, compounded by that warning, was therefore even greater than that of the ten northern tribes.


The utter vileness of the nation represented by Judah is disclosed in Eze 8 which lists some of the abominations practiced in the Temple, e.g., verse 16, "... behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshiped the sun toward the east."  Their backs toward the temple declares their complete rejection of God, while their faces toward the east speaks of having set themselves to do evil, for as noted throughout our studies, the east is always indicative of sin and departure from God.  Nor was this the sin of only the common people!  Eze 8:11-12 makes it clear that the leaders of the nation were foremost in the evil which was about to be visited with the outpouring of God's wrath.


The spiritual lesson will be missed, however, if we fail to see its application to the present day apostate church.  The Judah of Jeremiah's day had mingled idolatry with the worship of Jehovah, and only blind eyes will fail to see that the so-called worship of Christendom is also an admixture of Judaism and heathenism dressed in Christian garb.  Where, for example, do we find Scriptural authority for the hierarchical form of government that has ruled the professing church for almost two thousand years; for the clerical system; the pompous titles; the clerical robes, to name but a few of the abominations which abound in the system governing the professing church?


Spiritual minds will have no trouble discerning the significance of its being said that "they worshiped the sun toward the east."


The sun is the source of mere natural light, and speaks of man's wisdom in opposition to God's.  Can anyone deny that the professing church has turned her back "toward the temple" i.e., rejected Scriptural order, and has given herself to the worship of man's wisdom?  Look, for example, at the extent to which she is ruled by that "wisdom."  Spiritual gifts are rejected, a theological education being deemed a necessity for those counted fit to be "ministers" within the system, while the methods of the business world have replaced the Word of God for the government of the so-called churches.


They had dared to set up the images of their false “gods” in Jehovah’s Temple, and one has only to look at the interior of the average Roman Catholic “church” to see the brazen affront repeated in the form of statues and paintings of Mary.


As judgment was then about to break upon the head of guilty Judah, so is it also about to break upon the head of an even more guilty apostate church, for she has had the history of both Israel and Judah to warn her of the madness of her folly.


7:31.  "And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart."


The "high places of Tophet" were the altars they had erected for the worship of Molech (alt. spelling Moloch), an Ammonite god whose worship involved the sacrificial burning of infants, a monstrous crime of which Judah was guilty, in spite of the fact that, as the prophet reminded them, God had never given any command to do such a thing, nor is there even a hint in Scripture that He desires such sacrifices.  Only a grossly depraved mind sees such instruction in Abraham's being commanded to offer his son Isaac.


Tophet means a spitting (as object of contempt), i.e., literally shame, and as Jackson points out in his Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names, the name Molech, meaning the king, "is vocalized the same as bosheth, which some think is to denote shame."  It is also instructive to note that Ammon, meaning tribal (peoplish), one of the sons incestuously fathered by Lot, appears to speak, not only of the lusts of the flesh, but particularly of mere religious profession, with strong emphasis on intellectualism or rationalism.  No spiritual mind will fail to see in Judah's worship of this Ammonite god, another characteristic of today's professing church.  The apostate system, characterized by empty profession, and governed by rationalism, has brought shame on the name of Christ, and on the true Church; and she too sacrifices her children to the intellectualism which Ammon represents.  Note, for example, that the great majority of professing Christians evince more desire for their children to excel academically than spiritually; to achieve success professionally, rather than to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of God.


It is also instructive to note that the valley of Hinnom means to make self drowsy: behold them.  The professing church's worship of what Molech represents, has induced a spiritual torpor which is nothing less than the sleep of death.  She has long since lost the capacity to hear, much less understand, God's voice, the spiritual content of Scripture being totally incomprehensible to her drugged mind.


The location of the valley of Hinnom is also instructive.  It was immediately south of the city, but 19:2 informs us that it was also "by the entrance of the east gate."  Inasmuch as that gate appears to have been the direct means of access to this valley, the spiritual message is easily read.  Its being south (the Biblical direction of faith) points to it as being representative of the sphere of profession, but inasmuch as one could go there literally only by going through the east gate (the direction of sin and departure from God), the spiritual lesson is that it portrays the condition of today's professing but apostate church. Those who comprise her are where they are today only because they too have gone spiritually "eastward," i.e., away from God, while professing to be walking within the realm of faith.


Nor should anyone fail to consider the lesson being taught in that this terrible valley was the place where the refuse of the city was burned.  What was then practiced literally by Judah in the name of worship, and is now practiced spiritually under the same name by an apostate church, is as refuse in the eyes of God, and fit only for burning.  For apostate Judah that "burning" wasn't far off, nor is it any farther off today for an equally apostate church.


We might note incidentally that the Greek name for the valley of Hinnom was Gehenna, the Greek word for our English hell, and Hebrew Sheol.


Christendom is guilty of similar infant immolation today, but cleverly disguised under the euphemism “legal abortion.”


7:32.  "Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter; for they shall bury in Tophet, till there be no place." 


For the apostate Judah addressed by Jeremiah, that day of slaughter wasn't far off, nor is it for today's apostate church.


Nebuchadnezzar was God's instrument then, and the Roman beast emperor of the fast approaching Tribulation era will be His instrument for the affliction of the harlot church that will be left on earth following the rapture of the true Church.  Where they callously immolated their own infants was about to become the place where they themselves would fall by the sword of the Babylonian, their carcasses being left unburied to be food for the birds and animals, that slaughter being but a foreshadowing of the still more terrible carnage that occurred in AD 70, and which is itself a preview of that which will occur at the end of the Great Tribulation in the terrible Armageddon conflict.


Taylor’s translation of this verse reads, “The time is coming, says the Lord, when that valley’s name will be changed from ‘Tophet’ or ‘the valley of Ben-Hinnom,’ to ‘the valley of slaughter’; for there will be so many slain to bury that there won’t be room enough for all the graves and they will dump the bodies in that valley.”


7:33.  "And the carcasses of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall fray (frighten) them away." 


This reference to the carcasses of the slain being left as food for bird and beast, leaves no doubt that we are meant to see in that Babylonian destruction of Judah a foreshadowing of the coming Tribulation.  Note, for example, what is written in Re 19:17-21 relative to the destruction of earth's rebels by the Lord Jesus Christ returning in power and glory to end the Tribulation, and inaugurate His millennial kingdom.  There too the carcasses of the slain will be food for the birds and beasts.


There being none to frighten off the creatures of prey declares the terrible extent of the slaughter.  There would be neither enough room to bury the dead, nor enough men left to do the burying even if room did exist.


The fact that the present spiritual condition of the professing church is identical with that of apostate Judah in the days of Jeremiah, sounds the clear warning that the Rapture, and the ensuing Tribulation are perilously close.


7:34.  "Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate."


If anyone still entertains a doubt that apostate Judah is a type of the apostate church he has only to compare the language of this verse with that of Re 18 relative to the destruction of that harlot church.


As for the desolation of the land, that desolation was designed by God to permit the land to enjoy the rest of which it had been robbed by the cupidity of the people who refused to allow it to lie fallow during each seventh year, even though God had promised to give them in the sixth year, not only enough for the seventh, but also enough to sow for the eighth year, "... in the sixth year ... it shall bring forth fruit for three years.  And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store," Le 25:21-22. 


For approximately 490 years greedy Israel had ignored that command, but now the land was to enjoy those 70 sabbatical years of which she had been robbed, as we read in 2 Ch 36:21, "To fulfil the word of the Lord ... until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years," 2 Ch 36:21.  The 70 years of rest for the land were the 70 years of Babylonian captivity for the rebellious people.  It may seem sometimes that God takes a long time to balance the books, but no one should doubt that they will be balanced.  For every man, as for rebellious Israel, there is an appointed day of reckoning, and he who comes to that day without having had his sins blotted out through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, is of all fools the greatest.

[Jeremiah 8]


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